Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Getting Past the Drumpfsters

It is not going to be easy to survive the Drumpfenreich:  combining the worst qualities of the worst Presidents of the last 100 years, the Trump administration has the rampant corruption of Harding, the paranoid hatred of all the better institutions of American life of Nixon, and the naive ignorance of the world which Dubya exhibited.

June 15 will mark a milestone of sorts, as we reach Day 146, which would be 10% of Trump's term in office.  I will exclude the possibility of his re-election, not that I do not consider it a serious threat, no matter how much the majority of the population hates him.   The Republican gameplan will now focus on disenfranchising as many potential voters as possible, and the party's stranglehold on so many state governments makes it a realistic strategy.  Only the courts stand in the way of a return to a series of measures designed to discourage anyone without the leisure to pass through a series of time-consuming, challenging obstacles if they don't already hold the necessary credentials.

The only thing possibly worse than Trump himself are the people he has chosen to surround himself, in the White House itself and in his Cabinet.  But let's not dwell on that right now.

The good news, once again, is that Trump has accomplished almost none of the objectives that he espoused when he ran for the Presidency.  The bad news is that he has plenty of time to learn how to do it, and very few impediments, apart from those of his own and his own party's making.  The other bad news is that nothing he wants to do is a good idea. He picks the wrong allies, wants to help the wrong people (and I include his cronies particularly among those), creates chaos wherever he goes (or at home, in the White House), and has a perverse dislike for valued objects like science, a free press, clean energy, public education, civil liberties, and civility generally.

Now, I will admit that there is one current Trump initiative in which I must wish him sucecss, even if I am not a believer.  He dares to try to accomplish what so many others have failed to do--he wants to broker a deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians.  I do admire the audacity; it ranks with him rating himself worthy of running for the Presidency.  Even if, in my view, he was wrong about that, he certainly was right in his assessment (if he ever had it, at any time!) that he could win.  So let him try with Netanyahu.  If he can pull it off it would clearly dwarf any other possible positive achievement of his terrible reign, a la Jimmy Carter, who similarly was able somehow to deliver arch-warrior Menachem Begin's agreement to the deal with Egypt.

Of course, I don't believe Netanyahu is prepared to negotiate seriously, to be the one to recognize any form of Palestinian state, to allow any part of the West Bank to be ceded to their longstanding neighbors, those fellow Semites.  I never imagined Begin would make peace with Sadat, though.

Even imagining this could happen, though, violates one of my cardinal rules about surviving Trump's administration.  I have raised my hopes.  Expectations must always be at rock bottom, with him. Subsequently being proven right, as would normally happen, is not the point.  The point is that disappointment is a near-certainty if one hopes for anything that is not criminally stupid and badly executed.

The good doctor Deepak Chopra provides some suggestions for skills to develop to avoid being consumed by the stress arising from Trump-driven outrage.  One of my own resolutions is to limit myself to no more than one Trump-driven rant in this blog space per month.  Please hold me to that.

Their Lives Were Not All About Donald Trump
Chris Cornell - guitarist and lead singer for Soundgarden, one of the top grunge bands, who had a successful solo career after the '90's.  His style was brooding, dynamic; it was not so hard to imagine that the writer of "Black Hole Sun", a powerful grunge classic which pleads for a black hole to swallow everything up, might end up taking his own life.  Sorry.

Gregg Allman - Keyboard player and usual lead singer for the Allman Brothers, who basically pioneered a brand of Southern country-tinged blues rock.   He became the leader after the early death (motorcycle accident) of his brother, Duane, the superior talent of the band.  Allman had several comebacks over the years; Gregg's talents were never shown better than in his performance of the '70's classic, "Whippin' Post".

Zbigniew Brzezinski- He was a displomatic and military strategist who drew upon his early days in Communist Poland. He was not as much as a hard-ass as he appeared during his key role in the Carter administration, when circumstances (the invasion of Afghanistan) triggered an increase in Cold War tensions; later , he supported President Obama's efforts to reduce our war footing.

Frank Deford - One of the most talented pure writers in sports journalism I have ever come across.  Young folks may not recall him, though he appeared on TV until recently; I remember his essays in Sports Illustrated which showed humor and true appreciation of the finer aspects of sport.

Roger Moore - or, Sir Roger Moore, as some might have it.  The most purely British of the James Bonds, he brought a little more respectability to the role after the louche manners of Sean Connery.  I will remember him best as The Saint, though.

Jim Bunning - Let's stay positive about Bunning, who was an unapologetic right-winger Senator in his later life, Mitch McConnell with some dignity.  He was a great pitcher.

Roger Ailes-- I have a very hard time saying anything good about Ailes, who made Fox News what it is today, except that he did believe in journalism, which meant he had a hard time accepting Donald Trump's behavior.  He did, though--he swallowed his ethical scruples and backed his candidacy in a thousand little ways.  Of course, he was not in much of a morally-superior position.

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