More Evil Than Trump

Yes, There Are Forces in America Even More Evil

I have friends who think that all that needs to happen for the good times to come again is for President Squid Lips to be ignominiously defeated and face a lifetime of legal actions arising from his grotesque corruption. But there are worse things to fear.

Most particularly, the people who support Trump are still around. These are the Ayn Rand followers, the ignoramuses of Flyover Country, the rich who want government to make them more rich, the racist haters, the sociopathic gun-lovers, and Confederates who refuse to recognize the surrender at Appomattox. Worst of all are the billionaires and millionaires, the heads of corporations whose sole political principle is self-aggrandizement. Even if the Trumpster dies in office from Coronavirus or STDs or just plain rotting from the inside just like Herod, the people who put him in office are still around. People like the “My Pillow” guy or the various criminals who occupy seats in the cabinet, the Barrs, the Mnuchins, the DeVoses.

Whatever happens to Trump, the United States is in for a long fight to protect their voting rights and their livelihoods and—in the case of African-Americans—their lives.

Election day is only a few months away. The Current Occupant will resume his red-hat rallies in Tulsa (scene of a 1921 massacre of blacks) on June 19 (or Juneteenth, commemorating the emancipation of slaves in Texas). With luck, his cohorts and co-conspirators will dwindle away between now and November—but don’t count on it!

 

 

Plague Diary 25: False Dawn

A New Dawn Is Approaching … But Look Out for Storms

Yes, the authorities are gradually releasing us from our long quarantine; but we’re not out of the woods yet. After the 1918-1919 Influenza Epidemic, the United States entered into a ten-year period of prosperity, until the Crash of 1929 put the kibosh on that. It would be nice to think that everything will be hunky-dory within a few weeks or so. Fat chance.

Except for one thing: That man in the White House. He was personally responsible for tens of thousands of deaths, and he is itching to send thousands more into the next world. He continues to be supported of legions of bitter-enders who will support him regardless what he does, because he is one of them—a bona fide bad ass. If Trump should be reelected this November, I think the United States is in for it. In the end, I even think there will be another attempt at secession, and maybe that’s what it’ll take in the long run. The bad-asses will want to set up their own New Revised Confederate States of America.

As I look into the future, I have no pollyanna visions of everything coming together in a great cumbia of toleration. The battle lines are being drawn, and they look pretty hard and fast to me.

 

 

Strange New World

Who Could Have Expected This?

When I returned from Mexico on February 7, it was to a vastly different reality—one that grew increasingly strange with each passing day. With the cancellation of music festivals, sporting events, live audiences, and even schools and libraries, it is a strange and unexpected new world in which I find myself.

Tomorrow night, Martine and I are attending an event given by the Kárpátok Hungarian Dance Ensemble, which we both love. It is not a large event, and Martine and I plan not to stay for the socializing after the folk dances. Even a week ago, I would not have been so conscious of the danger of contracting Covid-19. Now, alas, I am: I am a walking encyclopedia of pre-existing medical conditions, including panhypopituitarism, type II diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and a few others not so prominent. If I caught the virus, I would likely be at risk not to survive it.

It has been a particularly strange week, partly because of the draconian measures to minimize casual social contact, and partly because of a rare week-long “Pineapple Express” rain event which is leaving us with a certain degree of cabin fever.

At present, an average of 350 people per day are officially identified as having come down with Covid-19. I suspect the number is actually much larger because of the nationwide shortage of test kits. Supposedly, something is being done about this—but then I don’t usually expect competence or any degree of helpfulness from the Trump administration.

The only good news about the coronavirus is that it has all but chased the 2020 presidential election from the news. But it has not replaced it with anything more palatable.

 

 

Dégueulasse

I Don’t Recall Ever Being Satisfied by an Election

I remember being invited out to a homecooked French dinner at my friend Alain’s apartment. I fancied myself as as a proficient speaker of French, so when asked for my opinion of the scrumptious meal, I merely said it was dégueulasse. Oops! Apparently that means “repulsive” or “disgusting.” I was able to talk my way out of that mess, though I did get a few stony looks.

Well, I could say that my opinion of the Super Tuesday election results is a heartfelt dégueulasse. But then, I have never been satisfied when the voters finally speak. This goes back to my first election, in 1968, when rather than vote for Hubert Humphrey after the debacle at the Democratic convention in Chicago, I wrote in the name of Otto Schlumpf, a Franciscan priest who shared my then-Progressive political ideology.

Do I really like any of the four remaining contestants? Probably I like Elizabeth Warren the most, but she is not likely to get nominated. Biden’s problems with speech remind me of either the onset of Alzheimers or a pre-stroke condition known as a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). I got a TIA myself once when I suddenly found myself babbling incoherently to a co-worker. (I immediately asked the secretary to call an ambulance.) Curiously, Trump has the same problem; only, his supporters will forgive him anything short of raping and murdering an underage girl on the steps of the Capitol Building.

Although I like Bernie Sanders and find he has a sharp mind, I fear that the American voter is too conservative to select either him or Elizabeth Warren.

What is more, all four candidates are in their seventies. I myself am 75. If the final Democratic nominee does not pick a younger vice president, we are doomed to a gerontocracy.

 

 

No-News Booze Cruise

It’s That Time Again

I suspect that one of the reason so many Americans don’t vote is that politics as practiced in these United States is so divisive and utterly ugsome. With the many 24-hour news channels hammering into our brains and all the phone calls and TV ads, we all look forward wistfully to the day after the November elections—provided that we don’t have another 2016 debacle on our hands.

The above cartoon was in today’s Los Angeles Times in Wiley Miller’s underrated “Non Sequitur” comic strip. I laughed as I thought about the endless Democratic debates and the never-ending tweets of our orange-headed troll of a president. Treating our obsession with the news as an info-virus was a stroke of genius.

When I spent election day 2016 in Quito, Ecuador, I thought I was being smart. Instead, learning that Trump won, I seriously considered for a few minutes staying in South America, but I did return to the mess that greeted me when I returned to our borders.

In recent weeks, there are some of my friends with whom I refuse to discuss politics. I just mutter something about endlessly covering “Subject A” and hurriedly trying (not always successfully) to change the subject.

Enough of Billionaires Already!

Scrooge McDuck Enjoying His Wealth

I cannot for the life of me imagine that being controlled by billionaires is somehow good for America and its people. Billionaires are essentially people who are interested only in looking after their own interests: If they can find profit in selling their grandmothers to be rendered at a glue factory, why then they will  be sorely tempted.

Why do voters admire billionaires? Do they honestly think that somehow their own financial situations will be magically improved? After all, they just as often job destroyers as job creators. You can see this in action when there is a corporate merger, followed by a round of lay-offs. Are coal miners from West Virginia or ranchers from Wyoming welcome at Mar-a-Lago? Yes, but only if they themselves are billionaires.

That is why I am not particularly excited about Michael Bloomberg becoming the Democratic candidate for President. He may have been a better mayor of New York City than Rudolph Giuliani, but I suspect he still thinks like a billionaire.

 

 

How to Fight a Playground Bully

We Don’t Have to Name Names, Do We?

The Democrats have a daunting task in front of them—especially if they go about business as usual. That is guaranteed to fail. The rules are different now. The times have changed. So here are my suggestions for victory. Warning: They’re not pretty.

Victory is Possible

Just remember one thing: Playground bullies are punks. They can be defeated, but not with the usual political weapons. Really strong people don’t need to be such devious liars. Bone spurs, indeed!

How About a Nickname for Him?

I say, fat-shame the SOB! How about using an uncomplimentary nickname like Tubbo or Lard Ass? Use photographs of him at the golf course, where he looks his worst. I know it’s juvenile, but it will work against him.

Names That Have Lost Their Magic

The names I am referring to are words like Democrat or Liberal, or even Socialist. Yes, there is no reason one can’t change the name of a political party. And while you’re at it, get rid of the Hillary Clinton people like Tom Perez. As I said earlier, business as usual will notwork in 2020.

Ideological Purity vs. Power

Another way to word this is: Stop being stupid about small points of ideological purity. It’s all about power, and you can’t get power if you’re part of a circular firing squad. Don’t get stuck on a single issue like abortion, police brutality, LGBTQ and other identity groupings, or guns. You have to reach for that ring on the merry-go-round, and not hand devastating weapons to your enemies.

Distribute Opioids to the Red States

This is my nastiest suggestion. Let’s face it: These people hate city dwellers. They’ll hate whatever you do because they just think you hate Jesus or want to kill babies or encourage Arab terrorists or freaking whatever.

The Way Forward

It’s Time to Plan Ahead for a Presidency Without Trumpf

Now that the Mueller Report is out, and our Presidente has apparently dodged yet another bullet—for now. I discuss here, in brief, my attempt at a pragmatic look at the way forward.

Impeachment and Conviction

Any concerted effort to impeach Trumpf at this point will lead to wasted effort. Two U.S. presidents so far have been impeached: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. According to the Constitution, the House of Representatives is charged with impeaching a president for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” But to remove a president, it is the Senate that decides whether the president is guilty. Moreover, a two-thirds majority of the Senate must vote for conviction. Article I Section 3 of the Constitution says: “The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.”

When (and if) the vote is for conviction, the president is out of a job and may possibly be sentenced to a jail term.

There is no doubt that Trumpf could be impeached by the Democratic House, but there are nowhere near enough votes in the Senate to convict. The result: The business of this country is held for ransom while a political battle royal ensues. Probable outcome: Trumpf emerges triumphant from this “witch hunt.”

The Election of 2020

The best way of getting rid of Trumpf is to vote him out of office in 2020. He knows that, and that is why he has been trying hard to stroke the egos of ignorant voters in small states, most of whom remain solidly in his camp.

For the Democrats to win, two things must happen:

  • Instead of the usual circular firing squad, the Dems must come together behind an attractive candidate, of which there are currently several possibilities. In the months to come, we shall see who survives.
  • Democrats must engage with the enemy. That involves interviews on Fox News, visiting Red States, and in general going beyond the bubble. That’s why Hillary lost in 2016.

The Electoral College

The United States is no longer a sparsely populated agrarian nation. Of course it is manifestly unfair. The Huffington Post expresses the situation well:

But the biggest vice of the Electoral College is its blatant unfairness to voters in the bigger states. As a resident of the largest state, California, I look at the residents of the smallest state, Wyoming, with particular envy during election season. Each vote cast in Wyoming is worth 3.6 as much as the same vote cast in California. How can that be, you might ask? It’s easy to see, when you do the math. Although Wyoming had a population in the last census of only 563,767, it gets 3 votes in the Electoral College based on its two Senators and one Congressman. California has 55 electoral votes. That sounds like a lot more, but it isn’t when you consider the size of the state. The population of California in the last census was 37,254,503, and that means that the electoral votes per capita in California are a lot less. To put it another way, the three electors in Wyoming represent an average of 187,923 residents each. The 55 electors in California represent an average of 677,355 each, and that’s a disparity of 3.6 to 1.

How do we change that? It is not likely that we can do anything about it. Here is Article V of the Constitution in its entirety:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

I do not think that, as presently constituted, the House of Representatives and Senate could produce a two-thirds majority to say that water flows downhill, let alone amend the Constitution. And as for a three-fourths majority of the State Legislatures—Fuggedaboutit!

 

It Could Have Been Worse

The Results Aren’t All In Yet, But It Looks As If All Is Not Lost

Elections are mixed events. Never have I been entirely happy with the results. And sometimes, when I seemed happier than other times, I was hurt by what I felt was betrayal for the people I supported. The situation is worse in California, largely because of the stupid propositions that are usually supported by out-of-state corporate interests and give us the chance to hoist ourselves on our own petards. We are still suffering from the notorious Proposition 13 of 1978, which was a boon to homeowners but a bane for renters.

The good news is that Trump will have a more difficult time converting the U.S. into a Thousand Year Reich. The bad news? Where are all these angry white males coming from? and why do they want to destroy this country? I have already declared myself to be an Independent; and I have even resigned from the white race (considering myself to be Finno-Ugric, from the Asian side of the Ural Mountains); but I have no intention of resigning from the masculine gender.

Probably the worst night of my life was election day in 2016. I was in Quito, Ecuador watching the results come in on CNN at the Viejo Cuba Hotel. When I saw that Trump was winning, I almost considered not returning to the U.S. In the end, I gritted my teeth for the circus that was sure to come, and in fact did come. That so many Americans are still committed to this circus is a mystery to me. I guess I just don’t understand (let alone tolerate) these voters.

 

Grass Roots

The Logo of the Los Angeles Unified School District

It’s election time in Los Angeles again. This time, it’s a runoff between two school board candidates, incumbent Steve Zimmer and challenger Nick Melvoin. The issue between them relates to which candidate is for Charter Schools and which is against. On one hand (Zimmer), you have the teachers’ unions; on the other (Melvoin), you have big corporations. In an election such as this, I look carefully to see who’s spending more money—and I vote against that candidate or issue.

I am amazed that so many millions of dollars are being spent for two seats on the school board. Today alone, I have received eight live telephone calls and robocalls. Because of the tendency for elections in L.A. to go toxic quickly, I tend to be a bit abrupt with the live callers. One accused me of being against grass roots campaigning. I agreed with him and said that, increasingly, I find election campaigns—in general—to be overlong and overblown. So, yes, mark me down as being against grass roots or any other type of roots that are being shoved forcibly down my gullet.

The more money that is spent on politics, the more corrupt it is likely to be. Since I have no school aged children (or any other for that matter), I have no horse in this particular race; but I am more than willing to study the issues and vote according to my conscience. That usually involves ignoring all phone calls and TV ads (I don’t even watch TV) and reading the Los Angeles Times and maybe doing some Internet research. That might sound primitive to you, but that’s how I decide for whom or what to vote.