Trump is padding his legislative resume.

The Trump administration wants you to believe that they are getting things done. You might hear something along the lines of “nobody has passed more laws in this amount of time.” Or something equally pedantic.

For the record here is the list of all legislation passed in the current Congress. I have tallied them under some broad categories. Keep in mind that Republicans control both houses of Congress and the White House.

Removal of rules from previous administrations: 15

These are what makes the most headlines and aren’t actual laws being changed so much as rules for how branches of the government will act within their mandate. These “laws” do nothing new. They just role back the efforts of those that came before.

Appointments: 5

Self explanatory. These are “laws” to appoint people to various positions including getting a waver about having a retired military person running the Dept. of Defense.

Memorials/Naming Buildings: 5

Naming a federal building or setting up a memorial takes an act of Congress. Nice way to pad a stat.

Government Management: 8

This is the category that deals with mainly how the government spends its money or handles paperwork. It includes passing a continuing resolution on the budget which was needed to prevent another government shutdown. But this group also includes a bill that makes it OK for government workers to comp their travel costs when using Uber.

Encouragement: 4

These are bills that sound good but have little muscle behind them. Things like saying the US would like to have a World Expo or asking NASA to come up with a plan to inspire women to go into STEM careers. Sounds nice yes, but does very little in real terms.

Actual Laws: 2

After all of that there are only two laws passed that have any real substance to them. Expanding weather prediction capabilities and giving more money to NASA. More science money was definitely one of Trump’s major campaign promises, right?

So when you hear Trump try and convince you he’s moving the country forward, nearly half of what he’s accomplished is the exact opposite.

The rest is fluff.

But I guess yay for science?

Why does the Right Hate Liberals?

I lived in Japan for nine years. I bring this up because as a foreigner there, I often got the sense that the government saw me as a mild inconvenience. It might have been the frustration apparent on an official’s face when my Japanese wasn’t good enough to navigate complex tax procedures. Despite his English not being good enough to navigate Cat in the Hat.

Languages are hard ya’ll.

I lived there though, it was on me to learn how to speak good. Fair enough. It might also have been the difficulty in getting a visa for longer than I had proof of employment. One year contract? One year visa. Since you can only get a visa with a guaranteed income that made it difficult to change jobs. Unless you’re the type that works better under time pressure.

You could argue the government is just looking out for the gaijin. You wouldn’t want to be stuck in a place without a support system. It certainly lit a fire under my ass to keep steady employment whenever the visa date came around.

It might also have been knowing I had things pretty easy in terms of being a foreigner, given that I was white. And a dude. And American. That mix often adds up to banker after all.

All foreigners are required to carry ID and have to show it to police whenever asked. I was carded exactly once during my nine years in Japan. It was because I was drunk and belligerent on a public street at 8am on a Monday. I might have been yelling obscenities in front of children. I can’t remember for sure because I was drunk and belligerent.

My friend, who is also an American dude, was carded once for standing outside of my apartment late at night having a quiet phone conversation. Pretty much the exact opposite of my experience. He got carded at least once every other week, so he was used to it.

Did I mention he is of Filipino descent?

I’m not trying to make this about racism in Japan or even in America. I’m not qualified to talk about it because of my white privilege. As South Park tried to impart years ago, I don’t get it. Because I can’t. I get that I don’t get it. Get it?

But it’s hard not to see it going on.

I had it better there and I have it better here. None of this is news and I’m not expecting to open anyone’s eyes that have kept them shut until now. What worries this particular white male is the other hatred that has been stewing for a while now. Because it affects me! Me by golly! And isn’t that the point? Yes, as I will explain later.

In the wake of Trump pulling out of the Paris Agreement, many on the right said it was a great move because it “made liberals cry.” What the fuck is this? Kindergarten?

How is it that the force in charge of America makes decisions based on how much pain they cause to the other side? Is it due in part to the fact that a large number of people who identify as liberal are also minorities? It’s no longer acceptable to say racist things in public. Twitter jumps all over that shit now. Racism is going to racist so what’s the alternative?

Jeff Sessions is working diligently as Attorney General to set back civil rights by decades. And he’s like, Kunta Kinte next to the Cheater in Chief.

Elections and marriages, a double threat!

Hatred of an ideology is becoming as baseless and rooted in ignorance as the hatred of skin tone. Obviously, the history and results between the two are incomparable. I’m not trying to claim the same type of suffering by being a liberal. There are plenty of “Bernie or Bust” types out there who’ll do it for me. #shotsfired

Yet, for perhaps the first time, straight white people in America are learning what it’s like to be hated by their government. Black people have put up with it for as long as they’ve been here. Latinos certainly understand the threat of an adversarial government. Every person of color in this country is forced to come to grips at an early age that the people in charge don’t like you.

I got a small taste of that in Japan. Racism Light, fewer problems, less filling. But even then, my white hetero-maleness shielded me from the worst of it all. A super power that doesn’t make for a good comic book perhaps but I was comfortable taking advantage of it.

I came back and stumbled head first into the frontlines of this fight. Racism Classic, now with more power. Thousands and millions of us tried to stop it. Or rather, shove it under the rug for another cycle. It didn’t work for a hundred reasons that didn’t involve someone named Clinton.

Most of my volunteers on the campaign were black women, which should surprise no one. They knew what was going on. They also knew the election wouldn’t wave a magic wand and fix the problems in their community.

They still came out though. And that was before all the horrors Trump has unleashed in his short tenure as President. Obviously though, we all saw it coming. Us stupid libruls. We tried to warn you that hate was growing. It threatens all of us. That’s why things feel so scary.

It’s equality of hate. Because now it doesn’t matter what you look like. If you believe certain things, a way of thought that you chose, now you are a target for the worst ills of humanity.

But what do I know? I’m just a Liberal.

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.