Tag Archives: George W. Bush

Trump’s Wall: Side One of Camp Hercules

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Trump’s Wall: Side One of Camp Hercules

News outlets have reported that a public school teacher has been suspended for comparing Trump to Hitler. While that comparison obviously struck public school bureaucrats as being a nasty rush to judgment, the teacher was hardly breaking ground within the public sphere. Given the radical tenor of Trump’s campaign, the teacher’s juxtaposition of Trump and Hitler is a reasonable mock-up that is a well-worn trope by now.

In point of fact, Trump will soon have at his immediate disposal enough weaponry to eradicate all human life on this planet, and he has not shown sufficient composure in dealing with infinitely less stressful situations to reassure me about his command of this weaponry. In an attempt to quell public panic, Trump said in a “60 Minutes” interview that his opponents “should not be afraid.”

I am not afraid.

I am terrified.

I’ll grant you that Hitler’s track record will be difficult to surpass. But let’s be honest about the planet’s prospects: Hitler’s scale of evil is likely to have serious competition in the next decade or two, and Donald J. Trump has fashioned himself into a viable candidate to join the parade of potential competitors. The appointment of Steve Bannon is hardly a disqualifying move. Maybe we will be lucky, though, and Trump’s term(s) of office will only be an extraordinary disaster, such as the one that occurred at the end of George W. Bush’s terms of office.

This is to say that Trump’s administration may not end up making “The Killing Fields” look like a Sunday school picnic. What’s the value in being unduly pessimistic? Maybe I’m completely overreacting. After all, I am hardly the best prognosticator in Los Angeles. I certainly was not able to foresee, for instance, the consequences of a previous instance of a President who lost the popular vote, but won the Electoral College. I remember watching the 2000 debates between Gore and George W. Bush. The latter seemed earnest and intelligent enough to serve as governor of Texas. In closely listening to him, though, I didn’t believe that he possessed the acuity needed to be president of the United States. He didn’t strike me as profoundly incompetent, however. How wrong I was.

By the end of his second term, the overwhelming majority of my fellow citizens felt equally chagrined. Indeed, we all know how his presidency turned out: the United States invaded Iraq, without sufficient justification. That invasion was based, in part, on a lie. Furthermore, should anyone wonder whether I am exaggerating the case against Bush, the prolonged reiteration of deceitful propaganda leading up to the war was quite clearly established when Bush argued retrospectively in the 2004 Presidential debates that “They (i.e., Iraq) invaded us.”

I knew things were hopeless in this country, in 2004, when nothing in the polls budged after that particular, egregious lie. The people who supported Bush did not care that Bush distorted the war’s justification with a total fabrication. In conflating Al-Queda with Iraq, Bush engaged in a sleight of hand that was nothing short of contributing to a criminal conspiracy to generate profits for the war industry in this country.

As for the financial calamity that spun like an apocalyptic tornado into the American economy near the end of Bush’s second term, let me be blunt and say that this is not some abstraction that stirs me to righteous anger on behalf of other people. It’s much more local than that, for the Great Recession destroyed my family’s economic well-being, and while it has partially recovered, it will remain a hampered, depressed situation until I die. It is permanent damage. Economically speaking, I will never walk again.

Trump is far less qualified, in both intelligence and experience, to be President than George W. Bush. When I consider how Bush’s eight years in office led to an economic and global political catastrophe, then how can I not be terrified at the outcome of an election resulting in a president-elect far inferior in the ability to govern?

Friends, as well as the ideologically invested media businesses of this country’s infrastructure, urge me to stay calm. Our ecological crisis, however, is at the tipping point, and the planet’s ability to sustain human civilization is no longer merely struggling to breathe. An all-out asthma attack will soon begin, and will no doubt contribute to the need of the Trump administration to distract the population through starting a war with an enemy well primed to be the “bad guy.” Trump, for instance, could easily find ways to put enough pressure on North Korea that its tenterhooks leadership will launch a missile with a nuclear bomb at the U.S. mainland. If that attack vaporized an American city, Trump would not give it a second thought other than its propaganda value. Oh, he would cry crocodile tears, but it would all be a perfidious show.

Trump is as phony a patriot as any con artist politician who has ever run for office. I have seen nothing from Trump that indicates he cares about his fellow citizens as being anything other than exploitable customers. If he is offered the chance to “cash in” several million disposable chips, he will take it. Even if Trump were given advance warning from national intelligence services, he would first consider the advantages of not lifting a finger to prevent it. From Trump’s point of view, the death of a couple million Americans in a sneak attack would just be the cost of doing business and giving America a chance to be “great” again.

I am terrified, and to pretend otherwise requires an act of unparalleled self-control. If you should meet me in person, do not mistake my mien for my inner state of equilibrium. The late poet Don Gordon was correct: “We are only on leave from Auschwitz.”

I have no doubt that James Comey is already assembling a list of names to be in the first round of citizens shipped off to a camp currently on the drawing boards at FBI headquarters. My guess is that the first part of the camp is being built to take advantage of another construction project proposed by Trump. This is to say that the first part of this camp is being built under the guise of a “wall” designed to close the Southwestern border between the United States and Mexico. Let no one imagine that walls cannot have two uses. Side one of the four sides needed to construct a concentration camp: soon in place. Only three sides needed to complete the job.
It will be named Camp Hercules as a tribute to the strength demonstrated by President Trump in defeating Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose initials are prominent in the camp’s name.

Why Lift One’s Arms? They’ll Shoot You Anyway — The Election Cycle: 2016’s Home Stretch

Friday, July 22, 2016
Why Lift One’s Arms: They’ll Shoot You Anyway —
THE ELECTION CYCLE: 2016’s Home Stretch

Part One: “not merely a party with little future, but one without any past, either”

The line-up of speakers at next week’s Democratic National Convention is unusually remarkable for its two-term presidential presence. Compared to the just completed RNC, the DNC verges on superfluity. When was the last time that a national political convention had a current two-term president addressing party activists and donors as well as a two-term former president? The GOP has had no such back-to-back figures in its convention’s confabulations for well nigh a century. A combination of scandalous or dismal Republican presidencies in the past half-century led up to the current convention, in which no one who significantly contributed to any of that parties successful campaigns for the White House has had any role. It would seem to be not merely a party with little future, but one without any past, either.

The absence of President George W. Bush from this convention is even more striking than the token role he was consigned to four years ago in Tampa, Florida. For a two-term president to have his nationally broadcast endorsement speech in 2012 limited to a videotaped infomercial is the political equivalent of having to drive an ice cream truck in a neighborhood of the very elderly and having to watch what little ice cream is purchased melt in their hands because they can’t remember what they just bought. Bush had to have felt humiliated. Deservedly so, but still a stinging slight.

George W.’s decision to skip the coronation in Cleveland, therefore, probably has as much to do with his desire to even the score for the 2012 putdown as it does with his distaste for Trump. Jeb Bush cannot, of course, be blamed for absenting himself, either. His father, the former President George H.W. Bush, and his mother, are nearing the end of their lives, and who in either political party would prefer to have your nose rubbed in your rejection by a wealthy, smug prevaricator instead of sharing quiet recollections with your parents?

In contrast, the Democratic Party has a line-up that would be nothing short of the shining envy of political operatives at any point in this perishing republic’s history:

Monday: First Lady Michelle Obama and Senator Bernie Sanders
Tuesday: Former President Bill Clinton
Wednesday: Current President Barack Obama
Thursday: Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton

On oratorical skill and charisma alone, the first three nights will be worth intermittently taking in, and it’s hard to believe that Hillary won’t experience some slight bounce. She will need it: despite having a huge lead in fundraising, HRC is not so much mired in distaste as disbelief. She is without doubt the most experienced and qualified politician running for President right now, and if elected, she will most likely soldier on in the same stolid manner that President Obama has done. Obamacare will continue to have its quirks resolves; abortion rights will be upheld; gay marriage will remain viable; and climate change will receive at least token attention. But the keywords are qualified politician. She is a brilliant bureaucrat with a background as a lawyer, but she sees social problems as being primarily legitimation narratives for her right to power. The problem is that the following questions under her administration have no other outcome than an emphatic negative: Will my life as an aging person significantly change for the better? Will my students really find that their post-degree lives suddenly have more entry-level options? Will I be able to worry less that each time I say hello and goodbye to an African-American acquaintance or friend that this is the last time I will see them alive? She has no actual plan to improve matters on the ground.

The last question, by the way, is not hyperbole. Yes, it has gotten that bad. The open season on African-Americans has reached the point where even a man flat on his back on the ground, completely motionless, with his arms up in the air, fingers like talons of powerlessness spread tautly wide open, is shot by a police officer. With his arms up, I might add, longer than I would be able to hold my arms up.

If voters’ hands are up, raised high in despondency, it is because “power grows out of the barrel of a gun,” and the secret Second Amendment reads: “the rights of a well-regulated police review board shall not be infringed upon by those whose neighborhoods are subject to police assault.” If Clinton wanted to show leadership, she would directly address the concerns of the Black Lives Matter movement in her acceptance speech.

Trust me, though, with the following exercise: if you hold up your arms up long enough during her speech this coming week, you’ll not only hear the words better, but the unctuous tepidity of her vision will become slow motion torture, the syllables elongated by her neoliberal blandness. Yes, you should vote for her in November, and I intend to do so. But my heart will be as heavy as my hopelessly lifted arms.

(to be continued on as needed basis)

Toxic Moxie: The Fascist Phenomenon of Donald Trump and the Elections of 1968 and 2004

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Toxic Moxie: The Fascist Phenomenon of Donald Trump and the Elections of 1968 and 2004

I’ve been trying to think, this morning, of the last time I heard the word “moxie” out loud. It’s been a while. A long, long while. It’s possible that the generation listening to Kendrick Lamar’s music has never heard the word, and would not be able to make any reasonable conjectures about its meaning. For that matter, I myself did not know until recently that the word’s first usage applies to a soft drink that is still made in the Northeastern United States. For most of my life, though, I knew of the word in only one context: a patriarchal attribution, often intoned with a slight sense of awe: “He’s got a lot of moxie.”

If the word does in fact have primarily positive associations (“daring, courage, spirit”), Donald Trump exemplifies a toxic moxie. I won’t belabor the obvious list that anyone can put together of “Trump Thumps,” his take-down, on-the-rubber-mat moments of mind-boggling asininity. I would rather get right to the heart of what seems to confound so many observers: how exactly is Trump pulling this off?

“It’s déjà vu, all over again.” As in 1968. And 2004. Except this time the politician is from New York, instead of the South. The parallel with the 1968 presidential election has only kicked in during the last ten days, as the primary season moved to the Deep South. Unfortunately, the surge of support for Trump has an ineradicable kinship with Governor George Wallace’s presidential run in 1968. One must never forget that the voters who sided with Wallace not only had many children, but grandchildren, too, and their family values included heavy doses of lingering segregationist attitudes. In case one has any doubts about the continuity of American reactionary politics, please take note that the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER reported three days ago that NASCAR CEO Brian France has endorsed Donald Trump. According to the Observer, France’s grandfather endorsed George Wallace. That, in 2016, a politician could be feasibly juxtaposed with a segregationist such as George Wallace should give one enormous pause.

It is not the parallels with Wallace’s campaign, however, that can best account for Trump’s staying power in the political arena, but rather a key moment in a debate between John Kerry and George W. Bush in the 2004 election. “They invaded us,” President Bush said, referring to his decision to invade Iraq. Kerry pounced immediately on Bush’s utterly ludicrous statement and forced him to backtrack rather awkwardly. Iraq had not invaded the United States, nor had it taken any part in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. One would think that Bush’s distortion of reality would demonstrate, once and for all, his unfitness to be the President of the United States.

To my naive dismay, Bush’s reiteration of a lie that will live in infamy did not make any difference in the polls taken in the days after that debate. Support for Bush did not waver in the least. Those who were for Bush did not care if the commander-in-chief had publicly revealed his mendacity in leading this country into a war that has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians. At that point, I knew the election of 2004 was a hopeless attempt to remove a criminal blight on American history. If Trump is still popular despite his outrageous commentary on a variety of topics, it is only because the same factor of ideological docility is percolating through various strands of the electorate.

Although Trump is an overachieving opportunist, he still has a decent chance — heading into the Mid-West primaries — of being nominated by the GOP as its presidential candidate, and if he is denied that accolade, it would not surprise me if he ran an independent campaign. As for the outcome of the latter effort, my guess is that he would probably receive a smaller percentage of votes than Wallace did in 1968, but that would not be a permanent rout of Trump’s factions. All that such a result would gauge is the chronic weaknesses of this nation’s ability to come to terms with its dubious history and the likelihood of another such attempt at a moment of yet greater crisis.