Archive for the 'American Insanity' Category

Election 2018: Revealing the Soul of a Nation

November 5, 2018

I cannot remember how many times I’ve heard politicians and talking heads crowing hysterically of how the election we were facing at the moment was the most important of our lifetime, destined, one way or the other, to move the nation in a radical new direction. No doubt, in the past 40 years or so, certain elections have resulted in profound redirections of America – both Reagan and Clinton moved their respective parties to the right in ways that seemed unimaginable before they pulled it off — if largely in terms of economic policy, even if economic policies were always fig-leafed with moral platitudes.
Tomorrow is different.
So different that such past proclamations in my lifetime pale in comparison.

And the difference is moral and spiritual.

Tomorrow ’s election differs solely because at the center of everything stands the figure of Donald Trump and all he embodies and radiates.
As far as I can see, Donald Trump is far and away the vilest, most ignorant and most despicable person to have ever ascended to the presidency. (Both Andrew Johnson and Andrew Jackson were, in some respects, similar in kind but not in degree, whereas a figure like Nixon looks positively enlightened in comparison to Trump. ) Trump has proven again and again and again and again that he is a man without knowledge, without discipline, without compassion, without respect, without class, without humility, without a shred of honesty, and without an iota of empathy. In short, he is a man without virtues of any kind, possessing only an animal like cunning for locating and exploiting the weaknesses of others. All great con artists possess the same trait. On a personal level, this makes Trump, minus a miracle, a man who is beyond redemption.

And yet, somehow this very man unquestionably moves the hearts and commands the loyalty of millions of Americans who find humor in his cruelty, wisdom in his vulgarity, solace and hope in his ever-expanding mendacity. In two years in office, he has succeeded in completely debasing almost everything he comes into contact with, beginning with the English language, following with political discourse and ending with the office of the Presidency itself. Just two days ago he declared that American soldiers should fire bullets at (phantom) civilians should they throw rocks at them. So thoroughly has Trump debased the political discourse that this statement, one of hundreds of outrageous statements Trump has issued from the White House, came and went with barely a notice.

Above all, Trump has debased his supporters even as they believe he has uplifted them. Not, of course, the corporate titans who profit so enormously from his reckless tax cuts and suicidal deregulation. These overlords understand that the essence of Trump is, was and ever shall be a vulgar con artist playing the rubes for all they’re worth, but they are happy to go along with him for the enormous benefits he brings them. No, I am speaking of the hundreds of thousands who wait all night for his endless rallies, cheering madly as he demonizes helpless asylum seekers, laughing when he mocks traumatized victims of sexual assault, raging when he leads them on chants against the media or to build a wall or to lock someone up without trial or conviction. In these crowds we see the result of Trump’s one undeniable talent: his ability to cunningly locate and brilliantly animate the basest impulses in the human species: racism, greed, violence, xenophobia, cruelty, and above all fear of the other. But this Pied Piper of baseness does not merely animate these impulses. He somehow deludes his followers into believing these primal, savage impulses are valorous, even heroic, and of course, patriotic.
It is a remarkable and horrific talent, amplified into absolute nightmare by the office of the presidency, allowed to proceed unbounded by an invertebrate Congress in thrall to Trump.

It is also one that is dragging the country into an intellectual and spiritual cesspool that cannot be calculated and does not appear to have a bottom. The horrific spectacle of bullet ridden worshipers gunned down in the midst of their service in their Pittsburgh sanctuary by a fellow American who saw them as Other, motivated by his belief they were guilty of aiding desperately poor asylum seekers, is the defining, if unspeakable, image of this moment. And it did not proceed out of thin air — even as it is becoming the very air we breathe.

I have no illusions concerning the Democratic Party. The Democrats have proven themselves hapless, cowardly, and, in terms of corporate obeisance and war mongering, absolutely corrupt. Their abandonment of working-class America opened the gates for the seductive fantasies of Trump to millions who have lived in near despair for decades ( and, will continue to live there when they realize how profoundly their messiah despises them.) Furthermore, one would have to be a fool to think that the Democrats offer any real solutions to the horrific problems of deindustrialization, automation, worker rights, cruel, impossible rents and the ever more obscene disparity between wealth and poverty. With few exceptions, they have learned nothing from Trump’s ascension.

But for all of that, they do not think it is funny to laugh at people in pain. They are not white Supremacists. They do not think it fine to throw people off their health insurance. They do not think poor people should starve to death in the streets. They do not think that Donald Trump is President because God put him there. In short, while they are inept, they are not insane, nor anywhere near as morally and spiritual corrupting as is Trump. Moreover, they are the only force that can rein this person and his people in and halt the ever descending debasement of every aspect of American life. They are for buying time and working for real change.
Tomorrow I will vote for them.

America is sick. Very sick. Trump and his followers are not the cause but symptoms of this sickness. But together they are making America sicker by the day. What tomorrow’s election will reveal is the depth of that sickness in the soul of the nation and if America, like Trump, is beyond redemption.

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Scenes for the March For Life in New York

March 24, 2018

Central Park West Looking North.

And so they came and came by the thousands, flooding Central Park West with citizens of all ages, all races, all creeds, all who have had enough of insane gun laws. And so they spoke from the stage of their loss and sorrow and rage: a survivor from the slaughter at a concert in Las Vegas, a mother from Harlem whose two children were gunned down in the streets, a leader of Black Lives Matter, a librarian who survived the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, student survivors of the carnage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and parents of the dead. A great beginning. May it proceed and grow.

Following are scenes from the day.

href=”https://raginghorse.wordpress.com/2018/03/24/scenes-for-the-march-for-life-in-new-york/img_2421/” rel=”attachment wp-att-3781″> Approaching The Dakota and Central Park West.

A Horrific Reality

A Lonely Trump Guy

One Man’s Perspective

Let Freedom Ring

Inter-generational

Let Freedom Ring

Students

Tired of Thoughts and Prayers

The Kids Are Alright

[caption id="attachment_3797" align="aligncenter" width="380"] An Activist

A Warning

Arming Teachers: Trump Proposes Making an Insane Situation Even More So

February 22, 2018

One week after the most recent American school slaughter, which left 17 dead, Donald Trump took time off from writing appalling and infantile tweets to gather together teachers, family members and survivors of the recent horror at the White House. In what was billed as a “ Listening Session,” Trump sat silently, wearing an expression meant to signify some approximation of empathy while holding a cheat sheet of handwritten questions and sympathetic expressions, including one that read “I hear you.”

The televised event was difficult to watch. Survivors and parents of the dead from multiple school shootings in the past decade or so, including Sandy Hook, alternately pleaded with or demanded that the man who declared that the “American carnage” would stop on his Inauguration Day use his immense power and influence to finally do something to end the insanity of allowing the sale of weapons of war that lead to yet another completely preventable bloodbath, this time in an American high school.

When at last Trump spoke, he babbled on incoherently about hero football coaches and “cowardly” gunmen. Gone for the moment was Trump’s previous concern for the mental health of the shooters, which was all he talked about when discussing the last few mass murderers. Then, as casually as if the idea just welled up in his brain, Trump floated the following astounding proposal: to allow teachers and school administrators to bear arms with which to shoot down future would be mass murderers before they rampaged yet another American school.

“That,” said the President of the United States, “might solve the problem.”

It would and could do no such thing, of course, as it doesn’t even begin to address the problem on any level, even as it pretends to answer any number of questions that haven’t been asked, principally, why can one purchase a weapon of war? True to form, Trump, the con man par excellence, played the grieving, still numb crowd like the master card artist who tells his mark to pick a card, any card, while cleverly slipping the very card he wants you to have into your hand.

Trump then asked the group what they thought of the idea, acknowledging that it was “controversial” but only one of many that his administration would be “looking into.”

While Trump’s exceedingly dangerous idea (instantly echoed by the NRA, who likely first vomited it up) would do nothing to stop the problem of a lunatic with a weapon of war in a school, and very likely exacerbate it, it would certainly help to solve Trump’s problem- he whose campaign received no less than 30 million dollars from the National Rifle Association, and also the problem of every one of his confederates who is owned, body and soul, by said organization, and have been busy dissembling or hiding or crowing all over the country.

Those who are crowing are crowing the following: “the solution to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” which is, of course, the logic behind Trump’s proposal, even as it is proven to be an infantile, macho fantasy – a lie and a blood-soaked lie — on an hourly basis in the most murderous nation on earth.

Without outright declaring it, the proposal states the following: there is nothing to be done or nothing that should be done legislatively to end the outright insanity of selling weapons of war under the pretense that they are somehow protected by the Second Amendment.

This afternoon, amid more banter about homicidal “cowards” going into “gun free zone schools” as if “going in for an ice cream cone, ” Trump came out with a full-throated endorsement of the idea.

As a public school teacher who has chaired safety committees and Building Response Teams for years and participated in many an, albeit, non-lethal emergency situation, I have tried to imagine how such an arrangement would work, never mind work well, and I cannot. By definition, there is simply no time for retrieving locked away weapons so as to shoot down would be mass murderers. Moreover, of the hundreds of teachers I have worked with and known, I can think of no one, myself included, who could instantly transform into what amounts to a member of a SWAT team. Although I’m certain there is a minuscule percentage of teachers who might feel comfortable doing so, I am absolutely confident that the overwhelming percentage of teachers would not and could not react in such a manner. You would not ask the same of doctors or nurses or architects or whomever. That is not why they became teachers. Only those who have no idea of what sort of people become teachers or how schools are run or what a school emergency looks and feels like could conceivably come up with such an insane solution to such an insane problem.

As a public school parent, I am filled with rage and disgust that we have so defiled and degraded our political reality that such proposals are even being discussed.

What Trump and the NRA are saying to America is this: there is nothing that can be done to stop such situations and all we can do is prepare for our worst nightmares, always and everywhere. Deal with it. What they are doing with this lunacy is solving their problem and not the unspeakable reality of American children being gunned down in their classrooms and hallways. What they are revealing is that they could not care less.

A Horrifying Continuum:Trump Encourages Police Brutality.

July 29, 2017

Another day, another deranged declaration from our diseased Commander in Chief and with it yet another effort to divide America between those who adore Trump and those who are disgusted and alarmed by him. On that level, at least, the speech to a group of Long Island law officers could be said to be a rousing success, not unlike his grotesque babbling to the Boy Scouts, his “slice and dice” oration in Ohio, and his whimsical ban of transgender personnel in the military that took place earlier in the week.

Ostensibly, the visit to Long Island and the speech to law enforcement was about Trump’s plan to “eradicate” the notoriously violent gang MS-13, who in yet another example of blowback, emerged out of America’s savage policy toward El Salvador under Ronald Reagan, and are responsible for several brutal murders in the area. But, as with everything this man speaks of, the visit and the speech were really about Trump and his base.

Thus, the purpose of the visit was largely to plant or reinforce in the mind of the American public the idea that American immigrants are made up not of the millions of hard working, decent, and law abiding peoples that have built and rebuilt the country since its founding, but horrific criminal organizations such as MS-13, and thereby build support for the Trump administration’s expansion of it’s mass detention and deportation agenda.

Addressing the law enforcement officers, the President of the United States said the following: “When you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough, and I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice.’

“Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over, like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody, don’t hit their head, I said, ‘You can take the hand away, OK?’

Implicit in the words is the belief that the president has the power to simply negate protocol and the law. Implicit in these words is the message that the accused are guilty until proven innocent. Implicit in these words is a message that the President of the United States approves of police brutality.

Once again, there is no precedent for a president making such appalling statements.
Disturbingly, the statements were met with vociferous cheering from the law enforcement officers present, this at a time in which reports of police brutality, especially against people who happen not to be white, are a ceaseless national disgrace; and to be sure they were cheered just as enthusiastically by Trump’s deranged supporters across the country.
And that, I fear, is the point. In his first Inaugural Address in 1861, peering out at a nation enthusiastically set to slaughter each other wholesale, Lincoln implored and beseeched Americans to contact and embrace the “better angels of our nature. ”
Such is what great leaders do.
Conversely, like some demonic cheap rent parody of an anti-Lincoln, Trump has, from his incredible emergence as a politician, continually urged and encouraged the exact opposite of Lincoln’s sublime exhortation. To wit, he has ceaselessly, recklessly, and with absolute immunity encouraged, explicitly or implicitly, Americans to not merely embrace but valorize our basest and most brutal impulses: greed, mendacity, jingoism, violence, racism, xenophobia, vulgarity, and cruelty.

Yesterday’s remarkably repugnant statements are merely part of a continuum that has stepped up in the past week to fever pitch; merely another attempt to rile up his base and divide the nation into two irreconcilable camps: supporters of Donald Trump and The Enemy who is everyone else. There can be no middle ground because there is none meant to be. And there is no purpose, political or otherwise, other than the apotheosis of Donald J. Trump.
This is our current civil war: the dividing of Americans against the “better angels of our nature.” And, as this is all that he can understand, this is what Trump desires. This is what happens – what MUST happen—when a nation invests a toxic, malignant, astoundingly ignorant mega-narcissist with immense power. Trump does not know how to do anything other than what he is doing and is wholly, characterologically incapable of learning or even conceiving of anything that does not glorify Trump. Trump is narcissism incarnate. Trump’s war is not about Conservatives against Progressives, or Democrats against Republicans or any other recognizable political affiliation. Trump has no more loyalty to Republicans as he has to anyone or anything he has ever been connected with.
Trump rants and raves about “ loyalty,” a word in understands to mean subservience to Trump and his family and nothing more. Trump’s war is about the domination of his “movement” which consists entirely of the cult of Trump. And as he is increasingly showing, he will do and say anything to “win.”

Further, with the cowardly refusal of the members of the United States Congress to unambiguously condemn the purposefully divisive, anti- democratic, and vile statements of this ridiculous and all so dangerous figure, it may only be the beginning.

In the end, Trump will fail and fall but he will not go easily and the damage he and his will do in the process may be enormous.

Three Cheers for the Mooch: Trump Selects the Perfect Man

July 28, 2017

Contrary to the millions of Americans who are horrified, appalled and disgusted at his language, demeanor and intentions, I, for one, believe President Trump choose brilliantly and yes, honestly, in selecting Anthony “Mooch” Scaramucci, as brand new White House Communications Director. What man, I ask you, can more clearly communicate and, indeed, distill Trump’s vision of Making America Great Again than the former hedge fund predator known as the Mooch?

Even his nickname is perfect. In terms of pure vulgarity, contempt for law and tradition, hubris, decorum, ignorance and unbridled narcissism that define the Trump administration, it is almost inconceivable that The Donald could have tapped a more appropriate being. Mooch, who has repeatedly stated his love for the president and all he stands for, is outright perfection.

Thank you President Trump, for assuring all of America and indeed the world, that your vision of American greatness will be communicated even more loudly and more clearly than it has been since the advent of your presidency. And thank you, Mooch, for your brilliance and clarity.