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Monday, August 28, 2017

Chaos in the Country: Eight Months of Trump’s Presidency

From the time he announced he was running for the presidency in 2016 (“Mexicans are rapists”) until last night’s news broadcast (and by that I mean last night whatever night that would be when you read this—they’re a predictable steady horror stream) Donald Trump has convincingly proven himself totally and completely incapable of possessing even minimal competency for his job.

Of course we all suspected as much, even if we hoped we’d be wrong.  DJT was never anything other than a sometimes rich (and sometimes bankrupt) TV personality, whose history shows he has the attention span of a child, the ego of Mussolini [see], the morals of Caligula, and the self-control of an angry chimpanzee. 

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When he first entered into the race I was rewriting my textbook “Problems and Materials on Consumer Law” (8th edition), and had decided to reprint a judicial opinion finding that Trump University was committing fraud in selling worthless financial advice to his most faithful followers (a really despicable thing to do).  The book went to press before Trump won the election, and I’m not sure what I’d have done if I’d have foreseen (which I did not) he would actually win.  But there it is: our new president found liable for deceiving thousands of people and absolutely ruining many of their lives.  I’ve written about this before (see Related Posts below).  Trump, once in office, promptly settled the three class action lawsuits against him for $25 million dollars, hardly the tactic of someone innocent of the ugly fraud with which he was charged.  The sleaziness and criminality of Trump University alone should have kept him from winning the highest office in the land, but, like many of his numerous scandals, nothing came of it.  Now this lowlife is our president.

The voters who chose him didn’t care about his sleazy past.  “Time for a change,” “Anyone but Hillary,” etc. were the slogans that energized his base.  One suspects—particularly in light of recent events in Charlottesville—that the real message was “No president should be elected who is negro, female, Jewish, gay, atheist, or liberal,” and “White conservative males only—preferably bigots.”

Trump has certainly met those expectations, and that is what is causing a crisis only eight months into his presidency. 

Crisis?  Yes.  Responsible people are very disturbed by what Trump is doing or threatening to do.  I suspect that even most Republicans are very uncomfortable with his antics and would do almost anything to replace him if only that were possible.  They should be embarrassed by the clown the Republican Party has put in charge of our precious country.

Might Trump actually start a nuclear war?  Oh, yes.  He’s “locked and loaded,” even anxious to show the world what he can do if provoked (which happens daily).  Most people think there are checks and balances that would make such a decision require consensus among governmental officials, but that’s wrong.  The whole system these days is set up for “rapid response,” and it’s totally up to the president to choose that response.  Under relevant law Donald Trump is the only person who can launch the nuclear bombs.  He is required to consult with two military officers, but they cannot change or interfere with his ultimate decision to bomb or not to bomb.  

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper recently explained “In a fit of pique, [if] he decides to do something about Kim Jong Un, there’s actually very little to stop him . . . The whole system is built to ensure rapid response if necessary. So there’s very little in the way of controls over exercising a nuclear option, which is pretty damn scary.”

In February at Mar-A-Lago The Donald thought it fun to have a photo taken of a guest and the military aide who carries the nuclear football.  I have worried in prior posts that perhaps late at night, in between tweets, bored but still awake, our sleepless president sometimes gets out that device and explores how easy it would be to wipe out, say, North Korea.  Or Iran.  Or CNN.

The Nuclear Football 

David Remnick, the editor of New Yorker Magazine wrote a column in the August 28, 2017 issue in which he penned the following paragraph:

When Trump was elected, there were those who considered his history and insisted that this was a kind of national emergency, and that to normalize this Presidency was a dangerous illusion.  At the same time there were those who, in the spirit of patience and national comity, held that Trump was “Our President,” and that “he must be given a chance.”  Has he had enough of a chance yet?  After his press conference in the lobby of Trump Tower last Tuesday, when he ignored the scripted attempts to regulate his impulses and revealed his true allegiances, there can be no doubt about who he is.  This is the inescapable fact: on November 9th, the United States elected a dishonest, inept, unbalanced, and immoral human being as its President and Commander in Chief.  Trump has daily proven unyielding to appeals of decency, unity, moderation, or fact.  He is willing to imperil the civil peace and the social fabric of his country simply to satisfy his narcissism and to excite the worst inclinations of his core followers.

Perhaps worst of all is that Donald’s presidency has loosed the hounds of hate, most notably in his quasi-praise of the actions of the instigators of the Charlottesville riot.  Sure, he was made to read a clarifying statement that he condemned the KKK and white supremacists, but he did so with all the enthusiasm of small boy forced by his parents to apologize to a neighbor’s kid he beat up.  When off the leash the next day at the Trump Tower our president happily went back to his original effusive blessing of those who started the riots, saying there were “good people” mixed in with bad ones carrying Nazi flags and chanting things like “Jews will not replace us” and “blood and soil” (an old Nazi phrase celebrating racial purity).

I was in law school when Martin Luther King was assassinated in April of 1968 and I moved that summer to Chicago just in time for riots that had the city (and many others) reeling with blood in the streets and burned buildings.  Is that what’s coming next?  Again?  Is this what our president is cheering on?

Tribalism.  The word of the day.  An apt word because we are truly now dividing into tribes, and in 2017 we are no longer listening to the same sources of information, making dialogue impossible. 

My husband and I recently watched the astounding documentary “The Brainwashing of My Dad” (available on Amazon Prime and as a DVD) in which a woman explores why her father, a once liberal man became a raging bigot when he started watching Fox News and listening to Rush Limbaugh each day.  When he was weaned away from this and began viewing normal new channels he was himself amazed at the lies he’d routinely been fed and foolishly believed.  The documentary details those lies and how cleverly far right news sources brazenly push them out there as unassailable truths.

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Conversely, if all you watch is MSNBC you will get only the message of the left, an attitude with which I am more sympathetic though I never watch that channel.  Why not?  Because I don’t want to hear only what I already agree with.  I want to know what’s going on without a slant to it.  That way I can make up my own mind.  All news has some sort of slant, but I want those that are at least striving to stay objective.

Republicans don’t have a happy history in the last 100 years of playing fair with minorities, having a particular problem with African-Americans.  Trump pretends otherwise, but he is one with those who would keep blacks in their place were it left to him alone.  Trump is big on purging “voter fraud,” code words meaning that far too many people of the wrong color are voting for Democrats.  Next he suddenly sympathizes with those who want to protect statues erected to honor traitors who led a war against the United States government, a war fought over the right to own slaves.  [Every state that seceded from the Union as Lincoln took office declared in its statement of secession that its primary reason for leaving was to keep slavery firmly in place or to protect “slave-owning” states; see]  Trump himself was sued for racial discrimination when he rented out housing early in his career.

However Trump doesn’t care deeply about these or any particular issues.  Their chief value is in keeping him firmly in the public eye.  Nor does he bother over the wisdom of any of his decisions.  What matters is that people are saying the word “Trump” over and over on a daily basis.  He squirms in ecstacy with the constant attention.  But he will stifle criticism as viciously as any tyrant in history and is annoyed he doesn’t have their power (yet) to use police force to do so.

So now what?  With a crazy leader urging on the demons all around are we destined for the collapse of the United States of America?  It’s frighteningly possible, a thought I’ve never had before.  My husband nightly says “someone should do something.”  Yes, but just who is that “someone” and just what could they do?  There is—damn it—no mechanism in place for removal of a president whose only offence is wildly bad judgment and slapdash stupidity.

Our system of government presumes that the person at the helm will try to keep the ship on course.  How do we, or the passengers on any ship, deal with a captain who thinks spinning the wheel first one way and then the other is a fun thing to do?

I’ve written before about the difficulties of impeachment, and with using the 25th Amendment’s power allowing the vice president to take over if the president is deemed crazy.  Both of those seem improbable at this state of things, but who knows . . . maybe that will change next week.

And if in the meantime the bombs go off, which is eerily possible at any time now, that will certainly solve the Trump problem.  Good luck to those who happen to survive that solution.

Okay.  Enough of this.  Time for me to publish this post, fix the Whaley martini, put my feet up, pet the first cat that climbs into my lap, and tell my hubby I love him.

Related Posts:

“Comparing Donald Trump to a Badly Infected Big Toe,” August 3, 2016,

“Trump University: A Fraudster for President”? March 10, 2016;

“President Preposterous: Donald Takes the Helm,” November 14, 2016;

“Calm Yourself: What Trump Can and Cannot Do About LGBT Rights,” November 16, 2016;

“Careful What You Wish For: Making Trump an Illegitimate President,” January 20, 2017;

“Fake News You Might Like to Read,” February 17, 2017;

Embracing Michael Pence’s Coming Presidency,” February 28, 2017;

“Is Trump Clinically Insane?  The Goldwater Rule Revisited,” June 29, 2017;

“Impeaching Donald Trump:  A Lawyer Looks at the Legal Issues,” August 16, 2017;

“A Criminal Controls the Detective: Why Trump Will Soon Fire Robert Mueller”;

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