Pointing out grammatical lapses to Donald Trump is as meaningless as pointing out poor table manners to a lemur.
Nevertheless, Trump’s continuing mantra: I feel badly for Judge Kavanaugh is grating on me for two reasons—one less serious than the other.
Less serious is his use of the word badly. It’s a good word, and badly needed at a time when so many people are behaving…well…badly. And actually, if someone has difficulty feeling things—like maybe discerning the difference between steel wool and cashmere—than that person would, in fact, feel very badly. (There’s a Trump joke in there somewhere: if you write it, I’m willing to take credit for it.)
But badly really has nothing to do with regret. If you’re sorry for some hardship a friend is experiencing, then you feel bad for that person, just as when you’re happy for someone, you feel good—which brings me back to Brett Kavanaugh. I believe Trump felt good last week when he saw the Grassley-fed Judiciary Committee eager to apply the rubber-stamp to Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Today the president feels not so good, or…bad.
In truth, badly in the informal context of everyday speech is not the worst mistake in the world—some would say it isn’t a mistake at all; but the real mistake is not letting this “badliness” that he feels extend to the victim. Kavanaugh may be absorbing some spots on his heretofore spotless reputation, but Christine Blasey Ford was the teenager who, thirty-six years ago, was pinned on the bed while Kavanaugh allegedly tried to separate her from her clothes. If Trump feels badly for anyone, it should be the victim, Professor Ford, not some beer-breathed high school kid who had somehow missed the definition of rape.
Of course that would imply that Trump also has regrets for the various women he has harassed, shamed, or assaulted in his life—all the way from the unknown “recipient” of his Access Hollywood boast, to Carmen Yulin Cruz, San Juan, Puerto Rico’s mayor, whom Trump excoriated again last week.
No one wants miracles—just an admission that the victim has been victimized. An attempt at empathy. Baby steps. There’s no indication of Trump’s willingness to stand on a scaffold in the middle of town and confess his own indiscretions anytime soon, no matter how badly we’d like him to. We should all feel bad about that.
(My apologies to Lemurs who are very nice, quite intelligent,
and capable of memorizing sequences and grasping basic math…and who deserve better than my snarky comparison.)
I’m still shocked by Lindsey Graham’s assertion yesterday that the Manafort crime of lying to the FBI was no big deal. I realize that, for all of us, the threshold of “shock absorption” is pretty high these days, but every once in a while a person makes a statement that actually raises the question of whether or not he believes in the American system of government.
I avoided using patriotism because that word has become so meaningless that any conniving ignoramus can employ it at any time, to wit, Trump’s tweet from last August pretty much sealed the deal:
If everyone’s favorite sadistic law-breaking lawman can be a patriot, then I think it’s time to re-examine the word’s connotation. It may no longer be a compliment. Or an insult. Or anything.
Which brings me back to Lindsey Graham. True he has occasionally spoken out against Trump, but even then, supported him him whenever Trump-backed legislation came before him. But hope does spring eternal, and since the Kool-Aid was there to be drunk, we all sipped at it: Lindsey Graham was at least sensible and aware, we said, and might even on some glorious day come down on the side of the law.
That delusion vanished yesterday.
We can no longer count on Lindsey Graham to be anything other than a stooge of the president, even when it comes to condoning law-breaking and lying. Graham’s party of zero-tolerance when it comes to reproductive rights, alternative lifestyles, and immigration, seemingly has little trouble informing its card-carrying members that lying to law-enforcement officials is pretty much okay.
I wonder if perjury is included, because if so, why is there such panic over the remotest possibility of Mueller questioning Trump? Just lie, Mr. President. Lie to the FBI. Lie to the Special Counsel. It’s all the same and all, well, not that important.
One of my FB followers commented that Graham must be in as deep with the Russians as Trump is; another thought Graham is afraid of being outed and failing to survive in the twisted dogma of South Carolina politics. If in fact Graham is gay, and worried about being ostracized, he’s in the wrong party. The Democrats would be much more accepting. But if he’s just another Russian agent, well then, do svidaniya to you and Comrade Trump.
Speaking on behalf of all Democrats—which I have no license to do—I don’t want him, gay or straight, Putin toady or flag waver. Whatever South Carolinians may feel about him, he certainly doesn’t belong in the Senate, not if his vision of the federal government and of federal law enforcement comprises nothing more than protecting all the president’s criminals from prosecution.
There’s only one sure way to keep the middle class in its increasingly tiny place, and that is to make sure that their wages remain stagnant. Historically, one of the most effective ways of doing that has been to dilute or eliminate the power of unions.
Now this week we find a conservative national group filing a federal lawsuit for a pair of Connecticut state employees who want a refund of the union dues that were taken from their paychecks despite having never joined the bargaining unit. Their names are Kiernan Wholean and James Grillo, but their names are unimportant: they could be any shills suborned into taking the pay raises and working conditions negotiated for them, then wanting it for nothing.
It’s the zero-sum Trumpian world of 2018: one can gain only if another loses.
These two workers’ union dues amount to a pittance, but if they were to win their case and have their dues returned for the last three years, and if other purse-leeches insist on the same reward for their perfidy, the effects could be devastating: National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix is looking to collect more than $100 million nationwide.
The principal behind unions is the same as the principal behind armies or offensive lines in football: there is strength in numbers. The Arizona teachers proved that.
No one will deny that there have been instances of corrupt union leadership, just as there have been instances of corruption in the medical field, in politics, in manufacturing, in religion. But unions threaten to sew shut the deep pockets of the magnates and billionaires; thus people like Mark Mix and organizations like the NRTWF (to which a Koch brothers group funneled $1 million in 2012) are more than willing to eviscerate these “impediments” and maintain the current income inequality.
With the Supreme Court stumbling irrevocably to the right, there seems little to impede the increasing attacks on middle class Americans, especially when it is those very same middle class Americans who are leading the attack. Whatever blood money Kiernan Wholean and James Grillo may receive pales in comparison to the damage they will do to workers like themselves.
While I watched Brett Kavanaugh speak yesterday, I was reminded of the William Butler Yeats poem, “The Second Coming.” I often am when I hear someone speak passionately and convincingly and yet be so blinded by his warped orthodoxy that I want to scream stop. Just, stop!
That poem, written in the dismal period that followed the “war to end all wars” is itself filled with quotable and oft-quoted passages:
–slouching toward Bethlehem
–the centre cannot hold
–mere anarchy is loosed upon the world
But the line I thought of is this:
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Enter Brett Kavanaugh, convinced that he will make a stellar justice and excited at the prospect of sitting on the Supreme Court.
He’s wrong, and not because his ideas run counter to mine, but because his preparation for this honor has come not from the equitable dispensing of justice over the years, but from the indoctrination by Republican ideologues who, even if he never pays dividends or never openly acts as their stooge, appear to have bought and paid for him.
I wonder what would happen if Brett Kavanaugh simply appeared one day as a nominee. Not a Republican. Not a Democrat. Just a nominee from thin air with 90% of his past history redacted. I would bet that party lines would dissolve amid the furor of Mr. Nobody from Nowhere having the temerity to think he could be one of the nine.
But that, of course, is not the way it is. Instead, the Republicans—who have already bartered their principles for the occasional affectionate presidential tweet and the chance to make America straight, white, and Christian again—will in lockstep vote him in. After all, he embodies those qualities—and he hugs his kids.
I wonder if all kids—like the ones with gay parents, or brown parents, or Muslim parents—will cherish the same hugs.
And I don’t care if the man feeds the hungry, not if every judicial decision he makes fattens the wallets of billionaires and increases the disparity between the haves and the have-nots.
Brett Kavanaugh will never ensure our Constitutional freedoms unless they involve guns or religion. As such there could hardly be a worse choice at this time or any time, but as Lindsey Graham cynically chided the Democrats yesterday: if you want to appoint judges, win elections.
Brett Kavanaugh—full of passionate intensity and self-righteous charity—is an abysmal choice to ensure our Constitutional freedoms. The foreboding of Yeats’s words from that bleak time a century ago have lost none of their impact here in the dreary political and societal landscapes of 2018.
Tiger Woods has begun to play golf again, to compete almost at the level of the early years of the century. And despite his former “transgressions,” the world seems to have welcomed him back. Forgive and forget and all that—which people quote when they like the person to begin with. Not so much when they don’t.
And if his resurrection is going to sell tickets and make advertisers wealthy, so be it. This is not the first time people have made concessions for celebrity.
Of course these days a spot in the limelight creates issues, like this little encounter last Sunday when Mr. Woods was asked about the president and replied “You have to respect the office. No matter who is in the office, you may like, dislike personality or the politics, but we all must respect the office.”
But when he then said he’s known “Donald” for years, played golf with him, had dinner together, my stomach revolved a bit, then completed its turn when Woods refused to answer a question on race relations in the U.S., adding “I just finished 72 holes and [I’m] really hungry.”
In the early nineties I heard George H.W. Bush speak in person. I hadn’t voted for him or his predecessor, and I would vote for Bill Clinton a year later, and yet I still remember being stirred by the grandeur of it—the security, the respect, the awe of being within yards of the leader of the free world. I had no use for his policies; but the office of the President, which had been adulterated two decades earlier by Nixon and Agnew, was alive and well again.
If Tiger Woods had made his statement about his friend the president thirty years ago, or any day before the Trump inauguration, he would not have sounded like such an equivocator. Even now, I prefer to think he isn’t a Trump apologist so much as a man looking for a way out of a sticky situation.
I don’t blame him, but he should know—we all should—that harking back to the honor of the presidency doesn’t work anymore: it stopped working on January 20, 2017. Trump is now in the 586th day of his term, and I would assert that there has not been a single one when he has not disgraced the office. Woods did not have to point that out, but he could have ventured a little further into truth. The limelight demands it.
Woods tried to be circumspect at first, but the dinner and golf references rendered him just another wealthy guy in the select circle of people Trump tolerates, and one of the few people of color who, in Trumpworld, do not suffer from low IQ. Tiger Woods is apparently smart because he says nice things about the president; LeBron James, et al.? They must just be dumb.
In fairness to Woods, his offhand capitulation ranks low compared to that of the real sycophants like Lindsey Graham or Paul Ryan, but if good people don’t speak out, they provide a virtual Petri dish for organisms like Donald Trump to prosper. Even athletes standing at a microphone after a grueling and tense day of competition have to realize that tepid neutrality is not an option. Not for us. Not for them.
It’s unlikely that Trump knows how to spell, pronounce, or define apartheid. And it’s too bad, because he’d be right up front cheering for it if it hadn’t been abolished some 27 years ago.
If he doesn’t know apartheid, the chances are even slimmer that he knows about how African colonists voted, in 1913, to restrict African population to no more than 10% of the continent. The white minority got the rest. The Africa of a century ago probably aligns fairly well with the “great” America Trump wants to return to. Or haven’t you seen his hats?
Without the knowledge of that legislation, the president couldn’t possibly know that the current plan to expropriate land from white farm owners applies only to “unused land, derelict buildings, purely speculative land holdings, or circumstances where occupiers have strong historical rights and title holders do not occupy or use their land.” No one is stealing a pasture or a corn field from a white guy, as much as Trump would like you to believe it.
Not knowing that, the exquisitely misinformed president couldn’t possibly know (or want to) that farm-murder statistic has been declining steadily from its peak in 2001-2002 when the total was 140. Separate figures from Agri SA show that murders of farmers are at a 20-year low, with 47 recorded in the year from April 2017 to March 2018. It’s still a problem that cannot be dismissed lightly, but equitable land distribution and ownership are addressing it.
But none of that matters to our criminal president (yes, we can now justifiably call him that) who continues to promote white supremacist conspiracy theories: half-baked ideas with no basis in fact that play into the hands of every race-baiting nut job in the country, and (now it appears) in the world.
But it’s not all bad for the president. He did receive a congratulatory tweet: a heartfelt thank you with an image of a white woman holding a sign reading “Stop white genocide.”
It came from David Duke.
Paula Duncan, a juror on the Manafort trial, was one of those who voted to convict Trump’s former campaign manager.
She is also a Trump supporter.
She deserves some credit for being able to see a crime for what it was, but her assertion that she will vote for Trump again underscores the blind veneration his followers profess. It’s disheartening to witness in a land that professes to be nation of laws, but not as soul-numbing as a statement from the Commander-in-Chief praising a convicted criminal for not cooperating with the justice system.
It appears that Trump admires loyalty in everyone but himself. A lifetime of slithery conduct has so blurred the lines for him, that he can now recognize only the perfidy of others; never his own. It’s a mental and moral frailty, and though literature is filled with remorse and repentance and even salvation, such a future does not await Donald Trump.
For instance, America’s great “novel of sin and guilt,” Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter, ends with confession and redemption from the adulterous minister and a lifetime of charity from his partner, all at great cost. Only the vengeful Chillingworth cannot rise above himself, cannot undarken his soul. Ultimately he makes a monetary sacrifice: he is capable of nothing less ignoble. It’s difficult to imagine Donald Trump’s life turning out out much differently, buying his way to salvation and strewing broken victims behind.
Our juror, Paula Duncan, doesn’t realize that, and she’s not alone. The Republicans in Congress seem loath to contradict the predator in their midst. Every day they cower a bit deeper; every day “no comment” or something akin to that re-establishes itself as the Republican mantra.
In truth, I don’t care if Trump pardons Manafort or if Michael Cohen never serves any time. It would be worth it to me if, in the final analysis, the name Trump was never again associated with the presidency, the nation’s capital, the United States, or earth.
And for Paula Duncan and those like her, one question: if the Republican party put forth for the 2020 presidential campaign a man of impeccable morality whose platform and philosophy matched those of Trump, would you vote for him instead of the man whose recently announced goal is to pervert the course of justice?
Let’s call the question rhetorical. I think we know the answer.