an odd day

Yesterday was a very odd day, wasn’t it. A very odd day all around the globe, really, considering what happened in the U.K. (U.K. elections are as incomprehensible to me as the rules of cricket), and what happened in Japan (what’s the point of being the emperor if the nation has to pass a law in order to allow you to abdicate?), and what happened in Australia (seriously, Saudi Arabia? Your fútbol team can’t offer up sixty seconds of silence to honor the victims of terrorism?).

And here in These United States the entire nation came to a halt — well, okay, not an actual halt; more like a slow coast — while the recently fired Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation unloaded on Comrade Trump, the cartoonish dimwitted bully who is, to the constant astonishment of many, the sitting President of the United States. That spectacle was odd on so many levels that you’d need an abacus to count them all.

It was odd in part because throughout the day I heard a chorus of complaints and despair about how utterly fucked the U.S. is. I heard folks say they wished they could emigrate to…well, almost any place other than the U.S. Canada, France, Sweden, Spain, pick a place. I heard folks claim civilization was crumbling and democracy was dead. I heard folks wondering if the U.S. was salvageable as a nation. I heard them complain that the investigations into the Russian interference with the U.S. presidential elections were pointless because nothing would ever change. I heard them bemoan the fact that nobody really seemed to care that the President of These United States was elected in part because of that Russian interference, that Republicans in particular would continue to support Comrade Trump even if it was demonstrated that he was vulnerable to blackmail by Russia, that nobody really cared about anything but lining their own pockets.

I heard all that from people while they were watching Comey testify. I can’t (and don’t) blame folks for being disheartened and discouraged. I feel that way my ownself. But I’m also feeling stupidly hopeful, because I see a LOT of folks coming together to resist the barrage of bullshit that’s taking place.

You can’t claim nobody cares when there were millions of people are paying close attention to the Comey hearing. CBS News estimated that approximately 26 million employed people watched the hearing, which resulted in “$3.3 billion in lost or delayed productivity.” And that’s just the regularly employed people; it doesn’t count students, or folks who work from home, or folks who are unemployed, or people (like James Comey himself) who are “between opportunities.” It doesn’t count the people who listened to the hearing on the radio, or the people who followed the hearing on Facebook or Twitter, or who watched it live on YouTube. It doesn’t count all those folks who gathered in coffee shops and bars to watch the hearing, or the folks who watched it while at the gym. A LOT of people were paying attention to that hearing.

(REUTERS/Joe Penney)

You can’t claim democracy is dead while the U.S. Senate is listening to the former Director of the FBI testify under oath in an open forum that he was fired by the president for investigating possible collusion between the president’s staff and Russia. Sure, the Republicans on the committee tried to present Comey’s testimony in the best possible light for Comrade Trump, but none of them suggested Comey’s claims were false (with the possible exception of John McCain, who was apparently distracted because he was in fierce hand-to-hand combat with reality). That’s democracy taking place, right there in front of us.

Things are most definitely fucked up in the U.S. right now. It’s bad, but we’ve been through worse — and not that long ago. Things were much more fucked up in 1974, when President Nixon was under investigation and facing probable impeachment. Back then the president’s Chief of Staff talked about possibly needing to mobilize the 82nd Airborne division of the U.S. Army to protect the president. We’re only at the stage where protecting the president means keeping his own cellphone out of his hands.

Things are fucked up, and it will almost certainly take some time to unfuck them. It’s much easier to fuck things up than to unfuck them.

Speaking of time and cellphones — and this is entirely unrelated — yesterday evening I was sitting outside sipping a beer and ignoring my book, just idly looking at the clouds. As twilight slid on toward dusk, one star in the north sky became bright enough to see. Actually, I wasn’t sure if it was a star or a planet. I was interested in the constellations as a kid, but it’s been a long time since I paid any attention to them. So I engaged in a bit of what used to be science fiction.

We live in an age where a person can pick up their cellphone, ask it to suggest a star map application, download that app in seconds, and use it to identify a single star in the sky. How cool is that? It turned out to be Polaris, the pole star. My cellphone also informed me it was about 433 light years away. That means the light I was seeing yesterday evening had left that star during the height of the European Renaissance. That’s sort of staggering, isn’t it. Humbling, in fact.

I’m not going to claim it puts yesterday’s testimony in perspective, because you’d have to be a tunahead to consider contemporary politics from an intergalactic time frame (wait, is Polaris in our galaxy? Where’s my cellphone?). It was just one more oddity to add to an already odd day. I only mentioned it because it’s my blog and I can mention stuff if I want to.

where the light is

I noodled around the Des Moines Art Center with some friends a couple of days ago. It had been a while since I’d visited the art center, and I’d forgotten just how visually engaging its architecture is. I’d brought a camera (a real, actual, no-nonsense camera), thinking I might shoot some photos of the artwork. And I did. I shot three frames with the camera — all of the same Calder mobile. I spent far more time shooting quick black-and-white snaps on my cellphone. And very little of that was of the artwork; almost all of the photos I shot were about the building.

Stairs in the Meier wing

The history of the architecture of the Des Moines Art Center is sort of interesting. Well, it’s interesting to me. The original design was the Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen. He’d won a competition in 1939 to design the Smithsonian Gallery of Art. But Congress being Congress, they decided to deny funding for the construction. Happily, the folks in charge of creating a new art museum in Des Moines saw Saarinen’s plans for the Smithsonian and said, “Dude, slide on over here and build us a museum.” And he did. He cobbled together a structure that was an esoteric combination of Art Deco and Art Nouveau styles. They finished construction in 1948.

What made it unique, though, was the decision NOT to construct a standard museum gallery. Saarinen’s design also included spaces for practice and instruction, making it both an art gallery and a teaching center. And hey, bingo — we had us an art center. Pretty cool idea.

Sunlight through a curtain (with incidental Giacometti bronze)

In the late 1960s, the art center folks decided to expand the building to include a space large enough to hold an auditorium and display really big sculptures. They got I.M. Pei to design it. It’s hard to do better than Pei. But his design revolved around a sort of massive block building that would tower over the existing structure. It was necessary, of course, but the design would have clashed with the low, ground-hugging Saarinen design. So Pei said, “Dudes, not to worry. I’ll sink the block into the landscape, easy peasy, lemon breezy.”  And hey, bingo — we had us a fine addition to the art center.

I.M. Pei window (with incidental Debora Butterfield painted steel horse)

By the 1980s, the art center needed another new extension — a space to house more contemporary works. This time they landed Richard Meier as the architect. Meier is one of those Pritzker Prize geniuses whose work is fairly idiosyncratic. The guy is totally smitten by structures designed around very white geometric patterns. Nothing at all like the designs of Pei or Saarinen. The advantage of being a Pritzker genius is nobody’s going to force you to adapt your aesthetic to fit in with your predecessors.

Meier’s addition to the art center is basically what he’s known for — white geometric patterns. It sort of looks like it was designed by a member of the Borg Collective who’d gone to an architecture school in Minecraft. That sounds more harsh than I mean it to. It’s really a very smart, clever, and very very clean design. Just different from the rest of the art center. But hey, bingo — we have us a space for contemporary artwork.

It speaks to the design, I think, that the only time I felt the need to shoot a photograph in color was in the Meier wing.

Mobile — Calder, Meier wing.

The fact is, I really didn’t make any thoughtful, considered photographs. I just walked around and took quick, square format, b&w snapshots using an app I’ve configured for black-and-white photography. It wasn’t until I got home and looked at the photos (there were only 18 of them) that I realized most of the photos were of the building itself rather than the art it houses. Art figured into some of the photos, but they were accents incidental to the photo rather than the subject of it. If that makes sense.

It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the art; I did. I enjoyed it a lot. In fact, I’d often put on my glasses and get really close and try to figure out exactly how some of the work was done. I mean, how did George Wesley Bellows manage to paint a human face (it is, I’ve decided, humanly impossible — maybe Bellows was an alien)? I looked at the sculptures and admired the sketches and appreciated the paintings and watched a couple of works of video art. By the way,  some of the video art? Incomprehensible and (is there a polite way to say ‘stupid’? — no, I don’t think there is) stupid. But then there was this piece by Michael Najjar. Sublime.

Spacewalk — Michael Najjar

I looked at just about everything and I enjoyed most of it, but in the end the primary reason I’d shoot a photograph had most to do with the way the building interacted with the light. The way the light and the structure worked together seemed to infuse some sort of extra meaning to both. For example, I was very much taken by a chair (based on an Eames design) partly because I mistakenly thought I was in the Saarinen wing (the Eames brothers were students of Saarinen). I was actually in the Pei wing — irony gone awry.

Unironic Eames chair

Some of these photographs, I know, probably won’t appeal to anybody but me. Like the chair above. It’s just a chair the guards sit in. Or this view out a window to the street. What’s that about? There was something about the geometry that appealed to me, though I couldn’t say what.

Looking out on Grand

I actually spent more time on this stupid photograph than all the others combined. I wanted to get that tree in the right spot, and the reflection of the window’s crossbar just the right angle. Then I probably stood there, trying to be still and hold that view, for a couple of minutes, waiting for the passing cars to line up properly. Silly, I know, but it seemed worth it at the moment. Still does.

It’s a wee bit embarrassing to visit the art center and return home with nothing but a handful of black-and-white photographs. All that amazing art, and here’s me with some photos of curtains and stairways and chairs and random views out of windows.

Some random curtain

But what can you do? That’s where the light was.

a simple acknowledgment of service

I’m not particularly moved by the U.S. flag. Don’t get me wrong — I’m a patriot. I joined the military and did my four years in uniform. I’ve spent most of my life engaged in some form of public service — prison counselor, criminal defense investigator, teacher. I stand up when they play the national anthem at ball games. But I’m not a flag-waver. The flag just doesn’t move me as a symbol. It’s been brandished too often by too many hypocrites for too many cynical reasons for me to get very emotional about it.

However, there are two exceptions. First, I get weepy every time I see a military funeral. I’m going to guess a lot of you have only seen a military funeral on television or in the movies. Even so, you know there’s a military tradition that involves folding the flag and presenting it to the next of kin. Believe it or not, there wasn’t any actual written protocol for this ceremony until about five or six years ago. There was, however, the awesome weight of tradition, and tradition is a very big deal in the military.

By tradition, when the flag was presented to the next of kin the Casualty Assistance Officer (yeah, they actually have a title for this person; it’s the military) would kneel, offer the flag, and then say some variation of this:

This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation as an expression of appreciation for the honorable and faithful service rendered by your loved one.

The moment I hear the words a grateful nation I get totally choked up and by the time they get to honorable and faithful service I’ve been known to cry like a fucking baby. Partly because it’s so often a lie. The service was real. I’m not going to judge whether it was honorable or faithful, the fact is that person served. But let’s face it — the nation is rarely very grateful.

The other exception to my flag-related apathy is Memorial Day. This wasn’t always the case. As a holiday, Memorial Day has pretty much lost all meaning. I’ve written about this before. I’ve written about how ‘patriotic’ Republicans treat one of their own on Memorial Day. And three years ago I wrote about accidentally stumbling across a cemetery in a small town in Iowa on Memorial Day.

I went back to Maxwell, Iowa last year and again yesterday. I keep going back because the good people of Maxwell make Memorial Day feel like it’s supposed to feel. The flags they display are large, and they display a lot of them. But what moves me isn’t the number or size of the flags; it’s about the simple act of recognizing and acknowledging service. Maxwell shows appreciation for the inherent sacrifice of serving.

These weren’t necessarily big sacrifices. Very few of the veterans in Maxwell’s cemetery died while in uniform. They weren’t all heroes (when you call everyone a hero you devalue actual heroism). They were just ordinary folks who felt they owed something to their country or their community. The vast majority of the veterans did their time in military harness, came home, got a job, and lived an ordinary life. And each year, on this one day, the town of Maxwell basically says ‘Thank you.’ They don’t just say it to the dead who served in the military, mind you. The town also puts little flags on the graves of volunteer firefighters and police officers — red for firefighters, blue for police. It’s all about service, regardless of its form.

There’s a good chance, if you live in the US, that over the Memorial Day weekend you’ll pass by a cemetery, and you’ll have seen all those little flags scattered amongst the tombstones. Think about this: somebody put those flags there. Somebody walked out into the cemetery with a little chart showing where the bodies of veterans are located, and planted a little flag by each of those graves. In a few days, they’ll collect those flags and everything will go back to normal until next year. The vast majority of veteran’s graves will go unremembered. Nobody will visit their graves, except the persons planting those flags.

That’s probably not true in a small town like Maxwell. In a town of only a few hundred people, there’s a good chance whoever put those small flags by those graves knew the deceased. Or knew his kin. Maybe they learned geography or math from the person, or maybe grew up with the person’s grandson, or maybe bought their used car. There’s a good chance whoever put those flags in place in Maxwell wasn’t a stranger.

That moves me. It moves me in a very different way than when I visit the graves of my own family’s veterans. It moves me because what I see in Maxwell isn’t just honoring the dead, they’re honoring of the concept of service. It reminds me that service — the act of doing work for the benefit of the community — works both ways. By honoring service itself, the community of Maxwell makes itself worthy of that service. That’s a lesson for every community — every community across scales: neighborhood, small town, city, state, nation.

If you want a proud professional military, be sure you create a nation worthy of pride. If you want a good police force, make sure the city serves and protects everybody who lives there. If you want good teachers, give them good schools and provide them with the material they need to teach. It’s really very simple. If you want good service, give people a good reason to serve.

I’ll probably go back to Maxwell again next year. It doesn’t make me feel any more patriotic, and it won’t really change how I feel about the flag. But it reminds me that the reasons so many of us put on the uniform are valid. It reminds me service is honorable.

led by a donkey

Okay, then. Let’s face it, when a Republican candidate can grab a reporter by the throat, throw him to the ground and punch him, and still get elected to Congress, it’s time for Republicans to officially change their name from the Republican Party to the Republican Horde. Or, if you prefer, the GOH — the Grand Old Horde.

It’s an appropriate term. horde. It comes from the Turkic and Mongolic term ordu, which originally referred to a nomadic encampment. Over time the term was applied to a roving patriarchal militaristic social system grounded in the concept of raiding for plunder. Raid other nations, raid other cities, raid other tribes, raid related tribes if necessary. Take what you can carry, burn the rest, move on. By the early 1600s, the term horde was used to describe any noisy, unruly, uncivilized gang.

Actual Mongol Horde

We have a president who has no political or religious ideology other than personal profit and self-aggrandizement. We have a president who doesn’t just lie, but whose lies are totally self-serving and are easily revealed as lies. He leads a Republican Horde intent on enriching themselves at the expense of others, with no long-term consideration for the future. Think of the Mongol Hordes, only instead of guys with long mustaches riding on ponies, drinking kumis and airag, and shooting at folks with little bows, it’s white guys in suits sneering at liberal snowflakes. Think of the Dothraki from the Game of Thrones, only instead of brawny, bare-chested warriors, it’s pasty white guys who brag about grabbing women by the pussy while denying them health care.

Republican Horde

Actually, I’m being unfair to Mongols (and probably to Dothraki). The Mongols may have been plunderers and pillagers, but they had some strict codes of behavior. For example, the Yasa forbade Mongols to eat anything in the presence of another without inviting that person to also partake in the food. It also forbade anybody from eating more than his comrades. It insisted any passing wayfarer who arrived during a meal should be allowed to join in the meal without asking permission. Of course, it also demanded that a hunter who let an animal escape during a hunt be beaten with sticks, and that anybody who urinated into a stream be put to death — which seems a wee bit harsh, but those things put the health and welfare of the community at risk.

Republican Horde

I’m inclined to think the folks who belong to the current Republican Horde wouldn’t hesitate to eat in front of the hungry. I think they’d casually deny wayfarers from joining a meal. I think they’d protect a member who let an animal escape during a hunt (so long as the Republican Elders had enough to eat) and they’d probably cheerfully piss in the river — not just because they don’t care who lives downstream, but because it would amuse them.

Republican Horde

There’s a saying often attributed to Genghis Khan:

An army of donkeys led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by a donkey.

He might have actually said that, I don’t know. I do know Chabrias, the Athenian general, said something very much like it some fifteen hundred years earlier. I wouldn’t put it past old Genghis to have stolen the line. I’ve no doubt modern Republicans would lift if without a moment of hesitation. It is a good line, after all; I might steal it myself some day. However, it doesn’t apply to the current Republican Horde.

They’ve become an army of donkeys led by another donkey.


These last few days have been astonishing. Literally astonishing. Astonishing in the oldest sense of the term. You know — stunned, made senseless by the crash of thunder. From the French estoner and the Latin tonare — to thunder. Astonish.

Last week we learned the newly elected President of These United States, who is under investigation for colluding with the government of Russia to disrupt and interfere with the presidential election, held a private meeting with the Russian ambassador and the Russian foreign minister in the Oval Office. In any other administration, that alone would be astonishing. But that’s not the most astonishing thing. In that meeting, Comrade Trump told the Russians that he’d just fired the Director of the FBI, who was heading the investigation into the campaign collusion. And no, even that isn’t the most astonishing thing. The most astonishing thing is he told them he’d fired the FBI chief because of the investigation.

Think about that for a moment. The target of what is essentially a conspiracy investigation tells the people with whom he’s accused of conspiring that he fired the investigator because he was investigating the conspiracy. And the target is the President of These United States.

That is just fucking astonishing. You’d be justified in thinking Clan Trump had fulfilled its monthly quota of astonishing things. But no. Trump went to Saudi Arabia. And he took his daughter. The tall, smart one with the long neck. And she spoke about women’s economic empowerment to a group of fifteen Saudi women described as “leaders in society, businesswomen and elected government officials”. Prepare to be astonished. This is part of what she told them:

“In every country around the world women and girls continue to face unique systematic, institutional, cultural barriers, which hinder us from fully engaging in and achieving true parity of opportunity within our communities. Each of you know this to be true. And yet the stories of Saudi women, such as yourselves, catalysing change, inspire me to believe in the possibility of global women’s empowerment.”

Yeah. Those 15 Saudi women leaders? The ones who inspire Ivanka as catalysts of change? They can now vote in local elections. Local elections. Of course, they need their husband’s permission to vote. No, wait — that’s not fair. They don’t need their husband’s permission to vote; they only need their husband’s permission to travel to the voting site. Women in Saudi Arabia aren’t allowed to drive. As you almost certainly know, they can’t go anywhere outside the home unless they have the permission of a male family member — husband, father, brother, uncle, son (yes, that’s right — if no other male family member is available, a woman would have to get permission from her son). Oh, and they need to be accompanied by a male family member too. They also need a male family member’s permission to go to school. Or get a job. Or open a bank account.

The Saudis wore black, Ivanka wore powder blue.

And if they go out in public, those 15 women leaders have to abide by a strict dress code. At the very least, they have to wear a head scarf and a long cloak. But hey, they’re no longer required to cover their faces. Progress! Of course, most of the places these Saudi women can visit are gender segregated — public buildings, universities, parks, even amusement parks. If they go shopping, they’re generally not allowed to try on the clothes, because that would require getting undressed. In a private dressing room. In a gender-segregated shop. You can’t be too careful.

But hey, if they want to buy the clothes they can’t try on? They can use their own credit card! The one they received from the bank when they opened their account. Which they were allowed to open with the permission of their husband or father.

“Saudi Arabia’s progress, especially in recent years, is very encouraging but there’s still a lot of work to be done and freedoms and opportunities to continue to fight for.”

Oh, Ivanka. She’s so right. There’s a lot of work to be done, but it’s so very encouraging. And yes, there are so many opportunities to fight for. Ivanka knows an opportunity when she sees one.

Speaking of opportunities, did I mention that after Ivanka spoke about the encouraging progress made by Saudi women, she announced that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had contributed US$100 million to a women’s empowerment fund? Oh, and did I mention that the fund was spearheaded by Ivanka Trump?

After Ivanka’s speech on empowerment and the announcement of the $100,000,000 donation, the fifteen Saudi women leaders left through the separate women’s entrance and, with the permission of their husbands or fathers, were driven home, where they’re allowed to remove their cloaks and head scarves.

Astonishing, isn’t it.

what does that tell you?

I read the news every morning while I caffeinate myself. Since it’s the nature of ‘morning’ to arrive frightfully early, while I’m still in a stupor, I tend to follow a general pattern of news-reading. First, I run through my Google News thang, which allows me to rummage through a lot of different news sources. Then I usually read either the local newspaper or the Washington Post. I generally read them both, just not in any particular order. Finally I look at a couple of political blogs. By the time I’m done with those, my coffee is gone and I’m relatively alert.

“I say, I’ve noticed the most curious thing in today’s newspaper.”

I mention all that because of an odd thing I noticed this morning. Almost every news source had a unique headline story about Comrade Trump. Most often the major news venues simply offer a slightly different version of the same news story, but not this morning. The Post had an article suggesting Trump and Dana Rohrbacher were paid by the Russian government. The New York Times had a story claiming the Trump campaign was aware that General Michael Flynn was under investigation for his contacts with Russia even before he was named as Trump’s National Security Adviser. And Reuters had a piece about the frequency of Flynn’s meetings with various Russian diplomats and agents.

There were a couple of other news agencies that had stories about Trump himself or about his campaign, but I don’t recall offhand what they were. The odd thing was that at least half a dozen different news agencies or sources had half a dozen Trump headline stories. All different, but still all about Comrade Trump.

What does that tell you? I’d suggest it tells us there was an organized leak by somebody (or a few somebodies) from an investigative or intelligence agency. I don’t know who — maybe the FBI, maybe the CIA, maybe the NSA. But they gave each news agency a different story, all of which were negative about Comrade Trump.

“No, really? And then what happened?”

Not only that, they leaked all those different stories on the same day. What does that tell you? I’d suggest it tells us they’ve got more negative stories in their pocket. Otherwise they wouldn’t dump them all at once. (Although I suppose it could indicate a single news source who wants to unburden himself before he gets caught and fired.)

Because I try to be fair, I have to admit it’s possible that each of those news venues independently uncovered a different news story about a different facet of Trump-related scandal and coincidentally decided to publish them all on the same day. It’s possible. But I think it’s improbable.

I suspect we’ll see more whisperings in the next week or two.

bottom line

Over the weekend I heard somebody run with the ‘give the guy some time’ defense of Comrade Trump. You’ve surely heard this. “Sure, he’s made some dumb moves, but the bottom line is he’s only been on the job a few months. What do you expect?”

That’s a good question. No, wait…it’s a really stupid question. What do we expect? The guy is the goddamn President of These United States. We shouldn’t have to be concerned about whether he meets some minimal tolerable standard. This isn’t Pass/Fail, for fuck’s sake. But sadly, that’s where we are as a nation. We’re actually forced to ask if Donald J. Trump is capable of meeting the bottom line.

The bottom line. It’s about as perfect an expression of a concept as you could ever want. It literally refers to the final profit and loss figure of any enterprise, which is located on the bottom line on an accounting page. Even the term bottom is absolutely perfect. It’s derived from a Proto-Germanic root word, buthm, meaning the ground, earth, soil, the lowest level. There is nothing below the bottom. 

So, bottom line — what’s the very least we expect from the President of These United States? What are the minimal set of behaviors and beliefs we reckon are acceptable from the person who runs the United States government? A few things immediately come to mind.

Is it true? I dunno. Maybe. Probably. Who can say?

A certain degree of honesty. Nobody expects POTUS to be perfectly honest about everything. There are things that, for security reasons, need to be kept secret. We’re all adults; we know this. We may not always like it, but we understand the need for incidental presidential fibbing. Hell, most of us are even okay with the occasional bald-faced presidential lie IF it’s in the best interest of the nation. But at the same time we expect the president NOT to lie casually. Or frequently. Or blatantly.

Comrade Trump violates that expectation. He lies easily, he lies often, and he lies brazenly — even if the lie is obvious. The scope of the lie doesn’t seem to matter; he lies just as easily about issues of national importance as he does about trivial crap. He’s not just indifferent to the truth; he so indifferent to it that we’re forced to wonder if he’s even aware he’s lying.

That’s unacceptable. As citizens, we have a legitimate expectation that our president isn’t a habitual liar. The leaders of other nations share that expectation. When it comes to matters of trade or security — not to mention times of international crisis — other national leaders need to be able to trust that the U.S. president isn’t lying his ass off. At this point, nobody can fully trust Comrade Trump will deal honestly with…well, with anybody.

Whaddya mean, I got to listen to Congress? Who elected them to…oh. But still, c’mon.

A basic grasp of how the U.S. government functions. Yeah, government is complex. No single person can be expected to understand every facet of every organization and agency that comprises the U.S. government. But as citizens, we expect the president to have a working knowledge of how our government is supposed to operate.

Comrade Trump violates those expectations. If you google Trump doesn’t you get the following predictive searches:

understand executive orders
understand checks and balances
understand separation of powers

Okay, executive orders are maybe a tad confusing, but the concepts of checks and balances and separation of powers? That’s basic stuff. The first three articles of the U.S. Constitution are devoted to it. You know — three branches of government: the executive, the legislative, the judiciary. None of them is superior to the others, each operates independently, but are held in check by the other two. For example, POTUS can negotiate treaties, but the Senate has to approve them. Congress can make laws, but the courts determine if those laws are constitutional. The courts can send folks to jail, but POTUS has the power to pardon them. POTUS can propose a budget, but Congress decides whether to fund it. Basic stuff, like I said. American kids learn this in middle school or earlier. But they’re a mystery to Comrade Trump.

That’s unacceptable. As citizens, we have a legitimate expectation that the president should be as familiar with this stuff as your average fifteen year old kid. It’s ridiculous that Comrade Trump has to be periodically reminded what the president can and cannot do. He’s NOT the king — he’s not even the CEO of America Inc. — he’s just the guy who temporarily occupies the office.

Go fuck yourself. Go. And then fuck yourself. In that order.

An elementary notion of decorum. I’m not talking about whether he knows what fork is for the salad. I’m talking about preserving and maintaining the dignity of the office of the President of These United States. In the words of Joe Biden (who, let’s face it, wasn’t always the most decorous and dignified person in the room), it’s a big fucking deal. We expect our president NOT to be a jerk in public. When the president is out and about with his wife, he should be polite to her. It’s none of our business whether or not he loves his wife, but it IS our business that he treats her with respect. When visiting officials and dignitaries arrive at the White House, he should be polite to them. It doesn’t matter if he likes or dislikes Angela Merkel. She’s the Chancellor of Germany — shake her damned hand. As citizens, we have a legitimate expectation that our president doesn’t disgrace the nation, doesn’t embarrass the citizenry, doesn’t wantonly insult others. It’s not asking too much to expect the president to comport himself a degree of restraint and a certain amount of grace.

Comrade Trump violates those expectations. He’s consistently rude and boorish — to his wife, to his staff, to visiting dignitaries and diplomats, to his predecessors, and to others in general. He’s quick to ridicule folks he disagrees with, to insult his detractors, to disparage anyone he feels is in any way inferior, and to malign anybody he sees as any sort of threat. At the same time, he compliments authoritarian figures and tyrants. He praises Russia’s Putin, Duterte of the Philippines, Turkey’s Erdogan — but he calls President Obama “a bad (or sick) guy” and accused him of “trying to destroy Israel” and being “the worst president in U.S. history” as well as being “weak” and “insane”.

That’s unacceptable. As citizens we deserve a president who isn’t a continuous source of shame and embarrassment. We deserve to be represented by a person who treats others with a modicum of respect. We deserve a president who is self-confident and mature enough to respond to slights and insults with restraint and sensibility. We deserve a president who isn’t a flaming asshole.

Bottom line: he can’t get any lower.

So, here’s the bottom line then. We expect the president to be moderately honest, to be as conversant with the basic functions of the government as a middle school student, and not to be a jerk. We expect him not to pout, not to whine, not to blame others, and not to have tantrums. We expect him NOT to behave like a spoiled child acting out at the Burger King.

Bottom line — we expect the President of These United States to act like a fucking adult.