A day after the insurrection

For much of the Trump regime’s term in office, his supporters claimed that it was his “policies” that earned their devotion. In the wake of yesterday’s final demonstration of his priorities, we now know that Trump was lying all along. His goal was never to Make America Great Again. It was to gain and hold power to do as he wishes, without a plan, accountability or consideration of the consequences. His motives were always makeup-thin and disguised under a political combover of claimed victimhood supported by mob rule.

The cover of the Chicago Tribune on January 7, 2021

Those who saw through Trump from the start were forced to endure accusations that we were #nevertrumpers. The term was originally meant to be an insult. Now it sounds like the best compliment anyone could give you.

We were also accused of having Trump Derangement Syndrome (#TDS by Twitter standards). But the visage of a deranged president telling a mob to descend on the Capitol proves where true derangement lies. It is with Trump, and all who follow him.

The President of the United States during a speech in which he instructed followers to attack the Capitol.

The people who “broke through” barriers and police lines around the Capitol building were pleasantly surprised how easy it was to attack democracy at its heart. They wandered around the halls and ransacked offices. Some walked off with souvenirs as if they owned the place. That’s what they have been told to believe by Donald Trump, that they own America.

One of the mobsters on patrol posed with his feet up on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk. The arrogance and hate and misogyny of that single act, along with the theft of her nameplate from the office, constitutes an act of political rape. Like Trump, his followers think any brand of rape is funny as long as there are enough people around to laugh along with you. “You just grab them by the pussy…” Trump once bragged.

He thinks he owns the place.

We were also treated to the sight of people toting the Confederate Flag around inside the United States Capitol building. That act alone is a brand of sedition, insurrection and criminal trespassing. That man should have been arrested on the spot. He’s holding a symbol of insurrection.

The mob participant carrying a Confederate flag inside the United States Capitol building.

We fought a Civil War a little more than one hundred years ago to defeat that flag. The Confederacy had seceded from the Union ostensibly over the autonomous right of states to conduct their own business. That included slavery at the time. A bloody war was fought to rid the nation of slavery and reunite with states that walked away from the greater concept of a nation built around equality, not a brand of raw commerce that abused human rights. Trump has revealed that a significant number of Americans do not accept unity, equal rights or fair treatment of immigrants, people seeking asylum or even children born here in America who want to stay.

Instead, we find so-called Americans toting around the flag that stood for slavery, torture, abuse, and racism. That is deplorable. But that’s not even the point. The embrace of thin-skinned Confederate mentality by the MAGA crowd is not even the most horrific part of the Trump presidency.

The worst part in all of this is that 74 million people believe that Trump is right about America. They’ve absorbed his angry greed and allowed it to infect their souls and even convert their religion to a defense of his selfish need for adoration. What Trump stands for is not communal good. It is selfish complaint and cries of victimhood whenever you don’t get what you want. 74 million people think that brand of political leadership is just great. They believe so strongly that they assembled in Washington and breached the Capitol by breaking out windows, threatening police and forcing legislators to endure a siege that symbolizes everything that’s wrong with Trumpism, and America. All because they claim the election was “stolen” from them. The perversely spoiled and childlike lack of discipline in those contentions is indicative of a psychosis wrought by propaganda, gaslighting and raw dishonesty.

People still buy it because conspiracy theories sound convincing and a secret source of “information” called QAnon convinces repressed church ladies and Proud Boys and televangelists preachers they have something to fight for because pedophiles are taking over the world, or whatever. If there is evil to be fought, America long-ago proved it is up to the task in situations such as World War II. But let’s not forget that Black Americans who served in that war came home to Jim Crow laws and the same old racial discrimination they’d left behind.

It took decades of struggle and the non-violent work of leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to make civil rights gains. Trump came along and encouraged people who fear those changes to flaunt white supremacy and the xenophobia and nationalism that comes along with it. Those “policies” where architected by a Trump staffer named Stephen Miller, who contrived all sorts of hateful strategies to appeal to Trump’s dog-whistle brand of populism. That’s why people felt justified in storming the Capitol yesterday. They felt like their “newly won” rights to discriminate and subjugate were being taken away again. Their claim that the election was “stolen” and the attempt to prevent Joe Biden from being certified as President is the direct outcome of Trump’s personal and professional record of racism and ugly landlord psychology.

Attacking the Capitol. Trump supporters. Egged on by the President.

The symbolism of their acts at the Capitol proves that for some people, the lessons of American history including hard-fought progress in civil rights legislation, environmental protection and financial regulation mean nothing even when all three of those things serve to protect the livelihoods and health of average working Americans. They’d rather trust that a slogan such as Make America Great Again covers their petty grievances and their fears about minorities having too much say in society, about gay people getting married, and about women having access to birth control and a legal right to end a pregnancy somehow threaten their “rights” to exist in America.

Trump appealed to that brand of victimhood with a sickeningly effective approach, conducting firebrand rallies where his manner of speech oozed empathy for the supposed cause of those waving Trump flags and wearing red MAGA hats while he lied to them about everything he promised to do, including keeping Americans safe from the threat of a dangerous pandemic.

Meanwhile Trump played golf 308 times during his four years in office, costing taxpayers millions of dollars. That’s basically a full year of time spent on the golf course rather than serving the people of America. He did all that despite publicly criticizing President Obama for golfing while claiming during his campaign that “I’ll be too busy working to play golf.”

The lies of Trump have stacked up like political cordwood. Trump’s obvious plan was to set fire to them all after a political coup in which he assumed absolute power and could destroy even public records from his corrupt first term in office. If he won again, who would dare stop him?

The next thirteen days in the United States of America will be a test of character like we’ve never seen before. Clearly the MAGA crowd and conspiracy theorists saw no wrongdoing in the mob riot yesterday. Some fecklessly tried to write it off to Antifa in disguise.

An example of Trump’s ugly “policies” that amount to abuse and consumption.

But we know the faces of the instigators. We saw that Confederate flag holder and know the identity of that man sitting at Pelosi’s desk.

Most of all, we know who started all this, and how we have to end it. Trump has been voted out of office and disgraced by his actions since the election. Leading up to yesterday’s insurrection, Trump lied and cajoled, even making phone calls to encourage vote fraud to earn him a victory in Georgia.

For these actions, he should be impeached or prosecuted and banned from ever holding public office of any kind, ever again. His civil and financial crimes should be investigated and publicized in full. His corrupt legacy should be cleansed from the United States government and his perverse version of religious fraud, political deception and conspiracy-based power should be confronted with the greatest force possible, which is truth.

Cymbalism is hard at work in America


UNITED STATES – NOVEMBER 19: Rudolph Giuliani, attorney for President Donald Trump, conducts a news conference at the Republican National Committee, on lawsuits regarding the outcome of the 2020 presidential election on Thursday, November 19, 2020. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Unless you live under a rock, you likely saw star witness Melissa Carone testifying at the Michigan election hearings at the behest of that crotch-grabbing, apelike fart machine known as Rudy Giuliani. To Trump Supporters, he’s the Great Ape of the GOP. To his detractors, he’s a sad little monkey banging conspiratorial cymbals (symbols) together in hopes of making a few bucks before his battery runs out.

Carone’s daftly aggressive, self-proclaimed expert testimony at the so-called hearings went viral because her seemingly drunken, completely unproven claims about results from that state’s election were so far-fetched even her hairdo could not seem to keep up with the madness. The crazies seemed to be spewing out the top of her cranium.

The United States is repeatedly plagued by drama of this nature. It is being driven by claims of Republicans (with and without hair) that the election was fixed. All these claims have proven pointless, false and outright scandalous in court. But they keep parading new monkeys in front of judges across the country. More cymbals. More clashes.

The reality show spectacle of modern day politics is a carnival side show highlighted by the GOP’s witless attraction to the hot mess world of blathering blondes and quasi-attractive female attack dogs who earn their keep saying things only the terminally ditzy dare utter in public. Sarah Palin turned out to be the rule, not the exception. They wanted to make her Vice President of the United States, but she sounded quite a bit like Melissa Carone at times.

But Carone takes the hapless blather to a new level. It is also no coincidence that the ecklessly bold hairstyle of Melissa Carone holds quite a parallel to the tragically coiffed visage of Donald Trump. But truth be told, he’s far more vain, drama-driven and idiotic than any female in history. His hairdo is symbolic of a desperate brand of vanity and a need for complimentary attention bordering on sociopathy.* He’s a freak, in other words.

The affectations of the terminally vain do matter. They legitimately warn us that appearances do matter. That is especially true when it comes to toxic personalities disguising themselves as credible human beings. The sight of Rudy Giuliani’s bad makeup job running down his face during a press conference is proof that he’s busy hiding something, and failing at it.It may be fear over his crumbling persona or his cymbal-clashing loyalty to his Monkey Master Donald Trump. In any case his appearance and behavior are a sickness of spirit on full display.

The fact that Trump’s supporters so easily dismiss these painfully obvious signals of disturbed minds is evidence of the tribal nature that an ugly jungle ethic has produced these days in America. The vigilante justice hiding just outside the Beltway is no more sophisticated or considerate than a band of murderous chimpanzees.

Are Trump supporters stupid? That’s not the right question. They are tribally devoted. They follow the orders of those in power. That’s far more dangerous than being stupid. That’s the militia mentality at work in America today. It is primal, racist, nationalistic and frankly, quite evil. And Trump loves it.

It is simply unacceptable to cheer on a being whose claims to authority are so base they represent a step backward in human evolution. We should never malign a beast so nobly earnest as the orangutan, and that is not the intention here. But when it comes to the lower instincts of primates in general, we have to consider both appearances and facts. Donald Trump appears to be functioning at a cognizance level just below human most of the time. He refuses to read even the most basic information assigned to his job. He denigrates medicine and science.

As a point of consideration about the face of this blunt trauma mentality, one of these photos is an image of an angry Donald Trump. The other is an apparently disturbed orangutan. See if you can honestly tell the difference?

The point we’re making here is that supporting Donald Trump constitutes a step back from what civilized people believe about human society. The display of sloppy rhetoric combined with primal gossip by Melissa Carone serves as a textbook example of cultural devolution. It’s hidden behind sex and ritualized behavior just like it is in nature, but the purposes are the same. It’s about gaining and keeping control over others.

Melissa Carone in her petulant monkey mode.

True to form, Carone behaved like a snotty little monkey at the zoo flinging shit against the windows to disturb the onlookers and get a reaction out of everyone. This is how Trump behaves as well. When he leaves, they’re going to have to hose down the insides of the windows at the White House. He’s been holed up flinging shit at the world for weeks now.

This is what we’ve been reduced to in America. It’s long past time to admit that Trumpian Zoo is a failed experiment in jungle despotism. He needs to be sent back to his own cage in Mar-A-Lago where he can carouse with the likes of Melania and Melissa and please himself openly without our having to put up with his lowbrow antics and greedy Banana Republic appeals.

Let the man have his grunting mates and a lacivious harem. That’s how he likes to live, and he has the right to do so. It’s just not what the Founding Fathers had in mind for a civilized nation like the United States of America.

*Sociopathy refers to a pattern of antisocial behaviors and attitudes, including manipulation, deceit, aggression, and a lack of empathy for others.

Losers prove their credulity in refusing to concede

Credulity: a tendency to be too ready to believe that something is real or true.

President Donald Trump apparently still believes he won the election. The conservative media outlet Newsmax relayed these beliefs in story published Tuesday, November 24. It states:

“President Donald Trump is vowing to “never concede,” the “most corrupt election in American political history”— despite the General Services Administration giving the go-ahead to Joe Biden to begin a transition to the White House.

Trump’s remarks came in a late Monday night tweet. He wrote: “What does GSA being allowed to preliminarily work with the Dems have to do with continuing to pursue our various cases on what will go down as the most corrupt election in American political history? We are moving full speed ahead. Will never concede to fake ballots & “Dominion.”

The Sulking Loser.

Clearly, Trump is hoping to paint himself as a heroic figure and a martyr in the face of his massive loss in the 2020 election. President-Elect Joe Biden earned exactly as many Electoral College votes in this year’s election as Trump achieved in 2016 while defeating Hillary Clinton. Trump branded that victory a “landslide” and claimed it as a mandate to do what he wanted with the nation, no matter what the laws governing his conduct and activities dictated to the contrary.

His supporters embraced the landslide mentality while crowing “elections have consequences,” never acknowledging the corrupt nature of Trump’s tactics either during the election or in the months or years to follow. His supporters were so eager to believe in their man as a political Messiah and a literal tool of God that Trump once claimed he could shoot people in the street and his supporters would not abandon him.

That’s not loyalty. That’s cult worship. All of it depends on credulity, the willingness to believe that everything that Trump says is true. In fact, so little truth has come from Trump or his administration the entire Republican Party has been forced to lie along with him or risk running afoul of his considerable ire. Political operatives at all levels and stripes have cowered as cowards while credulity swept over the nation.

The problem with credulity as a rule of thought is that it is so easily converted to fascist beliefs in the classic sense. That’s exactly what has transpired under the authoritarian rule of Donald Trump, the Con Man turned Strong Man.

Fascism (/ˈfæʃɪzəm/) is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society and of the economy which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe.

Fascist Order.

Trump began his rule by embracing authoritarian leaders around the world. He repeatedly suggested that his own position bestowed dictatorial powers upon his person. He invited forcible suppression of his perceived opposition on many fronts, beginning with chants of “Lock Her Up” during his political campaigns. He is finishing now by trying to steal the election (while gaslighting the nation about it) from Joe Biden by attempting to overturn legitimate election results using lawyers, guns and money, whatever it takes. All those are taking the form of real threats. In Trump’s mind, the fear of losing justifies using any means to take power back from people he considers inferior to his own cabal. Amusingly, he promised to pack up and disappear if he lost the election. Well, he lost. But instead of leaving, he’s floating around in a toilet bowl of porcelain consternation while his orange face paint leaves skid marks on his legacy.

As for the strong regimentation of society, Donald Trump repeatedly Tweeted the words “Law and Order” all this year while encouraging police brutality and marching across a Washington street in the company of military leaders. All to hold a Bible aloft as if he is a warrior for God. As if, indeed. Trump is so un-Christlike there is no metaphor or allegory to draw a sufficient comparison.

And finally, let’s consider what Trump has done to the economy. Despite all claims to the contrary, Trump’s tax cuts massively benefitted the rich while leaving the middle class and poor wondering why their tax bills shot up the same year in which there was a supposed tax cut. The excuse: “Oh, well you had to let your accountant or employer know that you wanted more money taken out this year. In the long run, it will even out.” Thanks for telling us, asshole.

The Painted Pimp.

Then came Covid, and millions of people were thrown out of work in the wake of Trump’s patent denial that the pandemic was a threat at all in America. His credulity was revealed later in the year when journalist Bob Woodward published interviews with the President in which he openly admitted that the Coronavirus was a really ‘bad deal’ in terms of how it compared to annual flu and the like. Put plainly, Trump lied to the American people about the threat. He did so to avoid causing any sort of reaction that might upset the economy. That backfired when hospitals were overwhelmed as the pandemic swept across the nation and people started dying by the thousands. We’re now at 250,000 as the predicted peak season in the winter months is about to hit.

And what is Trump doing about the pandemic in the last days of his presidency? Nothing. He doesn’t care if more people die. If anything, he’s ignoring the fact of his massive failure to manage the pandemic all along.

Yet today, he did trot out to claim victory for the Dow Jones average reaching 30,000. Ironically, that performance is more of a response to the predicted stability brought about by Biden’s election victory.

Credulity reigns among Trump supporters.

But credulity still reigns in the minds of Trump and his supporters. They are so eager to believe that he could not lose, they increase their loser status with every new layer of denial.

The Urban Dictionary lays it all out in its definition for the word LOSER.

Loser A “loser” is someone who doesn’t know what they have and fucks it up.They are always making bad choices and fuck up their and everyone’s lives around them.

That is a perfect description of what the Trump era has done. Trump never knew what America is about in the first place. His Make America Great Again slogan was nothing more than anachronistic, nationalistic, racist beliefs wrapped in a security blanket of victimhood to which Trump grandly appealed with his downtalking manner and his phony-ass sympathy for the downtrodden.

King of the Losers. That is all.

He’s a fraud and the King of the Losers when it comes to understanding what it means to accept defeat with a degree of honesty and class. He makes losers out of all of us by persisting in his sociopathic game of vain heroics. The best thing that could happen for America is for Donald Trump and his family to face the fire of legal persecution for the emolument breaches, the grifting of government money, the corruption of post-election lies and the collusion between Trump and the long line of criminals associated with his sick rise to power.

And that includes the whorish evangelicals, the sycophantic GOP and the suburban women praying to God he’ll point them out in the crowd.

Mansplaining Donald Trump

“See, you don’t really understand what the man is all about. He’s about holding up the dignity of other people by standing up for their beliefs. You may not agree with him, but that’s because you really don’t understand him. Maybe it’s because you’re too, well, too nice or something in that female or not-so-macho man kind of way. But he just comes out and says it the way it is, see? He’s honest that way. You expect people to have to explain everything. To go over and over things. But Trump just says it the way it is, right now. That’s what real Americans want, and men especially. For the last forty years since Reagan men have been told to shut up and be nice about everything. Men are tired of that, and Trump knows it. And a lot of women too! Look at all the women voting for the President. They’re not complaining when he makes a joke or admits that he likes to have a little fun with the gals, are they? So why do some women get their undies in a bunch about Donald Trump? He loves women! He tells them that all the time! “I love women!” he tells them. “No one respects women more than me!” He says this stuff and all the politically correct people ignore him! That’s the real problem here. People don’t give Donald Trump and men like him the benefit of the doubt! They’re the ones who really, truly respect women. Many of them are Christian men who put their women up on the altar of respect! To put it simple and straight, they take care of their gals, and the gals know it. They like it that way. Men who hold up their end of the bargain as head of the household do it best… if not with money then with strength and values so the women they respect feel valued and protected. This is the way the world works best, and Donald Trump knows this. He lives it. That’s why so many women and men stand by him on all of this political stuff. They know good people when they see it. They have jobs to keep and 401Ks to protect, and Donald Trump keeps his promises. The economy is roaring back from Covid. Just wait and see! When this stolen election stuff is settled, let me tell you…He’s going to get this country going like never before. You may not get that if you’re all caught up in junk about race and women’s rights and gays getting married, but once you stop abortions, the rest of that stuff will all fall into line anyway. Black people won’t be losing babies right and left. Immigrants won’t be dumping babies on us and going back home either, like that DACA stuff let’s them do. You look at Donald Trump. He’s got an immigrant wife who made the most of the American capitalist system. Her background is a little colorful but that just means she’s a liberated women. He doesn’t need to hold her hand all the time because she’s a strong person. Accent and all, but at least she speaks English, which is more than half the immigrants in this country ever do. You ever gone to the driver’s license facilities? They got more languages on the signs than anywhere on earth. That’s not America. That’s not how Donald Trump wants things to run. He wants to Make America Great Again, like it was before all this political correctness and Bill and Hillary Clinton scams. Let me tell you: Trump knew all along Obama was corrupt. That’s why the whole birther thing was spot on. He was right about Obama’s Muslim stuff too. Hussein. Who ever heard of such a name? Same as Saddam, you see? How that works? It shows you right there what was wrong with those eight years. All that smart guy talk and Obamacare lying was just for show. You look at Benghazi and realize that Obama never cared about Americans anywhere on earth. Clinton too. It was all about themselves and locking up money once they got out of office. Now they’re all millionaires, and fake ones at that. Who makes millions selling books? Crooks, that’s who. Not like Trump, who builds things all over the world. Plus those Clintons and Obamas…they’re narcissists. Any psychologist can tell you that. My friend’s a psychologist and he told me that. I see psychology stuff all the time on the Internet. There’s so much of it you can’t even wade through it all. That tells you how bad those people really are. But Trump, his sister or niece or whatever wrote a book about him and it was like water off a duck’s back. Nothing stuck because it wasn’t true. He’s good people, that’s why. Look at how he talks to everyone. It’s not uppity politician talk. He’s like a pastor or something, standing behind the podium. And those reporters? You know what’s wrong with them? They’re all dishonest. Every damned one of them. Looking to lie because they have a pen or a computer and know how to use it. But that doesn’t make them experts on anything. I’ll take Trump’s gut instincts over their gutless journalism stuff any day of the week. Look at how Trump fooled the doctors with that Covid stuff he got. He was back at the White House in days. Reporters were crying and moaning that he wasn’t wearing a mask. They’re the wimps. They couldn’t handle getting the Covid like Trump did. He blew right through it like he was playing through a slow foursome on the golf course. “Outta my way, Covid! I’m playing through!” That’s the kind of man we need to keep in office, not let the election be stolen by some old guy Biden and his sassafras Kamala Harris with her Obama looks and weird-ass background. What is she? Part-Indian, Part Black? And a white husband, right? How messed up is that? Our country wasn’t invented to have people mix up the races and have gays marching around like they own the place. That’s not what the Founding Fathers had in mind at all. If you don’t get that, you don’t get much at all. And you can thank me for explaining it to you. If none of this sinks it, you just have Trump Derangement Syndrome. TDS. I hope this cures you. You’re welcome.”

It all lines up under Trump

It’s interesting what happens when you go “behind the scenes” and actually visit the page of a Trump Troll busy trying to defend the indefensible actions of a President compromised by his multiple breaches of constitutional law.

These include violations regarding emoluments, newly revealed evidence of tax evasion, genuine fraud convictions on both Trump University and the Trump Foundation, campaign finance regulations, impeached attempts at coercing foreign governments to aid in his re-election, secret payments to porn stars, serial refusals to pay for contracted work or compensate cities for law enforcement costs during his campaign rallies, and patently racist attempts to encourage police brutality and enact fascist tactics against American citizens across a number of fronts.

All while holding a Bible in a supposed demonstration of his pure conscience.

The fact that Trump Trolls support all this corruption because the President excels at political theater is quite an indictment of the overall greed for power. Those that support Trump refuse to confess that these confused ethics and the moral hypocrisy that drives them are a danger to the nation. Instead they spout platitudes such as Make America Great Again as if those four words have any meaning at all.

The fact of the matter is that Trump knows better than anyone that slogans sell even worthless products. HIs “You’re Fired” statement fueled a reality TV show that covered up his bankruptcies and bankrolled his brand despite its many failings. Without that $200M or so that he gained from playing a a business mogul on TV, he might have been exposed and deposed for financial fraud a long time ago. How ironic it is that his fake world saved his real ass.

Do like the Russians do

So we should not be surprised that the content posted on their the Facebook pages of Trump supporters is often comprised of fake attempts to justify the Trumpian appetite for power over purpose. The typical tactic of Trumpian memes is to purposely present a falsely black-and-white contrast on social conscience and civil rights. This happens to be exactly how Russian interference in the election proved most effective. It is no surprise that this type of disinformation was eagerly shared by Trump supporters to make the case that their preferred candidate holds the key to American prowess and success.

In fact, what Trump holds most dear to his heart is the authority to undercut the rule of law and democracy. This is exactly how Vladimir Putin conducts business. Trump supporters and to a large degree, the entire Republican Party is complicit in this behavior. The Party of Lincoln has become the party of Do Like The Russians Do.

Divide and Conquer

By way of exploration on this tactic, I explored the wall of a Trump support who was busy chirping at a friend of mine that about a post concerning the debt owed by Trump and how it might lead to a conflict of interest if foreign interests controlled loans to Trump totaling nearly half a million dollars. The Trump woman insisted instead that the “facts” were not in on Trump’s taxes and that no one should be allowed to pass judgment on the man until Trump himself released his tax records.

It’s pretty clear why Trump is not eager to let that happen. He’s spent five years avoiding the issue and doing everything he can to keep his tax records secret. To distract attention from this and other issues that indict his behaviors, he spends most of his time stoking up social and civic fears among his base, a sector of society that seems to prefer distraction over the substance of reality.

Here’s one of the memes that the Trump Troll woman posted on her page.

The group that claims to be the creator of this meme is called Keep America American, an apparel company whose About Us page states, “Our main goal at American Nation is to promote patriotism and love for our homeland no matter the occasion. It’s okay to be a NATIONALIST. It’s okay to be AMERICAN. ” The. slogan that adorns its logo is “Peace through superior firepower.”

Those statements are rife with the barely concealed racism of words such as “homeland” and the tradition that says America is originally and foremost a white nation. Thus it also supports the “whatever it takes” mentality of KKK tactics that define and defend that homeland. The apologetic headline “If the KKK is a hate group” pretends to admit that fact, but only as a precursor to claim that Black Lives Matter is a far greater threat to public safety.

Dismissing the fact that the KKK tortured, raped, persecuted, lynched or murdered thousands of Black Americans in order to claim that Black Lives Matter is its counterpart is a sick attempt at moral equivalency. The KKK emerged in direct response to the abolition of slavery. For 100 years until the Civil Rights Act was passed in the mid-1960s, Black Lives were subject to Jim Crow laws and harsh discrimination all across America. That institutionalized racism bled into law enforcement, filled American prisons with a disproportionate number of Black American citizens, and led to the serial murder of dozens of Black citizens at the hands of police across the nation.

That trifecta of corrupt outcomes is why Black LIves Matter was conceived and introduced as a protest against the American system as a whole. Its original premise is that respect for life was not being shown to Black members of society.

Trumpism is destructive

Into this conflicted scene marches the Racist In Chief, President Donald Trump. His own history of racist statements are not confined to Black Americans. His appetite for racial taunts and discrimination emboldens Trump supporters to espouse racism as a normal and legitimate state of mind in America. Trump has leveraged that approval as a tool for political power. Though this blog posted prior to the Presidential debate on September 29, 2020, it is worth this revision on September 30 to note that Trump refused to disavow white supremacist groups such as the Proud Boys. Instead he instructed them to Stand Down and Stand By. By any normal measure of law and order, those words constitute a threat and an act sedition against the United States of America. So much for the Second Amendment, which begins, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state.” Trump prefers vigilante fear and injustice instead.

The Trump administration builds its rhetoric from the foundations of racist advisor Stephen Miller. Trump and his followers seek to turn back the clock on social progress to a period when intimidation based on race was an acceptable tool of social dominance. While many Trump supporters adamantly insist they are not racist, and Black conservatives claim to love the politics and policies of Donald Trump on matters of economics, trade, housing and healthcare, the inescapable burden of such support is that racism is strapped to the backs of all those who carry water for Trump.

Confusing racism with patriotism

The sickest thing about in all this social conflict is that these brands of closeted racism are now considered a brand of patriotism. Racism and a cultlike brand of nationalism is what Trumpism promises to carry out through its slogan Make America Great Again. What else could it mean? Trump loyalists eager to dismantle American institutions such as the Department of Education and Environmental Protection Agency have worked to dismantle the purposes for which those governmental bodies were established.

Their efforts are succeeding, especially with Covid-19 gutting even normal educational processes thanks to Trump’s disaffecting response to the pandemic and wildfires burning away millions of acres of land in California even while Trump disavows any possible effects of climate change on dramatic environmental disasters. Trumpism is destructive of every type of public trust and responsibility. All of this destruction is backed by religious ideology that claims white people are the Chosen People of God and that the earth is doomed by Original Sin, and isn’t worth saving even if we wanted to try.

Nothing really changes

This is the America in which we now live. It is probably the America in which we have always lived. Civility and justice owned the stage for a while, but the reign of the Great Entertainer Donald Trump is indeed a fulfillment of the self-indulgent wishes of the Great Communicator and Original Dog-Whistle President Ronald Reagan, who started the destruction of America rolling in the early 1980s.

Now Trump has turned the fight for the survival of the American ideal into a real-life nightmare. The only real concern of the Reality Show President is saving face and saving his own skin from indictment and conviction. He knows from his TV experience that pitting Americans against each other in a war of survival is an ideal distraction while he sucks money from the nation through his ill-earned position as President of the United States.

That’s why Trump loves the racist memes and hate spouted by his supporters. It is his only hope for some kind of redemption against the fraud and corruption he’s already committed and plans to expand upon with a second term. Trump knows that gaining fascist control of the nation is worth the kind of money that even money can’t buy. It all lines up under Donald J. Trump.

Even the manatees don’t deserve what’s going on in America

The town of Crystal River, Florida sits at the mouth of its namesake ninety miles north of Tampa. The river empties into the Gulf of Mexico where its mouth widens into a brackish bay rimmed with marinas, waterside homes and canals reaching back toward land. These channels have long attracted sea cows, these days known as manatees.

The local economy of Crystal River feeds off the presence of these large, watergoing mammals. They are a tourist attraction in nearly all seasons, with tour boats taking curious adventurers out in the bay on warm summer days to peek at manatees in their natural habitat.

Some people don’t get it

But people left to their own devices sometimes fail to grasp the impact of human contact with a such seemingly benign beast. And in some Florida locations, people seek to love them a bit too much. In a story reported on Smithsonian.com, “As Florida native Ryan William Waterman just learned, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission takes its manatee safety seriously. After posting several photos on Facebook of himself and his two young daughters playing with a baby manatee, Reuters reports, the authorities arrested him. According to the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act, it is illegal to molest, harass, disturb or—as Waterman found out—hug a manatee. Federal laws also protect the species, which is listed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature‘s Red List.”

The eager father didn’t just touch a baby manatee. He lifted it out of the water, posed his daughter sitting on its back, and then returned it to the water. Wildlife officials noted that the animal was experiencing what appeared to be cold stress from having been removed from its native habitat.

Don’t abuse the manatees

The Florida Wildlife Commission website describes the consequences of abusing manatees. “Manatees are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, the Endangered Species Act of 1973, and the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978. It is illegal to feed, harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, annoy, or molest manatees. The state of Florida has also established regulatory speed zones to protect the manatee and its habitat. The zones are located where manatees live or travel regularly or seasonally. Anyone convicted of violating state law faces maximum fines of $500 and/or imprisonment of up to 60 days. Conviction for violating federal protection laws is punishable by fines up to $100,000 and/or one year in prison.”

There seems to be a general respect regarding safety of the animals near Crystal River. Motorized craft cruising out from the canals make their way slowly through No Wake zones. Between them, a daily flow of of vacationing kayakers paddles around a point in the bay to reach a once-secluded clearwater springs called Three Sisters, a massively popular tourist attraction.

Rush hour at Three Sisters

The water in the spring is indeed Crystal Clear. But kayaking into the pool on a summer day is like navigating a rush hour intersection on the Gold Coast of Chicago. Kayak traffic bottlenecks at the entrance of Three Sisters where three or four embedded stanchions force people to navigate between them. Those impediments keep people from ramming into each other. Inside the lagoon people run their boats up against the shore despite signs posted by the National Wildlife Refuge system not to do so. They also stand on rocks below the surface despite other signs warning them not to do so. The smell of cigarettes wafts across the water as families parked on large super rafts roll about laughing and talking at the top of their lungs.

Girls laced up in stringy swimsuits with naked butt cheeks mix with rotund men in soaked tee shirts lolling about uncomfortably in colorful kayaks. A few handsome young paddleboarders make their way into the cove as well. There are people of every nationality and language chattering away as if the crystal waters were nothing more than a local suburban swimming pool. Of course, there is not a manatee to be seen.

Backwater refuge

On the first trip up the canal leading to Three Sisters, my wife and I missed the entrance. We paddled past the large waterside homes to a place where the clear water grew quite still. Even the sea breeze did not reach back into those spaces. It was quiet for the most part, with a few other kayaks sitting calmly as couples talked quietly. One noted that they’d actually seen a water moccasin snake a few meters back. At the far end of the canal we paddled through a u-shaped culvert beneath a local street. Finally the canal hit a dead end behind a Mobil station. Such is the condition of nature in the State of Florida.

That twenty-minute period of paddling was the most peace to be found during a two-hour paddle trip. But on our way out of the canal we approached a family of mixed ages piling off their kayaks and rafts to swim in the water. They paid no attention to our approach, neither the young or old, including one intrepid little spright with water wings and a lifesaving vest.

Canal confrontations

We waited patiently for them to cross the canal and slipped between the next round. A young father or uncle among them exclaimed how warm the water had gotten where they were swimming. In most pools, we know what that means. Someone just pissed in the water. But this warmth was likely the product of the sun striking the water at that point in the canal. Things warm up quickly in that case. That is one of the reasons why the manatees like the canals during seasons when the surrounding waters generally get cooler. Apparently one of the most popular manatee winter resting spots is the cooling pond nuclear power plant up the coast. The animals reportedly show up by the hundreds, bumping one another as they share the warmth.

Canal zones

All along the canal where we paddled there were manatee protection signs at almost every residence warning boats to drive at a slow speed. There were also signs instructing swimmers to stay off the stone walls rimming the canals because those were private property.

At the moment we paddled past those stone walls, the young father or uncle swimming around with the kids clambered onto the edge of one of the walls with one hand. He was likely bracing himself afloat to support one of the tadpole swimmers of which he was suddenly in charge. All of the family members bore shiny black hair and brown skin. Their accents suggested a Latino origin of some sort.

Suddenly a voice roared from a bit further down the canal. “Stay off the walls!” a man hollered. “That’s private property!”

The young man quickly hollered an obscenity back at the man. The approaching kayaker was clearly a man in at least his sixties with white hair and wrinkling pale skin. He paddled urgently toward the swimmers with a spaniel perched on the front of the boat. “I will take your head off with this oar!” he yelled ahead.

“I will mess you up, bitch!” the young man screamed back. The invectives continued as we paddled toward bay. There was no empathy from either side of the argument.

Current conflicts

It was fair to assume that the man with the dog on his kayak was a local resident looking after the rights of those who live on the canal. His job would have been endless that day in August, because there were thousands of people on the move, a watery rabble one might say, paddling in and out of that canal and the Three Sisters lagoon.

It all makes for a lawless environment as a whole. There are no lifeguards inside the cove. There is no one monitoring boat traffic in or out of the canal. A motorized pontoon boat even traversed the narrow waterways where children swam. Out in the bay, there was a local sheriff out checking boat licenses . But he was busy with the big stuff, not paying attention to the little stuff taking place in the smaller channels.

Flags of glory

Many of the pontoons and motorboats parked along the canal wars bore large TRUMP 2020 flags. One lone craft bore a pair of Anti-Trump flags mounted to the back. One wonders if those neighbors are friendly with one another or not. It hardly seems likely.

The entire scene was a manic mix of American freedoms and personal rights. Like so many American waterways and streets and alleys in America, the nation is currently running on premises of vigilante justice.

That is why the conflict between the angry kayaker and the defiant swimmer escalated so quickly, and was so jarring to witness. It seemed a microcosm of everything wrong with America right now. The white guy clearly approached the situation too aggressively. That elicited an equally disrespectful response from the Latino guy swimming with his little relatives. Both felt they were protecting something dear to them. Yet both were in some respect exhibiting behavior that was immensely out of line with the scope of the situation. But everyone was somehow trying to make a point, and everyone was losing in the process.

Ugliness reigns

That type of overwrought reaction seems to describe the American scene as a whole. The environment at Crystal River is uniquely symbolic of how American consumerism mixed with self-centered recreation, rabid patriotism, and abuse of the environment combine to create a warlike atmosphere even in the most historically significant of places.  

We paddled back to return our kayaks only to find two women in black and white swimsuits standing waist deep in front of the beach where a batch of young men waited for us to return our little crafts. The two women seemed oblivious to the fact that they were standing right in the way of a commercial enterprise trying to do business. Neither of them wore a mask, either. Their arms were crossed and their expressions showed concern over some topic they were discussing. This selfish lack of self-awareness seems to be rampant in the world today. It happens at grocery stores where people focused on choosing green beans ignore other customers. It happens on the roads where drivers putz along in the left lane determinedly unconcerned that their presence impedes all other traffic. And it happens in the Congress and Senate where politicians preoccupied with their own ideologies refuse to turn an ear to anyone else.

So we sat idling in our kayaks for a couple minutes as the women stood hip deep in the water. We hoped they would notice that we were trying to come ashore, but after watching the kayak guy flip out at the swimmers back in the canal, our appetite for confrontation of any kind was gone. Thus we sat there patiently until someone trying to launch their kayak from shore less than politely asked them to move out of the way. Faced with the nose of a plunging kayak, they did move a few feet to the side. That’s when we quickly paddled our boats ashore. This is what America has come to. We’re all daily witnesses to casual abuse by force selfish distraction.

That’s the same force of will that once produced motorboat gashes in the backs of manatees swimming innocently in the canals of Crystal River. The laws passed to protect them actually serve to protect people from themselves in this world. There’s a vital lesson for America in that bit of history.

Manatees and the law

On shore, we returned the laminated bay map to the the kayak workers on shore. The back of the card also contained warnings against touching or abusing manatees in any manner. “Do not jump on their backs,” the card stated. “That has happened.” The card also listed a number of other stupid things that people have done to manatees over the years. Those antics were clearly the behavior of people acting selfishly and without regard for the well-being of the manatees. Like the man who dragged the baby manatee ashore, there are so many people in this world stuck in their own frame of reference it is getting difficult to know who can be trusted to act with civility, and who cannot.

Too many people assume that the law does not apply to them. Or, they believe it is their right to interpret the law according to their own selfish terms. Some folks seem to think that the act of flying a flag or defending a wall entitles them to act out their aggressions. The same goes for wearing a badge or claiming some status; be it race, religion or nationality, that confers them special status.

On the other front, there are many people taking insult too quickly. Some assume that prejudice is automatically at work and that a genuine threat is at hand when some of what goes on in this world is the direct product of cultural misunderstanding. Identity is one of the most powerful of all emotions, and when those come in conflict with each other, look out. It is all the product of human tribalism, and the craftiest of politicians know how to leverage those forces to gain votes and popularity.

That is why the nation is at such risk right now. If people can’t understand something as basic as leaving a peaceful manatee alone in its element, we are doomed to behave like ugly brutes on land as well. This is particularly true when our leaders can think of nothing better to do than make fun of the appearance of a creature such as a manatee rather than appreciate the wonder and uniqueness of their existence. But that’s where we’ve come in the last five years, and America as a concept is sinking as a result. When people feel powered to disavow the need for decorum, driven forward by inspiration from people with ugly spirits and angry hearts, it’s not just the manatees that are at risk. It is all of us.

Why Trump Haters are for the birds

CedarWaxwing solo 3

Cedar Waxwing. Photo by Christopher Cudworth

Recently a long-ago classmate from high school showed up on Facebook. He Friended me and began complimenting bird photos that I posted to my wall. The connection for the first few weeks seemed genuine. He’d never been a nature guy to my knowledge but had lived next to a forest preserve back in the day. Perhaps his upbringing near the wilds had emerged as a deeper interest in his retirement.

He posted photos of his own, images of birds and such around his property. Then one day a cryptic post appeared on his wall. It was rife with jingoistic and politically flirtatious language that was all too familiar to me.

 

Bald Eagle Flight

Bald Eagle. Photograph by Christopher Cudworth.

He claimed at the moment to have a neutral stance on the state of the nation these days. Perhaps he was an Independent of sorts? Even a Libertarian? Over the years plenty of that cropped up in social media too.  And then there are the supposedly objective among us, who view all politics and government as the scourge of life. “They’re all crooks,” goes the line.

Meanwhile, the comments kept coming about nature and birds and such. He knew that I was a birder way back in middle school and high school, earning the not-so-complimentary sobriquet “Birdman” from friends who found the hobby ridiculous. So I continued our friendly repartee and helped him identify some species that showed up at his feeder from photos that he’d posted.

Trump shrug

Then came the Purple Post. My new-old-friend had decided to “lift the veil” on his political affiliations and made a statement to that effect with a closing statement: Vote Trump 2020.

I wasn’t shocked. But I was disturbed. My concerns were specific and real. If he claimed to love wildlife and the environment so much, how could he possibly support what Donald Trump has been doing to our country’s laws and regulations that protect clean air and water, conserve both common and endangered species, and honor key acts governing even archeological and paleontological resources?

The list of attacks on these protections is long. I call them the Trump Killers, because he’s presided over legal and political attempts to kill every one of these laws. Here are the major policies that Trump and the Republicans have set out to kill, or have killed already.

Trump KIllers

The point in posting this list is to help people connect the dots between the wildlife my supposed Facebook Friend loves to enjoy and the laws that provide protection and habitat for these living things to survive. That’s a simple enough concept, right?

Yet in Trumpian fashion, his love for Trump is so ardent yet so shallow that he likely has no idea that any of these actions are being taken. He lives near one of the few habitats where Kirtland’s warblers breed in Michigan. Birders have worked to help protect that and many other species. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act alone is designed to protect hundreds of species that travel to our country during spring and fall. Does he even know why such laws are important? Doubtful.

Too many Trump supporters appear to come from a background where science is considered a worthless opinion. Some of that stems from religious prejudice wrought from an evangelical mindset based on biblical literalism and its intellectually retarded offspring, creationism. Some 35% of Americans tend to abide in that worldview, and the consequence is that men like Trump and his greedy Republican allies grant carte balance to industrial polluters and environmental abusers because, it is claimed, the human race has dominion over the earth.

Bluebird 4

Eastern Bluebird. Photograph by Christopher Cudworth.

That is the absolute brand of cognitive dissonance at work in Trumpism. It aggressively fails to recognize the connection between these environmental and resource acts and our nation’s contribution to their survival. In other words, Trump supporters completely refuse to connect the dots between the things that actually make America great and the things Donald Trump does to destroy them. And if you question their passive-aggressive practice of posting provocative Pro-Trump memes and then whining when you challenge them, the first instinct is to gaslight all those with the gall to present evidence of the President’s own lies and contradictions of his own statements. They want to make you feel like it all never happened. “You must be crazy,” is the implication.

And sure enough, when I commented on my friend’s Purple Post, he immediately made a baiting statement that he “knew I’d be first to comment.” In other words, he was taunting me and others. Just as predictably, his Trump-loving friends chimed in with memes supporting Trump and ridiculing those who don’t “get it.”

And finally, one of those Trump Lovers branded me a Trump Hater.

Trump Maga Hat

That’s the “go-to” dismissal for all Trump supporters. It implies an irrational hatred for the President. It directly aligns with the so-called Trump Derangement Syndrome that Trump supporters use to paint those who oppose them as radical leftists who oppose true American virtues. But it’s interesting how many terms it actually takes to insult those who oppose Trump.

The hypocrisy in all this is quite evident. If a Trump supporter loves birds and wildlife but does not understand that the President is doing everything he can to gut laws protecting those resources, that’s plain stupid and irresponsible. And if a Trump supporter claims to value civil rights yet wants to deny those rights to gay people or people of color, that’s an insult to the entire notion of what civil rights mean. And if Trump supporters claim to love life yet refuse to limit access to weapons capable of slaughtering dozens of innocent people in minutes, then they are lying to us all.

That is the dynamic that exists across the entire spectrum of  Trump policies. Claims to virtue counteracted by repression of those whom the Trump world hates. And Trump himself is the most consistent lawbreaker. From breaching emolument laws on conflicts of interest to pressing foreign countries to interfere in our nation’s elections, Trump has flaunted our Constitution and its foundational premises. He refuses to respect the rule of law and at the same time uses it to punish those causes he considers his enemies. He is the most hateful acting of all Presidents, fueled especially by hatred for Barack Obama, whose legacy he has steadfastly and vengefully tried to erase.

bobolink

Bobolink. Photo by Christopher Cudworth

But it’s the birds that illustrate this whole hatred thing the best. Many of those laws listed above were actually implemented with collaborative approval by Republican Presidents and members of Congress and the Senate. But Trump hates them all. The real Trump Hater, in an active sense, is Trump himself.

So I’ll not abide the insults and the targeted claims that I’m somehow “deranged” for opposing the nasty things this President is imposing on our country. They are hateful in every respect, a testimony to the selfish and shallow fraud of a human being whose grasp of even the most simple concepts is at best questionable. Yet he calls himself a genius and brags about his intellect, all while gutting the purposes of our public education system, our civil rights and our heritage as a haven for the desperate and the poor. Donald Trump is the most hateful man on earth right now, and his supporters love him for it. Yet they call us Trump Haters.

Orange Donald

LAS VEGAS, NV – APRIL 28: Chairman and President of the Trump Organization Donald Trump yells ‘you’re fired’ after speaking to several GOP women’s groups at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino April 28, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Trump has been testing the waters with stops across the nation in recent weeks and has created media waves by questioning whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

That’s a sickness of mind and an ugly testament to the twisted mentality required to vote and approve the actions of a President who is a bully, a despot, and a fascist in every aspect of his demeanor and conduct. In other words, he is a man genuinely worth of hate, but his supporters instead grant him a brand of worshipful love that resembles a cult.

Cardinal and Evil

So we supposed Trump Haters are for the birds, and many other good things in this world, including civil rights for all, a fair and equitable economy that does something other than shovel money to the wealthy, a foreign policy that respects rather than manipulates and brutalizes our allies, a nation free from religious oppression as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and a country where guns are not the final word on respect for law.

But those who love Trump apparently hate all these things, and hate the world as well, because they’re willingly glad to destroy it in order to keep their man in power.

Biblical literalism is costing America dearly right now

Michigan gun protestors

For the last four decades, highly respected polls surveying opinions about religious beliefs have shown that between 30-40% of Americans embrace a biblically literal worldview. That belief system embraces the idea that the Bible story with its six-day creation narrative with animals and human beings fashioned out of nothing is more credible than the demonstrable cause-and-effect outcomes of material processes.

The resulting worldview of creationism also insists that every living creature but a few were wiped out in a global flood and that even the continents were tossed around like toys in a bathtub.

Those premises form a stubborn bulwark against multiple scientific principles ranging from plate tectonics to the theory of evolution.

One-third of America

So it’s time to stop and think about that: almost one-third of Americans do not accept science and instead embrace an alternate view of reality based on a literal interpretation of an oral tradition drawn from beliefs first formed some six thousand years ago. And by no coincidence, many of those same Americans hold the belief that the earth itself if no more than 6-10,000 years old. Some still believe the earth is flat, that sicknesses are caused by demons and that humans once shared the planet with meat-eating dinosaurs.

So it’s not hard to see why so many Americans fail to see the Coronavirus pandemic through a factually clear lens. It is preferable in their minds to deny science and medical information out of habit and fear that it could corrupt their minds and lead them away from God.

Cult thinking

IMG_8609

There are entire organizations and even political parties devoted to the propagation and support of the biblically literal worldview. These range from the apologetically driven Moody Bible Institute to the Answers In Genesis “ministry” with its Creation Museum and Ark Encounter, both facilities dedicated to literal depictions of the Book of Genesis and its array of anachronistic characters. It is little more than a cult of denial, but it is enormously popular in a nation where the irony of religious freedom has produced a generation of patently stubborn idiots.

One in three people who walk into those museums buys that information wholesale. They hear it preached to them from pulpits and consume it through multiple media channels from their local radio stations to the megaphone of Fox News, where dog-whistle anti-science rhetoric claiming the falsehoods of science include calculated PR campaigns and scripted attacks on the impacts of climate change and even basic environmental regulations.

The real alarmists

Let’s be blunt: Americans convinced the earth was created in six literal days are incapable of grasping the public relations sophistication of a story such as a piece published on Fox News from the Heartland Institute, who claimed, “Not surprisingly coronavirus alarm has pushed most other issues and concerns out of the news ⎯ much to the dismay of climate alarmists,” said Steve Milloy of the Heartland Institute. “But the alarmists aren’t taking displacement by coronavirus lying down. In fact, many climate alarmists are trying to use coronavirus as a means of advancing their agenda. They are trying to surf it.”

This fearmongering approach is a common tactic that hearkens back to the earliest forms of propaganda employed by the Christian church to keep people in line. The original alarmists were always religious authoritarians. Traditionally it is the threat of life in hell that religion uses to scare people into believing what they’re told, and without question. Today’s religious leaders and politicians have adapted that approach while targeting science as the enemy of God to convince millions of people that even sound medical advice cannot be trusted.

The love of money religiously abided

Toss fears about the economy into the mix and the fearmongering takes on a whole new level of existential threat. It’s easy to scare people with the idea that someone else is trying to take your money. Climate change deniers and now Coronavirus blamers both claim that scientific warnings about these real threats are all about a money grab and/or an excuse for trying to install a worldwide government.

The sick fact is that even our own government is depicted as a threat among those claiming that basic scientific recommendations about disease control and social distancing are an infringement of liberties. That’s how a gang of gun-wielding domestic terrorists wound up inside the Michigan state capitol building demanding a meeting with the Governor. Their version of truth in action was vigilante lawlessness. In one fell swoop, they demonstrated that aggressive denial of science, common sense and rule of law can all be exacted upon society at will. Disturbingly, the President of the United States approved of their actions, instructing the Governor of Michigan to capitulate to their will. Trump knows that to appeal to “his base” he must cater to the most extreme factions with approval or risk having that 30% of cultlike Trump supporters abandon him.

Trickle-up effect

So we can see how the grassroots belief in biblical literalism and its associated denial of science and truth is costing America right now. President Donald Trump openly embraces evangelicals who deny science and even invent or propagate conspiracy theories that direct blame away from their pet President. All the better to avoid the truth that it was incompetency and delay by Trump right here in America that allowed the Coronavirus to get such traction.

Screen Shot 2020-05-05 at 9.08.40 AM

True to form and in keeping with the “science of denial” common to biblical literalists, Trump at first refused to acknowledge the threat as real (just like climate change) then downplayed its likely spread (though he was informed on a regular basis of the reality of the threat) and has now turned to claim his response has been a dynamic success, when in fact death projections are now reaching more than 200,000 Americans.

The goal now is to outstrip the failure by reframing “success” through the use of denial to convince willing supporters that Trump and team have done a good job. That means preventing any testimony by actual scientists and medical experts at hearings designed to examine America’s response to the pandemic. Just like the Senate’s denial to allow witness testimony about Trump’s corrupt activities in Ukraine, the Republican goal right now is to bury facts under propaganda. This is fascism at work.

LiveScience.com published a fascinating profile of fascism on its website that describes it this way: “Robert Paxton, a professor emeritus of social science at Columbia University in New York who is widely considered the father of fascism studies, defined fascism as “a form of political practice distinctive to the 20th century that arouses popular enthusiasm by sophisticated propaganda techniques for an anti-liberal, anti-socialist, violently exclusionary, expansionist nationalist agenda.”

Fascism, socialism and the public good

Of course, the parallel need of any fascist government is to find an enemy upon which to direct its ire, thereby focusing the fears of its constituents on that target rather than allowing the facts of its own authoritarian power grab to be known. So the Trump regime and its allies are conveniently trotting out “socialism” as that enemy by depicting social programs such as Social Security, Medicaid, and even the US Post Office as socialistically repressive forms of government that must be eradicated. Of course, Trump also eliminated the Pandemic Response Team in 2018 in order to eliminate costs.  This is where belief in a vastly reduced government can have real costs.

As documented on Reuters.com: “In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Beth Cameron, former Senior Director for Global Health Security and Biodefense in the NSC, wrote, “When President Trump took office in 2017, the White House’s National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense survived the transition intact.

“Its mission was the same as when I was asked to lead the office, established after the Ebola epidemic of 2014: to do everything possible within the vast powers and resources of the U.S. government to prepare for the next disease outbreak and prevent it from becoming an epidemic or pandemic. One year later, I was mystified when the White House dissolved the office, leaving the country less prepared for pandemics like covid-19” ( here ).”

Comparable habits

The habits and patterns of denial are so comparable between Trump and the 30-40% of Americans that deny science it is entirely logical to place blame for the spread of Coronavirus on the one-third of the American public that embraces anachronism over science in the modern age. That is proof that biblical literalism is both bad theology and an irresponsible belief system. What God in heaven or on earth would have us choose to disregard or ignore information valuable to the protection of human welfare and even the entire planet? That is a God reduced instead to the petty aims of human selfishness. That is the sin of which Jesus accused the religious authorities of his day, who demanded respect for their country club lifestyle while people suffered in the streets.

These days it is inexcusable to embrace corrupt traditions such as Biblical literalism because it is so easy to find out the facts and know better. Instead, we are being forced to live in an age of lies, misinformation, propaganda and outright fascist attempts to undermine truth in favor of political and religious power in America.

That is the real and original pandemic of untruth with which we’re trying to contend today. Those brutes on the steps of the Michigan capitol are just one illustration of its effects. The other is the painted face and combover lies of a President who can’t face the fact that he’s a fraud, an incompetent, and a bully. That brand of evil threatens to kill us all.

 

 

MAGA deserves a closer look

None of us sees behind the veil of what Trump truly values. I have spoken with people that gained an audience with the man, and his personal interactions with them were both kind and considerate. That suggests there is something more to Trump than his public persona and political style. Perhaps his supporters sense this aspect of their president. So it demands a closer look at what drives the popularity of Make America Great Again.

Trump Maga Hat

His brand of brightly-hued optimism appeals to millions of Americans eager for some sort of renewal in this country. These also tend to be people aggravated by the complexity of life as it has evolved in the American republic. Trump’s slogan Make America Great Again proposes to eliminate the complexity of life by reducing the American experiment to simple actions; cutting taxes, ending illegal immigration, stopping abortion, eliminating financial and environmental regulation and putting religion at the forefront of national policy. Does that cover pretty much of what MAGA fans want to see happen?

The Trump mantra really isn’t more complicated than that. His simplicity is his message. One could just as easily change the Trump slogan to Make Aggravation Go Away and achieve the same objectives. A big chunk of the American electorate craves simplicity. They’re sick of having to think about complex issues such as the lives of transgender people. They’re tired of hearing Spanish rather than English spoken in public places. They’re believers in old-school industries such as coal and oil because they harken to a time before the complexities of air pollution, acid rain, and climate change challenged the status quo. There must be a simpler way. Trump appeals to that manner of thinking.

But first, let’s make the aggravations go away.

MAGA redefined

Make Aggravation Go Away is a powerful message also to people whose vision of America does not require accommodation of any sort. That means Christians should not have to think about Muslim traditions or put up with people saying Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas. That cultural issue alone has aggravated Christians for a decade or so, coaxed on by Fox News chryons pitching the “War On Christmas.”

Make Aggravation Go Away has roots stretching way back to the Confederate cause in which states’ rights were the big issue, but mostly that was a cloak for the right to keep slaves. Indeed, that was the cause of ‘liberty’ back then. Liberty for white Christians quoting scripture to justify selfish aims while treating people of other races as property. It’s hard to read that sentence and grasp that people once truly believed that. Yet that’s what America most needs to do. Come to grips with its own conflicted traditions.

The Civil War was fought over that aggravation. There are still some Americans that wave the Confederate flag as a sign that their aggrieved state has never been recognized.

Protestors

Tracing these historical grievances from the past to present helps to explain why protestors are now gathering to “liberate” their states from Stay At Home orders issued by their governors. Responding to the pandemic has been an aggravation, which is defined as “an intensification of a negative quality or aspect.” The threat of disease is never a joyful situation. Being encouraged or required to retreat from public life is another layer of aggravation. Those orders are being treated as an infringement on personal rights by protestors who want to Make Aggravation Go Away.

Not that simple

The problem with that belief system is that life isn’t always that simple. Trump’s eagerness to prevent any outside influence from impinging on his prized economy is what directly led to the infection rate getting a head start on the nation’s ability to respond. By trying to simplify the Coronavirus threat to a sound bite and a promise that it would “go away, like magic,” Trump put millions of people’s lives at risk, and tens of thousands have indeed died.

Trump Denial

And yet his supporters still seek to simplify the complexities of Covid-19 with even more disturbing sound bites. So desperate are some supporters to protect Trump they have projected blame for the pandemic away from Trump to a more convenient and horrifically simplied target for their ire, Dr. Anthony Fauci. The Fire Fauci meme swept across the Internet with all the resonance and credulity of the Lock Her Up chants aimed at Hillary Clinton. Again, it’s all about Making Aggravation Go Away. Fauci is an aggravation because he’s a medical professional speaking in terms of science, that complex source of often bad news that stands in direct opposition to Trump’s vacuous brand of gut-instinct optimism.

fire fauci

That’s the kind analysis. A more honest approach would be to say that Trump acted stupidly by ignoring clear warnings that a pandemic was brewing overseas and that it would not be confined to arrival just from China. Fauci accurately predicted it would arrive through other channels, yet Trump desperately tried to simplify the threat by calling it the Chinese Virus. That was a clear attempt to politicize the problem with a nationalistic, effectively racist approach to directing blame away from himself. Trump aggressively failed the leadership test of recognizing a genuine threat to our national interests. That is how he approaches every problem he faces. He fails, then bails, and finally assails. It’s all about blaming others. That’s the simplest way to avoid responsibility. But to Trump, it is an art form.

As a result of Trump’s recklessness, our national interests are now bogged in a swamp of economic doldrums wrought by the need to shut down our service economy to prevent rampant spread of the Coronavirus. That requirement has cost millions of jobs and Americans are suffering, big time. The Trump response has been cynical at best. At one point he proudly promised to send Americans what he called a “big, fat check” amounting to about $1200 for most households. And then, Trump held up the distribution of those checks to make sure his name appeared on them.

Big money goes elsewhere

Meanwhile, billions have been snarfed up big money interests all too eager to accept the graft intended for “small business.” That includes Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, whose company gladly embraced more than $800M from the stimulus program. At what point did nepotism become a complete non-issue in this country? How ironic it is that Republicans love to point fingers at the supposed graft of Hunter Biden overseas while Trump’s children blatantly leverage their proximity to the seat of power to pad their present and future interests with promises of profit?

In advance of that flush money going out, Trump promised oversight of the stimulus package to Democrats, then snatched it away after the bill was passed. Of course, his supporters love him for things like that, because it’s just another example of Making Aggravation Go Away.

After all, it was Democrats in Congress that sought to hold Trump accountable for his criminality in seeking to coerce Ukraine into announcing an investigation into his now-confirmed political rival, Joe Biden. The goal of Trump’s digging around in Ukraine was to cast aspersions on Vice President Joe Biden by framing his son Hunter as a symbol of supposed corruption on the part of that family. Those accusations were why Trump’s so-called ‘personal attorney’ Rudy Giuliani spent months mucking around in Ukraine only to turn up nothing substantial. Granted, Hunter Biden does not sound like a prize pupil when it comes to judicious use of family influence or reputation. At one point, neither George W. Bush or John F. Kennedy were paradigms of personal virtue. Even Trump could be forgiven his past transgressions if he weren’t so ardently bent on creating new ones.

Impeachment doesn’t stick

Congress ultimately impeached Trump inaccordance with massive lines of evidence pointing back to Trump’s “perfect” phone call as perfectly corrupt. But the Republican-led Senate made the aggravation go away by refusing to conduct anything approaching an actual trial with testimony and witnesses. Instead, they simply broke the oath to do that and acquitted Trump even while several in the Senate admitted that Trump had done wrong. Once that aggravation was gone, along with the Mueller Report, Trump proceeded on his merry way of mocking his critics and calling everything with which he disagrees Fake News. That’s another tactic for making aggravations go away. Call them fake, or a hoax, and Trump supporters gobble it up like candy.

We don’t even know if Trumpism will allow his removal during a normal election if such a thing exists anymore. By many reports, the Russians are still playing games in the hinterlands of the Internet, posing as Americans and creating fake news sites to pump out pro-Trump and anti-Biden propaganda to divide Americans even further.

Low information 

But it’s not the Russians that are the real problem. It is the Make Aggravation Go Away attitudes of everyday Americans caught up in the authoritarian, nearly fascist call to defeat all those who aggravate the president in any way. This worldview is further fueled by a religious culture that for decades has attacked all that contradicts its scriptural orthodoxy. As a result nearly 40% of Americans embrace the literalistic, anti-science worldview of creationism that reduces the origins of all nature and humanity to the level of a childhood bedtime story. This is the brand of low information that has turned America into a backwater swamp of anti-intellectual populism.

No wonder so many Americans want to Fire Fauci, a medical professional who embraces actual germ theory and the evolutionary insights upon which it depends. And no wonder so many Americans want to “liberate” their state from medical strictures designed to prevent the spread of a quickly evolving virus.

In fact, Coronavirus symbolizes all the complexities that Trump supporters and their evangelical partners love to hate. In many ways, it is the aggravation to end all aggravations, a perfectly unseen enemy that propagates itself through invisible droplets and forces us to wear masks. It looks and feels like the ultimate liberal conspiracy. And if you can’t shoot it with a gun or crush it like a beer can, it surely must be some sort of Democrat conspiracy to block the ideal world Trump wants to lead us to.

Just Make Aggravation Go Away. That is the dog-whistle call of those protestors toting guns, waving both Confederate and American flags and revealing the swastika instincts of depicting The Other as the ultimate irritation in life. That’s how Hitler convinced so many that the Jews were the aggravation vexing the nation. But that brand of thinking can be applied to any other label and it still works. Immigrants. Gays. Liberals. Muslims. Tree-Huggers. Mexicans. Blacks. Indians. The list goes on forever if you let it. A nation built around eliminating aggravations is not a nation, but something else entirely.

It is evil.