No Respecter of Values

… And That Is the Problem!

We as a country have always prided ourselves on our values. But to me, that is a major problem. It’s not only why we elected a narcissistic boob to be our President, but why a sickeningly large percentage of the voter base continue to support him. In an article for Think, Derek Newton writes:

But the back of the Trump base is not likely to break any time soon, because Trump’s supporters aren’t beholden to politics or logic. Instead, they are creatures of a group psychology dynamic more commonly seen in religious and fraternal organizations.

In the “communion mode” authority structure, described by Andrew Gray, people’s recognition of legitimate authority is “based on an appeal to common values and creeds.”

“In this mode,” added Gray, “the legitimacy for actions lies in consistency with the understandings, protocols, and guiding values of shared frames of reference.”

Is this why Evangelical Christians tend to be so forgiving of infamy? In the news today, a man in Spartansburg, PA who was convicted of a felony sex crime against a 4-year-old girl was elected to a second term as chief of the town’s volunteer fire department. And look at our president’s sexual transgressions. He was probably right when, during the campaign, he said he could kill someone in cold blood on the streets of Manhattan and get away with it. (There is a certain feral wiliness to the man.)

Do I have values? Yes—but all my values are subject to revision If my choice for political office starts putting Jews in concentration camps or claiming there is a doctors’ plot against him or shooting down Rohingya or their families, I would in fact revise them. Yes, I would shitcan my values in an instant if I thought they left room for any sort of infamy.

Newton continues:

Communion governance structures rely on regular in-person meetings, call and response rituals (witness the continued usefulness of “Lock her up!” chants at Trump rallies, despite Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss) and faith in shared values and experiences. Groups built around communion authority are tightly connected and very strong in part because, research shows, they display “homophily and parochialism directed to those outside the group.” (That is a scholarly way of saying that those in communion groups tend to associate and bond with people that are similar to themselves and view those who are not with suspicion and hostility.)

Perhaps our president’s supporters should be sent to other countries to do some research on why their values need to be changed. Preferably during election time.

 

 

 

 

Living in a Marmalade Nightmare

Here Are Some German Terms That Will You Understand the World Trumpf made

The following text appeared in Salon.Com, which was quoting a site from Alter.Net. Since Our Fuehrer’s family hails from the Vaterland, I thought it was appropriate to let you in on it.

1. Fernweh 

Fernweh, or “distance pain,” is like the opposite of homesickness. It’s the feeling of wanting to be elsewhere, anywhere but where you are at this moment. The fernweh many Americans feel today is a bit like wanderlust, minus the glamour, and with the added fear that you may be harshly judged as an American traveling abroad in the time of Trump.

2. Weltschmerz

Weltschmerz translates literally to “world pain,” and boy oh boy, does that say it all. It’s the state of weariness one feels at the state of the world. Some of us may have felt a constant state of weltschmerz since Nov. 9, 2016.

3. Kummerspeck

If your state of weltschmerz has been really getting to you, it’s possible you’ve put on a few extra pounds of kummerspeck, or literally, “grief bacon.” Know that you’re at least in good company: last year, Barbra Streisand, Judd Apatow and others complained they’d gained a “Trump 10” in the months following the election. Eat your feelings, indeed.

4. Kuddelmuddel

This wonderful heap of syllables evokes chaos or a hopelessly messy, unstructured state. Sounds like the White House as told by Michael Flynn.

5. Fuchsteufelswild

This is a state of unfiltered, primal rage. You may have felt it over the past year while listening to any White House press conference, hearing Trump describe Haiti, El Salvador and many African nations as “shithole countries,” seeing the president troll Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on social media…or really, any time at all.

6. Fremdschaemen

Ever felt ashamed on behalf of a member of the Trump White House? Like the time Kellyanne Conway told Fox viewers to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff”? Or when Trump claimed his inauguration speech literally made the clouds part and the sun come out? That’s fremdschaemen.

7. Backpfeifengesicht

In German, this means “a face that deserves to be punched.” Insert your own joke here.

Serendipity: Basil II and Trump

Byzantine Emperor Basil II, the Bulgar-Slayer

Today, I was reading Michael Psellus’ Fourteen Byzantine Rulers (aka The Chronographia), written at some point in the 11th Century A.D. We know that the current occupant of the White House has made a practice of erasing every one of his predecessor Barack Obama’s accomplishments. Apparently, this was not the first time this happened. Michael Psellus tells us how the Emperor Basil II decided to erase the work of his long-time advisor, the eunuch Basil Parakoimomenus.

He gave the subject much thought, and it was only after long vacillation that he finally made up his mind. Once the decision was taken, however, he dismissed the parakoimomenus and deposed him at one blow. What made it worse was the fact that this change in the latter’s fortunes was not softened by any sign of respect. In fact, the emperor’s action was incredibly cruel, for he shipped him off into exile.

Nor did this disgrace prove to be the end of Basil’s troubles. Rather was it the prelude to further misfortunes, for the emperor next proceeded to review the events of the reign since he acceded to the throne and the parakoimomenus began to govern the empire. He examined the various measures that had been taken during all that period. Whatever happened to contribute to his own (the emperor’s) welfare, or to the good of the state, was allowed to remain on the statutes. [Trump was not that discriminating.] All those decrees, on the other hand, which referred to the granting of favours or positions of dignity, were now rescinded. The former, the emperor contended, had been approved by himself; of the latter, he knew nothing. In everything he strove to bring about the eunuch’s downfall and disaster. For example, the parakoimomenus had built a magnificent monastery in honour of Basil the Great, a monastery that bore his own name too. It had been constructed on a massive scale, at great cost of labour, and it combined different styles of architecture with beauty. Moreover, the greater part of the material used in its building had been obtained from generous and voluntary contributions. The emperor now wished to raze this edifice to the ground.

 

Exercising Self-Restraint

I Could Easily Spend All My Time Attacking This Clown, But I Won’t

Again I was tempted when the Current Occupant talked about being a “Stable Genius.” I had found all these pictures of people shoveling horseshit in stables and was about to post them, indicating what type of “Stable Genius” I thought he was. But what’s the point? If you know me at all, you know what I feel about this Marmalade Nightmare, this Hairdo-from-Hell. I would rather share ingenious political cartoons which make the point ever so much more poetically than I can.

Sorry I had to put his face to this post, but know that I will try to exercise self-restraint rather than jumping to the attack all the time.

 

To the Barricades?

Vladimir Putin: A Man’s Man?

We have been enemies with Russia for a century now. What happens sometimes during these long sieges of enmity, we lose sight of who we are and who the Russians are. We have gone from the benign presidency of Obama to what looks to us like a would-be Tsar, the narcissistic Trumpf. Russia, in the meantime, traveled a much longer route: From Communism where there was some attempt to help the common people, to the kleptocracy under Yeltsin, to the quasi-dictatorship of Vladimir Putin, former KGB Chieftain. And this Putin had the nerve to try to influence our election!

There is no doubt that Russia under Putin is an amalgam of discipline and targeted cruelty. Enemies of Putin, such as  journalist Anna Politkovskaya, were ruthlessly murdered; and friends of Putin shared in the billionaires’ bounty of their leader. Do we want Russia to become a democracy like ours? Like ours under Trumpf?

According to Russian novelist Mikhail Shishkin:

To call people to the barricades in Russia is beautiful, but senseless…. We lived through all this already in the early ’90s. All revolutions take place in the same way—the best people rise up to fight for honor and dignity, and they die. On their corpses, thieves and bandits come to power, and everything comes full circle. The same thing happened during the Orange Revolution in Kiev. The same thing is happening right before our eyes in the Arab world. Apparently, in Russia a new generation has grown up who want to experience the barricades. All right. They will experience them. And they will be disappointed.

There is, to my mind, very little difference between Trumpf and Putin—except the difference in the two cultures. Trumpf would do the same things as Putin if he could. There still seem to be checks and balances in the United States, but for how long?

 

 

Look! Over There!

Our President Controls the News Cycle by a Policy of Multiplying Distractions

Mr. Trumpf is not as smart as he pretends, but he is a master when it comes to controlling the media. Each week of his presidency is rife with outrages, one following hard upon the heels of the one before it. The ultimate effect is to keep him one step ahead of the high sheriffs who are gathering information to sink him.

According to RawStory.Com, Jake Tapper  describes how Trumpf adroitly moves the spotlight from one infamy to the next:

Tapper explained that the White House has very obviously attempted to “ramp up” efforts to “turn the spotlight away from questions about itself and investigations into possible collusion with Russia or possible obstruction of justice and the firing of FBI Director James Comey.”

The Trump White House is now employing a Pee Wee Herman “I’m rubber and you’re glue” defense for accusations of Russia collusion.

Instead, they’ve tried to “highlight matters pertaining to the previous president” and Hillary Clinton. In his Friday morning tweet, Trump claimed that the costly investigations against him were over and proved no evidence of collusion. He now is demanding a similar Russia investigation into Clinton.

Under these circumstances, when is it really possible to wind down an investigation when new evidence is constantly being discovered? The man in the Oval Office knows well how bored the public is with investigations that seem to go on forever. Ken Starr proved that during Clinton’s second term.

This is a very typical maneuver made by real estate magnates. Feel free to commit infamies, but always deflect blame and open new instances of infamy that make it impossible to pin you down.

The obvious solution is to break the investigations down into smaller segments and deal with them separately. At that point, when there are multiple investigations, the news for the perpetrator is always bad.

NOTE: The photo above is not actually authentic. It has been Photoshopped to make our president look bad. Which is only appropriate, I think.

Looking Past Devastation to Hope

Nathan Altman Portrait of Soviet Poet Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966)

I love this poem. Its first stanza is like the United States under Trumpf, or Russia under Stalin—take your pick! Then, in the second and third stanzas, the devastation turns to hope. The poem’s name? “Everything.”

Everything’s looted, betrayed and traded,
black death’s wing’s overhead.
Everything’s eaten by hunger, unsated,
so why does a light shine ahead?

By day, a mysterious wood, near the town,
breathes out cherry, a cherry perfume.
By night, on July’s sky, deep, and transparent,
new constellations are thrown.

And something miraculous will come
close to the darkness and ruin,
something no-one, no-one, has known,
though we’ve longed for it since we were children.

There is something of the seer about the gaunt poet, who under her bangs sees into futures that might possibly, hopefully lie in wait for us.