Note – I began this longpiece last Thursday and haven’t been able to find the time to get back to it since. So I decided to serialize it to get this first part out now. I’m not sure when I’ll have the free time to finish it. Hopefully soon?…
Leslie Stahl interviewed Donald Trump (aka #PresidentShithead) on 60 Minutes, broadcast on October 14th 2018. I watched it and it caused me so much stress that it made me feel physically ill. It gave me a migraine. I cannot believe that so many people in this country align themselves with this toxic, lying, hateful, corrupt megalomaniac. It shows a real failure in American culture.
I have been forced to observe and live with these faults in our culture for my entire life. And on some level I’m okay with it. I have to be to function. Nothing is perfect. I forced myself to believe these issues were manageable. But Goddamn when you are in the midst of a backslide of this order you really have to wonder where we’re going…and then…if you’re like me, you get a stress headache.
To “set the table”, I love America, but I am not a jingoistic robot. I am not a political animal. I do not align with at political party. I have been a nonconformist my entire life, not to be a contrarian, but because I am a skeptic. I am an observer. I analyze. I research. I accept scientific consensus. I accept empirical fact. But when it comes to cultural, religious, economic and political theory and orthodoxy I question deeply.
To my mind, anyone who even has thumbnail sketch of an understanding of human history should be right there with me…but they are not. In fact the vast majority are not. Why? Because the vast majority of people are conformists.
Conformity is the human condition that allows you to believe in supernatural forces through group think. It allows people to put aside all reason in order to live within a protective blanket of orthodoxy. It’s “In God we trust” (whatever your “God” is). It is a human survival instinct. I don’t even think it is all bad, per se. For example, I want people to come together as communities and share rituals. It’s just when those rituals, at one time, included public extrajudicial executions, I, personally, have to question the foundations of our culture…and I will. I want to look at it as objectively as I can. I want to embrace what I value in it and disregard or fight the rest.
Truth be told, America has a very spotty past (institutionalized slavery, genocide, racism, colonialism, subjugation of women, eugenics, environmental degradation…I could go on). Honest historians will always say that the USA represents an “experiment” in “small ‘l’ liberalism” through democracy (as in the experiment is still ongoing). That even though, at the outset, this liberty was only afforded to an elite (white, male property owners), that over time it was extended to all (at least on a Federal law level). In fact, liberty for all was not truly protected under federal law until the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This was 188 years after Thomas Jefferson wrote:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
As you know, Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner until the day he died.
So, yeah, spotty past, high ideals. Bottom line, fifty-four years ago, in 1964, our federal government finally came through and made these high ideals law. Fifty-four years is a blink. Don’t get too comfortable.
All this liberal protection…it can end. It can end just like that [snaps fingers]. “We the people” have to manage it. We have to protect it. We have to understand it and believe in it’s value. We have to share it…even with people we hate (through prejudice or life experience). We have to share it even with people who use it and yet still want to destroy it. We have to protect it in spite of them. And most importantly, we have to pay into it. All of us…even rich (or poor) Libertarian assholes.
I’ve said it before, we are living in the afterglow of the post WWII boom. Our current American society, our current American culture, our infrastructure, our iFucks…they are all birthed from Great Depression followed by an even Greater World War. We won. Even better, because we didn’t have to fight the war here, all of our great cities and factories weren’t firebombed to rubble like they were over there. All we had to do after the war was not be Nazis, create a global order, make money and innovate. We heavily taxed the rich, paid off the war debt and built the infrastructure for the suburban “reality” that I grew up in.
It seems like it should have gone on forever, but entropy being what it is, it didn’t.
For people older than me, the Vietnam War was where the “post-war dream” started to show signs of wear. And that lead to the Reagan era, where “trickle down economics” meant protecting the rich from taxation and regulation.
As for taxes, I’m just gonna say it…Bottom line…If we don’t tax and control the wealth class this “post-war dream” world the common man is living in is going to die. If you want it dead, I guess that’s your prerogative. Just be aware of the alternative. That’s all I ask. It may not be all it’s cracked up to be. We might be looking at its beginnings right now.
Now regulation is a complicated thing and it can go too far, but when it gets painted with the broad brush of “regulation is bad for business” I’m not buying it. Regulation exists to protect the common man and his natural environment from sociopathic sharks (i.e., a certain class of “businessmen”).
So, I wasn’t really here for Vietnam. I was a child and adolescent in the Reagan era. In my lifetime, I saw the “post-war dream” get its stress test in our society’s response to 9/11.
The 9/11 attack was a terrible, unforgivable crime and war was inevitable. I am not a pacifist. That said, the invasion of Iraq was not justified, period. Our government, military and intelligence communities normalization of torture and blatant war profiteering made a mockery of everything I came to believe about post-WWII America. It was at this point that I became an enemy of the Republican party. I never liked them up to that point. I knew they were just a haven for the selfish, racist and superstitious. But when their party leadership fought for torture, I determined they were malevolent and I swore I would never vote Republican at any level.
Then there was the great recession of 2008. Here we saw an unregulated wealth class (thanks Reaganomics) basically pull off one of the greatest financial crimes of all time, just basically ripping of the retirement savings of any common people who were in the position to have retirement savings in any kind of market account. And these thieves…they got away scot-free. A few low level scapegoats were hassled, but no one of any note was prosecuted. Our government, having lost complete control of the situation and in an attempt to avert total economic catastrophe, just printed new money to bail out these “market geniuses”.
Truth be told, a lot of the economic suffering and wage stagnation today’s American common people are suffering can be traced to Reaganomics, the War on Terror and the Great Recession. We lost a lot of ground there. We lost a lot of revenue and momentum that could have be spent on infrastructure, education, healthcare, eldercare…Who’d we lose it to? Rich assholes, that’s who.
But you’d be had pressed getting anywhere talking about it. Who would listen?
And this is just my little superficial observation. I could dig and dig and go on forever…but I came here to write about what our President, The President on the United States of America, is talking about. I just wanted you to know where I’m coming from before I dive into the, as I said before, literally sickening interview I watched last Sunday, several weeks before we pick our new government.
What she didn’t ask
First, I want to mention what Leslie Stahl didn’t ask about, the New York Times article about the Trump family’s tax fraud scheme. The article outlines how Trump, over the course of his career as a “businessman”, received hundreds of millions of dollars, tax free, from his father. This puts the lie to his bullshit backstory about how he was a self made man and explains why he will never willingly release his tax records. He was born wealthy and has spent his entire life dodging his tax obligations to this country, even to the point of committing fraud (as outlined in the NYT article).
I feel like this subject would have been worth a few moments of time in the interview. Even though he would have just dismissed it as “lies” and “fake news”, I think it would have been nice to see it addressed on camera, one-to-one. After all, these taxes the wealthy like Trump are dodging, if they were paid, that would be helpful to keep that “post-war dream” thing (that thing I seem to care so goddamn much about) going on…It would be nice if we had a leader a little more tied into the concept of embracing their citizen’s obligations to the betterment of all…just sayin’…moving on…
So what did they talk about. I took notes…
Hurricane Michael/Climate Change
Stahl asks about climate change. Trump, of course, is a denier. Why? Because of business interests, of course. There are still a lot of hydrocarbons left to dig up, process, burn and send into the air. Stopping now would be unfair to the robber barons.
On the Business:
President Donald Trump: I don’t wanna give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t wanna lose millions and millions of jobs. I don’t wanna be put at a disadvantage.
This is a oil/coal/gas company lie. Energy jobs are energy jobs, be they pollution creating or environment saving. This is just trump siding with the robber barons.
On climate change:
President Donald Trump: Something’s changing and it’ll change back again.
This is just stupid. Melted glaciers and drained aquifers don’t “change back”. What a lying asshole.
On the scientific consensus:
President Donald Trump: We have scientists that disagree with that.
One of Trump’s tropes is stating there are undefined “people” who support his positions. This is a lazy salesman technique. We all know he is pulling this out of his ass. We also all know that climate change denial scientists are right there on the same level with the doctors who said unfiltered Lucky Strikes cigarettes help to clear out the lungs.
On the “political agenda” of climate change scientists:
President Donald Trump: They say that we had hurricanes [in the distant past] that were far worse than what we just had with Michael.
Lesley Stahl: Who says that? “They say”?
President Donald Trump: People say. People say that in the–
Lesley Stahl: Yeah, but what about the scientists who say it’s worse than ever?
President Donald Trump: You’d have to show me the scientists because they have a very big political agenda, Lesley.
This exchange is just bizarre. Here we have Trump doing the “people say” when producing a fresh batch of “shitformation” from his ass. To which Stahl challenges to ask who the “they” he’s talking about are. The honest answer is, of course, that he is caught is a lie (because he is constantly lying) so he pivots to making the unfounded accusation (another lie) that climate change scientists have “a very big political agenda”.
So let me get this straight. Scientists are the enemy of the people, too? Bullshit! These scientists have an environmental agenda, in that they are trying to protect it. Trump and his donors have a economic agenda, in that they want to sell fossil fuels to make money regardless of the toll it is taking on the environment and the global population.
Since the industrial revolution mankind has been challenged with balancing economic factors, natural resources and environmental protection, related to mass production and mass energy consumption. All over the world governments and political parties are on board with the idea that these things must be better managed (maybe even, dare I say, regulated… as in the Paris Accord that Trump pulled out of) as they are having a scientifically proven direct and detrimental effect on our atmosphere (detrimental to the living conditions of human beings…rocks will be okay).
The Koch Brothers and their ilk can give a shit, they just want to make big money. They want to have power. They want to have total control over their big business of fracking the world into a toxic wasteland…just so long as they can have a picturesque ranch in some remote area that isn’t affected too badly. They are Libertarians which means they do not believe in anything outside of self interest.
Libertarians…they don’t trust you, they don’t care about you, they just want to use you, and once your utility is exhausted, they will discard you. Why do they feel this way? Because they are cynics. They know they are under threat of people who share their world view and want to be the master, no matter the cost to society. They do not believe in the collective good. They want to exercise their “freedom”, their “liberty”, by being immoral, selfish grabbers who give nothing back. It is a toxic, and, in my opinion, un-American philosophy. But there is good money in it apparently.
Because the US political system does not firewall robber barons like the Kochs from buying political influence we have a compromised government who deny the science because they are paid to deny it. They claim moving away from fossil fuels is “too expensive” and “bad for the economy” because they are paid to.
Bottom line, environmental protection is a responsibility more than it is a political issue. The real political issue here is the corruption created by robber baron lobbying and dark campaign money flowing into the United States political system. And now, with the Supreme Court stacked with “Federalist” asswipes, don’t expect this to change anytime soon.
I just want a President that isn’t such as willful dipshit about this…Next.
Jamal Khashoggi (i.e., executing journalists)
This is another one for the books. This fucking Saudi prince. What’s his name? DJ Khaled? He plotted to have this “US resident” dissident journalist Khashoggi tortured and murdered in the Saudi consulate in Turkey. It was just the most bumbling, ham-fisted, keystones cops straight-up MURDER you can imagine a spoiled little shithead brat and his “court” could have cooked up.
Saudi Arabia is a brutal, repressive monarchy, which holds public executions, and where atheism, homosexuality, blasphemy and adultery are capital crimes punishable by death.
America has this long-standing, ridiculous, compromised marriage of convenience with Saudi Arabia because we have a common enemy, Iran. It’s fucked up. It’s always been fucked up. I’ll give you an example of how fucked up it is. The 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia…the US invaded Iraq. See? It’s fucked up.
Anyway somehow, this prince, he got it in his head that he is so tight with Trump and buttboy Jared that he has some sort of get-out-of-jail-free-card to MURDER green card carrying US residents who write for the Washington Post. That is some assumption, huh?
The optics aren’t helped by this whole “the press are the enemy of the people” bullshit that asshole Trump as been peddling for over a year now (I’ve always said he should be impeached for making those statements alone).
Anyway, Trump and the prince are working on their cover story (imagine the brain power there…you could power a potato) to try to minimize the fallout from this TORTURE and MURDER plot. You know, so they can get back to doing the sabre dance and touching the glowing globe. It is SICK, just SICK.
In the interview Trump cried about the threat the TRUTH about this CRIME has become to his precious ARMS DEAL with the Saudis. Ya know, because when a foreign government shows you that they are lead by immoral murderers, your first instinct should be to sell them as many high grade weapons as they can possibly buy. For economic reasons of course…so it’s good to know we’re thinking straight on BOTH world peace AND the environment. Sleep well at night.
In the interview, Trump repeated the Saudi denial. Said it was made “Strongly”. Of course that denial was a lie and attempt at a cover up which immediately fell apart (BIG surprise).
Trump said he didn’t want to “hurt jobs” by backing out of the arms deal. I’m going to cry a river thinking about the Military Industrial Complex taking a hit. God knows they get such a small slice of our tax revenue to eke out their existence. Trump then warned us Russia and China would grab the deal “Everyone wanted that order.”…I say let them have it.
This whole scenario just highlights that Trump is a garbage human and a garbage example to our youngest generation. He is a criminal and sociopath who has no compassion for other human beings. This dead journalist is just an impediment to his narrative. Trump’s first instinct is to have surrogates smear Khashoggi and try to wait out the news cycle. So for now we’ll just get his “nobody knows for sure” dodge until they stop asking…I hope they don’t stop asking, because this is unacceptable…and the more he helps in the coverup the more complicit he is in the crime…the more blood is on his tiny hands.
End of Part One
To be continued…