Donald Trump Takes Office. The Twilight Zone Indeed.
Donald Trump takes office today under a cloud of corruption and dread unlike anything in modern American political history. He has his staunch supporters, of course. But there are a popular majority of + 3 million who voted against him, most of both the Republican and Democratic party elected officials, the entire US Intelligence community, plus many leaders of other governments around the world, who find Trump’s victory suspicious. They question if the man is unfit for leadership, and see him as a downright ominous character stepping onto the world stage.
As I wrote once: “What we have here, folks, is a shyster slimeball who slithered into national politics through the cracks in a fractured Republican party. No one even knows who the Republican party is these days, or what they stand for, but their extremist right wing fanatical fringes (including, of course, the racist elements among them) were driven into a rabid frenzy by the Obama administration, and spent eight long years spewing illogical hatred that laid the groundwork for the candidacy of an emotionally immature and politically inept 'celebrity' like Trump.”
That much is true, but it’s only part of the picture. There were also plenty of smart, upstanding citizens out there who were wooed by Trump, largely out of sheer disgust with gridlock partisan politics. Trump was right when he said the system is broken, and right when he said a large part of our population felt voiceless and forgotten by Washington politicians, Democrat and Republican alike. What’s sad is, those honorable, working-class voters are now––as Trump backpedals on campaign “promises”, and reveals his cabinet of billionaires and inside power-mongers––very likely about to receive the reaming of a generation.
And there’s no dispute Trump’s campaign also catered to the very worst in our society. He built his candidacy on the brain dead “birther” bullshit, and only admitted it was untrue when the facts started hindering his campaign. His speeches were littered with insults and innuendos, thinly veiled racism, utter disrespect for women and non-Christian religions, nasty remarks about Gold Star parents, the outrageous mocking of a disabled reporter, boasts about the size of his penis, and all sorts of vulgarities previously unthinkable for a Presidential candidate. He was endorsed by the KKK and the America Nazi Party. He “disavowed” those endorsements in only the most casual and noncommittal ways.
But according to our system of voting, Trump was elected President. There’s no changing that now, and it’s important our country maintain its methods of peaceful transfer of power. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be looking long and hard at the ways in which this election was tainted, beyond any doubt at this point, particularly by the Russian hacking.
When Rep. John Lewis recently said he doesn’t see Trump as a “legitimate” president, this of course upset Trump, who can’t stand any form of criticism, from anyone, ever. There is question whether not being “legitimate” at this point is the proper terminology.
But the rest of Lewis’ statement, the thrust of his meaning, is completely beyond argument: “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”
Trump’s tweeted response to Lewis was typically juvenile and ridiculous, and included this little gem: “All talk, talk, talk––no action or results.”
This one falls into the realm of, “Are you fuckin’ kidding me?” For Donald Trump to accuse Civil Rights icon John Lewis of being “talk––no action” is arrogant and stupid beyond belief. Back in the ‘60s, Lewis, of course, risked his life repeatedly in Civil Right marches, got his head cracked open on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, coordinated and encouraged many committees and events in the name of Equal Rights and human dignity––all textbook examples of the definition of “action.”
Meanwhile back in those days, Trump was rich-guy-buying deferments from the Vietnam draft, and a few years later, getting sued by the Department of Justice for housing discrimination scandals, in which he and his father misrepresented and refused housing to blacks.
And all the years since, Lewis has a commendable record of public service and 30 years serving in the US Congress. Meanwhile, Trump put on a reality TV show, starred on WWE wrestling, and was guilty of numerous scams on the public, such as the Trump University fiasco.
But let’s get back to the Russian hacking…’cause that’s a fact, Jack. Even Trump was forced to admit it, after receiving direct briefing from Intelligence. He continues to insist the Russian interference didn’t change the outcome of the election––hard to prove––but there’s no longer any denying the Russians attempted to get Trump elected.
(Of course he had denied Russian involvement previously, for no good reason, with no evidence at all. Much like back when he said he knows more about ISIS than our generals. He expects the public to take whatever he says as reality, despite all facts to the contrary. Sadly, some members of the public do just that. But Trump’s adversarial stance toward American Intelligence is troubling. Former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson said, “Trump’s blanket attack on the intelligence community…is an insanely dangerous antic that materially undermines American security…dangerous beyond belief.”)
Former CIA chief Leon Panetta said, "Think about that. Donald Trump, who wants to be president of the United States, is asking one of our adversaries to engage in hacking or intelligence efforts against the United States of America to affect an election.”
Another former CIA chief, Michael Morell, said that in terms of national security, "We would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”
All corners of American Intelligence are saying things like this: "Russia's hacks were aimed at helping Trump"..."Russia's hacking was intended to influence the election in favor of Trump." …”This was a conscious effort by a nation state to attempt to achieve a specific effect.”…”There is substantial evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin himself authorized the cyberatttack.”…On and on and on.
The only question is, was Trump aware of or involved with the Russian interference? That remains to be seen. Trump denies this, of course, but suspicious links continue to trickle out. Donald Trump Jr. has commented about massive Trump business connections in Russia. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, managed investments for a Russian aluminum business with close ties to Putin. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who Trump considered for Vice President, has strong ties to Russia and was seated next to Putin at a dinner in 2015. The weird allegations of a video involving Trump and some Russian hookers…etc. etc. None of these are damning evidence at the moment, but they certainly seem strange coincidences.
Meanwhile, back here at home, Trump has struggled with other scandals as his presidency approached. He’s been accused by 15 different women of sexual harassment and assault. (These claims, though unproven, gain credibility due to Trump’s infamous “grab em by the pussy” tape, wherein he brags about sexual assault.) There are also ongoing suits regarding fraud, racketeering, discrimination, defamation…I believe the count is 75 in all. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but the sheer number of these charges against an incoming American president is unparalleled, and an embarrassing burden for our nation to bear.
During the presidential campaign, many of my friends assured me they were confident Hillary Clinton was going to win the election. Some of those friends supported Clinton, others Trump. But the money seemed to be on Clinton to prevail...the polls seemed to point that way too. And those friends of mine, who assured me Hillary had this thing wrapped up, are all much smarter than I'll ever be.
But still, somehow, I didn't buy it. Just a weird, unholy gut feeling...I flinched at the absurd idea of a reality TV star Commander in Chief...but I felt it coming. I mean, I didn't bet the ranch on it or anything...but I just felt an ill wind blowing, carrying the odor of some stagnant and poisonous swamp...the night of the election, long before the outcome was mathematically locked in, I got sick to my stomach, clicked off the TV, and went to bed. 2016 was a malicious, ugly, idiotic bitch of a year, for me personally (death of my Mom, just for starters), for many of my friends too, for the world of Music, on and on…and a Trump victory was the perverse capper…but as usual, I fear I digress.
Anyway, the question now is, where do we go from here? Nobody really seems to know. Trump has already pissed off China and Germany for no good reason, just ‘cause he felt like running his mouth. He also badmouthed NATO and the E.U.
R. Nicholas Burns, former senior State Department official and ambassador to NATO, who has served presidents of both parties, says this about Trump’s ideas regarding Europe: “To say that NATO is obsolete, openly support the disintegration of the E.U. …is a fundamental break with 70 years of American policy and strategic thought supported by Republicans from Eisenhower to now…NATO is the great power differential between the United States and Russia.”
IMAGINE THAT. Yep. The whole world is subject to Trump’s insults and contempt, his tweeted tantrums. The only exception being…you guessed it, folks…Russia, and Trump’s beloved Vladimir Putin. Who has “taken authoritarianism to a whole new level,” according to Human Rights Watch. (Between the influence of Putin, VP Mike Pence, Bannon and Sessions et al, our LGBT community has every right to be downright scared about the future. In fact, so does every American who’s not extremely white, and extremely rich. But that’s the brave new world in which we find ourselves. The Twilight Zone, indeed.)
So…my gut feeling about the election was dead-on correct. Do I sincerely and desperately hope my gut feeling about the new administration turns out to be completely wrong? Do I hope to look back after four years and think, “I couldn’t have been more off base”? Yes, yes, yes. God, yes.
But what my gut is yelling at me today is, “Brace yourself ‘cause here it comes. President Putin and his creepy lil ventriloquist’s dummy, Donny.”