Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A cure for Trumpinosis

Coming on the heels of our two recent encounters with serendipity mentioned in my last posting, I may have discovered how to tune out the constant din of "news" about the presidential election scheduled to take place exactly ninety-seven days, fourteen hours, five minutes and two seconds from this writing. In other words, not a second too soon.

Leading up to the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia Stew and I had been diligently, almost obsessively, reading the New York Times and Washington Post and watching the PBS NewsHour. We supplemented such serious reporting with peeks at CNN, with its usual lineup of six or eight babbling bobbleheads, a format reminiscent of the Hollywood Squares but without the humor. Then we had been checking the online Huffington Post which is to news what potato chips are to a balanced diet—addictive but of little nutritional value.

Finally, for perversity's sake, we've occasionally tuned in to Fox News for a dose of magical realism, such as Bill O'Reilly's timely observation that, after all, the slaves who built the White House were well fed and received decent lodging from the government. He was responding to Michelle Obama's speech at the convention, in which she mentioned how awesome it was to wake up in a house built by slaves. I guess O'Reilly couldn't bring himself to say that it was a beautiful speech and just leave it at that.

But following the Democratic Convention, political news has become a hailstorm of bullshit largely thanks to Donald Trump. The worst of it is not that he blurts out something offensive, ridiculous or just plain false, but that news providers feel obligated to repeat it, massage it and hold it up to the light as informational nuggets that need to be pondered for several days.

You're fired.
So we listened, ad nauseam, to reports about Trump saying Putin would not go into Ukraine, even though Russian had already annexed Crimea, which used to be part of Ukraine, in 2014. And on and on, sliding from one idiotic statement to the next, adding nothing to our knowledge of what needs to be done to address the U.S.' real problems of racial inequality, wage stagnation, the financial squeeze on the middle class and such.

It was at this moment, when Stew and I had nearly overdosed on potato chips, that Providence intervened with an unexpected solution—heavy rains, road construction and new and excellent Internet service at our home.

The rains and road construction have increased driving time to town from twenty minutes or so to over an hour, as traffic has been rerouted onto a muddy, out of the way detour that has the feel of driving through some remote part of West Virginia. So we've cut down our visits with friends in town, during which politics and much moaning and groaning about Trump is the inevitable topic of conversation. Zot!

A flash wireless Internet connection also has enabled us to download movies, documentaries and dramas that have preempted the constant political yadda-yadda from our TV schedule. We still record the PBS News Hour but fast forward past Judy Woodruff, Gwen Ifill and all the political hubbub and go directly to Jeffrey Brown, who's usually reporting about global warming or unusual plant species from the Maldives, Tahiti or some place where no one talks about Donald Trump.

Reading the Times and the Post online will require more self-control to slip past the political bloviation that consumes much of the news and opinion pages and go straight to book and movie reviews, science, travel, recipes, fashion, theater and other topics not likely to get us riled up.

In our reading, it's fiction all the time. No more "Black Flags: The Rise of Isis," by Joby Warrick, a terrific but depressing book that unfortunately reminded us of the war without end in Iraq and Syria, and the biggest debacle in U.S. foreign policy since Vietnam.

Stew instead prowls Amazon for detective or crime stories while I have settled on "Miss Jane," by Brad Watson, a novel about a girl in Mississippi born with chronic incontinence.

"Whoa! That sounds depressing!" some of you may say. Let me assure you it's a beautifully written and inspiring work, certain to take your mind off the presidential election in ninety-seven days, twelve hours, thirty-four minutes and thirty-six seconds. Make that thirty-one minutes, four seconds.

Just don't forget to vote.  

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14 comments:

  1. My reprieve from the election noise will be to go to Europe for three weeks. Well, almost a reprieve. I am sure that all my Swiss cousins will want to know how that idiot managed to become the Republican candidate.
    I have been teaching myself a bit of German in preparation for the trip, and I have one sentence to say when the topic turns to politics... "Trump ist ein dummkopf."

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    1. We tune in the BBC News once in a while and I think I detect a certain puzzled, or maybe amused, smirk on the newsreaders' faces, though recent news from the UK can be something to smirk about too.

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  2. I read an editorial in USA Today yesterday that alluded to the idea that Trump is broke and in debt to Russian oligarchs. The Trumper might just end up as a footnote next to Aaron Burr in the kiddie's textbooks.

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    1. The choice is between bad and horrible. Trump was not my first, second or even third favorite, but he is not Hillary Clinton. I will vote for him.
      Bill Clinton's plane landed on the tarmac here, and he waited for Lynch's plane. Then he went over and cut a deal with her.
      The secret service and the FBI went all over the air field telling people not to take pictures. Of course, that focused all eyes on what took place.
      The Clintons will turn our nation into a kleptocracy.

      Robert Gill
      Phoenix, AZ

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    2. Hillary is not my ideal candidate either, though I think her competence, experience and smarts put her miles ahead of Trump. I think her speech at the convention was a recitation of the old liberal catechism, lacking any new ideas.

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  3. Greetings!

    Both candidates are awful. I'm ashamed to be an American because of how low both candidates are in terms of fitness to lead and respectability.

    I've wanted to think that Trump could be good because Washington desperately needs shaken up and I believe that many citizens feel/felt he was that change agent. But he continues to show that he is simply a bully. We know he "built a great company" and wants to "build a Wall" and blah, blah.

    And long before Mr. Trump showed up, I have been steadfast against the career criminal that is Mrs. Clinton. As far back as I can remember there has been one (ahem) scandal after another against that family.

    I'm ready to "waste" a vote and go for the Libertarian candidate, if only to add a little weight against the two-party monopoly. At some point it will hopefully create a momentum that will scare the crap out of both sides and maybe bring both of them closer to the center.

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    1. I'll grant you that Bubba is a slippery sort, but I really can't quite understand why so many people have developed such deep antipathy toward Hillary. Her "scandals" to a very large extent have been inventions that upon exhaustive investigation have proved baseless, much to the frustration of her opponents. The scandals about her being a financial crook (Whitewater), a murderer (Vince Foster), a closet lesbian, a perjurer (email and Benghazi) have led nowhere. Ken Starr, Trey Gowdy and James Comey—all of them Republican prosecutors—have unearthed nothing as far as I've heard. Yet the campaign against Hillary continues unabated.

      I respect your vote for the Libertarian candidate; there is much to like in the Libertarian credo, particularly to get government out of people's private affairs, whether it's their sexuality, reproductive choices or religious beliefs. Thanks for your comment.

      Al

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  4. Oh my, I just can't believe how many people think Hillary is more dishonest than Trump!!!! She is smarter, kinder, and definitely more honest!!! If Trump's lips are moving, he's lying!! Different fact checker web sites say Hillary and Obama are the two most honest politicians ever !! Oh, and she's more qualified in every way.
    Very good post Al.

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    1. I too can understand and respect people opposing Obama and/or Clinton on honest policy grounds, but it seems most of the barrage of attacks against them have been ad hominem. Obama has been accused of being Kenyan, Muslim, not a true American and so on and on. Sometimes I wondered how he put up with it. You may oppose his health care proposal but the criticism of it would be more persuasive if the GOP had come up with a credible alternative, instead of dreaming up "death panels" and other nonsense. Argh.

      al

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  5. I see you subscribe to a completely leftist news diet, which surely slants your views. I myself did virtually the same up until about nine months ago, when I decided that I needed to open my mind and to look at both sides of the issues. So I've started to read Breitbart news in addition to the New York Times. I've perused a column or two by Ann Coulter in addition to the the likes of Paul Krugman or Charles Blow. And you know what? The right-wingers aren't entirely nuts. They just see the world differently, and indeed do have some very legitimate concerns. And since I've started doing reading both sides, the political slant of the supposedly objective NY Times has become almost unbearable. I'll leave a little snippet of a comment I left elsewhere on Trump's "bad week," where among others the NY Times criticizes him for saying the election might be rigged.

    Trump suggested the general election might be rigged after it became widely recognized that the primaries were rigged, and indeed a DNC official resigned in admission of the rigging process. Yet the New York Times clutches its pearls and declares, "His extraordinary claim — one he did not back up with any immediate evidence — would, if it became more than just an offhand comment, seem to threaten the tradition of peacefully contested elections and challenge the very essence of a fair democratic process. Apparently the NYT did not read the DNC emails provided by Wikileaks, which show the DNC trying to rig an election. And apparently they forgot all those details of the electoral process in Florida they reported in the 2000 presidential election. And apparently they also forgot all those articles they wrote about concerns over electronic voting machines. I guess if you're over 100 years old, some memory loss can be forgiven, right? Wake up, NYT!!! If this isn't totally biased media reporting, I don't know what is.

    As for HRC, let's look at her latest corruption. Debra Wasserman Schulz resigns/is fired from the DNC for corruptly trying to rig an election. So what does Hillary do? She sets a terrible example by hiring the woman, essentially telling America that corruption doesn't matter, it only leads to better things. I can't imagine a person more unfit for our highest public office than someone so brazenly corrupt.

    As for the email scandal, when former federal prosecutor Rudy Giuliani says that Clinton could be prosecuted by a reasonable prosecutor, this is not just fringe hyperventilation. To my mind, Clinton is an unprosecuted felon. So Clinton getting away with all this stuff is not necessarily a sign of innocence; rather it's a sign of clout and how corrupt the system has become.

    So I'd challenge you to this: go to youtube and watch Trump's post-Orlando speech. Watch his speech to AIPAC. Watch some of his other speeches, and then ask yourself if there isn't a high degree of common sense there, a degree of common sense that your particular choice of media isn't doing its very best to hide or distort. Oh, and watch this one too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbkS26PX4rc

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    CDMX, México
    Where we try to avoid discussing Trump.

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    1. Yikes. If the charge is confirmation bias, I plead guilty or at least "no contest", though such bias is epidemic particularly in the age of the internet which allows us to fine-tune what we read—and want to believe. Cable news ditto, see Fox News vs. MSNBC, though the latter (Rachel Maddow) and least gets its basic facts straight. Fox News' spins and tendentiousness sometimes is so extreme it approaches the comical, in what it discusses as well as what is omitted from its coverage.

      I definitely agree that the conservatives are not universally nuts; I tried to salve my left bias by reading David Brooks, Ross Douthat (whose name I can't pronounce) and George Will. Not perfect but at least I get a different perspective. On that vein, I've developed a habit of shutting off Bill Maher, Chris Matthews and other leftist screamers when they get on my nerves, which is quite often. I've completely tuned off Rachel Maddow's sermonettes, even though I think she is incredibly smart and credible. So all is not lost.

      But Ann Coulter and Breitbart? I don't think so.

      I did watch Trump's comments about Orlando, which were thoughtful and respectful of the gay community, despite all the Muslim-baiting. I remember reading about Trump at AIPAC but I don't recall what he said, though I've read he doesn't buy the Israel-is-always-right line, which is helpful.

      The bottom line is that unless you have kamikaze blood, a Trump presidency is risibly uninmaginable, though not very funny. The guy is a mythomaniac. He can't get his basic facts straight. He is aggressively ignorant. I just can't fathom putting him in charge. Hillary, I admit, is not great, but far better than Trump. If you gag on either one, maybe a Libertarian or a Green vote is the way to go.

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  6. Our nation is nineteen and a half to twenty trillion dollars in debt. We cannot pay it; pretty soon, we will not be able to pay the interest on this debt. We can no longer roll it over.
    It appears that the Chinese gold backed renmembi will replace the dollar as the world's reserve currency. If so, all of those dollars abroad will come home in a massive inflation.
    It seems as if one in five is on food stamps. We don't want any one to go hungry, but we cannot afford this program as it is.
    They say the economy is healed, but do you know any one that got a job that wasn't a government funded job?
    And yet, Hillary Clinton is promising free college and a fifteen dollar minimum wage.
    Wake up and smell the coffee.

    Robert Gill
    Phoenix, Arizona 85051

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    1. Right you are about the overall size of the debt, but let's break it down. As far as I know--and I'm definitely not an economist--the lion's share of the national debt is composed of spending on the military (more than half of all discretionary spending), Social Security & Medicare (nearly half of all mandatory spending), and interest payments (see https://www.nationalpriorities.org/budget-basics/federal-budget-101/spending/
      Military? Our disastrous and continuing war in Iraq was financed "off the books" and has cost a few trillions and promises to cost more when you factor in ongoing operations against ISIS, cost of care of people maimed and injured, plus the financing costs. Yet military spending remains an ever-growing monster that no one wants to touch.

      Social Security--the "third rail". And Medicare, which is essentially a pass-through program won't come under control unless the rise in medical costs is also curbed including the $70-something billion drug benefit--a wet kiss by the Republicans to the pharmaceutical lobby passed under W.

      So it seems to me raising taxes on the very wealthy is one option, especially since their earnings are trending up while their tax burden is the same or less. I wish I could pay 14 percent income tax like Romney or zero percent like Trump during several years, but instead I pay something around 30 percent. Perhaps raising SS taxes on high earners would help.

      I don't know how raising the minimum wage would affect the national debt. It seems to me that raising income on minimum wagers would generate more income and sales taxes (presumably since they would have more money to spend)

      I haven't heard Trump explain how he is going to fix the problems that definitely exist in government spending and income maldistribution. Sorry Bob, I told you I wasn't an economist.

      Al

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    2. We find ourselves in a very difficult situation. Not looking at the train does not mean it will not hit us. Perhaps it is time for some of our so called friends to step up and pay for their own defense.
      As to the question of our social welfare system, perhaps the problem is not that we cared too little for the poor, but that we cared too much for them. It has become a way of life for too many people. I fear the day that the government cannot or will not fund those EBT cards.
      The central bankers have pulled so many tricks out of their hats to give the dollar value, it appears that the hat is now empty. What happens when the Arabs price oil in the new Chinese currency?
      When the dollar came off of the gold backing, the US convinced the Arabs to price oil in dollars. That gave the dollar value because every one needed oil. I am afraid that is about to change.
      As to the question of taxing the wealthy, I am afraid we just don't have enough of them to solve the problem. The really wealthy live in the Middle East and the Far East. They are well beyond our taxing authority.
      Capital flows to where it is best rewarded and least taxed. That is not the US. Excessive taxation and onerous regulation have produced the de industrialization of our nation.
      No, the rich haven't moved, but their money has. Buy enough gee gaws from China, and eventually they have the money.
      I fear for our future.

      Bob Gill

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