Saturday, November 26, 2016

My position on President-elect Trump

Just to clear up any possible confusion in the position I take on President-elect Trump, let me put it in a clear statement.    At first, I was totally aghast and embarrassed at what we, the people had done.    Sort of akin to the feeling we project into a dog that has broken house-training and left a mess on the living room rug.  "Oops.   Sorry.   Didn't mean to do that.   How bad is it going to be?    Really?   That bad, huh?"

Then there were just a few hopeful signs that he was not really going to stick to all those outrageous things he said during the campaign;   and the operating mantra became:   "Take him seriously, but not literally."

So I thought:   let's give him a chance.   Hope he surprises us, appoints some good people he will listen to, and doesn't do crazy things or shame the office of the presidency.    That lasted a few days.

My current view is that he has had his chance -- and he has blown it.    Some of his appointments have been unconventional, but not terrible or outrageous.    But, then there are the others;   and the "dressing down" of TV journalists and anchors;   and the attack on the "Hamlton" cast.   And all the obvious conflict of interest problems that he keeps flaunting in our faces, as he talks with business associates in India, Argentina, and who knows where else.  Maybe Russia.   And . . .

So my position now is:   OK, Mr. Trump.  The ball is in your court.   You have won the electoral college vote, even though Hillary Clinton bested you in popular vote by over 2 million and still counting.   If nothing comes of the Jill Stein sponsored recount request, then you will be the 45th President of the United States.

But you are coming from behind -- a position of your own doing -- and it is up to you to prove yourself worthy of the position and responsibility.   No more benefit of doubt, no more free rides.    Prove it by your actions.    We don't trust your words.   You are not a trustworthy person, which you've proved over and over.   Heck, you even told us as much -- it's all a negotiation with you.

So, when you say words now, Sir, I pay no attention;  because I don't trust your words.   I'm watching what you do, whom you insult, what efforts you make to reach out to those you have insulted and threatened.   Prove us wrong.   Undo the damage you've caused.


Friday, November 25, 2016

Don't get your hopes up about Trump

News reporters get excited every time Donald Trump does something that's a step or two away from all those terrible things he said at his campaign rallies.   They think it means something.    Like:   he really doesn't want to hurt the Clintons, so maybe he won't order the FBI to put a special prosecutor on her email case.    Or maybe the wall will actually be a fence in some places.    And he "has an open mind" about climate change, and maybe waterboarding is not such a good idea after all (because now someone he admires, Gen. Mattis, told him it doesn't really work.)

He met with the New York Times editors and publishers the other day for what's been described as "cordial" and respectful.   He even, when prompted, told them that he "denounces and condemns" the white nationalist conference held in Washington that unabashedly trotted out Nazi-style gestures and anti-Semitic rhetoric -- and celebrated his election.   Of course, it took no prompting for him to tweet out an angry denunciation of the cast of "Hamilton" for it's "disrespect" for VP-elect Mike Pence -- and incorrectly, at that.   They were only imploring him to take seriously the message of the play and respect the rights of all people.

Do not be fooled or get your hopes up.    As one letter writer said to the Times:  "Time and time again Mr. Trump has shown the world that he can speak from both sides of his mouth.   When he talks to right-wingers, he is a hard-core nationalist;  but when he talks to liberals, he soften his stands" (Michael Hadjiargyrou, 11/24).   Another writer (Esther Bushell, 11-24) wrote this:

"I was an English teacher for 40 years.  Donald Trump, in answering questions about global warming, white nationalism, waterboarding, and press freedoms, sounds exactly like my students who hadn't read the assignment and had to obfuscate in their answers.  Everyone in the classroom knew who hadn't done the homework and didn't understand the material."

Yes, ma'am, Ms. Bushell.   You are so right.   In fact, we now hear that Mr. Trump hasn't even bothered to arrange the time for any further security briefings since the election.   How many briefing books do you think he takes home with him to study at night?    Ha!  No time for that either, since he has to keep up with his twitter audience.

The bar is now so low that, when the announcement was made that Nikki Halley would be the Ambassador to the U.N., our reaction wasn't so much skepticism because she has absolutely no experience in foreign affairs but relief that it wasn't going to be John Bolton or Rudi Giuliani.   Of course, we still have the possibility that one of them will wind up as Secretary of State -- if Mitt Romney turns him down.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Some good news to brighten Thanksgiving Day

What a difficult year it has been -- So I've tried to find a few things that we can feel good about on this 2016 version of the Great Turkey Day.

1. Dementia rates decline:   A large, representative survey has found that in Americans over the age of 65, the rate of dementia has declined from 11.6% in 2000 to 8.8% in 2012, and the average age of onset has advanced from age 80.7 to 82.4 years.    This is despite a population that is growing older and fatter and has more diabetes and high blood pressure.   The study, which included 21,000 participants, was published in AMA Journal of Internal Medicine.  No explanation was offered for the declining incidence.

2.  I've become a fan of Trevor Noah, the comedian who has followed Jon Stewart as host of the "Daily Show."    Trevor grew up in South Africa during the waning days of apartheid;  but, as a child of a black South African mother and a white Swiss-German father, his childhood was fraught with secrecy and danger, since his very existence was evidence that a crime had been committed.   He has just published a book:  Born a Crime:  Stories from a South African Childhood, which I recommend.   I heard part of an NPR interview of Trevor by Terry Gross the other day.   Now immersed in our American culture and politics as a comedic commentator, Trevor also brings the consciousness of that apartheid existence in his childhood.   He had some advice -- not his actual words, but the message was:  "Don't sweat the small stuff."    He is not dismissing what we Americans are going through right now when Donald Trump's presidency threatens to undo so much progress.   Rather, he is telling us:   You will get through this.    And it doesn't help to amplify the worst expectations into catastrophe.  I recommend Trevor's book as a diverting antidote to the gloom most of us are feeling these days.

3.  This one is a stretch, but it could be very good news.  The senate race is Louisiana has a runoff scheduled for December 10th.   If the Democrat wins, the Republicans' Senate majority would shrink to 51 to 49.  The Republican candidate finished first, but with only 25% of the vote, while the Democrat got 17% in an "all comers," ridiculously crowded field of 22 candidates.  The Republican is favored to win, since the aggregate of nine Republicans got almost twice as many votes as the seven Democratic candidates, and the state went for Trump by 20%.  However, runoffs typically draw small turnouts;   and, without Trump on the ticket, it could be a very different picture.

4.  David Brooks, New York Times columnist, takes the prize for a choice line so far this week.   He wrote:   "Trump's appointments so far represent the densest concentration of hyper-macho belligerence outside a drill sergeant retirement home."

5.  That was before the announcement of Gov. Nicki Haley as the choice for Ambassador to the United Nations, which in itself I take as a good sign, bringing in someone who was an outspoken Trump critic during the campaign -- and a woman, at that.  Yes, she has no foreign policy experience.  But she is smart, the daughter of immigrants from India, a rising star among center-right Republicans, and she won major respect in her handling of the aftermath of the mass killings at a Charleston church -- even providing great leadership in the decision to remove the Confederate flag flying over the S.C. state house.  Smart choice.  She adds class to the cabinet.  Let's hope it means something other than good "optics strategy."

6.   An obituary notice in the AJC caught my eye and led to fond memories of another era in politics, the mid-60s.  Former state senator Roscoe Dean has died at the age of 80.  He accomplished nothing and was noted primarily for being dumb and naive;   but somehow I remember him fondly.   When first elected to represent the Jesup district at 28, he was the youngest member of the senate.   He kept getting re-elected because his people loved him, although it was hard to say why, except that he sent a birthday card to every constituent each year.  But then his colleagues in the senate discovered how naive he was and would shamelessly write meaningless speeches for him that he would get up and read seriously on the senate floor.   He didn't seem to notice.   In fact, someone wrote him a speech once that contained the parenthetical instruction [now tell a joke.]   Roscoe just read what he was given, including "Now tell a joke."   Yes, it was mean.  Today we would be shocked and call it abusive.    But Roscoe didn't seem to mind;  perhaps he liked the attention;  and his colleagues seemed to really like him, making him chair of the Agriculture Committee, even as they toyed with his naivete.   His political career came to an end when he got caught in an FBI sting, trying to make a deal to import marijuana into the state as a means of financing his re-election campaign.     Poor Roscoe.   Did he know he was being laughed at?   I hope not, because there was something sort of likable about him -- at least from the distance of only reading the human interest stories written about him.  And on reading that he died, I found myself smiling with fondness for the gentle fool.

7.  I end by reprinting a letter from Rachelle Marshall of Mill Valley, CA that was published in the New York Times a few days ago.  "President Obama's words in Athens were a reminder that for eight years we have had a president who possesses a degree of wisdom and empathy rare among political figures.

"Mr. Obama came into office with a message of hope, and with the assumption that Americans regardless of party believed in the principles of freedom and equality our country was founded on, and would support his efforts to carry out these principles.   Instead of support, however, he encountered a Republican-dominated Congress determined to obstruct his every effort.

"Mr. Obama's executive orders on immigration and the environment will undoubtedly  be rescinded by the Trump administration, and it's too soon to predict what other dismantling the new administration will do.

"But what cannot be erased is the fact that for eight years our country had a president untouched by pettiness or scandal, who tried to make America a fairer, more generous place.   For that effort alone, he deserves an honored place in history."

And that is something we can be thankful for today.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

How do we know if Trump is now just conning us?

Donald Trump met with the New York Times journalists, who live-tweeted the meeting.  He said all the right things:   He could never even think of hiring Steve Bannon if he thought he was a racist or part of the Alt-Right.  "Breitbart is just a publication."

He disavows and condemns the white nationalists who met in Washington and proclaimed his election a victory for them, saluting Trump's name with a Nazi-type salute of "hail victory."  He says the tensions and infighting with Republican leaders are water under the bridge.   "Paul Ryan loves me;  Mitch McConnell loves me."    "I have great respect for the New York Times."

But how do we know that he's not just conning us now;   just as he conned his crowds at his rallies when he said all the right things to excite them?  We know he will say anything to further his cause at the moment.   It may be inoperative moments later.  Don't fall for it.  Watch what he does and whom he appoints.


Blind trust, indeed. If the president is above the law, we should change the title to "King".

First there was the refusal to release his tax returns.   Not required by law, but a tradition going back decades and followed by every candidate including Richard Nixon when he was under audit.

Then it was what to do about putting his business assets in a blind trust, as is also the tradition.   It's complicated for Trump, because his wealth is not simple investments that can be easily shielded from his knowledge and managed by a competent financial manager.   But, not to worry, Trump said.   He'll turn the business over to his three adult children.   (As if they would never talk to their father -- or have a financial interest themselves in profiting from the presidency.)

And then, during this transition period, we hear about business associates from India having meetings with President-elect Trump.   Of course, we can be sure that they did not discuss how to use his new role as U.S. president to drum up business for the new hotel the Trump Organization is partnering with in India.  Really?  And on election night, he spoke with his Argentine business associates about future deals there.  So when does the blind trust arrangement start?

Then we find that daughter Ivanka has been sitting in on meetings with world leaders like the prime minister of Japan -- while having her own business interests for her line of fashion items.   And Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, has emerged as one of Trump's closest advisers, and now they want to find an official way to bring him into the White House.   The nepotism laws would seem to prohibit him having a paid position.   But could Trump make him an unpaid adviser, with access and security clearance?   Again, the blind trust.    Kushner is married to Ivanka.  They're looking into it.

Never mind the next four years.   It's already started -- the commercialization of the United States presidencyusing the presidency to further personal business interests.    Trump's new hotel in Washington is encouraging stays there to gain advantage with the president.  Diplomats have said they've felt pressure to do so.  We can forget about the blind trust.    The only people who would be blind to what's going on would be the American people, certainly not Trump, himself.

When asked about all this, Trump was dismissive.   He said that all this concern about his business interests was known -- and thus "baked into" the election.   In other words, he's claiming that the American people knew -- and approved, by voting for him.

Well, that's not even true on the face of it, that voters knew the extent -- in part because he refused to release his tax returns.   They voted with lack of information -- plus hordes of misinformation.  We now know more details of the conflicts of interest:  that he owes $300 million to Deutsche Bank, which is currently in negotiation  over a proposed $14 billion fine against the bank for lying to its investors during the 2008 housing crisis.   Trump also is in debt to the Bank of China for hundreds of millions of dollars;  the bank is state-owned, meaning the same government that Trump, as U.S. president, would be negotiating with on many sensitive issues.

How will we know that they won't make a secret deal, changing the course of world affairs in China's favor in exchange for personal debt forgiveness?  The same is true with the debt he owes Goldman Sachs, which is itself being investigated by the Justice Deprtment, while Trump has vowed to get rid of Dodd-Frank and other regulations that would be in the investment firm's interest.    Just those three are enough conflicts of interest to disqualify him -- without some effective, true blind trust.

But here's the thing:   Trump is actually right.  According to an article by Paul Blumenthal, political reporter for Huffington Post, "Government conflict of interest regulations do not apply to the president of the United States.  Theoretically, Trump could legally continue to manage his Trump Organization while in office.  In his meeting with the New York Times on Tuesday afternoon, Trump said his lawyers have reached the same conclusion.

This position is one step away from Richard Nixon's:  "If the president does it, it's not illegal."   On the other hand, he could also choose to abide by the regulations that apply to other federal government officials.   And that is what we expect an ethical president to do.   

Essentially it is "baked into the election" when the voters chose Trump -- which is why it matters to elect someone of good character and ethical principles.   The president is expected to be above reproach in his official duties, as he takes the oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States.   We've never had, in modern times, someone so unconcerned about propriety and decorum and so intent on willfully tearing up traditions.

So, it appears that if we don't like it, it's up to Congress to investigate the  king  president and, consider impeachment.   Or they could try going through the courts.   But by then, his new appointee will have filled the vacancy of Justice Scalia's seat;   and a conservative majority will have been restored.

Folks, unless and until he does something so reprehensible that a Republican House would vote to impeach and then a Republican Senate vote to convict, we're stuck with him, for better or worse.   For four years.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A sample of comments from what I'm reading

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. was interviewed by CNN's Erin Burnett after the initial cabinets appointments made by President-Elect Trump.    Chertoff had been critical of a Trump presidency during the campaign, but here's some of what he said:

""I have to take my hat off to him, because [Trump] demonstrated an ability to read the mood of the American public that confounded all the data crunchers, and I think you have to give him some credit for that . . . . It's still early and obviously he hasn't even started in office yet. But at least I'm encouraged that what we're hearing seems to be sober, disciplined and appropriate."   [except for the Tweets, I would interject, and some of the appointments.]

Chertoff was cautious in his assessment of Lt. Gen. Flynn based on the provocative tweets that he's been sending around:     "Obviously any statement that someone makes, you have to consider, but I'm very reluctant to regard tweets as a real measure of what a person thinks."  [what about his behavior in the security briefings with Trump?   Christie had to calm him down, according to someone in the room.]

[Chertoff's comments are pretty mild compared to what Flynn's superiors said about why he was forced out of his position as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.   More about that another time, but briefly it had to do both with his outspoken anti-Muslim rhetoric, his ultra-hawkish views on fighting in the Middle East, and a management style that had become intolerable for others to work with him.   From once being considered one of the most respected military intelligence officers of his generation, he is now seen by the upper military echelons as out of his element and lacking the steadiness of character and judgment to be the top strategic military adviser to the president.   This does not bode well for those crisis moments when the top people from the military, the NSC, CIA, State, and Defense all gather with the president in the Situation Room and decide what to do.   The head of NSC -- Flynn -- should be the steadiest, most reliable person in the room.   Instead, he sounds like he's become a very loose cannon.  Trump does not need a loos cannon;  he can do that himself.]

Chertoff also commented on the appointment of Sen. Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General, despite past evidence of racism and bigotry from the Alabama senator that cost him the confirmation by the Senate for a federal judgeship back in the 1980s.   But Chertoff said:  "I found Sen. Sessions to be knowledgeable, smart, willing to engage and willing to listen.  People I know who actually were closer to him are really willing to vouch for him for being someone who's not carrying any kind of racial animus."    Another commentator, whose name I have lost, emphasized Sessions honesty and openness.   We'll see over time, I guess.

*     *     *
My next source of comment is an essay in the November 21st edition of The New Yorker, and the essay is by Nobel Prize writer Toni Morrison, titled:  "Mourning For Whiteness."   The gist of her argument is that the strong motivating force for a large number of Trump voters was the fear of losing "white privilege," which she elaborates as losing the "comfort of being naturally better than."

Morrison points out that in our past, "the necessity of color rankings was obvious, but in America today, post-civil rights legislation, white people's conviction of their natural superiority is being lost. . . .  There are 'people of color' everywhere, threatening to erase this long-understood definition of American.   And what then?   Another black President?   A predominantly black Senate?   Three black Supreme Court Justices?   The threat is frightening."

And I would add, it's especially frightening to those who feel they are being left behind by all the cultural changes in our society.  Immigration is only one of those changes, along with income inequality, globalization, racial, sexual and gender status.   Donald Trump understood this fear and the people most affected by it.   And he spoke directly to it -- even ramped it up, I would say, for political advantage.   It remains to be seen whether he will give them what he promised, or whether they will turn on him when they realize they've been conned, again.

*     *     *

Regular readers know that I often find quotes from the Esquire contributing writer, Charles Pierce, to be especially pungent and insightful.   I like his combination of brilliance and irreverence.   (He once referred to Newt Gingrich as "floating away on a golden cloud of his own intellectual flatulence.")   In a current piece on, he writes about the significance of Mitt Romney going to Trump Tower for a reconciliation talk and a possible cabinet seat in the Trump administration, despite having denounced Trump in the most caustic terms during the campaign.

Pierce begins:  ". . .  And now, the lost prince of American plutocracy has come to pay a call, and perhaps find a place at court. . . . It is possible that old-guard types like Willard think they need to come aboard in order to make sure that El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago doesn't sell Rhode Island to Gazprom in the middle of the night. If that's their plan, they are misreading their man as badly as they misread him over the past year. Right now, they're all coming to him, all the people who laughed at him and made fun of his candidacy, and jilted him in Cleveland last summer, and whispered about how disastrous he would be as a president. They're all coming to the big tower with his name on it. Winning!

"If Trump hires Willard to work for him, it will be because he wants to tell people that Mitt Romney came to him begging for a job and that, He, Trump, nature's nobleman, was a big enough guy to give him one. He's going to mount Willard's head on the wall of his den, right above the Tiffany vase that holds Chris Christie's balls. By next March, he'll be sending Romney out for another bucket of KFC."
*     *     *
Well, let's hope it doesn't come to that.   Not a big Romney fan four years ago, I now find myself rooting for him to get the Secretary of State post.   Then at least there would be one serious, maybe moderating influence in the White House that so far seems to be filling up with zealots and fascists.   Beware of Kris Kobach, Kansas' Secretary of State,** whose chief aim these days is to carry out Trump's wish to make a Muslim Registry of all Muslims living in this country.   Kobach had been trying to do that in Kansas.   Now he may get a bigger platform on which to ply his trade.   Rumor is that he's being considered for Chertoff's job -- Secretary of Homeland Security, which would put him in charge of many issues related to immigration.   That would be a terrible terrible idea.   Kobach was most noted for his work to suppress voting, and his plan for Kansas got overturned by the courts.   This will only give the jihadist recruiters more fodder for their propaganda videos.


**   I just wanted to acknowledge an error in a previous post, where I had identified Kris Kobach as the Kansas Attorney General.    No, he is Kansas Secretary of State.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Time to lighten up for a moment . . .

Thanks to Em for pointing out this amusing geographic irony:

"Iceland has more green space than Greenland,
and Greenland has more ice than Iceland."

Former expert on infrastructure plan says Trump's plan "is a trap." And he warns, "Don't fall for it."

Ronald A. Klain worked in the White House as President Obama's point man for implementing the American Recovery and Renewal Act in 2009-2011.   This was the plan, less expansive than Obama wanted but as much as he could get through Congress, that was to restore jobs through spending on infrastructure.

Klain has a message (quotes from Nov. 18 Washington Post):

"I’ve got a simple message for Democrats who are embracing President-elect Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan: Don’t do it. It’s a trap. Backing Trump’s plan is a mistake in policy and political judgment they will regret, as did their Democratic predecessors who voted for Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts in 1981 and George W. Bush’s cuts in 2001."

Klain then explains that Trump's plan "is not really an infrastructure plan. It’s a tax-cut plan for utility-industry and construction-sector investors, and a massive corporate welfare plan for contractors. The Trump plan doesn’t directly fund new roads, bridges, water systems or airports, as did Hillary Clinton’s 2016 infrastructure proposal. Instead, Trump’s plan provides tax breaks to private-sector investors who back profitable construction projects. These projects (such as electrical grid modernization or energy pipeline expansion) might already be planned or even underway. There’s no requirement that the tax breaks be used for incremental or otherwise expanded construction efforts; they could all go just to fatten the pockets of investors in previously planned projects.

"Moreover, as others have noted, desperately needed infrastructure projects that are not attractive to private investors — municipal water-system overhauls, repairs of existing roads, replacement of bridges that do not charge tolls — get no help from Trump’s plan. And contractors? Well, they get a “10 percent pretax profit margin,” according to the plan. Combined with Trump’s sweeping business tax break, this would represent a stunning $85 billion after-tax profit for contractors — underwritten by the taxpayers."

And that's only the investment side problems with Trump's plan.   Klain says it "isn’t really a jobs plan, either. Because the plan subsidizes investors, not projects; because it funds tax breaks, not bridges . . .  there is simply no guarantee that the plan will produce any net new hiring. Investors may simply shift capital from unsubsidized projects to subsidized ones and pocket the tax breaks on projects they would have funded anyway.

And, beyond those two big problems of (1) not rebuilding the intrastructure and (2) not creating jobs, Klain explains that Trump's plan does not include how to pay for it -- at the same time he's proposing huge tax cuts -- so it will increase the deficit by as much as $137 billion.   And then you can be sure that Trump and a Republican congress will "weaponize" this deficit increase and use it to justify cuts in social programs, healthcare and education.

That's not all.   Klain also predicts that hidden in the plan will be policy changes that weaken wage protections, undermine unions, and ultimately hurt worker's earnings.  Environmental rules that Obama has attached to federal contracts will undoubtedly be gutted.

Klain ends by saying that he understands Democrats' hope to find some areas where they can work with a Trump presidency on common interests, and that his stated interest in big infrastructure projects could have been one of those.   But it does not do what Democrats think it would -- instead, it would help investors at the expense of workers.   When the real plan becomes evident, this will likely hurt Democrats' attempt to reconnect with workers;   because, once again, they will have been sold out for the benefit of the investor class.    It's a trap;   don't fall into it.

*   *   *
I wonder how long it's going to take the angry, white working class Trump voters to realize that -- once again -- Lucy has jerked aside the footballleaving the gullible Charlie Brown to fall on his back.

Once again they have been used to win elections for Republicans, only to fall victims to their bait-and-switch scam.   Guess who's going to benefit from the tax cuts, and which street -- Wall Street or Main Street -- is going to benefit from the Trump/GOP agenda?   What was that about a populist movement?    


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Interfaith support for Muslims -- are you listening, Mr. Trump? Mr. Sessions? Mr. Bannon? Gen. Flynn?

Leaders of Christian, Jewish, and Buddhist faiths attended Friday prayers at a mosque in Washington, D.C. in support of their Muslim neighbors.  They called on President-Elect Trump to denounce anti-Muslim hate crimes, which increased by 67% last year, according to FBI reports.

Speaking as president of the Interfaith Alliance, Rabbi Jack Moline told reporters:  “We must promise that no one will ever make another American afraid ― not the bigots, not the alt-right, not the chief strategist of the next administration, not the president of the United States. . . .  No one will make the precious children of this community, of any community, afraid.”

That's what we need more of -- leaders speaking out against hate rhetoric.  Bravo to the cast of "Hamilton" for addressing VP-Elect Pence at the show he attended.  Yes, Pence was booed by some in the audience when he entered.   But the cast was not disrespectful, as Pres.-Elect Trump angrily tweeted out, demanding an apology from the cast.   Here's what the actor Brandon Dixon did say for the entire cast gathered on stage for curtain calls:

“Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you and we truly thank you for joining us at 'Hamilton: An American Musical.  We, sir, we are the diverse America, who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights.  “But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”

That is not disrespectful, Mr. Trump.   But you, Sir, have been disrespectful throughout the campaign.   Shame on you for firing off a tweet, demanding an apology from the cast, without getting the facts straight.   If anyone owes an apologyit is you and those audience members who booed, not the cast.


Followup:   Pence went on FoxNews Sunday morning to say that he was not offended by the cast addressing him.    He reiterated what Trump had said on election night, that he would be president for all the people.   Pence said he (Trump) means it "from the bottom of his heart."

Hurtful words can be a "hidden form of terrorism" -- Pope Franics

Swedish journalist and author Goran Rosenberg wrote about the effect in Europe of our election of Donald Trump.

". . . .  What we do know for certain is that Trump’s victorious election campaign has poisoned the political climate of liberal democracies. We have been shown that defamation, hatred and lying can be a road to power. The outcome of the U.S. election is a clear message to the burgeoning populist and xenophobic parties of Europe that hate and fear-mongering is a winning concept and that they henceforth should feel free to smear, vilify and incite without any fear of transgressing the “politically correct” borders of decency and shame."

He then refers to a recent interview in the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, in which Pope Francis spoke of slander and vilification as "a form of terrorism."  Quoting the pope:

Pope Francis:  “Every human being is capable of turning into a terrorist simply by just abusing language . . . .  You see, I am not speaking here about fighting a battle as in a war. I am speaking of a deceitful and hidden form of terrorism that uses words as bombs that explode, causing devastation in peoples’ lives. It is a sort of criminality and the root of it is original sin. It is a way of creating space for yourself by destroying others.”

Rosenberg then observed that the political fallout of the U. S. election "might be more devastating for Europe than for America. . . .  [W]e are again learning that democracy ultimately depends on the people, the demos, having a democratic disposition and that the terrorism of vilification is a weapon in the hands of those who intend to weaken and demolish it."

If this election indeed does represent an attack, and a crack in the foundation of democracy itself, then this is more disturbing than other problems we have been worrying about.   I tend to see it not so much as that, at least not on a large scale.

After all, Hillary  Clinton did win the popular vote, at latest count, by at least one and a half million votes.  And much of  the Trump vote, especially in the battleground states, that tipped the electoral count, was from voters who decided in the last week of the campaign.   Which suggests that the FBI and Comey's letters played a major role, as well as the social media blitz that falsely exaggerated and amplified what that meant.

But we also have to look at the Democratic party's neglect of the forgotten, "left-behind" white people who gave Trump his big boost.   In trying to expand our scope we forgot the core of working class, middle class and union members (now unemployed) that used to be the core of the Democratic Party.  

I think widely disseminated false news played a bigger part than an attack on democracy.   And in future elections, we're going to have to learn to cope with the role of social media in disseminating false claims, outright lies, and misinformation.