Archive for the ‘Donald Trump’ Tag

Exiting Quagmires   2 comments

THERE IS NO GOOD OR ELEGANT WAY TO DO IT.

I hold myself to high standards.  For example, I strive to avoid engaging in rhetorical sniping.  I also seek to avoid falling into a double standard.  When, for example, someone with whom I usually agree fouls up, I admit it.  If someone with whom I rarely agree fouls up, I admit that, too.  I do not feel obligated to commit every thought I have to a weblog, but I am intellectually honest.  I try to be fair.

I also strive to honor the slogan of the great Pierre Elliott Trudeau:

Reason before passion.

Anyone who knows much about the late Canadian Prime Minister understands that he had plenty of reason in politics and passion in his private life.  That is another topic, though.

I pray for more reason and less passion in politics.  The world would be better off if people were more rational.

Speaking of reason:

I do not believe for a New York minute that, if Donald Trump had presided over the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the result would have been much different.  The timing would have been slightly earlier, but the terrible news unfolding would have been about the same.  I would not have excoriated him for it either.

I try to be consistent in my approach.

As I have written at this weblog, I reject all political cults of personality and no mere mortal is beyond reproach.  Sniping and emoting aside, President Biden deserves criticism for the mechanics of the U.S. withdrawal.  Yet he also deserves much credit for telling the blunt truth:  the United States military does not exist to engage in nation-building.

I have a long-standing opinion regarding attempts to “fix” foreign nations:  it is a foolish endeavor.  I came to this opinion in the middle 1990s, when I was an undergraduate at Valdosta State University, Valdosta, Georgia.  President Clinton had recently reinstalled the exiled Haitian President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.  I became interested in the U.S. occupation of Haiti (1915-1934), its causes, and its aftermath.  So, I researched and wrote a paper for a course.  I noted that Haiti was stable while the U.S. military occupied the country, and that Haiti fell apart after the U.S. withdrawal.

Regardless of the country and the timeframe, a simple principle holds:  The people of a country are ultimately responsible for that country.  Foreigners can help that country, but they can never fix it.

I draw an applicable lesson from another failed bipartisan U.S. experiment, South Vietnam:  A corrupt government that does not command popular loyalty may have a large, well-armed army, but that army is no match for a force that commands popular loyalty.  Of the two choices, the corrupt government may be less odious to Westerners.  That corrupt government may be less odious, objectively.  But that corrupt government will ultimately fall to its terrible opponents.

I, being trained in historical methodology, ponder current events in Afghanistan through the lens of centuries of events.  Afghanistan has earned its nickname, the “graveyard of empires.”  The historical short term of U.S. foreign policy toward Afghanistan reaches back more than forty years.  I realize that this is not how most Americans think about the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan.  I recall Gore Vidal‘s wonderful term,

United States of Amnesia.

Somebody needs to have a historical memory, though.

President Biden finally pulled the bandage off, so to speak.  Somebody had to do it.  One of his three immediate predecessors should have done it.  One may legitimately–without sniping or engaging in partisan hackery–criticize how he did it.  But somebody had to pull the bandage off.  Somebody had to exit the quagmire.  This was a thankless and unpleasant task.

Sometimes the choices are all thankless and unpleasant.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 18, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Face Masks   Leave a comment

MUTUALITY, PUBLIC SAFETY, TUCKER CARLSON, AND THE FOX NOISE CHANNEL

As circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic have changed, so has official guidance.  For example, now that vaccines for people aged 16 years or older have become more widely available in the United States of America, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new guidelines regarding the wearing of face masks in public.  This pandemic has presented many challenges.  Public health professionals, whose sole agenda is to save lives, have had to study a proverbial moving target.  Hence, official guidelines have changed over time.

The target continues to move.  Therefore, data remains incomplete.  We need to remember that as we focus on what we can know in real time.  We can know much.  Whether the situation improves or worsens and how quickly it does that depends greatly on how we behave as individuals, societies, institutions, and governments.  May we not squander blessed progress.

Tucker Carlson, of the FOX Noise Channel, has encouraged people who think as he does to confront those still wearing face masks outdoors.  I have learned to expect especially potent and rich organic fertilizer from the FOX Noise Channel and from Carlson, in particular.  They have long presented themselves as champions of freedom, of a sort–freedom from, not freedom to.  During the last four or so years, in particular, the FOX Noise Channel has actually embraced a Nativistic, White nationalistic, and fascistic agenda as part of Donald Trump’s fascistic death cult of personality.  Even certain prominent Republicans (principled conservatives, I call them), former office holders, have noticed this with great alarm.

Fascism is not freedom.  No, it is a form of tyranny.

I am fully vaccinated.  Therefore, according to the most recent official guidance, I may safely and responsibly forgo wearing face masks outdoors under certain circumstances.  Sometimes I do forgo wearing face masks outdoors.  If, for example, nobody else is around, I do not wear face masks outdoors.  Yet I still wear two face masks outdoors sometimes.  For example, I wear them when walking on sidewalks.  I try to maintain a social distance from other people, but that is not always possible.  Besides, assuming that someone is at least 16 years old, I cannot look at him or her and tell if he or she is unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or fully vaccinated.  By wearing two face masks, I am not endangering anyone, corrupting anyone’s morals, or behaving indecently.  Therefore, nobody has the moral right to confront me for wearing two face masks outdoors.

I leave Carlson and company at the FOX Noise Channel to their fascistic death cult of personality.  If they want to compete for the Darwin Awards, that is their choice.  It is a bad one, but it is still their option.  I have the moral right to object when thew spew organic fertilizer that needlessly endangers human lives.

Perhaps I really do not have to wear two face masks when walking on sidewalks..  If I err, I hope to do so on the side of caution and mutuality.  This is part of my applied interpretation of the Golden Rule.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 29, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Sidney Powell, Organic Fertilizer, and Voter Suppression   Leave a comment

I do not pretend to know the difference between what organic fertilizer Donald Trump accepts and what organic fertilizer he merely spouts.  It is, however, all organic fertilizer, to use a G-rated term.  In the time of “alternative facts,” many members of the Republican Party (now the Donald Trump Death Cult of Personality) both accept and spew his organic fertilizer.  Some of the richest fertilizer concerns alleged and repeatedly debunked claims of election fraud in 2020.

Attorney Sidney Powell is a skilled practitioner of spewing such organic fertilizer.  One may remember her for infamously saying that Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela who died in 2013, was plotting in 2020 to compromise the U.S. presidential election.  Yes, Sidney Powell really needs to learn to the meaning of “fact check.”  Dominion Voting Systems knows all about her repeated and false claims about their voting machines.  They are, in fact suing her for defamation and at least $1.3 billion.  Powell’s defense, via her attorney, is that she was spewing organic fertilizer, and that any reasonable person would have known this.

The State of Georgia (my state) has made news (in a bad way) again.  (We keep doing this.)  The General Assembly has passed and Governor Brian Kemp has signed into law an election reform bill that suppresses voting and sits on the foundation of discredited claims of a previously compromised voting system.  According to the standards of Sidney Powell’s attorney, Governor Kemp and those who voted for this law are unreasonable people.

Objective reality is what it is.  Likewise, organic fertilizer is organic fertilizer.  I favor policy-making based on objective reality, not organic fertilizer.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 31, 2021 COMMON ERA

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“Neanderthal Thinking” and “Reptilian Bastards”   Leave a comment

I vaguely recall a news story from decades ago.  Certain legislative Republicans were cutting the budget for Public Defenders.  One critic–an attorney–described these legislators as “reptilian bastards.”  He received criticism from offended Republicans.  I thought that the attorney had severely insulted reptiles of dubious parentage by comparing them to people who wanted to gut the budget for Public Defenders.

This week, the Governors of Texas and Mississippi announced that they were about to lift their states’ mask mandate.  President Biden described these decisions as “Neanderthal thinking.”  In so doing, he offended many Republicans and, no doubt, Creationists.  The objective reality of human evolution aside, “Neanderthal thinking” may have insulted Neanderthals by comparing them to the Governors of Texas and Mississippi.  

The President’s criticism is legitimate, though.  Human lives are at stake.  These governors have blood on their hands.  They will have more blood on their hands.  On this side of Heaven, may voters render their damning verdicts on them.  I would call these governors “reptilian bastards,” except for the risk of insulting lizards.

Regarding language, if this is about as intemperate as off-the-cuff presidential remarks get during the Biden years, I can live with that.  “Neanderthal thinking” is a far cry from inciting violence, stoking racism, and encouraging conspiracy theories.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Donald Trump, Criminal Liability, and Invertebrate Republican Senators   Leave a comment

Above:  An Illustration of the Human Spinal Column

Image in the Public Domain

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CHARACTER IS DESTINY.

Wikipedia is a notoriously unreliable source of information.  It is especially vulnerable to creative editing for politically partisan purposes, for example.  And I recall catching Wikipedia being objectively inaccurate.  Ironically, especially regarding Babylon 5 and saints, Wikipedia cites me now.  Oh well.  

Anyhow, a few years ago, someone went on Wikipedia and classified then-Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Paul Ryan as an invertebrate.  That was funny and metaphorically accurate.  

Many Republican United States Senators are either political cultists or political invertebrates.  This is why the verdict in Donald Trump’s second–count it–SECOND–Senate trial is a fait accompli, unfortunately.  Somebody should edit the Wikipedia articles of the 44 Senators who voted that the second Senate trial is unconstitutional and classify them as invertebrates.  If doing what Trump did on January 6, 2021, does not call for conviction in a trial in the Senate, nothing does.  Certain Republican Senators need to grow spines and/or cease to drink the Kool-Aid.  

Aside:  I know, Jim Jones was too cheap to purchase Kool-Aid.  He actually bought Flavor Aid.  Yet the idiom is “to drink the Kool-Aid.”

Trump has caused his own political undoing.  He has also placed himself in legal jeopardy in multiple jurisdictions.  In my state, Georgia, for example, the Office of the Secretary of State and the District Attorney of Fulton County are conducting criminal investigations of Trump.  One may also think of the federal Southern District of New York and the Attorney General of New York, who have Trump in their crosshairs.  Furthermore, given how many governors and other state officials in various states Trump called in his attempts to subvert democracy and steal an election he lost, he may have violated election laws in more than one state.  

It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy, huh?

Meanwhile, I think about the stories I do not hear about President Joseph Biden.  Biden does not issue incendiary tweets.  He does not retweet conspiracy theories.  Biden apparently keeps a fairly rigorous schedule, unlike the lackadaisical Trump.  Trump has set the bar so low that I find myself praising a President of the United States for not retweeting conspiracy theories.  

I have vague memories of Jimmy Carter as President.  I have clear memories of Carter’s six immediate successors as Presidents–Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump–and now, for not quite a month, Joseph Biden..  I disapprove of and disagree profoundly with most of those six immediate successors.  I consider all of them, except to Trump, to be patriots, though.  I think of five of those six immediate successors–Trump excluded–as sober-minded men who took the office of the Presidency seriously and knew that it was about the country, not them. 

That said, Clinton should have resigned.  I voted for the man twice, but I write here that he should have resigned.  Doing so may have spared this country the George W. Bush Administration, with its warmongering.  The tragedy (in the Greek sense of tragedy) of Bill Clinton is that he wasted his potential and squandered the opportunity for greatness by being undisciplined.  But he never threatened to undermine the republic and to steal a presidential election, at least.  Clinton, despite his faults, many of them personal, never sent an armed mob to invade the United States Capitol and to endanger the lives of the Capitol Police, members of the United States Congress, staffers, and children.  

As I have written at this weblog, I eschew political cults of personality.  I stand for principles, not particular individuals, at all costs.  For the record, I stand to the left of Clinton, Obama, and Biden.  I am not a political absolutist, though.  

Finis origine pendet.

(The end depends upon the beginning.)

That is a Latin expression applicable to Trump’s current predicament.  Here is another germane expression:

Character is destiny.

–Heraclitis

Donald Trump is the sole author of his political and legal fate.  No amount of blame-shifting and conspiracy-mongering can alter that fact.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 10, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Anti-Democratic Politics   1 comment

What do the the military of Myanmar and the dominant wing of the Republican Party have in common?  Both consider elections they lose fraudulent, without evidence.  The military of Myanmar has staged another coup.  The wounds from the Donald Trump-instigated insurrection last January 6 have not healed in the United States of America.  And, in various states, including Georgia, certain Republican legislators, many of them citing discredited conspiracy theories, have launched renewed efforts to make voting more difficult.  When more people voted, Democrats fared better in the election results.  This has scared many Republicans, a host of whom favor rigging the system in their favor.

In a republic, the right to vote should be about as close to sacred as anything in the secular realm.  When more people vote, that is a positive result.  If a particular political party fares worse in the election results when more people vote, that party ought to work on getting more people to vote for it.  That party ought not to make voting more difficult, or to seek to make voting more difficult.  And that party should remain grounded in reality, not embrace discredited conspiracy theories.

I live in Georgia.  

Last year, I did all my voting via absentee ballots, for obvious reasons.  I registered for each ballot online.  My driver’s license number verified my identity.  The voting process was secure.  And, as Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger confirmed, the process was honest.  He pushed back against Trump’s baseless conspiracy theories regarding the elections.  At this weblog, I praised Raffesnsperger for doing so.

That was then.  

As I write these words, there is a Republican effort in the Georgia General Assembly to make voting via absentee ballots more difficult.  Raffensperger supports this effort.

I condemn him for doing so.

In the United States of America, all political parties should be democratic parties.  They should affirm the democratic process.  Sadly, anti-democratic political tactics of today are continuations of a morally unjustifiable tradition.  I think of the Federalist Party, realizing that male immigrants, once they naturalized then registered to vote, overwhelmingly voted Jeffersonian Republican, extending the length of the naturalization process to 14 years via the Naturalization Act (1798).  Being a son of the South, I think also of the Democratic Party in the former Confederacy, starting shortly after the Civil War and extending for the next century or so.  I refer to poll taxes, literacy tests, grandfather clauses, White primaries, and outright intimidation, mainly.  I understand that the main purpose of these anti-democratic measures was to maintain White supremacy.  

Georgia did something remarkable last January 6.  We sent an African American and a Jew to the United States Senate.  That was astounding, given the long record of racism and anti-Semitism in this state.  We sent an African American and a Jew to the United States Senate because (1) the Democratic Party turned out its voters, and (2) Donald Trump and company depressed the Republican vote with baseless conspiracy theories.

I am a Democrat.  Far be it from me to break up the Republican Party’s circular firing squad.  Yet I, as an American and a patriot, want the other party in a two-party system to be sane and grounded in objective reality.  I want this because that party will win elections some of the time.  In the democratic system, any given political party wins some and loses some.  So be it.  And I want both parties in a two-party system to strengthen and maintain the electoral system and to make voting easier.  

It should be the American way.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 1, 2021 COMMON ERA

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The Worst and Most Dangerous President of the United States of America   Leave a comment

Above:  The Seal of the President

Image in the Public Domain

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Donald Trump was the worst and the most dangerous President of the United States of America.

Before I elaborate on that statement, I offer some preliminary thoughts.  My training is in historical methodology.  My operational bias is, in almost all circumstances, to let time pass before I make historical conclusions.  The main difference between journalism and history is temporal perspective.  History is the interpretation of the past, based on documentary evidence.  (Writing is the difference between prehistory and history.)  I suspect that the United States is in the process of political realignment and the creation of the Eighth Party System.  I cannot assert that argument yet, for I need to let a sufficient amount of time pass first.  I need to see the results of a few elections, spread out over at least a decade.  I need to see if the Republican Party will split and what it will become, too.

I have long been a student of the American Presidency.  I can recite the Presidents in order, with dates and party affiliations.  I have also taught myself the names and sequence of Vice Presidents.  

I rank a few Presidents (mostly from the 1800s) at the bottom of the barrel.  These are, in chronological order:

  1. John Tyler (1841-1845),
  2. Millard Fillmore (1850-1853),
  3. Franklin Pierce (1853-1857),
  4. James Buchanan (1857-1861),
  5. Andrew Johnson (1865-1869), and
  6. Warren G. Harding (1921-1923).

Harding had enough self-awareness to admit in private, in the White House, that he was not fit for the Presidency.  He had more self-awareness than Donald Trump.

Richard Nixon (1969-1974) had many great accomplishments on his record.  Yet he engaged in criminal activities, had a dirty tricks squad, and prompted a constitutional crisis.  His attitude that whatever the President did was legal was antithetical to republican government, but not to Republican government.  (The same theory was prominent in the George W. Bush Administration.)  Nevertheless, Nixon had enough self-awareness to resign on August 9, 1974.

Despite my preference for letting time pass before arriving at certain historical conclusions, I have enough evidence to state confidently that Donald Trump was the worst and most dangerous President of the United States of America.

Donald Trump committed many varieties of official perfidy.  He sought to destroy democratic institutions.  He stirred up white supremacist violence.  He violated federal election tampering laws.  He violated election tampering laws in Georgia, my state.  He gutted essential expertise in the federal government.  He spread lies and debunked conspiracy theories daily.  He bungled the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, costing many thousands of lives.  He cozied up to dictators and alienated democratic allies.  He ignored Russian bounties on the lives of U.S. servicemen in combat overseas.  Oh, and Trump launched an insurrection against the federal government on January 6, 2021.  If that is not an offense worthy of impeachment in the House of Representatives and conviction in the Senate, I do not know what is.

Even though the new Biden Administration has been exhibiting competence, as well as respect for democratic norms, we, as a nation-state, are not out of the woods yet.  Trump is properly vulnerable to criminal prosecution in multiple jurisdictions.  Nobody should be above the law, after all.  Trump is beginning to face his reckoning.  Yet Trump cultists continue to endanger the republic.  Trump is mortal, but his movement will outlive him.

President Biden wants to be an agent of national reconciliation.  I hope he can be.  The desire to be an empathetic reconciler is a necessary and laudable first step.  Biden has the grief and the empathy to function as an agent of national reconciliation during a time of national trauma.  He has buried a wife and two children.  And Biden is a decent man.  We, as a nation-state, need a Reconciler-in-Chief.  But Biden can be only as effective in this role as other people permit him to be.  And many people are not ready for reconciliation.

President Biden has a very difficult job; he has to be the shovel brigade for the ultimate elephant.  I pray for him and do not envy him.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 23, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Donald Trump’s Dangerous and Criminal Behavior Should Not Surprise Anyone.   Leave a comment

IT IS OLD NEWS.

Donald Trump has taught me a lesson:  He can always go lower.  He can always be more despicable and dangerous to the republic.  The son of a bitch, who sent the domestic terrorists to invade the United States Capitol Building and staged an insurrection, enjoyed watching footage of the ransacking of that structure.  That bastard tried to call United States Senators, holed up in a secure location during the invasion of the Capitol Building, to try to ask them to overturn the election results.  Even then, Trump cared about himself, not the country.

Trump caring about himself, not the country, is old news.  Trump spreading dangerous and discredited conspiracy theories is old news.  Trump inciting violence is old news.  Trump feeding off hatred is old news.  Trump being a bully is old news.  Trump having dictatorial tendencies is old news.  It was old news in 2016.  

But don’t blame me.  I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.  I tried to prevent this.

Despite old news, recent news, and current events, many Republicans, including a host of members of the United States Congress, remains loyal to Trump.  The Republican Party, in its current state, is a death cult of personality.  Those principled conservatives, the Never Trumpers, were always on the margins of the party.  

The United States of America has long had a two-party system.  The labels and substance of the parties have changed over time, but the number of major parties has usually been two.  This country has done well when both major parties have been sane, rational, and grounded in objective reality.  Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said that all people are entitled to their own opinions yet not their own facts.  The Trump Administration has fed off what Kellyanne Conway called, in Orwellian terms, “alternative facts.”  

Objective reality is what it is.  Disagreeing with it is not a political virtue.  Political parties may legitimately differ regarding what the facts mean, but not about what the facts are. 

Here is a fact terribly inconvenient for Donald Trump.  Even if he pardons himself or Mike Pence pardons him, that pardon will not shield Trump from prosecution (for other crimes) in the State of New York.  Trump uses the rhetoric of law and order yet seeks shelter from the law while he violates law.  I do not buy what he is selling.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 9, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Enablers of Trumpism   2 comments

Or, If the White Bed Sheets Fit, ….

I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.

–James Baldwin

Just as Joseph McCarthy latched onto what became known as McCarthyism and became its leader, Donald Trump latched onto what became known as Trumpism and became its leader.

Both -isms, their followers, and their leaders have much in common, not the least of which are:

  1. disregard for objective reality,
  2. demagoguery, and
  3. contempt for American democratic institutions.

Trump is a menace to the American republic.  So are all those who have enabled him and continue to do so.  They make his menace possible.  To liken them to people protesting police brutality, especially against people of color, is to make a false equivalency.    To make that false equivalency is to ignore the menace enablers of Trump and Trumpism continue to pose to the republic and to turn a blind eye to their character.  And to liken domestic terrorists who invaded the United States Capitol Building to people protesting police violence against people of color is morally offensive.

I have no interest in trying to understand the grievances of enablers of Trump and Trumpism.  I have no desire to listen to their complaints and to attempt to reason with them.  I leave that exercise in attempting to reason with the unreasonable to those who seek to follow in the footsteps of James Baldwin.

If the white bed sheets fit, enablers of Trumpism should wear them.

How is that for being direct?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 8, 2021 COMMON ERA

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25   Leave a comment

Yesterday, a mob Donald Trump encouraged invaded the United States Capitol Building.  They attacked police officers, assaulted representative government, vandalized that building, and behaved in ways that give aid and comfort to enemies of representative government around the world.  Trump said of these vandals that he loves them.

I call for the immediate application of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.  Trump has always been dangerous, but he has become increasingly perilous since November.  He is too dangerous to remain the Commander-in-Chief and to have the nuclear codes for two more weeks.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 7, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Posted January 7, 2021 by neatnik2009 in Political Statements 2021

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