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Posts published in “Day: November 2, 2020”

A sign of hostility

rainey

Walking the dog a few days ago, I came upon what we here in the desert euphemistically call a “yard” (yards here are crushed rock - not grass) with three Trump signs.

Not an unusual sighting hereabouts - those Trump signs. Except one was very different from the other two which were the standard versions. The unusual sign said “MAKE CHRISTIANITY GREAT AGAIN - VOTE FOR DONALD TRUMP.” A garland of flowers was woven - photographically - across the top.

“Make Christianity Great Again!” I damned near lost my breakfast! For the first time in my long life, I was overcome with a heated desire to grab that sign and rip it to pieces. Even the dog - Skeezix - could feel my sudden anger.

Donald Trump is going to “make Christianity great again?’ Trump? The guy who had dozens of peaceful protesters tear gassed and shoved off public streets so he could stand in front of a church he doesn’t attend, to hold up a Bible (backwards) so he could have a photo op? That serial-lying, mean-spirited, grossly incompetent and incredibly dangerous human being? The guy who pays porn stars thousands of dollars to keep quiet about his sexual activities. Him?

No, my foolhardy and incredibly ignorant neighbor! No, not him. Not him ever! Trying to link that political disaster of a presidential aberration to anything Christ-like is absolutely impossible. That sign says more about your out-of-touch political knowledge and your lack of understanding of the Christian way of life than trying to show your neighbors your political presidential preference.

Trump has put this nation through dozens and dozens of political indignities and lowered standards in nearly everything he’s touched. Christian?

New evidence of how low Trump will go - and how unlike Christ the man is - came several days ago when an April, 2020, conversation between ace reporter Bob Woodward and Trump’s “in-over-his-head” son-in-law, the young Jared Kushner came to light.

You don’t have to listen to the entire thing. You need only 30 seconds or so to hear Kushner’s - and Trump’s - depravity. Their plan - when our COVID-19 deaths at the time stood around 40,000 souls - was to make a large government push to open everything back up. Right now! Schools, businesses, manufacturing, airlines, etc. Trump would be the self-proclaimed economic booster. “Open everything up!” “Things will be O.K..” But, if - if - coronavirus cases continued to mount, blame governors! Blame the governors!

That’s about the most devious, heinous political thinking I’ve ever heard. And I’ve been around a lot of politicians and political conversations for a long, long time.

Imagine. To please his backers - his political “friends” - he planned to reopen a then-shuttered economy so those folks could profit - no matter how many Americans died - then blame the nation’s governors for “acting too soon!”

Over the last several years, I’ve not hidden my feelings about Trump. From the git-go, he’s been a political accident, receiving fewer popular votes but winning several key electoral college states. So, the “winner” became the “loser” while the “loser” became the “winner.”

From day one, he’s exhibited how lacking he is in leadership qualities, empathy, compassion, knowledge of government, ignorance of the working side of the presidency, how to conduct himself as leader of the world’s most powerful nation.

His walk-away from political disasters has mirrored his personal conduct as a private businessman. If you lose, disassociate yourself from the loss, declare you “won” and go on to some other doomed venture. Except, in government - especially at the top of government - it doesn’t work that way.

The longer he’s been in office, the more his dangerous qualities are displayed. Un-friending our historic world partners, our treaties and other agreements with them, while cozying up to some of the world’s worst dictators. Openly admiring Vladimir Putin and all things Russian while being told by his own security professionals of the extreme dangers represented by Putin.

Now that we’ve had four years of his version of the presidency, we’ve come to know him. Really know him. His complete ignorance of business and ethics - long-known to people who’ve had dealings with him over many years - are now known by other world leaders.

And, by us. The governed. His ignorance of the office he holds, his “bull-in-the-china-shop” attitude about relationships and world dealings, his lack of understanding the Constitutional roles of the presidency versus the other two branches of government, the inability to relate to citizens of this country - all this and more has marked his tenure.

I guess, given the knowledge of Trump’s publically-known failings, the danger he poses for all Americans, his abuses of power and seeming lack of common values, combined to set me off when it came to someone publically believing he could have a positive affect in matters of Christianity. And, I suspect that sign would bring a lot of laughs in the Vatican. Trump to” make Christianity great again?”

Now that I’ve had a few hours to calm down, the anger is less. But, what’s left of it is directed at me for forgetting my own Christian values and the tolerance we’re expected to have for others. “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Put THAT on a sign in your gravel yard. In my yard.
 

Autocracy 101

jones

From the start of his presidency, Donald Trump has expressed a discomforting admiration of autocratic leaders across the globe--Vladimir Putin of Russia, Xi Jinping of China (until the estrangement earlier this year), Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, Recep Erdogan of Turkey and a number of lesser lights. Trump has maintained a torrid affair with the despotic ruler of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, as Kim has built a formidable nuclear weapons capability, with improved means of delivering them to the U.S. mainland.

No other American President has expressed such passion for foreign autocrats or actually employed some of the tools in the autocrat playbook in an effort to hang onto power. The playbook calls for weakening democratic norms and institutions in the subject country--the free press, scientific community, justice system, civil service and any other institution that stands between the autocrat and total power.

Writer Amy Suskind has compiled a remarkable list of hundreds of democratic norms Trump has broken during his tenure in office--things like embracing white supremacists, personally profiting from public funds, ignoring/denigrating scientific consensus on climate change and control of the coronavirus, falsely attacking the integrity of our elections and on and on. Breaking these norms weakens our democracy and strengthens one-man control over numerous levers of power previously unavailable to the president.

Trump’s consistent lies have weakened the ability of credible news outlets to hold him accountable. One news organization has documented over 22,000 false or misleading Trump claims during his presidency and such claims are now increasing at a clip of about 50 per day. Our democracy depends on a free press to shine the light on governmental conduct and prevent misuse of power. By free press I mean news organizations that fact check and verify news before publishing it. The lies are designed to discredit factual news and replace it with government propaganda favorable to the great leader.

The norm breaking and lies are right out of the autocrat playbook--Autocracy 101, as it were. Perhaps the most frightening play occurs in the advanced stage of autocracy--persecution of opponents of the regime. Every self-respecting autocrat does his level best to round up and incarcerate his opponents. Trump has not yet succeeded in this task but it is not for lack of trying. He has called for numerous regime targets to be indicted for crimes and/or locked up--Hillary Clinton, Barack Hussein Obama, Hunter Biden, James Comey, Andy McCabe, Gretchen Whitmer, John Brennan, Joe Biden, Peter Strzok, John Kerry, Adam Schiff, John Bolton and an expanding cast of others, including Trump’s curious “arrest somebody” tweet on October 7.

Because he is the most loyal lap dog available, you can bet that Attorney General Bill Barr would long ago have indicted and arrested each and every one of Trump’s targets, if any credible evidence existed against them. Barr was put to the test with McCabe when the federal trial judge told the Justice department to put up or shut up. Barr backed away. Indeed, as the election approaches and Trump gets more demanding about indicting, arresting and charging his opponents, Barr has gone mysteriously silent. Has anyone heard a peep out of him lately?

Trump claimed that several investigations he unleashed would prove skulduggery against him, but each such inquiry has fizzled and died. Trump is left beating an incomprehensible dead horse involving the Bidens, the Russian mayor of Moscow, a damaged laptop and Rudy Guiliani, that even Trump’s pal, Vladimir Putin, has brushed off as no big deal. It is clearly time to retire Trump. He does not need an additional term in office to try to dredge up an even worse Attorney General who would do anything he commands.