Sheldon and Donald

Sheldon and Donald

In many ways Sheldon Cooper may have prepared us for Donald Trump, given us stamina to make it through the daily displays of Donald’s character eccentricities. Just think about Sheldon’s many quirks. He is set in his ways and is making obsessive compulsive disorder more mainstream. He is convinced of his own superiority to everyone around him, and arrogant with it. He is certain that he is a genius, the new Einstein, although he often makes simple mistakes in his research which prove to be fatal blows to his achieving the Nobel Prize he covets. He is very jealous when someone is more successful than him. He uses his “idiosyncratic” (spoiled) behavior to exert absolute authority over his little world. He manipulates everyone with his stubbornness and inflexibility. Sound familiar?

We can’t discuss this comparison of Sheldon and Donald without remembering some of Sheldon’s most overbearing behaviors, humorous in drama, but possibly not so much if Sheldon were a real person.

Sheldon’s First Time at the Cheese Cake Factory

 

Sheldon’s Spot

 

The Roommate Agreement

 

The Relationship Agreement

 

Sheldon as a Mobile VR Presence Device

However, Sheldon has some vulnerabilities that make him occasionally human and endearing. Sheldon’s friends also do not take his terrorism too seriously. They defuse it with sarcasm, humor, and affection. Sheldon’s friends make up a second family for him. Because he went away to college at such a young age and his social skills were therefore neglected, Sheldon’s friends almost reparent him and it is not an easy task. Penny is especially good, as a non-genius, at forging a close and somewhat sweet relationship with Sheldon who can be robotic, imperious, and lacking in a social IQ to match his intellectual IQ.

Maybe that’s what Donald missed, why he never achieved an adult balance to tone down his authoritarian streak with empathy and compassion. He never found a group of friends who felt unintimidated by his egotism, narcissism, and his absolute belief in his own genius. He never had people who affectionately modified his selfish and misguided self-sufficiency, who mocked him and teased him and grounded him. Trump’s seemingly ebullient extroversion allows him to live in his own isolated space where he can only be reached by people who constantly admire him and say yes to all his “brilliant” ideas. It is doubtful that Donald could be reparented at this late date.

Lots of experiences have unintended consequences, so let’s not ruin our enjoyment of this very popular diversion because of the ways in which Sheldon’s oddball personal traits might be helping Donald seem more socially acceptable. Sheldon of course is not real, he only seems real because The Big Bang has such great writers and really creative dialogue. It is entirely possible that these TV nerds have much improved the currency value of actual nerds. Sadly, though, there is a lot more humor to be had from Sheldon’s peculiarities than we will ever see from Donald’s. We may enjoy watching Big Bang reruns for decades. I have a feeling though, that Donald’s reruns may be very unpopular and will have to eventually be remixed. Of course he is already trying to rewrite it all but I doubt his writing skills equal the skills of The Big Bang crew. I doubt it can ever be rewritten to seem like Presidential behavior.

Thanks to the fans who recorded these bits of The Big Bang Theory. You will see their names when you watch the videos.

Elections, not Zuckerberg

zuckerberg-analytica-796x419 TNW big

Mark Zuckerberg seems no better and no worse than any other business owner/billionaire these days. His company makes huge profits and he still needs ever more to satisfy himself and his stockholders. This is our brand of capitalism and Zuckerberg is certainly not any more greedy than anyone else. I am not going back into the now-distant past to talk about whether he became sole owner of Facebook by trickery and theft of intellectual property. That has already been adjudicated and now is a matter for Zuckerberg’s conscience.

There are at least two different points being argued at the same time and they do connect, but they are not the same issue. One argument says here is a company that is owned by one man. It has a huge presence on the internet which gives Mark Zuckerberg a disproportionate influence over internet users. So the argument here is that Zuckerberg’s company needs some regulation.

But that depends on whether we are talking about consumerism or elections. Unlike Cambridge Analytica Mark Zuckerberg, I’m thinking, did not intend to influence a US election any more than he intended to make identity theft a more common type of crime. He did intend to use what all websites use and what Bruce Schneier, writing at cnn.com yesterday morning (March 26, 2018) called “surveillance capitalism.”

Facebook users are not that naïve. We know that, although Facebook has gotten quite picky about what privacy level we want for things we post, they still allow all kinds of other apps and sites to collect our data and that of our friends. How many times have you given up your contacts to gain quick access to a site? The problem is that this allows someone like Cambridge Analytica, an organization that has only a fiduciary relationship with Facebook to mine data that Facebook supposedly protects but actually makes accessible to all who pay to advertise on the platform.

Since our entire culture centers around making money, having money, making more money and stockpiling as much money as you can and since every company has the same goals – profit- it is hard to fault Zuckerberg for being a successful businessman. If no one ever used this data to spy, to meddle in an election(/s), then we would not be having this discussion right now.

We are at a time when meddling in American elections seems to be the project of the moment for way too many people and at least one nation. I am not talking about voter fraud. I do not think we the people are even on the list of election tinkerers. Are both the GOP and the Dems using the internet to feed false information to people who use social media? I don’t think so. Were those who stole data under false pretenses and used it to fix (or try to fix) an election only trying to stop Hillary, or did they only wish to elect Trump – or would they have tried to throw the election to any candidate on the right. It seems that the election of 2016 was very important to an awful lot of people, and that they were are all working for the right.

Regardless of who Cambridge Analytica was working for, or whether or not Putin had people trying to fix the election, or even if Hillary and the Dems were trying to fix the election against Bernie Sanders, clearly we must protect our elections from any kind of meddling. Free and fair elections are the basis of our democracy/republic. Given what we can see about the lack of any reliable privacy on the internet and the modern tendency to push media into our communities that offers partisan propaganda, but likes to pretend that it is offering unbiased facts, obviously, some real effort and study needs to be dedicated to protecting our “free and fair” elections. Since some people feel that all is fair in politics and elections this effort cannot be delayed. We have another election coming up. We have elections all the time.

It is disingenuous to try to make Mark Zuckerberg the scapegoat for what is happening with our elections. Perhaps this is more Conservative razzle-dazzle to distract everyone from noticing that most of the election meddling was done on behalf of the GOP and Donald Trump. Zuckerberg just uses the same “surveillance capitalism” that all sites use on the web (although it is possible he pioneered some of the methodologies currently in use). These tactics are invasive and annoying and they make hacking the web a gamble with a big payoff.

We do need some oversight on the internet or the internet will become so crime-ridden that it will be shunned by people who cannot take risks with their data or their money. And this very model of “surveillance capitalism” is used on all social media but Facebook has the biggest treasure trove of personal information. Can Facebook be fixed? Will we like it to death?

It also feels as if some people are feeling personally vindictive towards Mark Zuckerberg and some professional jealousy may be increasing their desires to force him to answer to Congress and take him down a peg or two. We need to keep our eye on the main focus here and that is to guarantee that our elections are free and fair. If we have to rein in capitalism on the internet, are we willing to do that at a time when our government is busily overturning all the regulations that are now in place? What we need most of all is a new government.

Sinclair We Heart Free Speech

Our free press is one of America’s greatest strengths. This is one of the “campaigns” of Mr. Trump that I find most disgraceful; his attacks on the media. He assaults the very best of our media and venerates all of the worst of it. He calls the media that tries to honestly report the events of the day “fake news” and he relies on all of the media which the rest of think of as “fake news”. Since our print media is already struggling to stay alive in these days of the internet, I am worried that Donald’s constant barrage of insults against the free press will leave us with only news that leans to the right, and made-up news.

Much of our pride in America is tied up in our free speech. We feel a bit superior to a nation like Russia or China with only state-sponsored news. Even so, we have lost some of our freedom because money is now speech and we don’t have enough money to buy as much “speech” as some Americans are able to these days. Even worse, now we have a “strong man” in charge who is trying to kill off sources of free speech. The best sources of news refuse to print unearned praise of the current occupant of the White House, so 45 is trying to suppress all our nation’s leading news sources.

Other powerful and wealthy men like the Koch brothers are trying to subvert media sources from within by buying them and then forcing them to print news stories they like or even ones they invent. I am very worried that the Conservative push to control America is going to take away the freedom of speech we have always enjoyed in our media.

History has taught us one way dictators destroy the free press is to make us begin to question which stories are factual and which stories are not. There used to be a fairly clear divide between commentary and news. Those lines are now being blurred. Before the 2016 election we all saw stories on Facebook that seemed extremely biased and some which struck us as too ridiculous to even bother to read. There were stories we had to hide so we wouldn’t ever have to see them again. Perhaps we attributed these stories to devotees of Fox News and never guessed that powerful people were deliberately planting “fake news”, or propaganda, on Facebook. But there were plenty of people on Facebook who would bury you in troll-speak if you dared express an opinion, in a comment, opposite to the “fake news”

I don’t like the Conservative agenda of today’s Republican Party and I make no secret of this. I do not believe that anything these folks want will be good for America, except perhaps training programs for workers and infrastructure investments (not pipelines). But Conservatives have been very effective at bamboozling, lying to, propagandizing, and convincing many Americas to believe that they have good ideas and that the Democrats don’t. If we are not careful the right – the GOP – will not just control the government and 30+ state governments, they might just become the only political power in America. What will we hear on our media then?

Well, I know where you can get a foretaste. Recently John Oliver outed the business plans of the Sinclair Broadcasting Group, a Conservative media group that owns local TV news stations in 81 local markets and that is trying to double the number of stations under its influence through a merger. In my mid-size city Sinclair bought three TV local news programs on different networks and two of those stations are the most popular stations for local news, the news broadcasts people listen to every day and every night. Syracuse, NY was cited by name by John Oliver on this national network (HBO) and this is a rare thing indeed unless the news is about snowstorms.

So far the most noticeable feature of the “takeover” is that these stations are obligated to air commentary a number of times each week by a Trump supporter named Boris Epshteyn, “Bottom Line with Boris”. Katy Waldman at Slate.com in her article with the title “News. Traffic. Weather. Trump” begins her article like this: “the face of Boris Epshteyn, chief political analyst for the behemoth Sinclair Broadcast Group, is glowing like an oversized egg about to hatch the world’s most affable chicken. ‘Let’s take a look at the White House press briefing,” he suggests genially, the corners of his mouth lifting. ‘What it is, what it represents, and how it serves the American people.”

Here’s a little sample of Boris in action.

I’m unsure that there is any path right now that would put news in Syracuse back with an owner who wants to offer segments that fairly present both sides of an issue or that take a brave stand when called for. But the word about Sinclair Broadcasting Group invading my local news is a depressing development and another sad step away from free speech. When will our politics, which has moved so far to the right, make a move back towards the center or to the left? That is difficult to predict. It could take many years to change US policy now that we have let Conservatives take over our politics, and have allowed them to be so invasive in our media dialogue and government. Will we lose our free speech rights? Will we become afraid to speak out if we disagree with laws or approaches to future crises that are sure to arise? Government-approved media could happen here. There is, as they say, “a slippery slope.”

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/07/how_boris_epshteyn_and_sinclair_bring_trump_propaganda_to_local_news.html

http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2017/07/john_oliver_sinclair_broadcast_group_cny_central_syracuse.html

http://www.syracuse.com/business-news/index.ssf/2017/05/sinclair_broadcast_group_tribune_media_fox.html

http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2013/11/syracuse_tv_stations_sold_ownership_sinclair_broadcast_group.html

Walking a Line at the Edge of Disaster

“I could shoot someone in the middle of Park Avenue and I would not lose votes.” I just can’t let that statement go. It haunts me. I have never heard anyone say something like this in a political campaign in the first place. In the second place I thought that might be a bridge too far and that it would be the beginning of the end for the Trump campaign. But Trump was right. This bald statement of random violence, issued for its shock effect, made barely a ripple in the election and possibly improved his election results. He enjoys walking a line at the edge of disaster.

I keep asking myself, why? What kind of person would offer up such a test of his follower’s loyalty or their lack of critical faculties? Perhaps his people thought he was just being dramatic, but why didn’t they question that he went there, to that particular dark and very public place?

I had never fallen under the spell of this shyster. I am not sure why many of us seem to see right through him and are shocked that such a man could run for and win the highest office in our Democracy.

We knew that our government was hardly pure. We knew that it was being tweaked out of its proper philosophical state by a few Americans with big money who were buying laws that would coincide with their ideas and their plans for the future of our nation. We knew that, because these folks were so wealthy and self-righteous that they felt it was their duty to transform the American democracy to match their goals, even if it meant that this nation would no longer be a democracy/republic.

(Our nation is defined as a democracy, but it is also a republic because we have a constitution. It is interesting and a sign of our partisan divide that Democrats call our government a Democracy and that Republicans are always correcting them and insisting that our government is a Republic. They do this because Republic matches the name of their party. They will no longer even say the Democratic Party, even though that is the correct adjective form of the word, because it makes the party sound too much like the name of our ideal of governance. They insist on calling it the Democrat Party. Even linguistics has been made to serve partisanship.)

But I did not think that our government had sunk so low that it would elect this polecat and place him in our Oval Office with all his oddball  and potentially dangerous cronies.

I did not think that he would be placed there in the hopes that he would dismantle government and somehow be so bad at being President that it would escape everyone’s notice that the Republicans may have wanted him to provide cover or distraction so they would not be blamed.  (How is that working for you?)

It is not as if I knew all the particulars of how a Trump Presidency would play out and I still don’t. But I knew it would be bad, and it is. If murder wouldn’t be a problem for his followers, how can we expect them to care about a subtle matter like treason? Even the press cannot decide if our huckster has sold us out to our enemies or obstructed an investigation or two. People almost seem to enjoy having a madman in the White House because each day gives us new audacities to gape at and to analyze ad infinitum.

I think we may be learning that we have given Presidents too much discretion. There are rules and traditions but they have no force. Recent Presidents have given us their taxes to look over, but apparently they don’t have to. A President is not supposed to run his own businesses when he is in office because he is in a position to profit individually from insider information. A President is not supposed to accept payments (income) from foreign sources because it could give the impression of confused loyalties or could lead to actual blackmail and subsequent treason.

None of these rules or traditions seem to carry any force with them. The President may comply or not comply, although every past leader of our nation has, however reluctantly, complied. And our current shyster-in-chief offers a cheeky grin (not at all a pleasant one) and refuses to accept any policy that will not result in his arrest, conviction, and incarceration and implies that there is nothing he can do that will have such a result.

With the Republicans in charge of all three branches of government, with little in the way of checks and balances available to stop a runaway President, Trump is quite comfortable changing his story until he hits one that shuts people up. Does he make tapes of his visitors in the Oval Office? He thinks he is so funny. “You can’t make me say.” Did he ask Comey to swear an oath of loyalty to him? “It’s my word against his and he has been publicly embarrassed and has lost “face” – he’s been fired just like one of so many apprentices on TV. Did he ask Comey to lay off Flynn? No unofficial piece of paper will back up that statement so, as far as Trump is concerned, that never happened. We know it goes on and on. The jerk invites two Russians into his office with no American press people to substantiate what goes on while his people stand uncomfortably watching the locker room camaraderie with fixed smiles on their faces.

By the end of all this, just in the space of one week, we feel as if we might be the crazy ones. Whether Donald Trump is crazy or not, whether he is all of the psychological terms we think he is or not, he should not be the President of the United States. I hate the way he treats the office, the American people, the Constitution, and even the world. If he won’t leave of his own volition he should leave in a strait jacket.

I know the Republicans have their own agenda. I have described what I think it is just recently in my article “It’s About Democracy”.

https://www.tremr.com/nancy-l-brisson-new-website-thearmchairobserver-/its-about-democracy

But why are they supporting the ridicule this person is heaping on the United States of America with his mind games and taunting and his incomprehensible belief that because he thinks he is smarter than us he can toy with us, hold us over a cliff by the back of our shirts and dangle us for a while. “Will he drop us to our death or won’t he?” Oh I don’t like this one bit and I don’t understand why anyone else likes it either.

Donald if you go your own way right now there will be not harm, no foul; no charges, no punishment, and you can go back to the life you enjoyed so much and be as nutty as you like. If you don’t I think the way you like to walk the lines at the edges of disaster will eventually catch up with you (and, sadly, perhaps with America.)

Donald Trump’s First 100 Days

Even if Donald Trump is not my President, this is still my country and he has been in the people’s White House in Washington, DC for 100 days. I’m sure that everyone has an opinion about this; I know that I do. I am quite happy that DT has been unable to accomplish some of his major objectives so far like overturning the Affordable Care Act or cutting off funds for sanctuary cities. There are some immigration horror stories but there would have been more damage if his executive orders had not been opposed by the courts. He has so far been unable to start work on the wall on the Mexican border. Congress has been able to pass some economic deregulation measures and is working full speed ahead to undo environmental protections. Trump has announced a plan for tax cuts that will put more money in the pockets of those who are already wealthy, so I hope his tax plan also goes down in flames. But after the blunders of his first 100 days people are hopeful, but not convinced, that the entire first term will be equally unproductive.

Mr. Trump has made his greatest strides in dismantling our federal government and this is not a good thing for the citizens of America. He has placed billionaires in his cabinet who have little or no experience in governance. Not only are they billionaires but each appointee has professed an interest in destroying the department s/he has been assigned to lead. Many agencies have almost no employees, especially the State Department which has apparently been practically emptied out. What is the rationale for this? Is it incompetence? Is it the implementation of a plan to make federal government small as Republicans have wished to do for the past eight years? Is it the first stage of what we can expect to be an increasingly authoritarian rule which sees employees who have been in Washington during the Obama administration as resisters who wish to undermine a leader whose philosophy differs from the previous President and from the entire American Constitutional democratic way? It makes little sense to fire people from good civil service jobs when, actually, you are supposed to be trying to increase the number of jobs available for Americans. It seems, to many, that running a large enterprise like our government without the people who pay attention to the details will be messy and eventually the whole machinery will grind to a halt. Again this could be wishful thinking.

Can a pseudo “Board of Directors” hand-picked by a corporate CEO-style President run America without a clerical staff of experienced government employees who understand the rules and the laws and who each have their particular sphere of activity which keeps that little corner of the government running smoothly. They can if they intend to ignore the rules and laws. Our unpopular leader shows a pattern of a top-down governing style that is quite at odds with the illusion of a more bottom-up governance that is the purpose of having a Congress with elected representatives. He is beginning to see that there is a Congress and that with Congressional approval he might get his way more often, but he is not used to sharing any of his power. All his employees, even when they are family, are perceived to have only advisory roles. He does have a Congress that is on his side and they are trying to help him grow into his role but he has never been malleable. He is sort of like a large hyperactive child and in the White House as the President that makes him a “bull in the china shop”.

I was hoping that the President would have already been ousted from office. He has broken so many traditions. I guess we are finding that these traditions do not have the power of laws and that the American President has been given immunity from many of the rules of ethics and just accepted practice, even though most modern Presidents have held to these standards. But not 45. He has turned our government into the family business. He gives the appearance that he has complied with an absolute separation between his business interests and his powers as the head of the US government but we all can see that this is not so. Nepotism even worried our forefathers but Mr. T has no problems with it and, apparently, neither does anyone else in the Republican-controlled Congress. At the end of the first 100 days we find his daughter and son-in-law ensconced in the White House and doing business with world leaders around the world. We suspect they do a little of the nation’s business and a lot of the Trump business everywhere they go.

Donald should either have to comply with these protocols which protect the American people from dictatorship or kleptocracy or he should be forced to leave the Presidency and return to the private sphere. However frustrating we find his casual approach to protections that have been important features of our government these things are apparently not deal breakers. Even the many connections between his Presidential campaign staff and Vladimir Putin’s Russia and possible charges of treason have not made a dent in Donald’s tone deaf occupation of the American Presidency or in the confidence of those who elected him. He manages to blithely tweet his way through all of it and head off on the weekend for some golf.

As to the actions of the incomprehensible leader of the free world in regard to our relations with foreign nations the first 100 days have been, well, incomprehensible. He seems to have alienated all our allies and made nice with all the nations that concern us, except Syria and North Korea. Is he ready to go to war or is he just rattling sabers? He has left us teetering between amusement and horror. We can’t decide if he is dancing on the edge of disaster taking us along for the ride, or if he is the astute gamer that he claims to be. We can see similarities between Trump and Kim Jong un, at least in their shared paranoia syndrome, but Trump does not seem to have the imperialistic or hostile motives Kim Jong un seems to telegraph. Is Trump taunting North Korea to get them to either back down or do that final incendiary thing that initiates trading bomb strikes with all the attendant damages? What will happen in Syria? We just saw DT threaten to cancel the trade agreement with Mexico and Canada (NAFTA) and these nations seem to have backed down and agreed to negotiate new terms. Will threats and bluster work? All I can think is that watching Trump deconstruct America is putting the fear in them. I liked America’s role as a diplomatic power, trying to keep hate from escalating and talking with other nations and not to them. It appears that this is not the Trump way.

Whatever each one of us sees as we reach the 100-day milestone (however arbitrary the time frame) it is clear that there is discontent in the realm, and as far as our “king” is concerned there are only bad polls, partisan courts, fake news and paid demonstrators. How incompetent, treasonous, uninformed, unethical and nepotistic does a person in the US Presidency have to be before s/he is given the boot? Obviously 100 days is not enough time for this disaster to reach critical mass.

 

If This Isn’t Treason, What Is?

The news that comes out of this White House is so unlike anything that I might have ever imagined that it seems as if America will just fall apart, disintegrate, and cease to exist as a democracy and as a nation. I have said this same thing at least once a year for the past seven years and it has always been true. The events of post 9/11 America have been contentious, shocking, unsettling, and indicative of a sort of spiral of chaos, held in check for a while by the charm and grace of the Obama administration and perhaps an unspoken anathema to going down in history as the person/s who impeached, discredited, or assassinated America’s first American President of African Descent, a man who was voted into office almost by acclamation.

Grace and charm are now gone. The GOP, which flirted with insurrection, (and still will, given half a chance) is overshadowed for the moment. What we seem to have moved on to at this moment in time is a President who has flirted (or is still flirting) with treason. And it seems that there is nothing we can do about it but stand gape-mouthed in our kitchens staring at our TV’s.

The people have not heard any actual proof that DT himself spoke with the Russians but we know he telegraphed his invitation to collusion because he did it right out loud in numerous rallies. The statement I heard on the news last night is that “Trump campaign aides were in constant touch with Russian intelligence.” The people who surround DT do not seem to be people who act on their own. He seems to require absolute loyalty and he hands down assignments to his underlings which they will then complete. They have been with DT for some time and they know how to complete tasks to his satisfaction. He seems to use a mainly top-down management style.

The media is trying to make it clear that if anyone knows of a way to actually connect DT with Russia they should come sit by them. I don’t blame them. This would be an amazing scoop. But it sounds as if even a direct connection between DT and Putin to dump propaganda and private conversations into the media before an election will not be enough to prove either election tampering or treason. DT seems completely unconcerned and his only reaction so far is to try to make folks feel guilty for doubting Flynn, to repeat his electoral college vote like an incantation, and to try to get us to prosecute the leakers rather than the perpetrators.

We appear to be back to the question of whether leakers are traitors or whistle blowers. Leakers in this case are giving the press and the people information they need to know so we like them. When we like what is happening that seems to qualify as whistle blowing. The decision about leak v blow of whistle cannot be resolved at this time, but in this case, I hope the leaks keep coming.

The Republicans have their majority in Congress but it has not proven to be productive for them yet because DT does not seem to have the least inclination to go through Congress to pass laws. In fact the whole of Congress appears to be just an aside or an afterthought in this administration. Mr. T seems to have the hang of the executive decision apparatus which includes consulting with all his loyal cronies and family, a sort of rule by committee, and is sticking to that for now.

Republicans wanted to be in power so badly and are so ecstatic to have succeeded that they seem to have no desire to rein in the overweening ego and authoritarian bent of our fearless leader. It is practically impossible to believe that the Republicans will act on even this stunning information. Collusion with Russia, the exact nation we have spent years trying to avoid sharing information with, seems so close to treason that it cannot be ignored. We blacklisted Hollywood actors and politicians for joining the American Communist Party which had no connection with the USSR. Apparently we may have reached a point in American governance where a President actually cannot be unseated.

This is where the people come in. I had almost forgotten the people. They were so silent most of the time while Obama was president unless they were parroting Fox News. They did not get riled up during the election about anything but Bernie Sanders. They did not shout down the demeaning of Hillary Clinton. There were no demonstrations, or objections that were loud enough to outshout the true loudmouth in the campaign.

But the people are the fourth branch of government that is addressed in the Preamble of our Constitution when our forefathers say “WE the People”.
We are powerful because we have numbers on our side. We outnumber those folks we send to Congress to represent us. We conduct their business for them even in the halls of government. We are the referees. We police the game. When the game goes foul we call it, we point it out and hopefully the press backs us up, because the people in the press are also “we the people”. If the people do not make government straighten out when it is going off the rails then we are doomed to be just another democracy that used to be great but now simply proves the point of famous thinkers who said democracies can’t last for very long.

Susan Sarandon was on the Chris Hayes news hour on MSNBC last night while I was washing dishes and I got so angry listening to her that I almost threw a dish. She seemed to be arguing that demolishing our government and starting over is the only pathway that will get us out of the hole of corruption that we are in. Is that the only way open to us, to trash it all and start over? Isn’t history and continuity worth anything? She and her friend were still upset about Bernie Sanders losing the election, but did he ever really have a chance to win?

The only issue that holds any importance for them is the damage that has been done to the environment during the Obama administration and which will escalate under DT. Many of us worry about whether we can keep putting off doing the things that need to be done to take care of the planet. Even so she would not say that she regretted deserting the Democrats and that she was sorry about DT now that she could see the chaos. I was actually shouting at my TV when all she would say is that the chaos would be good in the end. But I wish we had done all we needed to do before the election so we did not have to go such a long way out of our way and we would never have to wonder if we could find our way back. And treason would still be a reason to kick someone off the team, even a President.

Donald Trump and the Republicans

harry-truman-about-republicans-big

I haven’t said much about Donald Trump winning the 2016 election because I don’t know what to say. During his primary rallies, I did discuss what a Trump Presidency might be like. I was really hoping people would not go “there”, but when I saw lawn after lawn and truck bumper after truck bumper with Trump/Pence signs and no signs for Hillary Clinton I began to realize that Hillary fans were laying low.

I wrote many articles in favor of Hillary, but unfortunately no one reads my blog. I did not get a lawn sign, though, until the last month before the election. I felt intimidated by Donald Trump’s casual approach to violence and the way he loved to incite his followers to express their passion for him. I felt very alone with most of my family deciding that Trump would be fine and most of my friends feeling that Bernie got gypped.

I really do not have the slightest idea what Donald Trump will be like as a President. He may be the President of America, but he is not my President. I think he is ruled by adulation. If he feels his audience slipping away he will do what he must to win it back. He does behave predictably in that his reactions to all things are personal and emotional, but he is not ideological. He makes a policy statement one day and reverses it the next.

When I read the Elena Ferrante quartet of books about Naples, Italy I was strongly affected by her descriptions of how Fascism remained a factor throughout Italy long after World War II. I guess I thought, beat Mussolini, beat Fascism. But that was not true. There were many tough guys still around who got their way through intimidation, bullying, and baseball bats. That’s how I recognized Donald Trump immediately as soon as he spoke at his first public rally. That’s when I began to worry about his ability to sell himself and his willingness to use any means necessary to get his way.

paul-ryan-big

I had studied what the Republicans were up to for the past 6 years. They were the enemy I knew. I didn’t like what they were up to. They were planning to pare back the Constitution to 1787, get rid of 200+ years of law and tradition (except the parts that matched their ideology). They have broad plans to benefit the rich and make the poor get off their duffs, but they offer no specifics.

I did not want the Republicans to get control of all three branches of government. They were too radical, they had too many nuts running around shooting off their mouths. They stopped our government until they could win a national election. They cheated and used unfair and perhaps unconstitutional practices to try to make it likely that they would win.

I can’t imagine that Donald Trump was part of their plan, but he did win them the coveted office of the President and he won them the right to appoint at least one Conservative to the Supreme Court. And I wouldn’t be surprised if pressure was brought to get some Liberals to leave the court. But they may have more than they bargained for in Donald Trump. He has to win and if Congress tries to corner him into doing anything he doesn’t want to do or makes him feel that he is not winning, he will find a way to exert his rather frightening authority to get his way. Is he the kind of bully who incites violence but also fears it? Maybe. Another thing we don’t know.

My friends and family are smug and thrilled and they believe that the right person won which is difficult for me to live with. My best course of action is to wait and see what happens. The cast of characters is already making me very nervous, but Donald Trump will not take over completely until after the holidays. Will the Republicans find the strength to resist him if he gets too extreme? Will the people rise up in the depths of winter and cry out against things that our democracy should consider unjust? I think the Donald will probably have his way with us. Our best bet is to become what a Facebook group member suggested – Dumbledore’s Army. Find a hidden Room of Requirement and train up new Democrats. Hash out great policies and reforms and get ourselves a deep bench. Then, if there is any American democracy left when everyone is done with what Donald and the Republicans have in store for them, perhaps we can try some of the real reforms our government needs.

http://thearmchairobserver.com/donald-trump-deranged/

http://thearmchairobserver.com/donald-trump-deranged-details/

http://thearmchairobserver.com/the-bully-vs-the-wonk-debates/

http://thearmchairobserver.com/donald-trumps-way-back-foreign-policy/

http://thearmchairobserver.com/i-blame-donald-trump/

http://thearmchairobserver.com/trump-demographics/

http://thearmchairobserver.com/will-we-duke-it-out-in-streets/

http://thearmchairobserver.com/stopping-donald-trump/

http://thearmchairobserver.com/why-we-cant-elect-donald-trump-or-any/