Get him out of there!

[The post below is my latest effort to sway the voters of heavily Republican Lancaster County, PA to corral and perhaps institutionalize the impostor president. Any repetition of argument is intentional. That’s how right wing talk jocks and alt-right propagandists convinced millions of Americans to vote for the Orange Menace. Maybe we can turn it around using the same technique…over, and over, and over, and over…]

To LNP (Lancaster Newspaper):

An op-ed piece in last Sunday’s New York Times convinced me that the author and most Americans are taking unfair and selfish advantage of President Donald Trump. The columnist used Mr. Trump to make himself look clever by arguing that Trump political losses are actually wins, because all he ever wanted was to dominate the headlines, grab audiences, and be the center of attention. Political cartoonists who lampoon Mr. Trump’s foibles and those of us who laugh at them are guilty of exploiting the President’s weaknesses for mere entertainment. And, most insidiously, sycophantic presidential advisers like Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller are playing to the President’s inordinate need for praise and other mental health issues to advance an agenda that threatens American democracy.

I think we all need to stop and consider the best course of action in relating to Mr. Trump. Johns Hopkins Medical School psychotherapist John Gartner believes the President is afflicted with malignant narcissism, an incurable condition that, according to Gartner, means Mr. Trump is dangerously mentally ill and temperamentally incapable of being president. Reports from the White House and Tweets from Mr. Trump in recent weeks suggest that he is delusional, detached from reality, obsessed with the need for adulation, and given to fits of uncontrollable rage. Mr. Trump grew so angry with aides Reince Priebus and Stephen Bannon recently that he banished them from Air Force One, not adult behavior.

Mr. Trump’s condition is not new, he no doubt indulged in fits of rage, along with the bouts of sexual assault he has admitted to, while running his family’s business. Such behavior then may have wrecked some real estate deals, such behavior now could wreck our nation and the world. For his sake and ours, Donald Trump should be removed from office.

Stick that on the back of your car!

It occurred to me the other day that I haven’t provided any inspiring Bumper Stickers for a while. As it turned out, I found myself reading an article by Henry Giroux (a professor in the English and Cultural Studies Department at McMaster University in Canada) with a slew of thoughts that begged for reduction to bumper sticker length. The title, “Donald Trump and the Plague of Atomization in a Neoliberal Age,” gives a pretty good sense of what he’s on about. I had been doing some reading about “atomization” and its connection to human rights, and Giroux’s piece was tremendously helpful. He does a great job of  explaining how we as a people have been “atomized”–separated from each other by a growing individualism that encourages us to focus on ourselves and seriously threatens our ability to empathize with each other. He includes some thoughts on how media and entertainment (the whole fascinating, mesmerizing digital world, actually) have provided the “bread and circuses” of our time, distracting us from the destructive acts of those who seek to control our political systems and threaten to replace our democracy with an authoritarian regime that substitutes cold hearted, laissez-faire, self-interested capitalism for the empathy and  “reciprocal altruism” (as Richard Leakey called it) many of us have long believed in. (You can find the whole article here: http://billmoyers.com/story/donald-trump-plague-atomization-neoliberal-age/)

Okay, on to the Bumper Stickers:

B.S. #18: ATOMIZATION = EPIDEMIC LONELINESS 

B.S. #19: POLITICS HAS TAKEN AN EXIT FROM ETHICS 

B.S. #20: NEOLIBERALISM CAUSES IMMORAL POLITICAL ZOMBIES

B.S. #21: ATOMIZATION IS THE SCOURGE OF DEMOCRACY

B.S. #22: EMBRACE EMPATHY

B.S. #23: FIGHT FOR THE SOUL OF DEMOCRACY

B.S. #24: WAKE UP AND WORK TOGETHER

But Giroux doesn’t just depress us and depart. He offers words of encouragement (in his scholarly way):–):

“…any viable notion of collective resistance must take matters of consciousness, identity, desire and persuasion seriously, so as to speak to the underlying conditions of atomization that depoliticize and paralyze people within orbits of self-interest, greed, resentment, misdirected anger and spiraling violence.”

Here’s some inspiration from The Youngbloods in “Let’s Get Together”:

C’mon people now,
Smile on your brother
Ev’rybody get together
Try and love one another right now
Pace.

Don’t put Donald Trump on the list

Columnist Gail Collins needn’t have bothered herself (Lancaster News Paper-LNP, 2/21/17) wondering if Donald Trump will do such a terrible job as president that historians will place him at the very bottom of the presidential rankings, thus moving Lancaster  PA’s favorite son, James Buchanan, out of the basement he’s occupied for so long. Throughout his election campaign and now in his first few days in office, Trump’s immoral, illegal, unconstitutional, and increasingly irrational behavior has disqualified him from even holding the office. He certainly doesn’t deserve to be on the list of legitimate presidents. The only reason he’s still in the White House is because those who have the authority and the responsibility to remove him have not, for whatever selfish reasons, done so. So, no worries, Ms. Collins, no need to inconvenience President Buchanan by forcing him to move upstairs and make room for a basement-dwelling, degenerate real estate salesman.

He said what?!?!?

If Donald Trump worked for your company, you would fire him immediately. I have had this thought often of late, and it came roaring back today (Thursday) when Trump showed up unannounced to “answer questions” during the WH press office daily briefing time. Don’t bother watching the video or reading the transcript. Rolling Stone magazine’s Tessa Stuart said everything that needs to be said about the event.

Stuart: “The event was ostensibly meant to roll out [Trump’s] new labor secretary nominee, [but]…quickly devolved into one of the most remarkably incoherent spectacles in recent memory.” 

I don’t need to remind anybody this man is masquerading as President of the United States. We’ve got to find a way to dislodge him or get a strait-jacket on him before he hurts more people. Help!!!!!!

Pace.

DJT Health Watch #2 He’s “mad”

On my desk I have a growing pile of news articles I intend to sift through for evidence of Donald Trump’s mental state. I’m pretty sure I know what I’m going to find, but I feel compelled to do it. This is no idle concern; this man is capable of doing us all in if the wrong impulse strikes him at the wrong time.

In the meantime, I recommend the diagnosis Andrew Sullivan, former editor of The New Republic, offers in an article he wrote for New York magazine, entitled, “The Madness of King Donald.” Maybe a couple of excerpts will entice you to check out the whole piece:

On Trump’s lies: “Trump’s lies are different. They are direct refutations of reality–and their propagation and repetition is about enforcing his power rather than wriggling out of a political conundrum. They are attacks on the very possibility of a reasoned discourse, the kind of bald-faced lies that authoritarians [see my piece, on this blog, “Donald Trump is a lot like Charles I”] issue as a way to test loyalty and force their subjects into submission.” We’re talking about the President of the United States here!

Sullivan has some advice on how to deal with a president who is  a pathological liar: “…rebut every single lie. Insist moreover that each lie is retracted–and journalists in press conferences should back up their colleagues with repeated follow-ups if Spicer [Trump’s chronically untruthful press secretary] tries to duck the plain truth. Do not allow them to move on to another question. Interviews with the president himself should not leave a lie alone; the interviewer should press and press and press until the lie is conceded. The press must not be afraid of even calling the president a liar to his face if he persists.”

If you object that such behavior by journalists could be hazardous to their well being, Sullivan has advice for that, from Polish dissident Adam Michnik: “In the life of every honorable man [sic] comes a difficult moment…when the simple statement that this is black and that is white requires paying a high price.” Michnik spent years in prison for standing up to lies. Sullivan asks if “American journalists cannot risk a little access or a nasty tweet for the same essential civic duty?”

I think what touched me most about Sullivan’s piece was his admission that most of us are more than a b it unnerved by the fact that Donald Trump has brought madness to the very core of our country. He commiserates: “I think this is a fundamental reason why so many of us have been so unsettled, anxious and near panic these last few months. It is not so much this president’s agenda. That always changes from administration to administration. It is that when the linchpin of an entire country is literally delusional, clinically deceptive, and responds to any attempt to correct the record with rage and vengeance, everyone is always on edge.”

Sullivan does not let any of us off the hook, and I have to admit I already  feel tired  thinking about the effort it’s going to take to make things right again. But what other choice do we have?

You’ll find Sullivan’s excellent article here. Check it out, if you have time.

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/02/andrew-sullivan-the-madness-of-king-donald.html

Pace.

Donald Trump is a lot like Charles I

We hear dire warnings these days about Donald Trump (with guidance from dark angel Stephen Bannon) intending to subvert our democracy and set himself up as a dictator in an authoritarian regime. Trump’s blatant disregard for the well being of anyone but himself and his need to suck all of the air out of any room he’s in, suggest he sought the presidency mostly for personal gain and self-aggrandizement.. But is he really an authoritarian, in the most sinister sense of the word?

I recently came across the story of the world’s first war crimes trial in England in 1649. The defendant: Charles I, King of England. The trial, as it played out in a society already experimenting with democracy, showed Charles to be an unrepentant authoritarian, unwilling to be counseled or disciplined by his nation. I think there are striking parallels between Charles’s behavior and  Donald Trump’s that  bring Trump’s authoritarian tendencies into better focus.

Parliament charged Charles I with treason, after he waged two wars against the English people, that claimed the lives of many thousands of English citizens. He was, according to the indictment, “guilty of all the treasons, murders, [property seizures], burnings, spoils, desolations, damages and mischiefs to this nation, acted and commtted in the said wars…”

Trump and Bannon went to court after a federal judge suspended a travel ban they imposed (mostly targeting Muslims). Opponents of the ban accused Trump of intentionally causing significant inconvenience, stress, and disruption of life for thousands of people—US residents and refugees, alike. The ban may have contributed to the death of an elderly Iraqi woman, who held a green card and had lived in the US since 1995, but was nonetheless turned away as she was returning to the US for medical treatment. She died in Iraq, not her new homeland.There are many stories of hardships suffered by those refused entrance when the ban was suddenly imposed.

Charles I was unapologetically haughty and authoritarian from the moment his trial began. When Solicitor General John Cook stood to read the charges against him, Charles whacked him on the shoulder with his cane and ordered him to stop. Cook continued, and Charles, furious that his order was not being obeyed, slammed his cane down so hard on Cook’s shoulder that the silver top broke off. Cook finished reading. Given the opportunity to enter a plea, Charles refused, insisting that he ruled by divine right, and a divinely ordained ruler could do no wrong, therefore, he had committed no crime. Parliament’s attempts to hold him accountable were, he argued, illegal.

When a federal judge temporarily suspended Trump’s travel ban, Trump publicly condemned the judge and his ruling.Trump told Americans he was dealing with a “so-called judge,” and he couldn’t “believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and the court system. People pouring in. Bad!” Trump wasn’t finished. He came perilously close to accusing the judge of treason: The judge opens up our country to potential terrorists and others that do not have our best interests at heart. Bad people are very happy!“ Hours later, Trump, still furious, tweeted, “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” You get the impression Trump would have clobbered the judge with a silver-topped cane, if he’d had the chance.

Trump and Bannon (a principal author of the ban) obviously appealed the suspension of the ban. As they did so, and in the true, totalitarian spirit of Charles I, they let it be known that they questioned the legitimacy of the entire judicial system. After the appeals court heard oral arguments in the case, Trump told a law enforcement conference: “I watched last night in amazement [when the court heard oral arguments], “and I heard things that I couldn’t believe. I don’t ever want to call a court biased, so I won’t call it biased, and we haven’t had a decision yet. But courts seem to be so political, and it would be so great for our justice system if they would read a statement and do what’s right.” Taking another big swing with his cane, Trump impugned the courts authority and qualifications: “If you were a good student in high school or a bad student in high school, you can understand this.” He then tacked on another of those incredibly ignorant and arrogant comments we’ve already seen and heard too many of, “I was a good student. I understand things. I comprehend very well, O.K.? Better than, I think, almost anybody. And I want to tell you,” he continued, condemning the American court process in triplicate, “I listened to a bunch of stuff last night on television that was disgraceful. It was disgraceful. It was disgraceful because what I just read to you [an excerpt from his Executive Order] is what we have. And it just can’t be written any plainer or better, and for us to be going through this.” Like Charles I bitterly complaining that Parliament had no authority to put him on trial, Trump‘s resentment was clear, as he whined, like a six year old, about how offensive it was “for us to be going through this.” His protestations confirmed that he and Bannon clearly saw themselves above the law and the courts.

Trump and Bannon made that point again—that the President wields power alone and above America‘s democratic system of checks and balances and also above the American people— in their argument before the appeals court. Their brief contained not one glimmer of acknowledgment that the US government is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” They showed no awareness that our government derives its authority from the consent of the governed, something any fourth grader would know, because they’re smart, some of them maybe smarter than anybody. Those fourth graders also know that Presidents do not get their power through the divine right of kings.

Trump and Bannon’s argument for authoritarian rule, as summarized by the appeals court in its ruling, was thatthe district court lacked authority to enjoin enforcement of the Executive Order because the President has unreviewable authority to suspend the admission of any class of aliens.” The Government [Trump and Bannon],” the judges reported, “does not merely argue that courts owe substantial deference to the immigration and national security policy determinations of the political branches—an uncontroversial principle that is well-grounded in our jurisprudence… Instead, the Government (Trump) has taken the position that the President’s decisions about immigration policy, particularly when motivated by national security concerns, are unreviewable, even if those actions potentially contravene constitutional rights and protections.How much more authoritarian can you get? Trump and Bannon are essentially eliminating the judicial and legislative branches of the US government. “The Government indeed asserts,” the court reported, “that it violates separation of powers for the judiciary to entertain a constitutional challenge to executive actions such as this one.”

In the case against Charles I, John Cook appealed to the Magna Carta, the laws of nations, and the Bible to support charges that Charles had murdered thousands of his own people and denied them civil and religious liberties. Charles, much like Trump and Bannon, was outraged at being put on trial by the people, but he offered no plea nor defense. The court interpreted no plea as an admission of guilt and executed him.

The US appeals court did not order Trump and Bannon to the guillotine, but they soundly rejected the idea that a President is above the law. They wrote, There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy.” The court accused Trump and Bannon of arguing, against the US Constitution, that refugees and visitors could not petition for redress of grievances under US law. On that point, the court schooled the man who “comprehends things better than almost anybody,” saying, “The Government argues that most or all of the individuals affected by the Executive Order have no rights under the Due Process Clause.” That, said the appeals court, is “demonstrably false. Indeed, the existence of such persons is obvious.” Non-citizens do have rights in the US, and courts have long recognized that, whether Donald Trump recognizes it or not. In this country, the king cannot wave a hand and make anyone go away.

Can we conclude from this comparison that Donald Trump aspires to subvert our system of government and engage in authoritarian rule? The parallels to a true tyrant seem pretty clear. And we’re only a couple of weeks into his presidency.

The battle against authoritarianism in England did not end with the death of Charles I, but the Parliamentary courts willingness to bring down a despot struck a blow for a more democratic government in Great Britain in the years to follow. Will the appeals court ruling against Trump’s unconstitutional travel ban force him to change his ways? Not immediately, I suspect, but it should serve to put Trump and anyone else plotting to “take over” America on notice that the system, of, by, and for the American people, still works, and the American people will be vigilant in protecting and preserving it. The immediate impact of this first clash with Trump and Bannon, it seems to me, has been merely to deepen the ranks of those willing to stand against them as they attempt to run rough-shod over us and our way of life.

Donald Trump is not above the law

The appeals court has issued its unanimous ruling on the impostor President’s Muslim ban–the ruling basically rejected Trump/Bannon’s arguments for a stay of a judge’s order lifting the ban:

The court said:  “[We] hold that the Government has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits of its appeal, nor has it shown that failure to enter a stay would cause irreparable injury, and we therefore deny its emergency motion for a stay.” [from NPR.org]

Trump, of course, got busy with his thumbs (and not his head), as usual:

SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!

6:35 PM – 9 Feb 2017

The judges were unmoved by his arrogance.

My favorite part was the appeals court’s response to Trump’s contention that the actions of his gold-plated presidency could not be questioned, effectively discarding the other two branches of our government. Think again, Donald:

In their ruling, the judges were unequivocal. ‘There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our democracy.’” [from NPR.org] I like the sound of that, it has a solid ring to it: “…this claimed unreviewability…runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our democracy.”

Yes, this thing will go to the Supreme Court, but Mitch McConnell’s refusal to allow Obama to fill the seat left vacant by Antonin Scalia’s death means there’s a good chance the Supremes will add up to a draw, in which case the appeals court decision stands, and “Loser Trump” loses again. Maybe he’ll get all pissy and resign and try to rescue his daughter’s sagging shoe sales.(I wish :–)

Pace.