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Goodbye Democracy!

by Ed Raymond | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Gadfly | October 17th, 2018

Raymond-Gadfly-cartoon courtesy of Daily Trump Cartoon

How today’s “christians” hammered the nails into the hands and feet of christ

Historian Christopher Browning, who has spent a lifetime studying the Holocaust, Nazi Germany, and the World War II era of Europe, has expressed concerns about fascist leanings appearing in Europe and the White House. Over the years it is axiomatic that great civilizations support literature, art, and music. Even Adolf Hitler who approved the Holocaust had two favorite musicians, Ludwig van Beethoven and Richard Wagner. It was reported that Hitler kept copies of Wagner’s music in his World War I knapsack. Later at Nazi rallies Wagner’s stirring martial music was played. “The Ride of the Valkyrie” was a favorite. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was another. Hitler had a policy that any non-Jewish German who demonstrated a “genius” for music was guaranteed a job.

Every president has had cultural events at the White House---except Donald Trump. He has had three guests that would be classified as artists or celebrities. One was gun nut guitar player--Ted Nugent of Texas--who said Barack Obama should be assassinated. Another was Kid Rock, the rocker with the permanent hat, and the other was Russian expert and legendary wordsmith Sarah Palin. None performed. The five-time Vietnam draft dodger’s only music at the White House is played by the Marine Corps band, known as the “The President’s Own” since Tricky Dick’s time. Imagine that. It’s enough to make an old Marine puke. He has attacked the musical “Hamilton” and savaged actress Meryl Streep, who has been nominated for more Oscars than any other actress. He doesn’t read books but evidently watches Fox News several hours a day. The Carters had ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov and Patricia McBride. The Reagans had concerts every few weeks. The Obamas had numerous poetry readings, concerts, and Broadway reviews. The Clintons loved B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, Linda Ronstadt, and anyone who blew a sweet sax. George and Laura Bush entertained the Kennedy Center honorees and had other artists and musicians perform at the White House. Trump was afraid to go to the Kennedy Center awards!

The grabber as Orwell’s Big Brother

Donald Trump doesn’t give a damn about anyone except himself. He has no personal friends but can be bought easily. He uses everyone—except Putin and Kim Jung-un, his latest loves. In 1949 George Orwell published “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” a novel about a totalitarian state called Oceania led by a powerful political party named Ingsoc. It keeps every citizen under surveillance with telescreens. The posters and pictures of Big Brother are everywhere with the caption “Big Brother Is Watching You.” (If you think this is unusual, think again. When I was in the Dominican Republic in 1956, not only had Dictator Rafael Trujillo renamed the capital Santo Domingo to Ciudad Trujillo, every public facility, business place, and private residence had to have his picture displayed. One of his daughters was named Mardi Gras Queen while I was there! When I asked a waiter why Trujillo’s picture was on the wall he damn near fainted.)

Orwell wrote about Doublethink in Oceania, which describes how people can hold two contradictory thoughts at one time. Think of “fake news” and the 5,000 lies generated by Trump. He wrote about Newspeak, which is eerily like Fox News, Trump’s favorite political TV channel. He describes the Thought Police, which reminds me of Rush Limbaugh and his cohort of “Dittoheads.” He writes about the Ministry of Love, a government organization which deals in pain, despair, and dissent. This reminds me of Trump’s cabinet of billionaires trying to close down government departments that protect the rights of citizens. Oceania has a Ministry of Truth which constantly revises history to fit the totalitarian state. Today we have a tweeting president, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media to cover the “news” and distort democracy. Dozens of diligent censors help to create “fake news.” Orwell writes about the Ministry of Peace, the Oceania defense department that wages war around the world. At last count we actually have over 700 military bases scattered around the world. Every citizen should read how Orwell’s book predicts everything that is happening today. Trump is Big Brother. In Orwell’s novel we don’t know whether Big Brother is a real person or the creation of propagandists. Big Brother appears to be a handsome man in his mid-forties on Oceania posters and TV. Trump is a reality Big Brother—and his “handsome” face dominates every news cycle.

What kind of man falls In love with two murderous dictators?

Big Brother Trump recently declared he has fallen in love with Kim Jong-un, a dictator who has murdered a brother and an uncle to stay in power, because of “beautiful letters.” Big Brother Trump doesn’t hide his admiration for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin who poisons and shoots dissidents and TV and newspaper reporters.

Trump said during the campaign “I’m rich,” saying he was worth more than $10 billion. Forbes currently puts his worth at $3.1 billion. That’s still “rich” but……..He says he is the best president we have ever had and that everything he has done has been great. In a graduation speech at the Air Force Academy he said, because of his greatness, he was the most victimized president in history. Every day he feeds the public toxic verbal diarrhea. He even bragged he had the largest “Nuclear Button” in the world to push. By exclaiming “my button works!” that’s insanity without a chart.

Many psychologists and psychiatrists have said he is mentally unwell after observing his public behavior. They base their conclusions on the description of six disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that apply to Trump.

** Psychopathy: antisocial behavior, lacks sense of moral responsibility, empathy, and social conscience. Psychopaths cannot apologize and do not exhibit remorse.

** Narcissism: an overpowering need for admiration, an inflated sense of their own importance in the world, requires constant sexual gratification and applause from large crowds.

** Paranoia: distrusts and suspects people around him, often including family members.

** Megalomania: obsession with greatness, power, and wealth, huge ego, and delusions of grandeur.

** Xenophobia: shows contempt and fear for foreigners and different cultures.

** Demagoguery: leader who seeks support by appealing to racial prejudices, religions, and popular desires.

Please pick out a couple of characteristics from the list that Big Brother Trump does not possess. Have you ever seen Big Brother Trump really laugh? Two linguists have published “Studies of Laughter in Interaction” condensed from 12 studies by other scholars of the subject. They define laughter this way: “Laughter is pervasive in human life, across cultures….It has physical, psychological, spiritual, and relational benefits. It is the cost-free medicine that can release endorphins helping us feel good, exercise our muscles and breathing like yoga, help us lighten moods and cope with problems more readily, and strengthen social bonds.” I cannot recall, with thousands of hours of TV exposure, ever seeing Trump share a laugh with someone. He often laughs at someone.

A comparison of two recent presidents

Jimmy Carter, our 39th president, is now 94 and has been an ex-president for 37 years. He and Rosalynn Carter, now 91, have been married for 72 years. The Washington Post recently published “The Un-celebrity President” about the life and times of the Carters who returned to Plains, Georgia to live in the town of 700 where they both grew up. Over 40% of the residents are considered poor. They live in the same house they lived in before he entered politics, a two-bedroom ranch style currently assessed at $167,000. That’s much less than a couple of Secret Service armored vehicles parked outside. The Carters are not covered by federal health insurance because he only worked for the feds for four years instead of the required five. Their health insurance is covered by Emory University in Atlanta because he has taught there for 36 years. When the Carters fly it is in tourist class. (Remember: he carried his own bags when boarding Air Force One.) Carter has never served on any corporate boards or given speeches for thousands of dollars because, he says, he didn’t want to “capitalize financially on being in the White House.” He says: “I’m a great admirer of Harry Truman. He’s my favorite president, and I really try to emulate him.”

Carter decided early that he would make his income from writing. He has written 33 books about his own life and career, religion, Middle East peace, women’s rights, aging, fishing, woodworking, and a children’s book with his daughter Amy. They buy bargain-brand chardonnay.

In November, he at 94 and Rosalynn at 91 will spend time building a Habitat for Humanity house in Indiana, wearing their own hammer and tool belts. They have helped build 4,300 homes for Habitat for Humanity in 14 countries. They developed the Carter Center in Atlanta that supports global health programs and fair elections worldwide. Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his efforts in keeping the peace and supporting human rights. Every other Sunday Carter teaches Sunday School at the Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains. He recently led his 800th lesson since leaving the White House. Tourists often line up the night before to attend his lessons. In his last lesson he had representatives from 20 states, Canada, Kenya, China, and Denmark.

The Carters will be buried on the property they deeded to the National Park Service, on the shores of a fishing pond he helped dig. He still fishes there. What do they think of Big Brother Trump? Carter: “I think he is a disaster in human rights and taking care of people and treating people equal. The Citizens United decision changed our political system from a democracy to an oligarchy. Money is now preeminent. I mean, it’s just gone to hell now.” Rosalynn: “The worst is he is not telling the truth, and that just hurts everything.”

Are we a country on the brink after the Kavanaugh affair?

Christopher Brown has declared that Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is the “gravedigger of American democracy.” He compares McConnell’s efforts to make Barack Obama a one-term president and his denial of the nomination of Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court to German President Paul von Hindenburg’s failure to defend democracy in the 1930’s. His inaction resulted in Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, Himmler, Eichmann, and the Bitch of Buchenwald. Hindenburg used “emergency powers” to appoint chancellors to skirt over political divisions in the German parliament.

And Kavanaugh was so injudicious in the Judiciary Committee’s hearing with his partisan rant about the Clintons and the Democrats, over 2,400 law professors and one retired Supreme Court justice opposed his confirmation because he was so political. The Democrats and Republicans in the Senate have managed to turn the Supreme Court into another political organization as ineffective as Congress itself. We now have been in the 1860 Civil War for 158 years—and are now left with no political leaders capable of resolving the economic and racial issues that started the war in the first place. We are on the brink of becoming Oceania instead of that shining city on a hill.

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