Archive for the 'Trump' Category

Well Donald, you’ve finally done it

Well, Donald, you’ve finally done it.

Your ego and lies have taken root in the unfathomable depths of the minds of many of your most ardent supporters.  Your unwavering need to satisfy yourself at a dire cost to others has brought us to the scene I am currently witnessing in our most sacred of places, the Congress of the United States.

Heeding your calls this morning to get tougher, hundreds left your rally and stormed the Congress. Here is what one observer, Washington correspondent Michael Schmidt said…

They said that throngs of Trump supporters left his rally to head directly for the Capitol, marching down Constitution Avenue, chanting “U-S-A” and shouting insults to Biden.

Few of the Trump supporters were wearing masks and many had American flags in their hands. In an odd twist, some of the protesters were blaring the song “Y.M.C.A.” from speakers as well as Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.”

Although you promised those at your rally that you would accompany them to the Capitol, you went back to the comfort of the White House where you angrily Tweeted…

Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!

Vice-president Pence, being faithful to the Constitution, spoke loudly this morning when he rejected your demands that he illegally reject the results of the election. You must have been enraged, especially because your attorney, Rudy Giuliani, had assured you that Mr. Pence could follow your directive and toss the electoral votes of your choice. Given Mr. Giuliani’s lack of any success in convincing the courts of anything, you should have relied on someone else for advice…Maybe one of the convicted felons that you recently pardoned, like Michael Flynn who urged you to declare martial law a few weeks ago.

Your willingness to sacrifice the basic principles of our country to satisfy your insatiable ego is half the reason why we find ourselves a tragically divided nation. The other half of the reason can be traced directly to the elected representatives who were doing your bidding in an effort to advance their own careers.

Led by Senator Ted Cruz, they demeaned the efforts and thoughtful conclusions of state legislatures, election workers and the courts, all of whom testified to the accuracy and fairness of the votes cast by their citizens. Instead, Cruz and his cohorts continued their lying and the grandstanding they hoped would gain favor with enough of their constituents to keep them on the public dole, and maybe run for President.

They knew they were wrong. They wanted a spot in the limelight and never thought it possible that what they were doing would result in violence or rip through the very fabric of this country. 

Some less faithful to you were strong enough to recognize the truth and said so…

“This is what you’ve gotten, guys,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, yelled as the mayhem unfolded in the Senate chamber, apparently addressing his colleagues who were leading the charge to press Mr. Trump’s false claims of a stolen election.

Representative Nancy Mace, a freshman Republican from South Carolina, described seeing protesters “assaulting Capitol Police.” In a Twitter post, Ms. Mace shared a video of the chaos and wrote, “This is wrong. This is not who we are. I’m heartbroken for our nation today.”

Even Mitch McConnell rose at the debate and sternly warned his colleagues of the dire consequences of the tactics used by Cruz and Company.

But there were more to blame. The self-dealing political leaders led by Cruz were accompanied by other, less prominent, co-conspirators. They are those among us who supported conspiracy theories, believed without evidence that the election was rigged, and refused to criticize you when they knew full well that you were lying, obstructing and violating the rule of law. Perhaps their original motivations were benign, but in the face of the facts they have been unable to say I was wrong, and even doubled down as your image, like that of Dorian Gray, deteriorated.

They have had the opportunity to call you out. They have chosen instead to luxuriate in the benefits of your presidency…their 401k, the stock market, freedom from burdensome regulations and a laissez faire attitude. While others have suffered greatly during your time in office, your supporters loved your policies and excused your behavior as an inconsequential aberration that was worth tolerating while you showered them with their every wish.

I’m continuing to watch the scene unfold. Where are you; shouldn’t you be there with your supporters? Are you hunkered down? Is your hair mussed, even a little?

Your co-conspirators are hiding under their desks, getting nervous and Tweeting the need for calm, and law and order.  In a curious twist of fate, they are protesting against the lawless protesters. It’s a little late for that. You’ve created the beast and he is now attacking the trainer.

Good job, Donnie. You’re the center of the universe.

My e-mail runneth over

I thought the election ended six weeks ago…foolish me. Failure to elect two U.S. Senators from Georgia has precipitated a run-off and the attendant pleas for funds with which to wage battle.

The Republican candidates, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, are pitted against Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rafael Warnock. I am intimately acquainted with Ossof and Warnock as evidenced by multiple e-mails delivered each day. Failing to consider the consequence of my actions, I made an early contribution to each of their campaigns without realizing that this would make me fair game for additional requests…my bad.

As justification for embracing this wholesale e-mail onslaught, social scientists would have me believe that the rapid-fire delivery of hourly messages will eventually, like brainwashing, break down one’s defenses and result in making unaffordable contributions with my nearly maxed-out credit card.

Things seemed to be moving swimmingly with Loeffler and Perdue as they aped the rantings of their savior, the President. Ossof and Warnock seemed to be stuck complaining about the President with stories that we’ve already heard. Anxious to fully concentrate on who gets to the Super Bowl, most Georgians have probably already made their choice and are simply awaiting the results delivered by Russian-hacked election machines and hanging chads.

Even the Senate fell into line by approving a stimulus bill that would provide $600 to the eligible unemployed, just enough to have a decent night out if there was only someplace to go. I’ve been waiting so long for the conclusion of this tortuous Congressional process, that the eventual approval of a $900 billion aid package seemed a bit like chicken feed, even though the bill itself ran 5,600 pages.

It’s not the best of bills, but that’s what comes of compromise. We can explain, the politicos figured, the nuances of the bill to our constituents, knowing full well that their attention will be focused on the $600 Treasury check in hand and the Super Bowl…not necessarily in that order.

What a relief thought McConnell and Pelosi. We’ll be home for the holidays. McConnell was especially ebullient with his primary role in the proceedings. Speaking to his constituents he promised, “Help is on the way”. A job well done. Just sit back and relax.

And then came Trump. Feeling unwanted, he took action that would force everyone to refocus on him and forget about the Super Bowl. First, he refused to sign a military spending bill that had veto-proof majorities in Congress. A number of provisions irritated him including stripping the names of Confederate officers from military bases. Other objections included his demand that legal shields be stripped from social media companies…the ones that seemed to delight in criticizing him.

Still feeling unloved, he then took aim at the $900 billion Covid-19 aid package by declaring it a “disgrace”. Until this fit of pique, Trump had left the negotiations to Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin. Steve, believing he had a done deal on Monday as a result of the President’s earlier promise to sign the bill, said that the $600 payments could be distributed “as early as next week.” In a CNBC interview on Monday, Mr. Mnuchin said, “It was a great birthday present for me to have Congress pass this today.”

Not so fast, Steve. Better ask your wife to return that present to Amazon.

On Tuesday, apparently forgetting which Party he belongs to, Trump demanded that the payments be raised from $600 to $2,000. Republicans who had been loudly celebrating their success in capping the $600 came unglued. Were they supposed to support Trump’s newly discovered generosity, or should they risk the President’s animosity which will reign supreme in Mira Lago after he packs his bags and rolls out of the White House? 

Like a boa constrictor sensing a potential victim, Nancy Pelosi congratulated the President for his newly found sensitivity to his citizens’ plight. She reminded him that this is what the Democrats always wanted anyway and offered to bring the $2,000 plan to Congress for unanimous consent. Knowing full well that the Republicans would reject it and create a firestorm of criticism, she licked her lips and spent the rest of the day waiting for other diabolical opportunities.

The Republican senators in the Georgia runoff found it difficult to extricate themselves from their original announcement supporting the $600 bill. When asked what she thought about tripling the payments, the best that Kelly Loeffleur could offer was that it might be ok if we could squeeze the extra bucks out of other wasteful government spending. That approach should be doable well before the next ice age, well after the Georgia runoff.

Faced with a delay in passing any kind of bill that would provide financial relief, an exasperated Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, Twittered“Does the president realize that unemployment benefits expire the day after Christmas?”

The answer to the Senator’s query is, probably not. I wondered if President Grinch even knew when Christmas was.  And then I got this e-mail from the National Republican Congressional Committee, labeled Christmas Card Update. It warned me…We noticed that you STILL have not signed President Trump’s card. HURRY–failure to respond tonight will result in your exclusive spot at the top of the card being given to the next top Trump Patriot on our list.

At least someone will be happy.

It’s Cold Out There

It’s really cold out there.

Maybe not if you live in Chicago, Omaha or Missoula. When I lived in Chicago’s Albany Park, I thought that temperatures hovering around freezing were normal. That changed when we moved to the Golden State where any temperature under 72 brings out my thermals, gloves and stocking hats. You adapt to your surroundings.

My established routine changed when Covid-19 became an entrenched intruder on my otherwise happy life. In addition to altered eating, shopping and travel habits, I was forced to change my scheduled visits to the gym. To accommodate my trainer, Robert, 8am sessions were moved to 7am. An early riser anyway, it was no big deal in the summer…until the days grew shorter and walking to the gym in bright sunshine gave way to utter darkness.

It was like that this December morning. Up before six, dressed in an overpriced Patagonia jacket, head covered with my favorite pulldown cap, and with Apple Air Pods protruding from my prominent ears, I began my twenty-minute slog in inky blackness.

Spotify’s music from my iPhone cascades brilliantly through the Air Pods and obliterates most of the ambient noise. I can still hear the rare oncoming car as I walk against the traffic but I continually wonder if I can be seen by the random driver who may not be fully awake. Even at 20 miles per hour, the passing car reminds me that I am no competition for a two-ton block of oncoming metal.

The 42-degree walk accompanied by songs that have weathered the years is delightful. The still dark homes along my route have become familiar. The same cars with familiar license plates are parked at the curb. Little along the way draws my interest…except for the house on Fox Street.

I am nearing my destination when the house appears on my left. It’s like many homes on the street; old, clad in clapboard, needing some paint, with cars and other discarded memorabilia strewn about in its grassless yard.

A ten-foot-long banner is nailed on the front of the house above the door. “God Bless President Trump” fills the entire banner. American flags festoon much of the rest of the wall; they have, like other violations committed by our current president, hung unlit through the night. I’m sure the banner has been displayed with pride since Trump’s 2016 election. 

The 2020 election threatened the future of the Fox Street banner. During the first two weeks after the election, I expected to see a blank space where the garish banner had hung so long. It is now four weeks after the election and it is still there; I believe it will remain as a stark reminder until well after Covid-19 has departed.

The porch over which the banner hangs is populated with a few weathered chairs, a wicker table on which I imagined a half-empty can of Budweiser, a cigarette stub filled ashtray and the remains of yesterday’s half-eaten tuna sandwich.

I saw the homeowner only once as I walked past his home a month before the election. He was a bit younger than me, robust and seemingly in good health. He took the initiative by offering me a sincere “Good morning” and, other than the Trumpian banner overhead, showed no evidence of political bias.  I was surprised by his welcoming demeanor and a bit chagrined by my unsupportable vision of his wicker tabletop.

I wondered why this amiable guy would choose to display the outsized Trumpian banner for years, while the rest of us were satisfied with much smaller curbside pronouncements of our political bias, and then only for a month or so.

Why was his banner still staring at me when my political buddies had already junked theirs?

The answer was revealed to me this morning as I read Mark Danner’s article in the New York Review of Books. It chronicles Mark’s attendance at Trump’s September 10 campaign rally in Freeland, Michigan. Trump launched into his speech before thousands by claiming, “We brought you a lot of car plants, Michigan! We brought you a lot of car plants. You know that, right?”

This was followed by an earsplitting roar of affirmation: Yes, Mr. President, we know that!

But what was true, and perhaps unknown to those at the rally, was that no new car plants had been built in Michigan since Trump began his presidency. What was true was that three thousand Michiganders have lost their jobs in the auto industry. What was true was that it didn’t matter what was true. What was true was, if Trump says it, it must be true.

And so, if Trump says the election was rigged, it must be true. Even when he leaves the White House on January 20, there will be millions of Americans who will believe he was cheated by the elites, the dark side, paper ballots, immigrants, and people who are not like them.

And that’s why that banner will hang on that nice man’s porch, in the cold, forever.

Has the pendulum swung too far?

“I want all Jews to die.”

That chilling statement was made by Robert Bowers, the man who shot and murdered eleven Jews on Saturday at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

My second thought, immediately following the realization that a new horror had emerged, was Thank God the shooter wasn’t Muslim or Hispanic. Adding more fuel to the xenophobic rantings of the president of the United States and others who condemn or ridicule people for their religious beliefs or who fear for their lives was unnecessary in the already supercharged atmosphere surrounding the mid-term elections.

There is little doubt that the president’s Twitter rants, rallies and politics have exacerbated and made fair game of the practices once held in check by more socially conscious and healing-attuned public servants. Poking fun at the handicapped, demeaning women, excusing the behavior of neo-Nazis and outright bald-faced lies have opened the door to even more despicable acts by others who once were forced to occupy the deep, dark recesses of this America we all love. The improving economy and Wall Street have, until now, served as cover for Republican congressmen who are unwilling to confront this man. Even otherwise observant Christians and Jews, who would normally be repelled by his statements and immoral conduct, are reluctant to reject him due, in part, to their affirmation of his Supreme Court selections and his social agenda.

Trump’s failure to accept any blame for what is happening to the social fabric of this country is evidenced by his continuing assault on the press and his pronouncement of “fake news” on anything that does not fit his view of the world. Despite Saturday’s horror in Pittsburgh, he continued to Tweet on Monday “There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news. The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open and obvious hostility and report the news accurately and fairly.” Like the failure of his self-appointed commission to bring to light any voter fraud, he offers little evidence of fraudulent reporting. He fails to note that the anger of his base towards the media is fomented by his own “fake news”, offered as red meat to those who believe he can do no wrong.

Anti-Semitism is an unwilling cousin to the xenophobic hysteria surrounding the immigrant caravan headed toward our southern border. Clutching it tightly as a wedge issue in the election, Trump and others have cited unproven and wildly exaggerated claims about the caravan’s composition. At a political rally in Kentucky earlier this month, Mr. Trump declared that Democrats “want to open America’s borders and turn our country into a friendly sanctuary for murderous thugs from other countries who will kill us all.”

George Soros, a Jew, has been widely and falsely claimed to be the principal supporter of the caravan. On October 22, a pipe bomb was found at Mr. Soros’s house; the police have charged a Trump supporter, Cesar Sayoc, with mailing the bombs to Mr. Soros and other Democrats who Trump frequently criticizes.

It is no coincidence that the rise in anti-Semitism has dramatically worsened in the first two years of the Trump presidency. It also coincides with increased Jew hating in Europe. The Anti-Defamation League reported that the U.S. experienced a nearly sixty percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017 versus 2016. The League said…

“A confluence of events in 2017 led to a surge in attacks on our community – from bomb threats, cemetery desecrations, white supremacists marching in Charlottesville, and children harassing children at school,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director. “These incidents came at a time when we saw a rising climate of incivility, the emboldening of hate groups and widening divisions in society.

The road to the right continued to broaden with Sunday’s presidential election in Brazil which brought Jair Bolsonaro to lead the government. He has exalted the military, advocated torture, promised to pack the supreme court and threatened to destroy, jail or exile his political opponents. Per the NY Times, he won by tapping into a deep well of resentment at the status quo in Brazil — a country whiplashed by rising crime and two years of political and economic turmoil — and by presenting himself as the alternative.

When I was a child, I lived in a Chicago ghetto where I believed that everyone in my world was Jewish, other than the janitor. When it was Passover, there was only a vast emptiness in my elementary school. Since my parents and friends were from Russia, I assumed that everyone in that country was Jewish. Except for the language, I might as well have been living in Israel. I was comfortable with my identity.

That changed in high school and reversed itself completely in college. I learned that I was a member of a very small minority with different holidays, different foods and a different house of worship. I became increasingly aware of my Jewish history and I was less comfortable with who I was. I felt different. Terms like The Holocaust, anti-Semitism and bigotry became frequently used parts of my vocabulary. I married, reared our children in the synagogue and counted on it as my go-to sanctuary. I have generally been on the fence about calls for more protection in the temple during the high holidays and I have objected to armed guards during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

I used to talk about the pendulum and how it will always swing in the opposite direction after reaching its maximum horizontal position. How good times would eventually give rise to bad times and how it would again reverse itself after running its course.

Today, with the murder of eleven pious Jews, I have my doubts.

ReDemrocans

It was reliably reported this morning that Donald Trump has personally contacted Hillary Clinton to offer her a deal.

Smarting from what he perceives to be an unfair advantage gained by the Democrats at their Philadelphia convention, Mr. Trump believes that his only chance to make it to the Oval Office is to team up with Secretary Clinton. The details of the deal offered by Mr. Trump are sketchy but they are believed to include the following:

Both Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton would run together as “ReDemrocans”.

Following their victory in November, they would become “Co-Presidents” jointly occupying the White House. Due to the crowded quarters, the vice-presidency would be abolished.

Presidential decisions would be made by Mr. Trump on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Secretary Clinton would assume that responsibility on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. No decisions would be made or actions taken on Sundays.

Secretary Clinton is free to appoint her own cabinet. Mr. Trump does not want a cabinet.

Congress would be equally divided between Republicans and Democrats. The current imbalance will be resolved by coin flips. Future congressional elections will be unnecessary. Vacated positions would be filled by one or the other Co-President depending on the day of the week that the vacancy occurred. Ditto for the Supreme Court.

In the event that one of the Co-Presidents should die in office, the remaining Co-President will commit suicide.  The country can then figure out what to do after that.

When contacted by Fox News about the deal, Mr. Trump denied any knowledge of it and blamed Chelsea Clinton for leaking the story. “It must be her time of the month” he said.

Trumpenstein

Following last Friday’s Shabbat service, we went to dinner with a few other congregants at a local eatery. It’s one of the highlights of the evening and is usually accompanied by some cheap wine, interesting conversation and strengthening of friendships.

I was fortunate to grab a seat right across the table from Ralph. Always erudite and entertaining, his company is welcomed. Looking across at him I noted that his right eye seemed to be irritated and tearing. I’ve noticed it before but I’ve never asked him about it. Being halfway into my first glass of wine, I felt confident enough to broach the subject. Ralph kindly offered me a rather detailed explanation of the relatively harmless malady that he has endured for years. “Always the right eye?” I asked.

Maybe it was the wine and his eye that then led to a discussion of the brilliant Mel Brooks movie, Young Frankenstein.  To my amazement, Ralph had never seen the movie and so had no idea why I launched into it. “You see, there’s this guy Igor, Dr. Frankenstein’s helper, who has this big hump on his back. And scene to scene it migrates from the right side to the left side. Then back again. Frankenstein occasionally comments on the migration but Igor seems unaware of it.” I had visions of Ralph’s malady behaving in the same manner as Igor’s hump.

Which, naturally enough, led us into politics and to an analysis of the rise of Donald Trump…a logical segue since Trump rhymes with hump.

Now I don’t think that The Donald is nearly as funny as Peter Boyle’s portrayal of the Frankenstein monster in the Mel Brooks movie. But I do think that the movie bears some amazing parallels to the rise of Trump in the Republican party.

In the beginning of the movie, Doctor Frankenstein, ably portrayed by Gene Wilder, has sworn off the business of creating the kind of monsters that his ancestors long ago trafficked in. But, overwhelmed by the call for greatness, he ignores the evil failures wrought by his predecessors and decides to resurrect the grisly, ancient practice. Sort of like Republican leaders who ignore this country’s changing demographics and continue to bow and scrape before old, rich white men.

Wilder and Igor, played by the google-eyed Marty Feldman, piece together the monster from a body stolen from the local cemetery and grey matter taken from the town’s brain depository. A mishap causes them to unknowingly insert a maniac’s brain into the creature’s skull. Wilder and Feldman try to make the best of their error.  Like trying to create the Republican party from wise and caring folks but doing it instead with the bits and pieces of angry people who’ve been told that they live in the worst of times and should do something about it.

Thinking the monster is under control, Wilder and his lab assistant played by the lovely Teri Garr, drop their guard and allow him to escape the confines of the castle and roam wildly through the countryside. Taking advantage of the charms of the funny Madeline Kahn is merely an hors d’oeuvre as the creature burns and pillages. Sort of like those in the Republican party who ignored, and then cheered The Donald as he alienated nearly everyone on the planet.

“I think we’ve had more than enough,” says the local police chief.  Played by the wooden-handed Kenny Mars, the chief enlists the villagers to seek out and destroy the monster.  Just like the Republican old guard who finally recognize what they’ve created and have taken up the cudgel in an effort to dismember The Donald.

Cornered, and having learned his lesson, the Mel Brooks monster retreats to the castle, is relieved of his ferocity and becomes a member in good standing of the community.

And here all parallels with the Brooks fantasy end. For Trumpenstein hasn’t learned anything, except that being a monster can be very rewarding.


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