Dealing With the Devil

Alan Zendell, September 21, 2019

One of the most often repeated themes in human history began in the Book of Genesis and continues today. A Devil’s surrogate tempts a potential victim with something he or she craves with no apparent immediate pricet to pay. Deep down, the quarry knows something’s wrong with the transaction, but the wily serpent knows exactly how to hook his prey.

With Adam and Faust it was forbidden knowledge. They both learned their lessons so well that today the phrase Faustian bargain signifies being willing to sacrifice almost anything to satisfy some limitless desire. But there’s a subtext. Payment may seem to be deferred indefinitely, but the Devil always gets his due.

More and more it seems that whether intentionally or out of naïveté, many people who supported Donald Trump in 2016 were agreeing to just such bargain. Those who saw Trump as a salve for resentment and anger, who were eager to indulge their bigotry and hate, unleashed the awakening of the Alt-Right and the legitimizing of White Supremacy. In selling out to personal greed, those who saw him as an opportunity to reduce taxes helped explode the national debt that will be a crushing weight on our children. And in playing out their own wannabe fantasies, people who reveled in his ability to lie, cheat, and steal with impunity helped undermine everything we were taught to believe in.

In every Faustian fable, the mark eventually comes to see the reality of what he signed up for, albeit too late to do anything about it. But there’s still time to correct The Great Trump Mistake. Anyone who puts aside whatever visceral need made him susceptible to Trump’s pandering to our worst natures, to greed, the devaluing of truth, and basic decency and civility can see it clearly now.

Our laws are being undermined by a president who has no respect for anything but his own willfulness. The fabric of everything our nation stands for is under attack, not by legal means as set forth in our Constitution, but with the brutish intimidation and bullying typical of like Mafia dons. Trump savaged the Republicans who identified themselves as “anyone-but-Trumpers” during the 2015-16 primary fight because none of them was willing to sacrifice anything of value to unite to stop him before he could do serious harm. Today, they have either faded into obscurity or become his sycophants.

It’s up to us now. We can’t sit around as if we were watching a movie waiting for the good guys to win – have you noticed how many have dystopian themes these days? That’s our deeper, basic natures, our consciences and moral centers warning us that we’re treading on dangerous ground.

The reality that our electoral process was under attack and in jeopardy of being compromised should have blasted our senses like an air raid siren. But we allowed the Mueller investigation to be mired in political spin, and we can only watch in horror as our grid-locked Congress struggles to remind itself that their duty is to the future of the country and not their personal political benefit.

If the latest incidents of Trump’s lust for power and total disregard for law doesn’t convince us, we’ll doom our children to a horrifying future in which the only certainty is that America will never again be the country we grew up believing it was. The remnants of the Republican Party have a responsibility to fight the White House’s attempt to prevent a primary challenge to Trump next year, or they will be no different from Vladimir Putin’s Communists who silence all internal dissent. And while a stacked Supreme Court may make it impossible to legally hold Trump accountable for attempting to extort assistance from a foreign head of state to provide political advantage over his 2020 opponents, we can at least be grateful that the President of Ukraine wasn’t bullied into taking illegal actions at the behest of Donald Trump.

But gratitude that integrity still exists elsewhere in the world cannot deflect us from what is necessary. Trump will be neither impeached nor indicted for his crimes while he is president. The only way to end this tragic chapter in our history is to assure that his term ends in January of 2021. There is no higher priority for America.

We’ve been taught since elementary school that freedom isn’t free. It’s time to restate John F. Kennedy’s inaugural challenge – “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” We can’t expect our country to do anything good for us unless we step up and do what’s necessary to end the Trump era.

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Locked and Loaded

Alan Zendell, September 16, 2019

A couple of weeks ago I was with an old friend who is currently well-placed in Defense Department circles. He’s a scientist, not  prone to hyperbole, wild speculation, or making assertions without sound bases. So when he told me that there is a lot of concern within the Pentagon about President Trump’s erratic foreign policy and willfulness, I listened without skepticism.

Most alarming was the specific concern that as next year’s election approached, if he thought he was losing, Trump might spark a military crisis. The President is no student of history, but he understands that if we were engaged in a military conflict on Election Day, most of the country would likely rally around it. The fear that is most prevalent is that Trump would find a way to bait Iran into taking an action that would give him an excuse to respond militarily.

Some of that concern reflected the hawkish view of National Security Advisor John Bolton, who advised the President to bomb Iran’s nuclear and military facilities. When Bolton was fired, many people breathed a sigh of relief, but his legacy still lives, and it’s a frightening one. With the drone attack on the oil fields in Saudi Arabia, it’s rearing its ugly head again.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo directly accused Iran of carrying out the attack on Saudi Arabia, even though the Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for them. Almost simultaneously President Trump tweeted that our military was locked and loaded to respond to Iran. Today, Iran vehemently denied carrying out the attack, and Trump suggested that they’re lying and he would consult with Saudi royalty about who they think did it.

Trump accusing another world leader of lying? Who would ever imagine such a thing?

The White House, as we have seen countless times, attempted to spin Trump’s latest outburst as a diplomatic negotiating tactic. The same kind of tactic as threatening North Korea with annihilation? Trump thought it was a victory to get Kim Jung Un to the negotiating table, when all he accomplished was awarding Kim the status of meeting with an American president. We are no closer to resolving the North Korea problem than we were when Trump took office.

Regardless of Trump’s intention, or whether he has any skill at international negotiations, we should be concerned about whether he can be trusted to put what’s best for the country ahead of his personal needs. Trump may rattle sabers at Iran because he thinks it will help him get re-elected, but what would it accomplish except increasing the risk of a war we’re no more likely to win than the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate our interests in the Middle East. We have been embroiled there since the end of World War II for two reasons: our need for oil and the defense of Israel. Would a conflict with Iran advance either cause?

We are no longer dependent on Middle East oil. We produce enough to meet our needs and despite the administration’s refusal to acknowledge the effect of carbon emissions on the environment, we are rapidly reducing our dependence on oil and could survive quite well without importing any from that region. More importantly, it’s not clear how siding with Saudi Arabia against Iran improves our ability to defend Israel. Both countries consistently call for Israel’s destruction. We’re victims of the ancient proverb: “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” We used it to justify supporting Iraq in its war with Iran, and created Saddam Hussein. More recently, we’ve used it to support the Saudi war against Yemen, which was undoubtedly a major factor that contributed to today’s crisis.

The truth is that Saudi Arabia has never been our friend. Most of the nine-eleven attackers came from Saudi Arabia and were funded by that country’s oil wealth. It’s time to ask why we are adamant about defending Saudi Arabia against Iran in what is essentially a religious war between Sunni and Shia Muslims. It’s entirely possible that by taking a more neutral position in that conflict, we could convince Iran to come to the negotiating table for a real deal.

Whoever launched the drones against the Saudi oil fields, temporarily reducing the world’s oil supply by five percent is not a direct threat to American security, and curtailing the income of the Saudi royal family may actually be in our interest. Rising oil prices could threaten Trump’s chances of re-election, but that cannot be allowed to drag us into a war we’re unlikely to win.

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Microcosmic Trump Week

Alan Zendell, August 21, 2019

By any reasonable standard this would be an insane week, but it’s a perfect microcosm of the Trump administration. This was the week of Greenland, guns, and anti-Semitism. If it had occurred two years ago, we’d have raged at how incompetent and ignorant our president was, but in 2019, we know better. We know that not one word uttered by Donald Trump this week was anything but intentional

Greenland – Whether you believe that the idea of purchasing Greenland occurred to Trump on the spur of the moment, or that he’d been floating it for weeks, it’s impossible to view this debacle as anything but a deliberate diversion to distract attention from troubling economic forecasts and discouraging poll numbers that suggest Trump could lose badly in 2020. This week’s NBC/Wall Street Journal poll reported that people saying they’d vote for a Democrat outnumbered people who said they’d vote for Trump, by 52-40%.

The United States Air Force has had a base in Thule, Greenland since 1943. It’s location on the Arctic Circle is of strategic importance for detecting long range missile launches from Russia and intercepting communications between Russian naval vessels. But with the Thule base already under our control for seventy-six years, it’s not clear what owning the world’s largest and coldest island would accomplish.

Trump is said to consider Greenland just a big piece of real estate, but that’s part of the diversion – make Trump sound like a bumbling fool and no one will take him seriously. Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen took him very seriously and called Trump’s comments absurd. Trump then “postponed” his scheduled meeting with her, whereupon Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir announced that she would be skipping Vice President Pence’s visit to her country due to “prior commitments.”

Does Trump care about alienating three strategic allies? Students of history will recall that Denmark, Greenland, and Iceland, all of which might be overlooked as critical military partners today, played critical roles in the Allies’ defeat of Germany.

Guns – In the aftermath of the murderous acts of domestic terror In Dayton and El Paso, the president gave a tortured, televised speech to the nation. He said White Nationalism had to be obliterated and that universal background checks for all gun purchases were his priority. Of course, almost no one believed him; if you’re still not sure, keep reading.

Yesterday, the Washington Post, citing several sources close to the president, reported that Trump phoned National Rifle Association chief executive Wayne LaPierre to assure him that universal background checks were off the table. Following angry pushback from both Democrats and Republicans, Trump, as is his wont, did an about face today and claimed he never said it, as West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin announced that there were a number of bipartisan efforts to draft legislation to limit gun ownership by people with criminal records and serious mental health issues. Manchin made it clear that by remaining on the sidelines, rather than publicly giving cover to Republican Senators, Trump was effectively scuttling any real effort to pass anything.

Anti-Semitism – Trump has spent this week attacking “any Jewish person” who is considering voting Democratic in 2020. He claimed that any vote by a Jew for his Democratic opponent would be against the interest of Israel and disloyal to the country that Israel depends most on for defense. What? Cries of anti-semitism arose from many quarters, as in political speak, terms like “disloyal” are viewed as Jew-hating tropes. It’s notable that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose to remain silent.

Why would Trump risk offending American Jews, many of whom make sizable political contributions, and a large percentage of whom live in suburban areas critical to his re-election hopes? While 80% of American Jews traditionally register as Democrats, wouldn’t Trump be risking losing the other 20% along with any hope of changing the minds of those who voted Democratic in the past?

As with everything Trump does it’s all about weighing what’s good and bad for his self-interest. With his standing among independents shrinking, he can’t afford to lose a single vote from his base. We don’t have to dig very deep to see what he’s up to.

Jewish people make up about 1.3% of our population. Twenty percent of them account for barely a quarter of one percent. Compare that to the number of people in Trump’s base who stand up and cheer every time he fails to condemn White Nationalism and Nazi-like hate groups. No one knows exactly how many there are, but is there any doubt that Trump has more to gain by solidifying their support than he has to lose by offending the Jewish community?

I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us to celebrate Labor Day.

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I’d Even Accept Help From the Mooch

Alan Zendell, August 19, 2019

That’s how bad it’s gotten. Short of the Devil, I’d accept help from anyone. But the Mooch?

Today, Anthony Scaramuchi, who served as Donald Trump’s Communications Director for eleven days, two summers ago, announced that he’s forming a coalition to undermine Trump’s bid for re-election. He told CNN and The Hill that he’s creating a team of former Trump Cabinet Officers who feel “exactly the same way I do.” It almost sounds like the theme of a reality TV show − Survivor: Politics 2020.

On one hand, I’m excited by the possibility this raises. I’ve believed from the moment Trump exploded onto the political scene in 2015 that people like him must lose in the end. You can only make so many enemies for so long before it comes back to haunt you. Combine that with Trump’s narcissism and you have a perfect storm for mutiny. Trump has impugned the integrity and the intelligence of a lot of powerful people over the last four years.

Given that, his fatal flaw could be likening the presidency to the business world, where having the most money often carries the day. Whenever Trump stabbed a business associate in the back, trashed a subcontractor, defrauded customers, or destroyed a city (viz: Atlantic City, NJ) he and his expensive lawyers went to court. Sometimes he won, but often he lost and paid millions in compensation or fines. Once the legal action was settled, he walked away from it and didn’t look back. But that was business; it’s different in politics.

Among Trump’s delusions is that he’s the smartest person in every room, and that he can defeat anyone one-on-one just by being shameless and intimidating. His worst misconception is believing that when he vanquishes someone in the political arena they just slink off into bushes like wounded animals. He may be about to learn how wrong he is.

Trump loves to flit from victim to victim and then forget them. But powerful politicians hold grudges that have half-lives longer than most radioactive isotopes. People like Mitch McConnell, who Trump savaged repeatedly in 2017, have memories like elephants. Once Republicans start showing some backbone and speaking out, you can be sure he’ll join right in tearing at Trump’s political carcass. But…

There’s always a but, isn’t there. In this case it’s the Mooch himself. He and Trump are very similar in many ways. They’ve both made a lot of money in business. They both love being on television. They were both Democrats who supported Bill Clinton and then Hillary Clinton when she ran for the Senate.

After that, Scaramuchi and Trump had different political trajectories. Scaramuchi supported Barack Obama, but split with him over his attacks on Wall Street after the 2008 economic crisis. Scaramuchi became a Republican, but when Fox News convinced Trump to run for president on a platform built around nativism and a racist approach to immigration, the Mooch criticized him for it. Then, when Trump won, he joined the President’s transition team.

Why? Today, the Mooch told the Washington Post that “despite his warts … I thought he could be the reset button Washington needed to break through the partisan sclerosis. [But] the negatives of Trump’s demagoguery now clearly outweigh the positives of his leadership, and it is imperative that Americans unite to prevent him from serving another four years in office.”

One might argue that turning on the President after supporting him and serving, however briefly, in his administration is Trump-like behavior. Perhaps it is. After all, most of what we know about Anthony Scaramucci is the public persona he presents. I want to believe that there’s a real difference between them, however. It’s clear that everything Trump does is out of self-interest, but it’s hard to imagine how Scaramucci profits from this. I believe he’s sincere when he says he wants to be part of the solution to the Trump debacle.

He predicts that by mid-to-late Fall, he’ll have a consortium of former Cabinet members aligned to speak out about Trump’s instability and danger to the nation, though he declined to mention who they might be. Just imagine the impact former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Chief of Staff General John Kelly could have if they spoke out in unison against Trump’s re-election.

I’m thinking about that right now and there’s a big smile on my face.

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Long View – Why Trump Will Fail

Alan Zendell, August 16, 2019

Every day I hear people moan about how Trump is going to be re-elected. That defeatism is not only depressing, it’s dead wrong. While the Democrats proved in 2016 that they are uniquely capable of murdering a gift horse in its sleep, they got their act together in 2018, and rode the opportunity of disillusionment with Trump to a majority in the House of Representatives. Not only is Trump beatable in 2020, if they can avoid a circular firing squad within their own ranks, the Dems should score the sort of decisive landslide that history will record as a clear renunciation of fascist nativism and racism, and a re-affirmation of core American values.

What does Trump have going for him? As James Carville famously said, “It’s the economy, stupid!” In Trump’s world, the economy means taxes, market indexes, and jobs. Notably, it excludes deficits, the national debt burden we are leaving to our children, and sustainable wage growth. Even among Republicans, many who still hold to basic conservative principles abhor that. They’ve been cowed by Trump’s shameless style and take-no-prisoners approach to politics, but there are signs that they are re-awakening.

Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld was the first to challenge Trump’s right to lead the party he hijacked in 2016.  Then popular Republican Maryland governor Larry Hogan announced that he was considering a primary challenge, and this week, former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford said the same thing. We might even see the resurrection of Jeff Flake as the standard bearer of Barry Goldwater style conservatism.

But what is most likely to defeat Trump is his own limited world view. He’s not a long thinker. Everything he does is transactional, a series of knee-jerk actions and decisions that reflect on his basic nature and values. His continual attacks on perceived enemies and rivals, on virtually anyone who fails to convincingly take the knee, have caused most observers to compare him to an out-of-control child, from his five-year-old tantrums to his adolescent incapacity to feel compassion.

But it is another aspect of his inability to function like an adult that will ultimately defeat him: impatience. Trump’s style is to constantly pick fights, goad the opposition, and rely on chaos. That’s what a professional boxer does – keep the opponent constantly off guard, jab and poke at every perceived weakness, and create enough disorientation to strike a decisive blow. All of that can be very effective in the short term, but life, especially the life of a president isn’t a boxing match.

Trump cannot take the long view because it is the anathema of his strengths. Thus, his constant antagonism for allies, his willingness to be nice to anyone when he perceives it as momentarily advantageous, and his ongoing trade wars. None of these things is productive over the long term, and four years in office is sufficient for deep cracks to form in his power base. That’s why Trump is ultimately no match for adversaries like Vladimir Putin, Xi Jin Ping, and Kim Jong Un, or for politicians like Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. While Trump behaves like a hyper-active child, they all understand the long view.

Trump benefited from a stock market that bet on a business-friendly climate for two years. It rose on speculation, then plateaued waiting for his next move. But the erosion of relationships with our natural allies and his ongoing trade wars made his billionaire friends nervous which is reflected in worsening market volatility and in the dreaded inverted yield curve, both of which are established harbingers of an economy ready to crash.

(If you don’t understand the inverted yield curve thing, consider what every seven-year-old who opens a bank account knows. He can earn a paltry return in an account with no minimum time limit, or if he’s willing to let the bank keep his money for several years, he can earn much more. But what if confidence in the future is so bad that no one’s willing to guarantee a long-term return? The result is chaos, and not the kind Trump likes to create.)

Trump uses tariffs the way a professional fighter jabs. But his principle adversary, China, is known for taking the long view. Mandarin philosophy has always prioritized the thousand year view over quick outcomes. China’s leaders know they can outwait him, and they’re more than willing to suffer short-term pain for ultimate victory. As Trump’s base erodes and polls show him sliding, China has no incentive to sign a long-term trade agreement on Trump’s terms. They understand that the misguided trade war he started is what will defeat him as Americans feel the impact over the coming months.

We’ve had enough defeatism. This fight is winnable if we stay focused.

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

We’d Seen This Movie Before – Until Biden Changed It

Alan Zendell, August 8, 2019

On Monday, we heard our president mouth the empty platitudes and lies we expected from him. What does it say about a leader that he can’t utter comforting words or state truthful intentions without reading them from a teleprompter? And even then, he looked so uncomfortable I thought he was trying to pass a kidney stone.

I’m all for background checks, we can’t have crazy people running around with guns! We need to wipe out White Nationalism! That’s what Trump said, as the racists and neo-Nazis winked at each other, and as Wayne LaPierre looked up the White House’s phone number so he could remind Trump that the NRA and its related gun lobbies would foment a rebellion by his base if he didn’t get back on the right course.

The moment Trump began speaking in that tortured way he has of letting everyone know he’s being coerced and doesn’t mean a word of it, we instantly recognized that this was just another rerun. We hated Act 1 the first ten times we saw it, and this time was no different. Then came Act 2, the obligatory visits to the scenes of the latest terrorist massacres.

I wonder why he does them. He always blows them. His phony adulation of the first responders and heroes was hollow the first time he tried it, and this week was no exception. Maybe if he’d said something honest like: “I wish I possessed your courage and concern for every American,” we might believe him. If he cared about those heroes he would have shared the wealth with them when he signed the enrich-the-billionaires tax bill. If he cared about sounding credible to anyone but his rabid base, he might have resisted the temptation to act like he was the victim.

But that’s not part of either Trump’s psyche or his repertoire. His day isn’t complete if he hasn’t skewered someone in the media. He is always the aggrieved party no matter how much blood has been spilled by others, and how many people are truly mourning the loss of loved ones. Poor Donald. The Senator (Sherrod Brown) and Mayor (Nan Whaley) who accompanied him in Dayton weren’t effusive enough in their praise of his meager, insincere efforts at consoling the real victims, so in Act 3, the moment he saw a TV camera, Trump spent more time attacking and lying about them than talking about the real tragedy.

If you believe for one second that Trump will direct Mitch McConnell to reach some accord on guns with the Democrats, if you believe he’d risk taking on the NRA, and if you believe that he has any sympathy for the Hispanic Community in El Paso, there’s a 130-year-old bridge not far from Trump Tower that he’d love to sell you. (It’s really a cool bridge.)

Just when we needed it, Joe Biden added Act 4 to the drama. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jonathan Capehart said it best so I’ll just let him tell you about it: “Joe Biden reminded all of us of what a presidential president would sound like.”

Biden was campaigning in Iowa, but this was not a stump speech. There’s a distinctly different tone in his speeches, compared to those of other candidates. The other major contenders earnestly want to be president. But after everything he’s been through in his life, as one of the most admired politicians of this or any other generation, Biden doesn’t need it and probably wouldn’t be running if the incumbent were anyone but Donald Trump. Biden is running because he believes he can “save the soul of America.”

Corny as that sounds, I absolutely believe him. The speech he delivered in Iowa, yesterday, was made in his classic avuncular style, yet it brimmed with eloquent sincerity and passion. He drew straight lines from Trump’s own words, delivered repeatedly in interviews and at rallies, to the hateful manifestos posted by terrorists. He illuminated the clear cause-and-effect between Trump’s hate-filled rhetoric and the words and actions of the people who decided to kill to preserve the divine right of white Americans.

Here’s the thing. When we’re done arguing about Medicare For All, abortion, and immigration, there are two realities to keep in mind. One is that presidents don’t make policy or pass legislation, the Congress does. The more important one is that if Biden were to win in 2020 and carry the Senate majority on his coattails, all of those things would be ironed out in House and Senate committees along the lines of a progressive agenda that represented the will of the majority.

If your main concern is replacing a piggish president who has no moral center with someone we can look up to and admire, Joe Biden has let us know that he is what we need to help the country heal from Trump. He may be white, male, and old, but you can’t have everything. America needs Joe now even more than it needed Gerald Ford to heal the damage done by Richard Nixon.

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

American Carnage

Alan Zendell, August 4, 2019

What do Mississippi, California, Texas, and Ohio, the reddest state, the bluest state, and two red states that may be turning purple, have in common? Until this week most people would have said, “Not much.” Today they share deadly acts of hate-generated domestic terrorism. Forget technical legalistic definitions, there’s no other way to describe the murder of innocent people that occurred in those four states this week.

The El Paso perpetrator posted a manifesto on the hate-mongering online message board 8chan just before he climbed into his body armor and started shooting people in a crowded Walmart. He acknowledged his long-held fear and hate for Hispanics (El Paso is more than 80% Hispanic) but claimed it had nothing to do with Donald Trump.

The hell it doesn’t. The sociopath whose manifesto said he was expecting to be dead soon just before he began pulling the trigger in El Paso is precisely the sort of unbalanced individual who is most affected by Trump’s hate rhetoric. And the United States contains millions like him to varying degrees. In the minds of these crazies, Trump has made their hate and fear acceptable and reasonable, and he damn well knows it. He’s been told repeatedly by people qualified to know.

When our president utters his hollow sympathy for the victims, don’t believe a word of it. It’s just more of his lies and self-delusion. Because of his office and the pulpit it gives him, no reasonable person can deny that he is the chief enabler for every grudge-holding lunatic with access to weapons. How many more times do we have to live through this before it’s clear to everyone?

Law enforcement professionals will talk about swift justice for these domestic terrorists, but we’ve heard that before. Honestly, who cares? Most of them knew they were committing “suicide by cop.” How does executing the few that weren’t killed by police on the scene solve anything?

Before we restart the endless debate about gun control and the Second Amendment, let’s be clear. Trump loves those arguments because it lets him claim that Democrats want to repeal our right to own weapons, as he did for the millionth time in Cincinnati last week. Let’s also be clear that most gun owners are as sick and disgusted by the terrorist carnage as everyone else. Every gun owner I know is.

So what do we do? The El Paso shooter was the third mass murderer/terrorist to announce his intentions on 8chan, emulating similar psychopaths in New Zealand and at a California synagogue. After the El Paso shooting, one of the site’s founders said: “8chan is a Megaphone for Shooters. Shut the Site Down.” Sounds like a great idea to me. In the same way that the president’s hate-mongering enables these atrocities, sites like 8chan bolster and encourage the perpetrators, making them feel their cause is righteous.

Why wouldn’t law enforcement crack down on them? You’ll hear things like First Amendment rights and the need to monitor these crazies. But what good did monitoring the El Paso shooter’s ramblings do? And the courts have long established that incitements to violence and terror are not protected by the First Amendment. They’ve abdicated their right to have a public voice.

I’m no expert on criminally insane behavior or hate crimes. But Dayton, the scene of last night’s shooting in Ohio, is less than an hour’s drive from the site of Trump’s Cincinnati rally. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I’m not surprised than no one in the White House is eager to comment about these shootings and the possibility that the president bears some responsibility.

If you have trouble believing that living in a culture in which it’s acceptable for the president preach hate, bigotry, and xenophobia doesn’t affect the way our less stable citizens see the world, I give you North Korea, where generations of lies from their leaders have completely warped the minds of their people. There’s a sliding scale from persuasion to brainwashing, and Trump knows right where he fits on that spectrum.

I’ve said since the day he was elected that the most dangerous aspect of Trump’s presidency is the long-term effect of his constant hate-mongering and disregard for truth. For individuals who are already unstable and on the edge, believing that their president is encouraging them is all it takes to remove their last restraints.

As awful as these shootings are, the even more awful reality is having a president who can somehow turn a blind eye to the damage he does, and only we can change it. The election is only fifteen months away.

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment