The wrath of Don


A month ago, I expressed my hopes that our newly-minted president would prove me wrong, that he would assume the office with the best intentions, and would begin the task of governing the world’s only superpower with dignity and distinction. Instead, he entered his term by amping up the same childishness and petty behavior that he thought was necessary throughout the campaign.

President Trump wasted no time. On the day he was inaugurated, in his very first official act, Trump signed an executive action that cancelled a previous-approved interest rate reduction for homeowners all across the country. The rate cut on FHA loans, which had been authorized by President Obama, would have meant an estimated annual savings of $500 for these Americans. You can imagine those families using that money to buy furniture or clothes or groceries. But thanks to our new president, that money will go to the federal government. Funny, isn’t it? The man elected by people who insist that government is too big turned around and took money from the pockets of so many moms and dads who are struggling to give their kids a nice home.

The next day, right after the president woke up for the first time in the White House, he returned to Twitter and began yet another needless battle with the news media, this time over the size of the crowd that gathered in Washington and saw the president take the oath of office. Let’s face it: anyone with at least one good eye could see that attendance at Obama’s 2009 swearing-in was much larger than the audience for Mr. Trump. The grown-up thing to do in that situation would be to acknowledge the difference, make a joke about it, and move on. But that’s not what happened.

The president chose to deny the facts, then directed his press secretary to repeat the same falsehoods during the live broadcast of his very first press briefing. The president’s people continued the assault on reality on the Sunday talk shows and beyond. The result? America’s (and the world’s) first impression of President Trump is of a man who cannot tell the difference between fact and fantasy. How is that supposed to give us confidence in the competency of the person given the codes to our nuclear arsenal?

In the days immediately following inauguration, President Trump and his handlers unleashed what can only be described as the first wave in an all out attack on the First Amendment. In addition to continuing his attacks on the news media (freedom of the press), including calls by his staffers for reporters to be fired because they weren’t favorable to the administration, the president’s team tried its best to demonize the multitudes of women (and men) who gathered and marched in peaceful protest against the policies and actions of the president (freedom of assembly).

Then, to cap off a raucous first week, President Trump rushed together an executive order that calls for a ban on refugees and other immigrants — and even just visitors — from seven Muslim-majority countries… an order that had little to no input from people in Homeland Security, the State Department, or the Pentagon. An order that was deeply flawed because of that rush to implement… as it even prevented permanent residents (“green card” holders) from returning to their American homes. As much as the administration tried to pass it off as a means of protecting the country, the fact that Christians and Jews are to be exempt makes it very clear: the president wants to use the power of the federal government to target members of a particular faith (freedom of religion).

In just one week, President Trump acted to override the protected rights set down over two hundred years ago. At that rate, he could easily circumvent the rest of the amendments before the Fourth of July.

Friends and family have been telling me, “Give him time. Give him a chance. Show him some respect.” To them I say, “Just look at the damage done in just a few days.” As for respect, I need only to look back at the past eight years with a combative, do-nothing Congress for an example of disrespect.

Trump managed to be elected by distracting his audience with catch phrases. He made outrageous promises punctuated with even more outrageous language, all to get laughs and applause. He wasn’t running for President; he was just out there doing very bad stand-up comedy.

Unfortunately, because too many people decided they wanted a game-show host in the White House, we’re stuck with him until he either grows tired of the pulling the con… or he’s removed from office.

Either way, our nation has been deeply wounded.

(Originally published in the Morrisons Cove Herald February 2, 2017.)

Glenn Beck tells his audience what they want to hear

This excerpt from Glenn Beck’s 5/11/15 tirade is enough to explain to you why you can’t have a normal, meaningful conversation with a bigot.
In the view of people like Beck, there are no more race-related problems in the United States EXCEPT those problems caused by non-whites. In Beck’s world, the election of President Obama is proof that ALL white people have ended all hatred and fear of people of color.
Beck wants us to believe… and his devoted followers DO believe… that we live in a complete post-racial society and that everything is all Kumbayah…or would be if those pesky non-whites would just appreciate it.

A few less clowns, please.

Remember the class clown? The kid in school that you could count on to say or do something outrageous… obnoxious even… to become the center of attention. We’ve all known at least one. Maybe it was the boy who chugged his carton of milk then burped the alphabet. Or the girl who could make the infamous armpit noise. Usually the entire class got in trouble for laughing. All because someone wanted to be noticed.

It’s not limited to goofy juveniles in the classroom. How often do you hear about a young actress who experienced a ‘wardrobe malfunction’ and suddenly exposed herself, coincidently just when the photographers were there to capture the moment? Or the singer who became involved in a minor scuffle with a fan, and the incident conveniently occurred right when a new album was about to be released? A few personalities have taken it much further, signing up for their own ‘reality’ television show, though more often than not what you’re shown is scripted and rehearsed.

Sadly, the phenomenon isn’t limited to those we would normally refer to as entertainers. More and more, our political world has become dominated by the type of scandalous behavior one shouldn’t expect from adults given the weighty responsibility of operating our government.

Radio and television personalities are well-known for stirring up their followers with one conspiracy theory after another in an effort to boost ratings. Glenn Beck, Alex Jones, Michele Malkin, the list goes on and on. They claim to have evidence of secret plots by our government to confiscate our guns or establish internment camps or purposely collapse the economy. They’ll chatter about the creeping influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and Sharia law… or how you should fear George Soros and Saul Alinsky  It’s all fantasy designed to gather and maintain an audience to whom they can then market products like books, freeze-dried foods, virility pills, and gold.

You’ve got Ted Nugent, a one-time big name in rock who is known today more for his off-the-rails remarks against President Obama. I can’t blame poor Ted for trying to make a living doing something, since his music isn’t really bringing in a flood of cash anymore. The Nuge performed last week in Kansas City for a crowd of less than a thousand in a theater that easily seats three times that many. On a side note: why is Nugent so beloved by the Right for his outlandish (and usually profane) attacks on President Obama but the Dixie Chicks were subjected to protests by talk radio hosts and a nationwide radio boycott for their opposition to war a decade ago?  

It’s one thing when these entertainers and pundits spread their tales of imagination. It’s another when the politicians decide they also want to play the game.

Recently we’ve heard Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, breathlessly claim that the influx of children at our southern border is part of a secret plan by President Obama to: “put at risk the American people, our culture, our way of life, our economic standing, and also he’s willing to allow a pandemic of disease to come into our country.” Mind you, the congresswoman provides no proof to back up her remarks.

Bachmann isn’t alone in the Congressional Cavalcade of Clowns. From the great state of Iowa – land of that coveted prize of presidential hopefuls, the Iowa Caucuses – you get Rep. Steve King, who can be counted on for either making snide comments that are offensive to Hispanics or suggesting that the president be impeached for… well, something. Out of Texas we have Rep. Louie Gohmert who claims to know that terrorists want to have their babies born in the USA to gain citizenship, then whisked off to another land to be: “raised and coddled as future terrorists” so that they could return, programmed I suppose, as adults bent on destruction. Louie must think “The Manchurian Candidate” was a documentary.

And then there’s that reservoir of wack-a-doodle speech, former Gov. Sarah Palin, who looked around the political landscape and decided that what the world needs is a subscription-funded website that, for $9.95 a month ($99.95 for a year), gives you the opportunity to watch a video in which she stands in her kitchen talking about vegetables. No, I’m not kidding.

This is probably where some readers will say, “There he goes, picking on poor Sarah.” Look, I know she was once elected the governor of a sparsely-populated state and was handed the opportunity to be the number two name on a losing presidential ticket… but that doesn’t insulate her from criticism when she serves up her typical word salad of nonsense. Sure, she’s popular… but so is Honey Boo Boo, and I wouldn’t seek out her political meditations either.

Let’s be clear: all of these people have a right to voice their opinions. But we have the responsibility to filter what they say, separating fact from fiction.

(Originally published in the Morrisons Cove Herald, 8/7/14)