trump at the g20

Jeebus tapdancing Christ. I knew Comrade Trump was bound to do something really stupid and offensive at the G20 summit because he is, after all, Trump. I knew it. And yet I didn’t expect it to be this stupid and offensive.

Comrade Trump joking with Vlad Putin about election interference.

Here’s Trump and Vlad Putin joking — joking, for fuck’s sake — about Russian meddling in the 2020 election while Russian social media bots were actually meddling in the election. Seriously. That’s not an exaggeration. Minutes after last night’s ‘debate’ by the mob of Democratic candidates, Russian-linked bots were attacking Kamala Harris.

But that’s not the most twisted and horrible thing Trump and Vlad joked about. They also shared a laugh about ‘getting rid’ of journalists. How stupid and offensive is this? Let me count the ways.

  1. Trump has consistently called the news media the ‘enemy of the people’.
  2. Trump has refused to punish, reprimand, or respond in any meaningful way to Mohammad bin Salman despite overwhelming evidence that MbS ordered the murder and dismemberment of Jamal Kashoggi — a US resident and journalist employed by The Washington Post. MbS has imprisoned at least 20 Saudi journalists critical of his policies.
  3. Since Vlad Putin took office in 2000, 38 Russian journalists critical of his administration have been murdered. That’s how many journalist deaths have been classified as homicides; dozens more have died under suspicious circumstances.
  4. Today is the anniversary of the Capital Gazette mass murder, in which five employees of the newspaper were killed.

It’s not just that Comrade Trump is insensitive; it’s that he just doesn’t care. He doesn’t care if Russia or any other hostile nation interferes with US elections so long as the interference benefits him. He doesn’t care if journalists are imprisoned or murdered if those journalists are critical of him.

Comrade Trump giving a friendly greeting to Mohammad bin Salman.

Trump continues to act as if he’s an asset of Russian intelligence agencies — which is a completely horrific and almost unimaginable thing to say about a US president. The only thing inconsistent with the notion of Trump as a Russian intel asset is that he’s entirely open about it. He doesn’t attempt to disguise it. When a reporter asked him if he was going to discuss election meddling with Putin, Trump responded, “I will have a very good conversation with him. What I say to him is none of your business.”

What Trump and Putin discuss is exactly the business of the news media. It’s the business of the Intelligence Community. And yet Trump has, on several occasions, met privately with Putin and gone to extraordinary lengths to keep those discussions secret. Even to the point of taking possession of his own interpreter’s notes after a meeting (which, by the way, is a violation of presidential record-keeping laws).

That’s another thing Comrade Trump just doesn’t care about — the rule of law.

To sum up: Comrade Trump appears to be Putin’s puppet, is more fond of murdering dictators than freely-elected democratic leaders, hates the idea of a free press, has been accused by a couple dozen women of sexual assault, orders his staff to refuse to honor Congressional subpoenas, deliberately undermines the law enforcement and intelligence communities, welcomes the interference of hostile nations who support his election, casually spreads conspiracy theories, lies to almost everybody about almost everything, and is woefully ignorant about world and domestic affairs.

None of which Congress considers impeachable. Jeebus tap-dancing Christ.

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it’s been a red spoon morning

Sweet malted Jeebus, how is it possible for Comrade Trump to be so unrelentingly fucking stupid and offensive every goddamn day? This morning he tweeted this astonishing dribble of fuckwittedness:

What actually happened? Michael Schmidt, a New York Times reporter, emailed an FBI public affairs officer saying they were working on a story about the FBI’s Russia investigation. They’d heard that Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn had met with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in Trump Tower, and as a result of that meeting, Kislyak arranged for Kushner to meet with a Russian banker. In other words, Schmidt was doing what responsible reporters are supposed to do — seeking confirmation of a story before publishing it.

But in the fevered, conspiratorial bizarro world of FoxNEWS and TrumpLand, the NY Times asking the FBI about an FBI investigation is…suspicious. Surely there must be some ulterior motive for the Times to ask the FBI about an investigation run by the FBI. The only possible explanation is the Times was trying to plant a false story in the FBI hive mind that would support and justify the FBI’s illegal attempt to derail the Trump presidential campaign by creating a Russian collusion hoax which the FBI would cleverly NOT reveal to the public until AFTER the election! I suspect FoxNEWS will soon report the FBI was actually behind the Times email to the FBI asking about the FBI’s traitorous fake investigation.

What sends me into a rug-chewing rage sometimes is the willing eagerness of Trump followers to accept as Truth whatever incoherent rambling tumbles out of the Trump gob. I’ve heard pundits describe the bizarro Comrade Trump administration as being ‘post-truth’ but that implies Trump and his supporters recognize the existence of a fixed point verifiable truth. They don’t. It’s not even a bizarro world, really; the bizarro world is the exact opposite of Earth. You can only be the opposite of something that objectively exists. Opposition requires a fixed point. In TrumpLand, there is only a single unfixed chaotic floating point: what Trump wants or believes at any given moment.

2+2

We aren’t prepared for shit like this. By ‘we’ I mean…well, everybody. The populace, the news media, foreign governments and entities, social institutions. Everybody. We’ve all been raised to believe in objective facts — that up is up, that the color red is the color red, that two plus two equals four, that Neo is wrong and there really IS a goddamn spoon. We aren’t prepared to deal with a world leader who, at any given moment, is capable of arguing that two plus two equals a red spoon. Especially when there’s an alleged ‘news’ organization devoting itself to demonstrating how two plus two and a red spoon are basically the same thing, and there’s a base of believers willing to believe the arithmetic operation of addition is some sort of liberal conspiracy.

existential threats

Interesting bits and pieces of the George Stephanopoulos interview with Comrade Trump had been scattered all over teh Intertubes over the last couple of days. So I decided to watch the interview on television.

Okay, I need to digress for a moment. I don’t watch a lot of television. I like television and I’d like to watch more of it, but there’s just so many other things to do. I watch a couple of hours of television a night (except, of course, when the World Cup is on; I watch the hell out of that). And when I say ‘television’ I generally mean something on Hulu or Netflix. I can’t recall the last time I watched a show on commercial network television. Until last night and the interview with Comrade Trump.

It was awful. I mean, Trump was Trump — a despicable human being incapable of relating to any aspect of life and the world around him except through a lens of how it affected HIM. He lied, he was arrogant, he denied reality, he asserted ‘facts’ that didn’t exist, he kicked his own acting Chief of Staff out of the Oval Office for coughing during the interview, he accused his so-called ‘enemies’ of treason, he maligned President Obama, he said the Director of the FBI was wrong in stating that political figures should report contacts from foreign nations who offer ‘dirt’ on political opponents, he claimed to be ‘an honest guy’, he insisted he had polling data that showed he was winning ‘everywhere’, he accused his former White House Counsel of lying under oath, and he complained that he’s been treated more unfairly than President Lincoln (who, it’s worth remembering, was shot in the back of the head).

It was, as I said, completely awful. But here’s an indication of how Comrade Trump has normalized lying, hypocrisy, victimization, and the abuse of power: to me, the most shocking thing about last night was how completely and irredeemably horrible commercial television is.

It was an hour-long show purportedly based on thirty hours of material of which maybe 40-45 minutes of actual interview was presented, and which was routinely interrupted in order to sell products. The commercial interruptions were not only annoying and disruptive to the flow of the interview, they were LOUD. And stupid. And repetitive. There were, for example, at least two commercials for some sort of miniature golf-based game show.

Think about that for a moment. An interview in which the President of the United States makes a number of startling admissions that in ordinary times would lead to immediate impeachment proceedings is interrupted to promote a sort of celebrity miniature golf contest. How fucked up is that? (Hint: pretty fucked up.)

I make an effort to expose myself to a variety of political opinions; I make an effort to have a variety of experiences; I make an effort to avoid the existence-in-a-bubble mentality that I believe makes communication so difficult between folks who hold different opinions. But it turns out I do live in a sort of bubble — a non-commercial bubble.

I don’t know how anybody could process any information or narrative in a meaningful way when it’s presented in the way commercial television presents it. No wonder we live in such a fragmented, disorganized, disruptive, and jangled society. And no wonder Comrade Trump is able to get by with so much bullshit. The whole experience left me struggling to properly place Trump’s unabashed awfulness within a context of luxury car adverts and mini-golf promotions.

After we impeach the motherfucker, we need to think about addressing commercial television. It’s also an existential threat to society.

we are approaching a crisis point

You guys, I don’t want to alarm anybody, but I’m starting to get a little worried about the Comrade Trump administration. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is leaving her job as…as whatever it is she does for the Trump administration. I mean, yeah, okay, she’s officially the ‘Press Secretary’ or something, but c’mon, her job clearly doesn’t have anything to do with the news media (except FoxNews, of course). Her real actual title is probably something like ‘Iron Sneer Maiden’ or ‘Destroyer of Souls’, but at heart Sarah is a lying asshole.

Here’s the thing: she’s leaving and who is qualified to take her place? Who among Comrade Trump’s coterie of collaborators can do what Sarah Sanders has done with the same level of mendacity and disdain? (Spoiler: nobody.)

This is becoming a problem, you guys. We haven’t a Secretary of Homeland Security since April, which means we have an amateur in charge of caging children. We haven’t had a Secretary of Defense since Christmas, which means we’ve got us a rookie handling the rumors that Iran is blowing up oil tanker in the Gulf of Someplace. And we don’t have a Secretary of the Interior, which means…well, nobody really knows what that means on account of does anybody have a clue what the Secretary of the Interior actually does? (Spoiler: nope.)

The result of so many of Comrade Trump’s most (temporarily) trusted advisors and aides is that our national reserve of lying assholes is being depleted. We are beginning to face a lying asshole deficit (and okay, maybe ‘face’ isn’t the best term to use there).

Now you’re probably saying to yourself there’s an abundance of lying assholes in Our Nation’s Capital, which is most certainly true. I mean, there are scads of liars in DC, and the city is hip deep in assholes, and since the Family Trump has come to town, there are more lying assholes than usual. But are they the best lying assholes? Are they natural lying assholes? You can learn to lie, and you can learn to be an asshole, but the very best lying assholes are born.

I’m afraid that with the departure of Sarah Sanders the craft — no, the artistry — of being a lying asshole will suffer. Unless Comrade Trump is willing to think laterally. Unless he proves himself to be morally and ethically flexible enough to dip into a deep well of high grade lying assholes that’s been available for some time, but remains untapped.

That’s right. I’m talking about television ministers. They might just be the answer to our looming lying asshole crisis.

the best sporting event in the world

The FIFA Women’s World Cup begins today. I have to keep reminding myself of that. No matter what other ugly shit is happening elsewhere on the globe, the very best international sports event in the world begins today.

Yes, yes, FIFA as an organization is Trump-level corrupt. And yes, yes, they are also Trump-level misogynistic, and Trump-level cheap as possible. This year the prize money for the WWC is US$30 million. That’s spread out over all 24 teams (the winning team gets four million). It sounds like a healthy chunk of coin — and, in fact, it’s double what the women got for the last World Cup. But the men’s World Cup held last year in Russia? We’re talking $400 million. It’s not fair, it’s not right, it’s fucking infuriating. Fuck FIFA in the neck.

But hey, let that go for now. Because starting today we’ll get to see women playing brilliant futbol. I’m of the opinion that women’s soccer is more fun and more interesting to watch than men’s soccer. The women are less arrogant, have fewer divas, fake FAR fewer injuries, focus more on teamwork, and play with more fierce joy than the men. There’s a delicious aura of liberation in women’s soccer — strong women hurling their bodies about with speed and fluid grace, unencumbered by all the ‘nice’ bullshit they’ve been saddled with for centuries. They’re focused on the ball, of course, and the play, but you get a sense of how good it must feel for them to be able to call upon their body to run flat out and perform some complex athletic task. It’s wonderful to watch.

Okay, it’s just sports. In the grand scheme of the world, I’ll agree that a bunch of folks kicking a ball around doesn’t seem terribly important, even if they’re doing it in France in front of an international audience. But it still matters. The WWC matters. All women’s sports matter, and yes, they matter more than men’s sports. Because women’s sports are watched by young girls who’ll grow up with fewer limits and more hope and bigger dreams because of the women we’ll see on the pitch today. The girls who watch the 2019 WWC will be the ones who eventually kick FIFA in the balls and make futbol fair, and they’ll take that attitude and confidence into every aspect of society — and society will be the better for it.

One last thing. Nike. This is an advert. It’s deliberately manipulative and intended to convince you that Nike cares about…I don’t know, something. It’s a marketing thing. Watch it anyway.

All the ugly shit in the world will continue to take place while I sit in front of the television. I’ll give it due attention. But for a few hours every day for the next few weeks, I’ll be ridiculously happy and weirdly emotional because women will be playing soccer.

I may even go buy a pair of Nike sneakers.

 

what will we do?

I’m here to wreck your Sunday. You’re probably sitting quietly, having your morning tea or coffee, maybe listening to music, maybe doing the Sunday crossword, maybe looking out the window and evaluating the weather and planning how to spend this last lazy day before having to go back to work tomorrow.

Dude, I’m about to fuck up your day. I’m going to ask you to consider the following sequence of events:

  • Comrade Donald Trump is impeached by the House, voting along party lines.
  • The Senate refuses to convict, voting along party lines.
  • Trump is defeated in the 2020 election.
  • Trump refuses to concede the election. He claims the election results were rigged by the ‘deep state’. He claims the results were skewed by voter fraud and that millions of illegal immigrants voted. He claims he really won the popular vote AND the electoral vote, and news reports otherwise are fake news. He states he is the real winner of the election, and what’s taking place is a coup attempt. He holds a series of rallies between election day and the day of the new president’s inauguration encourages his supporters to resist. He tells news reporters that he’s worried his supporters will resort to violence unless the coup is stopped.
  • Trump rejects and prevents an inauguration event. He refuses to leave the White House or acknowledge the legitimacy of the new president.

What happens next?

I’m not an alarmist by nature. I tend to be a skeptical optimist. I keep my expectations low, but my hopes are moderately high. I don’t expect things will work out well, but I always hope they will. About a month ago I wrote about the probability that Comrade Trump would make the transition of power as ugly and messy as possible. But the notion that he would refuse to give up that power was, for me at that point, unthinkable.

But behaviors that were unthinkable two years ago are now commonplace in the Trump administration. A presidential candidate accepting the help of a hostile foreign nation to skew an election in his favor? Unthinkable. A president openly using the office of the presidency to line his pockets? Unthinkable. A president attacking traditional allies and openly supporting totalitarian regimes? Actively and persistently undermining the law enforcement and intelligence communities? Ordering his staff to ignore Congressional subpoenas? Calling the news media the ‘enemy of the people’? Lying blatantly and openly about everything from golf scores to domestic policies to military situations? All of that used to be completely and entirely unthinkable. Not anymore.

Refusing a peaceful transition of power? Refusing even to give up that power? It ought to be unthinkable. But Comrade Trump and his fellow Republicans have already been laying the foundations for the unthinkable for a couple of years with their repeated lies about voter fraud and the ‘deep state traitors’ inside the government and ‘fake news’ agencies staffed by reporters who hate Trump.

It’s not only ‘thinkable’ that Trump might refuse to accept defeat, it’s somewhere between ‘very possible’ and ‘an absolute certainty’. We HAVE to think about Trump refusing to give up his power and consider the implications of the unthinkable. We have to ask ourselves what the military would do in such a situation. What would the Secret Service do? What would Congress and the Supreme Court do?

What would WE do? Think about that, because it’s a very real possibility. What would YOU do?

Okay, you can go back to your quiet Sunday now.