Monthly Archives: August 2019

“One nation after Trump” – a book review…

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I called the first draft of this post, “Cultural elites and Trump.”  But then I ran across – at a local library days ago – the 2017 book, One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-yet Deported(E.J. Dionne Jr., Norman J. Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann.)  Needless to say I was intrigued.  And not least of all because I too look forward to an America without Trump.  Something I noted in Belated 4th of July meditation:

Whether by vote in 2020 or operation of law in 2024, Trump will end up leaving the White House.  What happens then?  Aside from the cheering, the dancing in  the streets, the fireworks and parades, a new nightmare will begin – for Donald Trump.

And when it might be said – yet again – “Our long national nightmare is over.”

But first let’s go back to Some thoughts on “the Donald.”  That post came in December 2018, but looked back at posts “from two years ago.”  That is, two years before 2018, to a post I did in December 2016, right after Trump’s election.  Among other things there was a prediction in 2016 – by Professor Allan Lichtman – that Trump would be “impeached within two years.”

Which hasn’t happened.  He may yet be impeached – by a Democrat House of Representatives.  But he won’t be convicted by the Republican-controlled Senate.  (It would take 66 votes.)  Which brings us back to the hope offered by One Nation After Trump.  I just started reading it, but hear are some sample reviews.  Like the one from the Amazon blurb:

Yet if Trump is both a threat to our democracy and a product of its weaknesses, the citizen activism he has inspired is the antidote.  The reaction to the crisis created by Trump’s presidency can provide the foundation for an era of democratic renewal and vindicate our long experiment in self-rule.

Andrea Prada at the march on Washington.Or consider the conclusion of The Guardian, the British daily newspaper (now online), founded in 1821 as The Manchester Guardian.  See One Nation After Trump review:  “In everything from the Women’s March on Washington [at left] to the ad hoc groups of lawyers who flocked to airports across the country to help victims of Trump’s travel ban, the [authors] see strong evidence that the rational part of the country is finally ready to take back America.”

Then there was a New York Times review, which opined that Trump’s rise to power. . .

. . . reflects the longer-term trends that have shaped the modern Republican Party: the four-decade war on the “liberal media”; the delegitimatization of political opponents; the appeals to racism and xenophobia; the hostility to democratic norms. “Trump is less of an outsider than he seems, and he was building on rather than resisting recent trends within the G.O.P.”

And which concluded – depressingly – that “Reading this important book, one gets the nagging sense that even after Trump, Trumpism will persist.”  Let’s hope not.

Which brings us back to “Cultural elites and Trump.”  That is, before starting to read One Nation After Trump, I tried to figure out how Trump got elected in the first place.  I initially wrote:

It finally hit me.  “What’s the attraction with Trump?”  The answer?  Donald Trump is “America showing its ass.”  (Or mooning, to put it more politely.)  Put another way, Trump “represents” – and I use the term loosely – a certain segment of American society which now chooses to thumb its nose at – or more precisely “moon” – both the rest of the world and that “cultural elite” part of American society that it hates so much.

President Trump Fat Shaming Supporter RallyWhich got support in articles like Send Her Back! Send Her Back! – The Bulwark.  It noted “acts of deliberate transgression against what many Trump supporters have come to view as the supposedly stifling ethics of our cultural elites,” and sending ”those damn media types into a tizzy.”  Also that his verbal attacks – though not including the one where he “fat shamed his own supporter ” – are just another “handy weapon for triggering the pearl-clutching libs.”  See also Class warfare between workers and elites explains Trump:

What’s happening in America is an echo of what’s happening in democracies around the world, and it’s not happening because of Trump.  Trump is the symptom of a ruling class that many of the ruled no longer see as serving their interest, and the anti-Trump response is mostly the angry backlash of that class as it sees its position, its perquisites and – perhaps especially – its self-importance threatened.

Which definitely presents a problem for those of us yearning for “the America of past years.”  And especially of past presidents, none of whom now seem so bad.  But now:  Do you see the irony?  Of Liberals and Independents trying to “go back in time,” while today’s “Conservatives” seem bent on tearing out all of America’s democratic institutions root and branch?

But perhaps all is not lost.  One thing that One Nation pointed out – early on – was how slim the margin of victory was.  Aside from losing the popular vote by 2.9 million, “Trump’s victory was a very close-run thing – a matter of 77,744 votes in three crucial states.”  His win was also “enabled” by James Comey reopening a probe into Hillary’s use of a private server while secretary of state, and by Russian interference in addition to hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee. (Likely by Russian hackers.)

Yet despite all that help this “monumental shift in the nature of the nation’s political leadership was enabled by relatively modest shifts in the electorate.”  And by voters rejecting Hillary.

Some good news? Such numbers “are critical for understanding how fragile Trump’s hold on the public is.”  (I’ve been saying the best weapon against Trump is his own big mouth.)  Then there’s “Trumpgret,” as in New Hampshire struggle: Voters feeling “Trumpgret.”  So maybe there’s hope that 2020 voters will again reject this ongoing dark side of American politics…

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American As Apple Pie?”  Americans have always hated immigrants…

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The upper image is courtesy of American Anti-immigrant Propaganda – Image Results.

Re:  “Root and branch.”  I Googledtear out root and branch” and got Sadly The Hatred Against Syrian Refugees Is As American As Apple Pie From November 2015, it noted:

As the world faces one of the worst humanitarian crises yet known, several American politicians went out of their way to attack some of the world’s most vulnerable people, continually competing to be the most cruel.

A trend that continues “even to this day.”  The article concluded that we must “fight the bigots who are acting so cruelly to people so desperately in need of aid.”  But we shouldn’t pretend this ongoing sickness is “‘un-American.’ It is a tendency in our history that we must tear out root and branch, but before we do that, we have to realize that it’s there.”  See also Root and branch definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary:If something has been completely changed or destroyed, you can say that it has been changed or destroyed root and branch.”

The “fat-shamed” image is courtesy of Donald Trump Fat Shamed One Of His Own Supporters. The article posted August 16, 2019, in UNILAD, the “British Internet media company and website owned by LADbible Group,” which provides “‘social news. and entertainment to their 60 million followers, and has offices in London and ManchesterUK.”  The caption:  “President Donald Trump accidentally fat shamed one of his own supporters at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire after mistakenly believing them [sic] to be a protester.”  The article went on:  “Trump proceeded to insult a man he believed to be one of the protesters, focusing on his ‘weight problem.’ However, he didn’t realise the man he was fat shaming was actually one of his very own supporters, an individual who had reportedly been flagging the protesters to security.

The references to the “One nation” book are from pages 21-22 of the 2017 hardcover edition.

The lower image courtesy of Anti-Irish sentiment – Wikipedia.  The caption, “American political cartoon by Thomas Nast titled ‘The Usual Irish Way of Doing Things,’ depicting a drunken Irishman lighting a powder keg and swinging a bottle. Published 2 September 1871 in Harper’s Weekly.”  Another image from the same article – at right – was captioned, “An Irishman depicted as a gorilla (‘Mr. G. O’Rilla’).”

Which supports the claim that Americans have always hated immigrants.  See also got Sadly The Hatred Against Syrian Refugees Is As American As Apple Pie, which noted that this American “hatred” goes back as far as 1790:

Just look at the Naturalization Act of 1790, one of the first important pieces of immigration legislation. It limited citizenship to those who were “free white persons.” One year before the passage of the Bill of Rights, those vaunted rights were effectively being limited to white men.  When waves of Irish immigrants came over in the mid-1800s, they were feared and hated, commonly depicted as ape-like by native born whites…  These nativists didn’t just spread hate, they burned Catholic churches, and instigated anti-immigrant riots.  

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Here are more notes from my research on “Trump’s attraction.”

See Trump’s dislike of — and desire to be a part of — the ‘elite.’

“Trump has since made a name for himself – in New York City and, more unexpectedly, in Washington. As he reminded his Minnesota supporters, he won the presidency – which by one definition automatically puts him among the elites: “a group of persons exercising the major share of authority or influence within a larger group.”

“By all accounts, Trump supporters . . . exercise the major share of authority and influence within the Republican Party, which is the governing party in the United States.  The group’s values on racial issues, the economy, immigration and other cultural issues has a louder and bolder advocate in the Oval Office than at any other time in recent history.

“But perhaps the reason it is difficult to embrace that definition is because Trump and many of his supporters believe that winning isn’t all that matters.  It matters that you be viewed as a winner.  And for a president who has been quick to lob the label ‘loser’ at those with whom he didn’t find favor, knowing that there are many Americans who don’t want him in their club is a great source of anger.”

See also Elite – Wikipedia, defining the term as a “small group of powerful people who hold a disproportionate amount of wealth, privilege, political power, or skill in a society. Defined by the Cambridge Dictionary, the ‘elite’ are ‘those people or organizations that are considered the best or most powerful compared to others of a similar type.'”

Or, a “relatively small, loosely connected group of individuals who dominate American policy making. This group includes bureaucratic, corporate, intellectual, military, media, and government elites who control the principal institutions in the United States and whose opinions and actions influence the decisions of the policymakers.”

And see Why a lot of Americans resent the cultured “New York City elite.”

“I think this feeling was shared by some of the voters who went for Trump – as well as Brexit beforehand.  Trump, a masterful populist, has manipulated this very real bitterness, raising his 18-carat pitchfork against “liberal elites” for his own political gain.”

It added that a “cultural elite may be disliked for reasons that are as not particularly economic: college professors, experts, NGO staffers and psychotherapists are not corporate titans, after all. It’s a new variation of an old-fashioned populism that is anti-intellectual and anti-expert.

“Trump and his family may be mining this anti-elite anger, but they are, of course, preposterously upscale, living in Trump Tower, attending expensive private schools, flying about in private jets (now with in-flight Secret Service) and dining in five-star restaurants… Republicans are benefitting from the cultural resentment of their non-elite electorate. They also aren’t proposing anything that could make life better for the people who actually live in small towns or in ‘flyover’ states.”

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My own thoughts:  I defined the “elite” as that “portion of American society that has pretty much ruled America during the latter half of the 20th century, and the 21st century as well, up to Election Day, 2016.  Since the end of World War II, the rest of the world has looked at America as that ‘city on a hill’ it has claimed to be since the beginning.  And America has responded – by and large – by accepting the mantle of world leadership.

“And because America is a land of such promise, people from other countries keep trying to come here. But – by and large – they are no longer white, English-speaking and mostly European. Which frightens a large segment of American society.

“Aside from that the mantle of world leadership is heavy. It means not going off half-cocked. It means being responsible, and thinking through what we say and do. And many Americans seem to think we should act more like Russia, imposing our will on the rest of the world by sheer force. Which – from all accounts – is what we used to do in the days of Teddy Roosevelt. And it could be that the Americans who support Trump would love to see a return of a bit of American imperialism.

“On the other hand, if that’s true, why did Russia try so hard to get Trump – not Hillary – elected?”

On “why it might be better…” (Gasp!)

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I’m no “Trump-humper,” but it seems to me that America might actually be better off if Donald Trump did get re-elected in 2020.  My main concern?  He’d still be eligible to run in 2024, and in the intervening four years – with a Democrat as president – he might just wreak more havoc to American democracy than he could as president.

Think of it.  Trump sitting on the sidelines, humiliated, much as he was when Obama joked, “Donald Trump is here . . . still!”  (Googleobama trump is here still youtube.”)  And think of him still managing to get his face on the “front page,” each and every day, possibly drumming up enough support – or gumming up the works enough – to get himself re-elected in 2028.  (Like Grover Cleveland did in 1884 and 1892 – with four years in between of Benjamin Harrison – thus becoming the 22d and 24th president.)

So wouldn’t it be better to get it over with?  To get rid of Trump once and for all, in 2024?  Then too, if he did get re-elected in 2020, he would immediately become a “lame duck.”

Strictly speaking a “lame duck” is an official “whose successor has already been, or in the near-term will be, elected.”  But it can also refer to a U.S. president who’s been elected to his (or her) second term.  See Lame duck (politics) – Wikipedia, saying the status can be due to “a term limit which keeps the official from running for that particular office again.”

The official is often seen as having less influence with other politicians due to their limited time left in office.  Conversely, a lame duck is free to make decisions that exercise their standard powers with little fear of consequence…  Even at the local level, politicians that do not seek reelection to office lose their credibility and influence to fellow councilmen.  Projects uncompleted may fall to the wayside as their influence is greatly diminished.

See also 22d Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and Lame Duck: Definition, President, Amendment, Sessions.  The latter noted that any U.S. president winning a second term “automatically becomes a lame duck.”  Then too, because the amendment keeps a president from serving a third term, “He doesn’t have to worry about getting re-elected.”

For another take see Putin won reelection yesterday.  Now he’s a ‘lame duck.’  The March 2018 Washington Post article featured a “quick take on the implications” of the election, with writer Joshua Tucker reaching out “to my colleagues at PONARS-Eurasia.”  One writer said the “key thing that happened Sunday is that Putin formally became a lame duck in a political system dependent on one man.”  (Which sounds eerily familiar.*)  

Another point, from Henry Hale, professor at George Washington University:

While the big result for Putin seems to reflect continuity and stability, Russia now enters a period of unsettling uncertainty.  Here’s the big issue:  Putin cannot run again without changing the constitution.  Positioning for a possible succession struggle is already on the minds of Russia’s political class.

As to that last sentence, “locally” it could be amended to read:  “Positioning for a possible succession struggle is already on the minds of America’s conservative class.”  (In the same way, if Trump got re-elected in 2020 he couldn’t run again in 2024 “without changing the constitution.”)

As for Tucker’s own “two cents…  Even though the next election is six years away, Putin’s ability to control events in Russia will begin to dissipate as soon as it becomes clear he really is not running for reelection in 2024.”  In Trump’s case should he win re-electionhis ability to control events in America will dissipate, because of the 22d Amendment.

See also the Belated 4th of July meditation, which spoke at length about the 22d Amendment and its effect on “The Donald.”  The point?  Whether by “popular” vote in 2020 or operation of law in 2024, Trump will end up leaving the White House.  What happens then?  (Aside from the cheering, the dancing in  the streets, the fireworks and parades.)  For one thing it would begin a new nightmare – for Donald Trump.  (No more “in the news every &^%$ day!”)

But there’s another possible result:  “lame-duck presidents are more concerned with their legacy. They can focus on policies that are less popular, but more far-reaching.”  Which could mean that Trump would no longer have to worry about catering to his wacko base.

One example from history:  “President Ronald Reagan signed an arms control treaty with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev,” and famously asked him to “tear down this wall” in a speech at the Berlin Wall in 1987.  “That was despite his opposition to arms control during his presidency.”  In Trump’s case – and maybe both more concerned with his legacy and less concerned about catering to his base – he might become the man I had such (possible) hopes for.

In 2016’s OTHER “Teflon Don,” I compared Trump to P.T. Barnum.  But – surprise of surprises – Barnum turned out a humane, effective and ethical politician:

Barnum served two terms in the Connecticut legislature in 1865 as a Republican.  [On slavery] and African-American suffrage, Barnum spoke before the legislature and said, “A human soul, ‘that God has created and Christ died for,’ is not to be trifled with.  It may tenant the body of a Chinaman, a Turk, an Arab or a Hottentot – it is still an immortal spirit.”

Which no doubt surprised a number of his supporters.  And from there he got elected Mayor of Bridgeport, CT in 1875, and “worked to improve the water supply, bring gas lighting to streets, and enforce liquor and prostitution laws.”  And he was instrumental in starting Bridgeport Hospital in 1878, becoming its first president.   Thus Barnum – credited with saying there’s a sucker born every minute – “evolved from a man of common stereotypes . . . to a leader for emancipation by the Civil War.”  And maybe – just maybe – Trump could also “evolve.”

So who knows?  If:  1) Trump did get re-elected in 2020, and 2) no longer had to worry about throwing raw meat at his wacko base, and 3) started seriously thinking about his legacy (or developed a conscience, or started appreciating that he’s “closer to the end than to the beginning”), he might actually evolve – as Barnum did – into a “humane, effective and ethical politician.”

Stranger things have happened.  (Though I’m not holding my breath…)

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Jumbo poster 1.jpg

Will Donald Trump’s Greatest Show on Earth continue past 2020? 

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The original post had an upper image courtesy of Unintended Consequences – Image Results. I included the caption, “I couldn’t bring myself to headline with, ‘Why it might be better if Trump got re-elected…'” (I thought there might be unintended if not unforeseen consequences from such a re-election, like that he might turn into a “humane, effective and ethical politician.” See also Unintended consequences – Wikipedia. Also called “unanticipated consequences or unforeseen consequences,” they’re defined as outcomes “not the ones foreseen and intended by a purposeful action.”  They are grouped into three types:  1) An unexpected benefit (“luckserendipity or a windfall“), or an 2) unexpected drawback or “unexpected detriment” in addition to the desired effect, or 3) a “Perverse result.”  That’ third one is a “perverse effect contrary to what was originally intended (when an intended solution makes a problem worse). This is sometimes referred to as ‘backfire.”

Re:  I’m no “Trump-humper.”  The term is a short version of Trump-humping evangelical.”  That in turn is a term mentioned in a post in my companion blog, “Trump-humping” – and Christians arguing with each other.  It’s based on a reader comment to an article in The Resurgent website entitled, After NPR’s Embarrassment It’s Clear:  We Need More Christians in Media

(A note:  The “Resurgent” is a conservative website started in 2016 by Erick Erickson, a conservative evangelical blogger and radio host famous for making controversial statements.  In one case he took issue with Trump’s saying 2015 debate-moderator Megyn Kelly had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever” while questioning him.  “The next day, Erickson disinvited Trump from a RedState gathering held in Atlanta, calling Trump’s remark ‘a bridge too far’ and that even ‘blunt talkers and unprofessional politicians should not cross’ certain lines, including decency.”  But in 2019 Erickson endorsed Trump for re-election in 2020.  For other, more controversial remarks see the Wikipedia article on Erickson.)

So anyway, the comment said,  “We need more serious Christians – not Trump-humping evangelicals – in media.”  Which led to this response, by Patriotmom:  “The serious Christians I know would not call someone a ‘Trump-humping evangelical.’”  Which I said was probably true.  Also, the article actually didn’t say we need more Christians in media; that was the headline writer.  The article writer actually said “What is needed more than anything in the world of mass media today is a substantial influx of new reporters, journalists, and anchors who can speak intelligently about Christianity.”  Which is something entirely different.  

Re:   “Lame duck is free to . . . exercise their standard powers.”  I recognized the incorrect grammar; “lame duck” is singular and “their powers” is plural.  The writer apparently chose not to “gum up the works” by saying “he or she,” or risk offense by using one or the other sex-distinctions.  Likewise I chose not to gum up the works by writing “sic” in brackets, with “sic” loosely translated as “that’s the way the dumbass wrote it!”  Also in the same paragraph, the proper grammar would be “politicians who,” not “politicians that do not seek…”  (Just so you know I’m not the dumbass…)

The Vladimir Putin image is courtesy of Wikipedia.  The caption:  “Putin in KGBc. 1980.”  From 1954 on the KGB was the “main security agency for the Soviet Union.”  It was preceded by agencies like “ChekaNKGBNKVD and MGB . . . acting as internal securityintelligence and secret police.”  Its functions included foreign intelligence, counter-intelligence, and “combating nationalism, dissent, and anti-Soviet activities.  In 1991, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the KGB was split into the Federal Security Service and the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation.”

Re:  “Eerily familiar.”  An interesting note from the Putin won reelection yesterday article: “Putinism in Russia (coupled with Trump’s assault on checks and balances in the U.S. and cutbacks in U.S. foreign assistance to democratic causes in foreign countries) is likely to eclipse the already dim prospects of democratization in the ex-Soviet states.”

Also re:  “The Donald.”  See 409 Hilarious Nicknames for Donald Trump — Find Nicknames.

The Reagan image is courtesy of Reagan Doctrine – Wikipedia.  

The lower image is courtesy of the Jumbo link within P. T. Barnum – Wikipedia.    

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