A Comedy of Terrors — Part Three

With apologies, readers, an overdue conclusion to this brief series:

My intent in this post was to contrast the dark world projected by Trump with the positive vision of Clinton and her stupendously qualified convention speakers. Then, as has happened to me and other commentators throughout this year, Trump’s motor mouth swamped my draft of “Part Three” with his unbelievably stupid attack on the parents of Captain Humayun Kahn, who died a hero’s death in Iraq in 2004.

Trump’s irrational, insensitive, unpatriotic reaction to Mr. Khizr Kahn’s stunning few words in his brief speech to the DNC just a few hours before Clinton’s acceptance speech on the last night of the convention, quickly proved to be the orange blowhard’s biggest error yet.

Like most, I was shocked; not so much at his lack of empathy and care for the incredibly brave, selfless Captain’s still-grieving parents, but at his utter lack of political smarts in launching such a self-destructive assault, one that will doubtless go down in U.S. election history as one of the three or four greatest self-inflicted campaigning disasters ever.

I confess in despair I put this post aside temporarily, and went back to my primary concern, the scale of Clinton’s coming victory, and whether or not it could give the Democrats control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Just as well I did, in retrospect.

For in the following two weeks, Trump has gone from unforced error to unforced error. Which, given the clownish nature of his inept campaign, should simply be funny at this point. But his post-convention performance has been anything but.

His reaction to being asked pointedly by Mr. Kahn if he, Trump, had even read our Constitution was to rage that Mr. Kahn had no right to ask him such a question, suggesting that Trump had in fact not read the document! Still grumbling about his utter humiliation by the dead war hero’s grieving parents, Trump lumbered on for several inconsequential rallies, and then suggested that “Article 2 people” might have to put a stop to President Clinton and her Supreme Court nominees.

This was classic Trump. First, tell an outright lie: Clinton wants to destroy Article Two, and take everyone’s guns away. Then rant a stream of fearspeak: for example, that we won’t have any way to defend ourselves when the home invaders come. Um, excuse me? Ohhh, right, he means the Black and Hispanic bad guys, or the Islamic terrorist secretly living in your trailer park. Then blame Clinton for the imminent attack on your family; along with every other bad thing that might happen anywhere on the planet should we foolishly elect her.

Side note to Agent Orange:

That last sentence is an example of sarcasm, Donald. You may want to make a note for future instances where you have to try and persuade us that you have been misrepresented by the evil, crooked, rigged media. Oh, and a compliment: “home invasion” is a super way to load your made-up charge against Clinton with racist innuendo.

What’s that, Donald? No, that was not a compliment, dummy: that was sarcasm. See above.

And as if that call to someone else’s arms was not enough for one week, Trump felt compelled to invent his biggest whopper yet, to try and cut off media and practically every other semi-thinking person’s negative reaction to his flippant suggestion that Clinton be assassinated.

Now, to get people of all stripes to stop talking about his seditious Article Two statement was not going to be easy. He’d need a really major charge to put forth in the national court of public opinion.

And as we all now know, Trump made up a really big one.

Thanks to his inventiveness with lying, we’ve all learned that President Obama and Secretary Clinton were — who could have imagined it?! — the founders of ISIS.

Yes, I know, the old Trump switch and bait move, just more stupidly and ineptly done this time. But it wasn’t merely laughable, reader.

Intentionally or not, over the course of 48 short hours, Trump has accused the President and Secretary Clinton of treasonous behavior. And he has called the fanatics among his well-armed supporters to be ready to set things to rights. All the while insisting to his ignorant supporters that the election is “rigged”.

Do you read this the way I am?

With his comedic, clownish jibes and lies, is Donald Trump attempting to put events in motion that could result in the murder of Hillary Clinton and others? Knowing now that he cannot win this contest, could his chaotic, adolescent, resentful, disordered brain be whispering to him that he must, to avoid being beaten by a woman, make sure that if he cannot win, then she must not, either?

A Comedy of Terrors, indeed.

A Comedy of Terrors — Part Two

Everybody, all together now, repeat after Donald Trump and his clownvention shills:

“Be afraid! Be very afraid! Be like you never knew how much afraid you can be. Something is verrry wrong here. And our government doesn’t even know what it is! Can you believe that? Or, maybe they do know what it is. And aren’t saying. Because if they said it, Obama’s attempt to stick us with a lyin’, crooked Hillary puppet would come crashing down, just like all their other stupid schemes. They’d rather have a dead country than reveal everything they’re hiding in their dead administration. We have to stop them! We have to find out the truth! If you love our country, the only way to find out what’s wrong is to vote for me! That’s ME, with a capital ME, and it rhymes with T, which stands for Trump, which is a warning of the TERRORS that we’ll face without a really strong man as our Commander-in-Chief. A man, folks. Like me! With big hands. Not a lyin’, crooked old woman who oughtta be locked up.”

OK, OK, dear readers, I apologize but I couldn’t resist. If the above is absurd, that’s because the Donald is absurd. He wants us quaking in our flip flops so he can persuade us he’s the man for a job that, buckle up, gals and guys, may not need doing.

Huh?

Yeah, you read me right: notwithstanding all the panic talk shouted at us by the Trumpeters these past few days, the country is actually in pretty good shape.

Consider the economy that is slowly but steadily recovering from the Republican financial meltdown of 2008. President Obama gets full credit for saving our country (along with the global financial system) from a devastating recession or worse. The President could have achieved a great deal more if the Republican-controlled Congress had chosen to do their job instead of plotting and scheming to stifle Obama’s agenda. For example, they could have helped the Administration ramp up clean technologies, instead of spending the past three years trying to ensure Senator Clinton will not win the present election.

Oh, and for those in the One Percent, a little reminder: the stock market is trading at historically high levels. When Trump and his Republican parrots squawk that Hillary means four more years of President Obama, you can project another solid growth period in your assets, and thus know all you need to know.

Meaning the last thing we need now is to put a big orange-topped wannabe dictator into the White House, so he can cut the taxes on the super-rich and expand the military budget and start the same old Republican trickle-down scam all over again.

So there is no reason to fear for our growing economic health. In fact, the eight Obama years, including four with the highly competent assistance of Secretary Clinton, have brought the country back, and provided a foundation for continuing growth and progress on social and economic justice.

As to being afraid of ISIL, and Donald’s adolescent claim he knows more about defeating them than our Generals do, we should remember that when Hillary Clinton left her hugely successful tenure as Secretary of State, ISIL didn’t even exist as an organized threat.

The truth is that the rise of ISIL occurred rapidly on the edges of Iraq and Syria, as ex-Sunni insurgents and de-commissioned Iraqi Army officers took advantage of the parallel deteriorating political and security situations in Iraq and Syria. In a very short time they had managed to grab control of oil-rich territory and the key Syrian city of Raqqa. The U.S. government was as surprised by ISIL’s early success as everyone else in the region.

And Hillary Clinton had absolutely nothing to do with it. Nada. Zip.

Those who childishly need someone to blame in our government will have to be satisfied with pointing fingers at the CIA and Defense folks. But a more rational observation is to note that Clinton had advocated more aggressive support of the Syrian rebel forces while she was in office. There’s at least some chance that had she been on deck in 2013-14, we might have made moves to stymie the explosive growth of the ISIL cancer.

In the past three years, the Obama administration has pursued a mostly effective strategy of first, containing the main center of ISIL’s control, in Northwestern Iraq and Northeastern Syria, then following up with cutting off the pirated oil revenues used to fund ISIL’s operations, and, in the last 24 months, used our drones and air strikes along with Special Ops teams to kill many of the top-level ISIL commanders. This, while continuing the same strategy to contain the remnants of Al Qaeda. Defeating these sources of Islamic terrorism takes patience, not promises.

Trump and his bomb threats and unbelievable ignorance of Middle Eastern affairs would set this growing record of success back, not move us forward.

With Trump’s callous attempts to fan the flames of jingoistic hatred and fear of immigrants, here, too, he’s nothing but an opportunistic demagogue. Obama has also brought undocumented immigration down to its lowest level in nearly three decades. He didn’t need a wall, just hard work and common-sense policies.

As far as the refugees trying to escape the violence of religious war in the Middle East are concerned, under Obama the process of vetting immigrants has become even more rigorous than under the Bush administration.

But what about the threat of more mass ISIL-inspired shootings and bombings in our own backyard? We must openly acknowledge that there will be more such attacks, in spite of the best efforts by our security people, working in close cooperation with their counterparts in other countries. Let’s not be evasive: we’re in a long term struggle with a large minority of Muslim believers scattered across Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. These jihadists believe that killing non-believers is not only permitted under their code, but demanded by their seventh century version of God.

This deep-seated hatred isn’t aimed at Americans so much as the values we share with other “Western” countries. Fundamentalist Muslims are threatened by our adherence to personal freedom, free speech, democratic rule, the equal rights of girls and women, and an open society. This hatred won’t go away, and it won’t dissipate unless and until reform-minded Muslims and Mullahs manage to get control of their communities. We need to confront this animosity with intelligence, with understanding of history and culture, with substantial security budgets, and with patience: the struggle within the global Muslim culture will likely take an hundred years and more to exhaust itself. During those decades, a large number of non-Muslims will be slaughtered by the Islamic fanatics, but far more victims will no doubt be their Muslim “brothers”, killed for simply opposing the dictates of the religious dictators who want to live in the eighth century rather than the 21st.

Figuring out how to contain this jihadist anger and gradually defeat it at its source will take a sustained effort by a non-UN authorized alliance of determined westernized countries. Trump can do nothing to speed up this process; the only likely effects of a Trump presidency would be be to undermine this vital cooperative defensive campaign.

In the meantime, we need to cope with domestic terrorist threats more effectively. The first step is to face the fact that the recent so-called “terrorist” mass shootings were actually hateful gun crimes by home-grown hate-driven perpetrators, not fiendish plots by American-hating jihadists pulling puppet-like strings away off in an underground bunker in Syria.

Donald dwells on the fear of the inevitable coming spate of attacks, while failing to offer even one practical, implementable policy to prevent them and deal with the ones we fail to stop.

His new Republican pals agree with him: say anything, do anything, promise anything, but at all cost never say the truth. The mass attacks we have faced have all been gun crimes, or would have been, had the Republican-controlled Congress had the courage to enact the same kind of tough, fair gun regulations every other advanced country employs.

Rather than putting Trump and the McConnell/Ryan/Priebus gang in charge next January, it would be far more effective to elect a progressive Democratic Senate and House of Representatives to support Clinton in her determination to stop gun violence. We can only deal effectively with terrorism if we start at home, by breaking the NRA stranglehold on our government.

A Comedy of Terrors — Part One

The less said about the first day of the Republican Party marriage ceremony to Donald Trump, the better, for both parties to the deal.

We’ll have much more to say in a follow-up post about the Trump Campaign of Fear and Loathing, and the scary speeches of the first and second evenings. But the first day featured three extraordinary events that demand our immediate attention.

The first occurred when, soon after the doors to the convention center opened, Trump’s most senior guy, Paul Manaflirt, attacked John Kasich. the governor of Ohio, for failing to show up in Cleveland to welcome the Trump circus. This, after Kasich had repeatedly made clear that he has no intention of supporting Trump’s candidacy. What makes Manafart’s tirade extraordinary is his dumb decision to attack the extremely popular governor on his home turf. Ohio is still rated a toss-up state by most pundits and pollsters, so one would expect the Trumpeters to try and patch up their differences with Kasich. Instead their campaign boss goes out of his way to step on Kasich, and the toes of the politically savvy Ohio Republicans, the very folks who Trump will need to carry the state in November. I can hear the state tipping to Senator Clinton even now…

After Mr. Manaflub’s attack on the Ohio governor, the second event unfolded. It concerned a mid-afternoon attempt by non-Trump delegations in several states, who’d sought to bring an issue to the convention floor. When stymied by the Trump/Preibus Chair flunky, the delegates made a perfectly legitimate request for a role-call vote. After a voice vote imposed on the body from the rostrum, the Chair simply used the ancient tactic of announcing that, in his judgment, the “Ayes” had it. No role call would be permitted, in short, prompting delegates opposed to Trump from Colorado and several other states to walk out of the hall.

Hey, it’s a political convention, right? The Chair steam-rolled the “minority”. Happens all the time in these uniquely American political conventions. So, no big thing, just a rather mild example of a floor-fight amongst opposing delegates. What made the dust-up extraordinary is that Mr. Manafort surely had anticipated this protest on the part of the “Never Trump” faction, yet had made no move to deal with the mini-rebellion in a less arrogant manner.

These conventions are supposed to showcase each party’s well-oiled campaign machine, appealing agenda, positive focus, and unified national party team. Instead, this opening skirmish demonstrated that, once again, the Trump campaign is run and staffed by amateurs who are long on offensive declarations and short on preparation. It comes after the previous week, when its platform committee issued perhaps the most backward-facing, divisive, party platform in 40 years. It revealed to all that unification remains the most important challenge to the mis-managed Trump campaign, since the 60% of Republican and Independent primary voters who opposed Trump’s candidacy through the winter and spring are still not planning to vote for the ticket in November.

All this confusion and consternation would have been soon forgotten had the evening program of shouted Hillary hating drowned out the grumblers who’d been betrayed by the Republican National Committee that afternoon. And then would come the evening’s piece de resistance, the first national speech by Mrs. Mega-rich, the oh-so stylish and pleasant Melania Trump.

But it was not to be. The entire first day of shouting and fear-mongering was brought into sharp focus when Melania delivered a speech where the most moving and elegant phrases had been lifted almost word-for word from Mrs. Obama’s speech in 2008 in support of Barack!

The Trump campaign was utterly gob-smacked overnight and all through the second day, as, initially, Manafortress denied any such plagiarism, and decried the media for being so nasty to even suggest it. Finally, Wednesday mid-day, the third day of the Trump four day clownfest, the confession came, and a junior amateur speech writer fell on her sword. True justice would have called for Manafumble to apologize to poor Melania, the Party, and the country, then be fired by Donald–but we’d be foolish to expect Trump to do an honorable thing.

This third Monday incident was a reminder to all of us, as if we needed another one, just how callous and incompetent the Trump campaign and its leaders are. As will be discussed in a later post, they had planned a four-day marathon of hate, fear, and mistrust, all focused on Clinton and her supposed puppet-masters, Barack and Bill. Instead it has proved to expose the heartless. mindless, thoughtless nature of Trump, his minions, and his new Republican followers.

Before being gulled by the endlessly repeated Trump message of threats and a failed America, one might wish to question going forward how much Trump and his bumbling scheme team can be trusted, and if they are not to be feared far more than the woman who many have declared the most qualified person ever to run for President of the United States.