As for me, I took some time off from my time off to write a few comments on a trio of New York Times op-eds. Here they are, with synopses on/snippets from the columns preceding my reactions to them:
1. Nicholas Kristof, who just the other day begged liberals to stop being so mean to Trump voters, now takes his message directly to Trump voters. He paternally warns them that Donald is not only not their savior, he is betraying them. Kristof makes the startling observation that the president frequently lies, exaggerates and bloviates. So I am sure that the millions and millions of Trump voters who devoured this column are slapping their foreheads, Homer Simpson-style. A massive "D'oh!" is echoing throughout the heartland -- or what the pundits disdainfully call Flyover Country.
Kristof tells people something they didn't already know:
I won't go into a full discussion here of why high-deductible, high-premium Obamacare, too, is merely "access" to health care. You can still go broke or bankrupt even with a shiny insurance card in your pocket. Moreover, even Barack Obama himself defined the Affordable Care Act as "access," frequently bloviating about the program and fudging the numbers freely. He just didn't do his bragging and his lying with a lowbrow Archie Bunker Queens accent.The biggest Trump bait-and-switch was visible Friday when he talked about giving Americans “access” to health care. That’s a scam his administration is moving toward, with millions of Americans likely to lose health insurance: Instead of promising insurance coverage, Trump now promises “access” — and if you can’t afford it, tough luck.This promise of “access” is an echo of Marie Antoinette. In Trump’s worldview, starving French peasants wouldn’t have needed bread because they had “access” to cake.Many of you voted for Trump because he campaigned as a populist. But instead of draining the swamp, he’s wallowing in it and monetizing the presidency. He retains his financial interests, refuses to release his taxes or explain what financial leverage Russia may have over him, and doubled the fee to join Mar-a-Lago to $200,000.
What also struck me so negatively about Kristof's smarmy advice column is his assumption that working class Trump voters even care about his taxes and the still-unproven claims by the Power Elite of his nefarious ties to Russia. I doubt that his fans are agonizing about him cheating other rich people by doubling their price of admission to his Florida club. If anything, they're cheering about it. Screw the rich!
Anyway. here's my published comment to Mister Ann Landers:
So what do you have to offer the Trump voter in lieu of Trump?***
It's not enough to whine about what a lying jerk he is. Who, or what, will replace him? Another centrist Democrat who promises incrementalism we can believe in, as the jobs continue to be outsourced, the wages continue to plummet, the lives continue to be foreshortened?
If Trump is impeached or otherwise leaves office prematurely, his fans will cry foul. It'll get ugly, regardless.
There's more than a little truth to his charge of media bias. MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski annoyed a lot of people, and not just Trumpists, when she announced the other day that it's the media's job not only to inform us, but to control what we actually think. That's pretty rich, coming from one of the pundits who worked so hard to elevate a proven crook during the grotesquely prolonged campaign season. It was (and is) a carnival reality show produced for the sole purpose of raking in record ad revenue for the six media conglomerates controlling 90% of everything we're allowed to see, hear, and read.
Yes, many Trump fans are deluded enough to deem this huckster their savior, yet others are just grimly satisfied watching him insult the same elite institutions that have deliberately helped stretch wealth inequality to record proportions. Trump is a charlatan, but even our "honest" leaders have deliberately ignored social and economic problems at home in the insane quest for profits for the few, penury for the many, and permanent war.
2. Maureen Dowd is still hung up on Trump's war with the corporate media, enmeshing it this week with literary and political figures as varied as King Lear, Batman, Rodney Dangerfield and William Jennings Bryan. (which she spelled "Bryant" before a copy editor corrected the error in the online addition.) Like her corporate cohort, she accepts Vladimir Putin's takeover of the US Government as a given, a factless truth that is no longer even up for debate:
My response (written before Trump wisely decided to skip this year's press dinner/aka Incest Fest:The White House has been trying to shape coverage by giving passes and questions at press conferences to Breitbart and other conservative outlets, including some fringe ones. And on Friday afternoon, the White House barred several news organizations from a Sean Spicer briefing. This included The New York Times and CNN, which angered the White House by reporting on links between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence officials.This Russian-style domination of the press came only a few hours after the president told CPAC: “I love the First Amendment; nobody loves it better than me. Nobody.”Fake news. Let’s just hope he doesn’t love the First Amendment to death.
Trump is 70 years old, and developmentally arrested as he is, he is sadly discovering that this is no country for old men who can't even tell the difference between the world and themselves.
We should have gotten the awful message when he let out this Freudian slip at a January press con (the one with the piles and piles of empty dossiers as a prop):
"As president, I could run the Trump organization, great, great company, and I could run the company—the country. I’d do a very good job [at both], but I don’t want to do that."
Meanwhile, the press is as hooked on Trump as he is hooked on them. I suspect he gets a rush out of even the negative stories, because his resentment needs stoking right along with the rest of his massive super-id. He might not want to share his actual wealth and that of the oligarchy with the rest of us, but he is more than eager to share his resentment with us. As a matter of fact, he wants to stuff it down our throats. He doesn't want us to gag, of course; he merely wants to gag the media.
So my 'umble advice to the press would be to stop whining, get into Trump rehab, pronto, and restrict your reporting to his many provable crimes. You might start with his mob connections and casino flim-flams and the associated New Jersey graft and corruption. Get hold of his tax returns and prove this alleged Russia connection once and for all.***
Have your Correspondents' Dinner -- just don't invite him.
Let him wither away from sheer neglect.
3. Ross Douthat, the Times's young right-wing Catholic hypocrite, goes full extreme centrist this week and rehashes Barack Obama's own Trump-producing, neoliberal prescription for a sensible, balanced approach to rewarding the rich and urging the poor to show some grit and resilience in these tough times. He calls for some bipartisan legislation to help Republicans put themselves at a safe distance from the dastardly Trump, and humorlessly dubs his own suggestions an "immodest proposal." Thus he proactively (or so he seems to think) removes himself as one of those annoying postmodern reactionaries who'd be a prime target of Jonathan Swift's withering attack on selfish rich jerks. Douthat writes:
Let’s start this week with what one might call an emergency response to the social crisis. That crisis is apparent in the data that Eberstadt and many others have collected, showing wage stagnation in an era of unprecedented wealth, a culture of male worklessness in which older men take disability and young men live with their parents and play video games, an epidemic of opioid abuse, a historically low birthrate, a withdrawal from marriage and civic engagement and religious practice, a decline in life expectancy and a rise in suicide, and so on through a depressing litany.To get rid of the "gridlock" that only the Washington Consensuals actually care about, Douthat suggests the carrots of a larger child care tax credit, a payroll holiday, an infrastructure bill, expanding the military, and hiring more cops. His sticks surprisingly include cuts in unemployment and disability and Medicaid benefits in order to encourage those lazy poors to throw away their Oxycontin and pick up their shovels.
You'd be surprised at the number of reader-responders who actually think that Douthat's sense and sensibility approach is a yuuuge improvement over the enervating Trumpian insanity. Why, he sounds almost refreshingly Obaman! But here's my published response:
This might sound depraved, but offered two choices of entertainment in Dante's seventh circle of hell, I'd rather endure an eternity of Trump's rantings than be tortured by Ross's series of radical proposals to fix poor people. At least The Donald is funny about a hundredth of the time.
But the NYT's resident young Social Darwinist is apparently dead serious as he riffs on Jonathan Swift's satiric masterpiece.
Ross calls for a reduction in disability and unemployment benefits to offset infrastructure costs. But how newly immiserated poor, jobless and sick people are then supposed to navigate those wonderful new bridges and highways to their dream job is apparently their own problem. Maybe they can sign up for a stint in the armed forces to escape the hell that Ross's radical mind has devised for them. And if they misbehave as a symptom of their manufactured despair, let's hire a whole bunch of militarized cops to keep
the ingrates in line. There's got to something amiss when people can't envision some good old Trickle Down flowing downhill from the billionaires enjoying even more tax breaks and subsidies.
Given that 4.3 million children are recipients of the disability benefits Ross wants to cut, I'm surprised that he just doesn't go full Swift and suggest using poor children as food for the rich before they become a "burthen" to society. It's such a waste of time, trying to hide your sadism behind God.
As Pope Francis said, it's better to be an atheist than a hypocritical Catholic.
|(credit: Simpsons Wiki)|