yeah, he’s lying

Comrade Donald J. Trump is a liar.

Every president has told lies. Every person on earth has told lies. We all lie. Most of our lies are social lies — lies told to lubricate social interactions. “No, the pie crust wasn’t overbaked.” “I’d love to visit, but I’m running a bit late.” “Yes, of course, I’d be happy to help.” “Please, stay as long as you’d like.”

But Trump isn’t just a social liar. He will lie about anything to anybody for any reason without any compunction and without any concern for consequences. He’s an unrepentant liar. A serial liar. An inveterate liar. Worst of all, he’s a dangerous liar. I mean that quite seriously. Trump’s repeated barrage of lies are damaging the stability of our democracy.

Yeah, he’s lying.

Back in 1978 the French writer Roger Errera interviewed Hannah Arendt for the New York Review of Books. Among the things they discussed was the role played by lying in totalitarian governments.

If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer. This is because lies, by their very nature, have to be changed, and a lying government has constantly to rewrite its own history. On the receiving end you get not only one lie — a lie which you could go on for the rest of your days — but you get a great number of lies, depending on how the political wind blows. And a people that no longer can believe anything cannot make up its mind. It is deprived not only of its capacity to act but also of its capacity to think and to judge. And with such a people you can then do what you please.

We are still sometimes shocked by the viciousness and cruelty of some of Comrade Trump’s lies. We’re sometimes amused by the absurdity of his lies. We’re occasionally baffled by the pointlessness of some of his lies. But it’s been a long time since we were shocked by the fact that he lies. He’s normalized lying. And increasingly, the result is exactly what Arendt said: it’s not that anybody believes most of Trump’s lies; it’s that a lot of people no longer believe anything.

In the last election we elected a Democratic House of Representatives because they told us they would act to hold Comrade Trump accountable. They haven’t. And because they haven’t, we’re less likely to believe them when they promise they will. It’s getting harder and harder to believe anything.

Yeah, he’s lying.

As Arendt said, it’s getting harder and harder to act. I’d intended to join the protest at a local detention facility last Friday. But I had company coming for a few days. Instead of inviting them to the protest, I stayed home. We cooked a meal, drank some locally brewed beer, talked, laughed, enjoyed ourselves. We did this while families seeking asylum are being separated and detained in appalling conditions.

This is how the fatigue caused by Comrade Trump’s constant lying and hate damages the nation. This is how a weary population surrenders. This is how democracy dies.

Yeah, he’s lying.

One last comment by Hannah Arendt.

The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction and the distinction between true and false no longer exist.

Most of still make those distinctions. Most of us aren’t ‘ideal subjects’ for totalitarian rule. But many of us — I hope it’s not most of us — are just tired. We’re just so goddamn tired. But I truly believe we’d find our energy again IF the Democrats in the House would begin impeachment proceedings.

So today I’ll struggle to find the energy to call my member of Congress and, once again, encourage them to pressure Nancy Pelosi to do her fucking job. Democracy depends on it.

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fixed it

Comrade Trump tweeted this in his morning rant:

The tweet needed work.

If Democrats Republicans want to unite around the foul language & racist hatred spewed from the mouths and actions of the very unpopular & unrepresentative Congresswomen president, it will be interesting to see how it plays out. I can tell you that they have he has made Israel the American people feel abandoned by the U.S. president and his Republican enablers.

There. Fixed it.

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.

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.

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.

 

mueller — itmfa

I watched Robert Mueller’s brief public statement yesterday. And dude, the operative term there is ‘brief’. Under ten minutes. He slid over behind the DOJ podium, said his piece, then was gone like Kyzer Soze.

I know a lot of folks were disappointed by his statement. I guess they were hoping for something dramatic — some sort of revelation maybe, or a political call to arms. But that’s not Mueller. Mueller’s a professional prosecutor. Here’s the thing: political processes always involve some level of passion and partisanship. But we’re supposed to keep that shit out of legal processes. Legal processes are supposed to be sober, deliberate, and dispassionate.

This is where the problem lies. Because Mueller’s legal process has big-ass political implications. In his statement yesterday, he said his report:

“…contains our findings and analysis, and the reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself.”

But the work doesn’t really speak for itself on account of 1) it’s a prosecutor’s document and even though there’s juicy stuff in it, the report is written in a legal fashion that’s boring as fuck to read, and 2) the report is almost as long as a Game of Thrones novel, and as a result of 1) and 2), we get 3) ain’t hardly nobody actually reading it.

And that’s a damned shame, because the report is pretty fucking clear. It says Russian military intelligence agents interfered with the 2016 election to help Comrade Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. It says the Trump campaign was hip deep in Russian contacts, all of which had some sort of connection to Russian intelligence agencies. It says folks in the Trump campaign lied their asses off about those contacts. And it says Trump and his people obstructed the investigation in lots of ways, but since he’s the president (and the DOJ has a policy that a sitting president can’t be indicted) they couldn’t consider charging him with a crime.

In his statement yesterday, Mueller reminded everybody — including Congress — that there are options to charging Trump with a crime. He said,

“[T]he Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing.”

That’s about as close as Mueller can get to saying, “Congress, y’all need to impeach the motherfucker already.” And let’s face it, when he’s saying ‘Congress’ he basically means ‘Democrats’ because nobody, including Mueller, expects the Republicans in Congress to hold Trump responsible for anything.

I think that’s at least partially why Mueller made a public statement. He’s a Republican his ownself, and I sorta kinda think he’s trying to shame Republicans into stepping up and earning their paychecks. I think Mueller is telling everybody that serious shit took place, and as a nation we can’t allow that to happen. That’s actually the very last thing he said in his statement:

“I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments—that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. That allegation deserves the attention of every American.”

Every American. Including Republican-Americans. If gutless Democrats refuse to start impeachment hearings, they’re freeing gutless Republicans from having to take any responsibility for Trump’s behavior. Impeachment proceedings will force Republicans to state publicly if they’re willing to allow the ratfucking of US elections by hostile foreign nations if it helps them win elections.

Mueller isn’t going to show up at demonstrations wearing a ITMFA tee shirt or appear with Colbert drinking from a ITMFA mug. He’s not going to write an op-ed in the New York Times or Washington Post advocating impeachment. That was never his job and he’s not that sort of guy. He’s written his report and he’s made a statement. He’s said what he can say and done what he can do.

It’s up to us and to Congress now.