Trump’s military spectacle in DC is anything but patriotic.

Jason Heuser’s illustration was meant as an ode to Trump, but actually is an accurate depiction of his narcissistic sense of grandiosity and toxic masculinity.

Trump has a funny way of taking bipartisan things that traditionally unify people and make them divisive and political — and always all about him.

Just as he has done with Christmas and football, Trump has politicized the 4th of July, by using our tax money to pay for a ridiculously expensive — and ridiculously tacky —  spectacle of power and military might complete with tanks and salutations by the various branches of our military to Dear Leader himself.    Not only that, but he has designated a VIP section just for his wealthy donors.   And just like with his endless golf trips and tax breaks for the rich, WE are paying for it. 

There is absolutely nothing patriotic or American about this disgusting spectacle making its way down Pennsylvania Avenue today.   It’s intended solely to please Trump’s base and donors.  It’s basically a very expensive rally for his reelection campaign.   It’s also meant to impress Trump’s dictator buddies like Putin and Kim Jung Un, who also hold military parades in their own countries.

When asked if the United States should have a military parade to “show off its might,” President Dwight Eisenhower once said, “Absolutely not. We are the pre-eminent power on Earth. For us to try and imitate what the Soviets are doing in Red Square would make us look weak.”

Eisenhower was right.  Modern democracies and countries with real strength don’t lower themselves to putting on military parades.  These ostentatious displays are the province of two bit dictatorships and banana republics, and Trump’s military parade is an announcement to the world that the United States has become a two bit dictatorship and is using a display of military might to compensate for its growing weakness in the world.  We now have concentration camps that torture and imprison children and innocent families who try to apply for asylum.  Why not show how big and tough we are by having big ugly tanks roll down the middle of our Capital and salute Dear Leader too?

Public spectacles of military prowess are nothing more than preening displays of power by insecure and cruel leaders who use bullying, punishment, torture, and intimidation to “govern.”   They are not intended to be celebrations or patriotic traditions for all the citizens to enjoy, but are meant to intimidate and scare the populace, to show them they better not mess with Dear Leader.   That’s what Trump is doing.  This parade is also intended as a massive dose of narcissistic supply, which Trump regularly infuses himself with by holding his partisan hate rallies, among other things (like those nauseating meetings he has where his cabinet members, sitting around a long table, each have their turn to shower Trump with praise as he sits there gloating).

I know I won’t be watching Trump’s stupid narcissistic display of toxic masculinity.  I’ll stick to the Macy’s Day Parade, fireworks, and hamburgers cooked on the grill.

Happy Fourth, everyone!

 

On John McCain’s legacy.

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In spite of my earlier post, I did start watching some of the highlights from John McCain’s funeral proceedings today.   It’s important that I did, and I’m glad I did, and do you know why?

Here in the Upside Down — in post-trump bizarro world (the lower case t is intentional) — I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face over a man I did not vote for, whose party and politics I never supported, and it feels very cleansing.  Weird.

Happy Birthday, President Obama!

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Because of Donald Trump, many people are realizing how good we had things during the 8 years from 2009 to 2017, including me.   A very bad president is making his predecessor (who otherwise might have seemed just a tad better than average), in comparison seem like one of the nation’s great leaders, a leader who will be remembered fondly by history and whose big wide happy smile may even adorn our currency one day.

During the time Obama was president, I took him for granted.  Sure, I voted for him and was happy when he was elected in 2008, but once he was settled in for the long haul, I largely ignored him and was even somewhat critical of him for being too “corporate-friendly” or for pandering to conservatives too much.   I also didn’t like the individual mandate that was a core part of his healthcare plan (ACA), not realizing what its purpose was or why it was necessary (I do now).   Obama eventually became part of the background: just another centrist politician who was about as important to my life as the beige color of the walls at the post office.  But my disinterest in his presidency was in itself a sign that democracy — cripped though it might have become — was still working:

In a functioning democracy, people don’t constantly obsess about politics.  — Unknown

 

In Obama, I see a man who had a genuine, open, and sincere smile — not a hateful scowl, pout, or sneer.  He held his arms wide open in welcoming gesture, not constantly folded tightly against his chest in wounded defensiveness.

In Obama, I see a man who always had kind words for all his constituents, regardless of race, social class, income, nationality, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.  Trump never has a kind word for anyone —  unless they are useful to him in some way, or “strongmen” dictators and despots of oppressive regimes he admires and aspires to be just like.

In Obama, I see a man who respected the free press, the rule of law, the justice system, our system of checks and balances, and democracy itself.   Trump is actively trying to dismantle all of these things.

In Obama, I see a man who could roll with the punches, take jokes and criticism at his expense, and even be able to joke back and be funny (but never in a cruel way) in his own right.   He wasn’t afraid to be criticized by the press and if the criticism was deserved, he was able to own it and admit when he’d been wrong, unlike Trump who is so thin skinned he can never apologize or accept responsibility for anything he does — and yet constantly takes credit for good things that others do (especially Obama).

In Obama, I see a man who was empathetic and compassionate, who wasn’t afraid to show deep emotion and even shed tears when tragedy happened, such as when the children at Sandy Hook were shot down by a gunman.  He cried on other occasions as well,  but always for others, never for himself.   He could hug and console members of grieving families after Hurricane Sandy, and even weep with them.   Trump has never been able to show empathy or shed tears of compassion, or reach out to anyone who was hurting.   People are not real to Trump; as they are for all narcissists, to Trump, people are either sources of contempt or pawns he can use to get what he wants (recognition, money and power).

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In Obama, I see a man who genuinely loved and cared for his wife and family, protectively shielding Michelle and his daughters with an umbrella when it rained, putting his arm around her protectively when entering events or Air Force One, or guiding her tenderly through doors.   In photos of the two of them, they appear to share a genuine affection and love for each other.   Their smiles and laughter appear genuine to me.    In contrast, I do not see that in any photographs of Trump and Melania.  Their relationship appears ice cold, even hostile.

In Obama, I see a man who could be a gentleman, who was chivalrous without being sexist.  He respected women and humanity in general.  He never bragged about grabbing women by their private parts or treated them as second class citizens.  Compare Obama’s treatment of women in general to that of Trump,  who treats women as if they have fewer rights than men and are undeserving of basic respect and dignity.   It’s also interesting to note how few women (and even fewer women of color) he has in his cabinet.  It saddens me deeply that my daughter may be oppressed and treated as “less than” during most of her adult years just because of her gender.  It breaks my heart that she may be deprived of the freedoms people of my generation and the preceding mine enjoyed due to the progress made during the 1960s and 1970s.  She and members of her generation may not be so fortunate. They may have to fight for those hard won rights all over again.   If they are even allowed to.

In Obama, I see a man who was able to have fatherly fun with his two daughters, unlike Trump, who you rarely if ever see with Barron and is usually ignoring him the few times he is seen with him.  Barron to me seems very sad and distant from his father.  From what I’ve observed and read, Trump’s relationship with his three eldest children seems unhealthy, and to me, they appear as toxic and personality disordered as their father.

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In Obama, I see a man who truly cared about the American people and did his best to improve our lives and fix the terrible economy the Bush years and the 2008 housing crisis had left us with.   Obama tried to make healthcare more affordable for every American.  No, it wasn’t a perfect system.   There were many improvements that could have been made to it.   Lots of people — including myself — didn’t care for the indidivual mandate at first.   But that was before I knew why it existed.  Sure, single payer (like other advanced democracies have) would be better, but the ACA was at least a cautious step in the right direction.

Trump, despite promising a brand new “big beautiful healthcare plan” during his campaign, has done nothing but sabotage, demonize, and decimate the ACA, making it more expensive and far less comprehensive than it was two years ago.   He wants to bring back preexisting conditions, which will make healthcare out of reach for millions of Americans.  The plan is to still completely  destroy the ACA, replacing it with nothing or with something much worse.   As for the economy, sure, the stock market is way up due to the tax breaks which enable corporations and the wealthy to buy back their own stocks.  But that means nothing to the average American worker, most who are not better off than they were two years ago, and many are much worse off.

In Obama, I see a man who celebrated with the LGBTQ community when the White House was lit up with all the colors of the rainbow when gay marriage was finally recognized by the Supreme Court.  Trump wants to roll back gay and transgender rights, and put these people back in the closet, packing the courts with far right judges, and courting the help of far right evangelicals who want to further oppress and persecute this group.   As the mother of a gay son, this concerns and hurts me.  I worry for my son in the current political environment and at some point, I plan on speaking to him about leaving the country should things get too dangerous for people like him — even if that means I may never see him again.

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In Obama, I see a man I have come to miss very much, and now think of as one of the greatest presidents of my lifetime. Yes, he made mistakes.  No, he wasn’t perfect, far from it — but he was a genuine human being possessed of compassion, intelligence, wisdom, good judgment, respect for our Constitution and democracy, and genuine concern and care about  about the future of our great country.

I remember when Obama was elected, how proud I felt to be an American. I remember thinking how wonderful it was that racism, exclusion, and hatred had finally been replaced by acceptance, inclusion, and love.

How wrong I was.   All of that was ugliness still there; it just went into hiding.  A whole swath of Americans were so enraged that a black man actually became President that it exposed all the hatred and racism that had always been festering back out into the open like it was during the Jim Crow days.  Some people truly felt that having a black man try to give them healthcare was worse than having an angry and ignorant white president encourage and enable violence and hatred against people who weren’t exactly like them and anyone who disagreed with Trump.

I have come to realize that the Trumpist antagonism toward “political correctness” was really just a thin cover for “I want the right to call people I don’t like terrible names and discriminate against them.”  People have always had the right to call groups they dislike nasty names, but it was socially unacceptable (as it should be!).  Now, under the guise of  Sessions’ “religious freedom task force,” it may actually become legal to discriminate and deny civil rights to anyone who isn’t white, male, straight, rich, and the “right kind” of Christian (dominionist evangelical).  Oh, and while we’re on that topic, the only other countries that have a “religious freedom task force” are Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Pakistan.  Let that sink in.

Under Obama, I felt like there was real hope for the future — a good and secure feeling that things would continue to get better and the future would be bright for our children, grandchildren, and future generations.  “Yes, we can!” Obama and his supporters proclaimed.  And we really felt like we could!

Now, Trump and his complicit Greek chorus of spineless Republicans have shattered that feeling of hope and optimism and replaced it with fear, anger, helplessness, despair, and empty slogans.  The only people feeling any hope right now are Trump’s base, but it’s a false hope because they too will be hurt by his policies — if not now, then eventually.

I know we can’t have Obama back, but I look back fondly and yes, wistfully on the eight years he served as our leader, and the hope he represented for millions of people.  I only wish I had appreciated him more during those years, never realizing what horror was going to follow.

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So, happy birthday, President Obama.  I hope you have a wonderful day.

I am sorry you were so vilified during the time you served in the White House and still continue to be, by your successor and his cult of hate.

You will always President to me, and to millions of other Americans who still stand for democracy and what’s right and good.

God bless and godspeed in all your endeavors.   You were and continue to be an inspiration to me to be a better person and a better American.

Hoping this changes.

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I’m hoping and praying it’s only this year I feel this way.

I still believe in what America stood for (and still stands for for most people).   But today, I have to admit, I’m ashamed to be an American.   Not because I don’t love my country, but ironically, because I do.  I know we’re better than this.   I hope we can find our way out of the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.

“Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night”

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Dylan Thomas (1914 – 1953) wrote one of the most powerful and moving poems of all time, and this one has always been my favorite.

It’s been said to be about old age, but in these dark times, it has another meaning to me.

I never considered myself a patriot before, but now that my country seems to be broken beyond repair, I’m realizing I do in fact have a deep patriotic streak and am willing to fight for its survival.  This poem brings out that part of me and has the power to move me to tears.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

From The Poems of Dylan Thomas, published by New Directions. Copyright © 1952, 1953 Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1937, 1945, 1955, 1962, 1966, 1967 the Trustees for the Copyrights of Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1938, 1939, 1943, 1946, 1971 New Directions Publishing Corp. Used with permission.

Now is the time to take a stand.

The lyrics to this classic rock song by The Byrds are the words of Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8  set to music.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

*****

This was intended as an anti-war song during the Vietnam years, but now is not the time for Americans to expect peace.       The sixties seem like a vastly happier and simpler time during these dark days.    So do the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Hell, even the first decade of the 2000s seem like a simpler time in comparison to now.

I have no idea what is going to happen, or if we can come out of this in one piece as a nation, but hiding our heads in the sand not the answer.  We have been apathetic and complacent for way too long and it’s come to this.  Our freedom and the Constitution itself is at stake, not to mention the safety of civilization and the planet.   We must take a stand because hiding from it isn’t going to make it go away.   Putting an end to the reign of this control freak demagogue and his minions is our patriotic duty.    Nine days in and he’s done untold damage already.   The protests taking place in all the large airports and the court ruling that the Muslim detainees be freed give me hope.   Maybe there are still a few checks and balances to keep this monster at bay.

I think a mental health evaluation (with results made publicly available) should be a requirement for all incoming presidents.    I cannot believe the things that come out of his mouth.  The man is clearly a malignant narcissist who cares only about his ego and nothing more.