So You’ve Elected a Criminal as President…

When a top athlete or sports team is caught cheating the punishment is mighty. Olympic medals are stripped and given to the next person in line. Tours de France are forfeited. Basketball teams are banned from post season play. In the sports world, unfair competition is punished. Fines are levied and accomplishments are invalidated. This is how we insure sport is kept honest.

One of the growing problems in politics today is the increase in team based fervor. Also, treason. But I’ll come back to that. The 2016 election was the culmination of the belief in the electorate, “my party/team can do no wrong.” Or more accurately, “my team may have problems but they’re nothing compared to the devastation the other side will bring upon the country. As such, my duty is to vote against them no matter what.”

In some part the problem is a bipartisan one, but I hope I am not shocking anyone to say it is a predominately Republican one. To be honest, the Democrats face the opposite problem where a failure to pass a purity test means an abandonment by the voters. The Republicans faced something similar with the Tea Party movement but that populist wave won out in the end.

The far Right-wing was successful in purging moderate control from the GOP as a whole.

What are the consequences of such extremism? The Trump administration is answering this question front and center. The result is America installed a criminal as its head of state. I could post a bunch of links about Trump’s blatant criminal behavior but I’m not here to do your homework for you. Take a quick Google surf and you’ll find enough evidence.

Yet, if my statement is so cut and dry as I want to make it seem, why is Trump still in office?

Here is where the team mentality comes back into play. The GOP made a mistake. They elected a crude and vile individual who never wanted anything from the Presidency other than self-enrichment. He was blatant about it. Everything Trump has done since he took office was telegraphed in plain language during the campaign. People still voted for him though.

The question is why?

For one thing, he cheated. The time to stop being coy is now. I understand that people with real power need to moderate their message. Game of Thrones isn’t only some make believe world where dragons take forever to become important. The rules of power are true in Westeros as well as Washington. The most important being, you don’t strike at the king unless you are certain you will win.

I forgive the Democrats in Congress for not pressing harder against Trump the would-be tyrant. Should they fail he would be invincible. But we all know he’s guilty. It’s now a matter of uncovering the proof. The evidence is out there. I don’t doubt it for a second.

I also have no qualms about calling Trump a criminal. Because he is.

The team mentality is what protects him. There isn’t a single Republican in the country who would be OK with this kind of behavior from a Democrat. And they shouldn’t. I would be ashamed of any Democrat who had no issue with Hillary Clinton talking about pardoning herself six months into her presidency. If it got to that point she would deserve to lose all support.

But it wouldn’t. Because she’s not a criminal. Unlike Trump.

Republicans are not going to admit their mistake. Doing so would forever tie their party and its ideology to criminal behavior. It already kind of was, but now the circumstances are too obvious. What can be done then? Realistically, not much more than we are doing now. Resist all policy, agitate against the regime, activate people to vote the criminals out as soon as we get the chance.

If the world was truly just, then Trump would be kicked out of office and stripped of all his power. By that I mean assets and the methods to buy influence. Put him in maximum security general population and wish him all the best. Then give the Presidency to Hillary Clinton. Count her as the 45th president and remove all appointees including but not limited to the Supreme Court seat Trump and the Republicans stole.

No one who supported Trump should stand for re-election. No one who voted for him should be allowed to vote in the next cycle. Call it a time out. You voted for a criminal.

Obviously, none of this will happen. The punishment is far too extreme for our government to survive. There are far different consequences in elections than a bicycle race. And yet if the penalty for cheating isn’t so severe as to shock the system, it will happen again. When fines for breaking regulations are less than the profits gained, companies work the payments into their cost of business.

The true danger is if the Republican party accepts treason as a small price to pay for getting an ultra-conservative Supreme Court or cutting welfare programs to the bone. My biggest fear is they already have.

This will happen again. Count on it.

On the Presidency

A lot has happened over the past weekend. Incredible, unbelievable things. Donald Trump’s own son has admitted to going to a meeting where he expected to get information from the Russian government. Information that would be damaging to his father’s political campaign. Allegedly, data gathered through espionage. He was fine with that.

Long story short, Donald Trump Jr. of his own free will quiet possibly admitted to being a Russian spy. If this were the 1950s he’d be in jail awaiting trial for treason as we speak.

But he’s not. Neither are the other high level Trump officials at the meeting.

Despite the Republican party’s desperate need to send the country back to the 50s politically, it is not 65 years ago. There’s no telling where this story will go. Every week something new crops up and pushes the envelope of expectations even further. What we do know, is the pattern of lies is real. The Trumps and everyone in their administration are engaged in a cover up of massive proportions.

They are lying to the American people.

Yet, here is the problem. It should seem obvious that this behavior is unacceptable. There was a time in this country where something of this nature would force a well-deserved, shame-filled resignation. However, countless Republicans and the Trump family themselves are steadfast in their refusal to admit to any wrong doing. There’s a chance that could change, given that the evidence is so blatant. Unfortunately, the damage has been done.

The President is not a person. The President is an office that a human being inhabits for a period of typically, four to eight years. I can only hope that this current resident of the office won’t be around the White House that long. Once again, that depends on the rest of the GOP standing up for themselves and admitting that they made a mistake.

The person who is selected to occupy the office of the Presidency accepts a grand responsibility. We as Americans can disagree who should be placed in the office but once that person is there, they become a representative of all of us. The President is responsible for everyone that lives in the United States, not just the people who voted for them.

Once someone decides to even attempt to assume the mantle of the Presidency they are expected to live up to a certain level of respect inherent in the office. This respect is the reason the country and its leader commands influence across the world. Many of our citizens seem to think that level of self-respect is no longer important.

Chances are pretty good that it’s going to come out that Donald Trump colluded with the Russian government in order to win the Presidency. In my opinion, I believe he did everything possible. He has shown himself to be the kind of person willing to sell anything out if it benefits him. I have no doubt in my mind that Trump had no moral issues with destroying any and all respect for our nation and the Presidency if it meant he would “win.”

But that’s just my opinion. For now, until more evidence comes out. Which I expect it will.

We can throw around the word treason all we want but the indisputable fact is that Trump’s actions before and after winning the election are beneath the dignity of the Presidency.

The 4th of July was last week. A day where all Americans are supposed to feel pride and patriotism in their country. For me, it was difficult to stir up those feelings given how disrespectful the entire Trump administration has been to our hallowed traditions.

We’ve had bad Presidents before, plenty of them in fact. We’ve never had a terrible person as President. Until now.

Trump’s Cosmic Perspective

During my overly extended, undesired staycation, I’ve had lots of free time. I’m trying to use that time to read more. A decent number of books have fallen to my casual pace. Far more than recent years. During my life in Japan my reading time was dominated mostly with magazines for smart people. National Geographic and Wired, for example. I haven’t touched them in months.

Also, thanks to some nerdy friends I’ve read more fiction than I have since I finished Game of Thrones. The books, not the show. Obviously.

Reading is, of course, fundamental. The book I just finished was “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” by Neil deGrasse Tyson. A nice light read, perfect for storing in the restroom for guests I imagine. To be honest, if you watched his excellent recent version of Cosmos there is little in here that wasn’t covered in the TV show. Except for roundness. That was new.

Still, highly recommended.

The final chapter of the book has Tyson talking directly to the reader about the wonders of an infinite universe. Rather than letting the vastness of space make you feel insignificant, the author argues that the opposite should be the case. Revel in the fact that you are made of star stuff and can trace your existence back to the origins of the cosmos. Deep shit.

All well and good, but what about Trump?

Barely half a year in, the 45th President has locked in the title of “Worst President ever” for a large population of the country. Obviously, not everyone. That doesn’t mean that he won’t forever be the worst in many people’s minds. Just like Obama is hated by lots of gap toothed, cousin-loving rednecks.

Sorry, that was as mean as healthcare. I wouldn’t want to be accused of inflaming rhetoric.

Now, Trump has built a solid base of facts to earn that title. His personality is undeniably awful. Some people don’t mind that or even think it’s a good way to act towards people who disagree with you. I suppose that is a sad fact of the human condition. Once you choose the team to belong to it is hard to accept anything that tarnishes that distinction.

Ask a Cubs fan if you don’t believe me. I can make that joke because it worked out for them in the end. I wouldn’t put money on the same happening for Trump.

But what does this all mean in a cosmic sense?

What will Trump’s legacy be in a hundred years? A thousand? A million?

Certainly, for most of our lifetimes Trump will be a prominent figure in history textbooks. But how many people today are still mad at Calvin Coolidge? How many can even name him? The man who brought about the Great Depression? Hardly anyone, I would wage. Especially since the President in office immediately prior to the Great Depression was Herbert Hoover.

Human memory is short. The truly outstanding individuals last through the ages but they have little direct effect on actual daily life.

Sure, you might have someone like Julius Ceaser who created the calendar we sort of use today. Except over a thousand years later some pope named George might come along and change it up. Time is long and humans are not. Eventually there will come a time when even Donald Trump is forgotten to history.

This is of course not to say that we should just let him do whatever he wants.

It is vital to resist against the things that will cause pain and suffering to millions of innocents. That’s just common sense. Trump is a symptom of a great disease which weakens America to its core. Our systems are struggling to fight off this infection but they are, for now, holding firm.

The United States is a young country. One of the jokes I often heard from my continental friends in Japan was as follows. “For Europeans, one hundred miles is a long distance and for Americans, one hundred years is a long time.”

You had to be there, I guess.

We’ve got time. When the atoms of the Milky Way have expanded beyond the heat death of the Universe, there won’t be anyone around to worry about cuts to Medicaid. That sounds like a reason to despair. I know the feeling and it’s a struggle to resist every time I check Twitter.

The point of Tyson’s book however, is the opposite. Live this moment for what it is because of the mathematical wonder required to bring it about. The same oxygen molecules that fuel the President’s unhinged tweets are the same that power the protest songs of the Woman’s March.

And they were all created in an astronomical ball of nuclear fire.

Pretty cool if you ask me.

Shared Humor is Cathartic: #covfefe

In case you’re not the type of politico who checks Twitter constantly, you might not know what covfefe means. Then again, it’s already seeped a bit into the general consciousness. The true meaning will be discussed for ages to come, I’m sure. The actual creation of this new vocabulary it thanks to the Tweep in Chief, Donald Trump.

I came late to the covfefe party, I only checked into Twitter about an hour after Mr. 45 tweeted a partially formed thought. The tweet itself is now gone from Twitter. Once again, Trump goes with the deletion of Presidential records because it embarrasses him. This is on paper, from what I understand, a crime. But whatever, get to the lolz.

Late on Tuesday, the President of the United States tweeted “Despite the negative press covfefe”. Now, as I write this the White House is trying to spin this as something more than a simple typo and a mistakenly sent tweet. They even tried to claim there’s some secret meaning that only super smart Trump types understand.

Which is complete bullshit. Not a chance. It’s more embarrassing to pretend otherwise.

Anyway, as the internet often does, it latched on to this mistake by the most powerful man-child in the world and mocked it without mercy. Trump deserves every single mocking tweet and late night joke. Here’s why.

He is causing severe emotional torment for a large number of Americans. I’ve disagreed with a lot of politicians before. I disagreed highly with George W. Bush. Until this year, I was confident Bush Jr. would go down in history as the worst President the USA has ever had. No longer, not a chance. Trump wins by a mile.

Now, I understand that a lot of people will disagree with me. Some people think he’s doing a great job. Some people don’t care as long as it doesn’t bother them. There are even some people who think Hillary Clinton would have been worse. Whatever. That’s all fine and good.

The problem is Trump is so blatant about not caring what people who disagree with him think. He is convinced 100% that every idea he has is perfect because he thought of it. A lot of people agree with him because on the surface he appears to think like they do. These are the same people that railed against Obama as an imperial President.

The difference is Obama actually tried to work with the other side and was constantly slapped away. He didn’t say and do things that embarrassed the nation as a whole. People say Obama ruined our reputation abroad which is the complete opposite of what happened. He repaired what was damaged by the last bumbling fool to occupy the Oval Office.

Trump is the bull in the china shop of all our nightmares. Can you blame us for latching on to the one purely innocent example of comedy this man has produced? We try to joke about his awful relationship with NATO but it represents the worst our relations with Europe have been since WWII. The Russia investigation kicks over new rocks every day. He threatens the entire world because he thinks the US shouldn’t have to take any responsibility whatsoever.

We are tired of constantly being stressed out by the assault on our values this man represents. That sounds ironic I know because it’s highly reminiscent of the Tea Party rhetoric. Obama in their eyes wanted to tear down their most fundamental beliefs. The problem is, he really wasn’t trying to do anything of the sort.

Trump is actively trying to tear down what I believe is good about this country. Then he has the gall to look us all in the eye and tell us it’s not happening. Or if it is it won’t be that bad. Or if it is that bad, then it’s not a big deal. If it is a big deal then it’s not his fault. Or if it is his fault then we deserved it.

Having to constantly fight against that coming from the highest reaches of power is exhausting.

Please excuse us for taking a small break to make fun of an old man who has trouble handling technology. Of course, when I put it like that it sounds mean doesn’t it?

But this is Trump we’re talking about. He’s beyond sympathy.

Trumpism: The Cult of Donald Trump

Editor’s note: This was originally posted in February 2017. Almost none of the revelations that consume the news today regarding Russia had come out yet.

So I’ve been reading this book in my spare time called “The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene. It was first brought to my attention by an Uber driver in L.A. so you know it’s high quality…

So I’ve been reading this book in my spare time called “The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene. It was first brought to my attention by an Uber driver in L.A. so you know it’s high quality…

Anyway, basically it’s a collection of stories from history and teachings from books like The Art of War and The Prince broken down into lessons about gaining the ephemeral quality known as “power”.

I wanted to read it because even if I couldn’t be as ruthless as required by some of these tactics it is good to be aware of them in case they are used against you. However, when I reached Law 27 things became a little scary.

“Law 27: Play on People’s Need to Believe to Create a Cult-like Following”

There are 5 steps to this law. Rather than just list them and let readers come to their own conclusions I feel like I need to be more explicit as to how the man currently in the office of the President has seemingly followed this path to power in particular.

Step 1: Keep it Vague; Keep it Simple

“To create a cult you must first attract attention. This you should do not through actions, which are too clear and readable, but through words, which are hazy and descriptive.”

Trumpisim: “Make America Great Again”, “Repeal and Replace, Build the Wall”

These phrases sound great and project a real sense of power. When it comes to achieving them things become far murkier. Trump’s much vaunted deal with Carrier was fraught with unfortunate realities in terms of making America great again. Republicans have been calling for repeal of the ACA for years but are only now rolling out ideas for replacement. Ideas which do little to fix what problems there are with the program and threaten to take away the parts that are actually working.

The wall will be a boondoggle. Mark my words.

Step 2: Emphasize the Visual and the Sensual over the Intellectual

“Once people have begun to gather around you, two dangers will present themselves: boredom and skepticism.”

Trumpisim: Constant rallies

Trump never seems comfortable unless he’s in front of a large crowd of sympathetic supporters. That might be part of the reason he brings staffers to speeches to applaud and cheer for him. Less than a month into his Presidency while being assaulted from all directions over allegations of misconduct and incompetence, Trump holds a literal campaign rally. In 2017, not 2020. Clearly he’s falling back on the spectacle that served him so well in 2016. The sight of large cheering crowds emphasize his popularity which is why he is so adamant in his attacks on stories to the contrary.

Step 3: Borrow the Forms of Organized Religion to Structure the Group

“Your cult-like following is growing; it’s time to organize it. Find a way both elevating and comforting.”

Trumpism: Mike Pence

I don’t think anyone can argue that Trump has ever been an ardent representative of the Christian faith. This step is actually the one that applies the least to Trumpism as it is intended to be more about structural organization specifically. However, the 45th President is not afraid to claim divine intervention in the weather. The choice of Mike Pence as VP gives him all the cover he needs in terms of Christian conservatism without demanding any real sacrifice on his part.

Step 4: Disguise Your Source of Income

“…you must never be seen as hungry for money and the power it brings. It is at this moment that you must disguise the source of your income.”

Trumpism: Tax returns

Do I really need to go over this part?

Step 5: Set Up an Us-Versus-Them Dynamic

“To keep your followers united, you must now do what all religions and belief systems have done: create an us-versus-them dynamic.”

Obviously this is not a unique aspect of Trump or many other political candidates. It is a central idea behind why spectator sports are so popular. People like being part of a “team”. What is dangerous and scary about Trumpism is the official target known as “them”.

The media. The term “fourth estate” refers to a medieval concept of society where the people were broken up into three broad groups. (The clergy, the nobility, and the commoners, in case you were wondering.)

The idea is the press is a separate entity who’s role is to check the power of the others. An independent press is so important that the founders of America made sure journalistic protections were enshrined in the Constitution itself.

Trump’s attacks on the press started almost immediately. His administration has constantly given false or misleading information to the public and when news reporters point that out he calls them “fake news”. Anyone the least bit critical is denied legitimacy. The message is clear “we [us] are right and anyone who disagrees [them] does so just because they want us to fail.”

We need to have the ability to question power. If they do something wrong they should be held responsible. The chilling effect Trumpism could have on legitimate criticism is frightening. I’m personally somewhat worried about posting a long description comparing the President of the United States to a cult leader as the family is notoriously litigious.

Despite the click bait nature of the title of this post I am not saying with any certainty that President Trump is a cult leader. I have no way of knowing if he’s read this book or even if he consciously follows the steps listed above.

But the similarities frighten me.