Donald Trump is An Idiot

2016 December 15

If one goes back through the etymology of the word “idiot,” one finds the Greek word, “ἰδιώτης” (transliteration: idiotis). What one further finds is that the ἰδιώτης was a member of Athenian society so concerned with himself that he eschewed the public realm. Eschewing the public realm and failing to contribute to the affairs of state would find one looked at dishonorably and with scorn. Athenian society prided itself on its civic mindedness and part of the way it maintained a high level of participation in it was to look upon ἰδιώτης with aforementioned scorn.

ἰδιώτης were not lost to their fate. There was a way to redeem themselves in the eyes of society: by becoming a citizen. Funny thing, in the Cradle of Democracy, citizens were the opposite of ἰδιώτης.

How did one become a citizen? By becoming educated, thoughtful, reflective (not reflexive), and developing a sense of duty towards his fellow Athenian. Primarily, however, one was to cultivate the notion that one did not operate in a vacuum and by taking the first step towards wisdom: recognizing that one is an idiot and deciding to change it.

Donald Trump is an idiot.

He has been a fixture my entire life. He was well on his way to playing magnate with his father’s money and rolodex when I was born. His flamboyance and chislery have been shown across various media throughout my life. His body of work stands as an exemplar of the Athenian notion of what it meant to be an idiot. He has shown no interest in informing his views as he has made attempts to stumble into the public arena.

Do I really need to rehearse for the reader all of the ways in which this is true?

  • He lies without reservation or shame
  • He has lashed out at citizens and organizations in response to critiques of his dismal record of being a human being
  • He has shown contempt and disdain for the Presidency and for the men who, generally, have endeavored to leave the Office better than when they found it
  • He has bungled his way through attempts to explain any value his thoughts have with regard to public life, society, and public service.
  • He has defrauded customers and creditors and claimed to be a brilliant businessman, without ever recognizing that his creditors did not break him because he was more valuable to them hawking his delusions of grandeur
  • He has stoked dangerous currents of historical significance in the society without thought for the consequences of his words and actions
  • He has failed to recognize the resonance of similar times in history and how quickly and dangerously these times can get out of control

Is it not self-evident that he lacks the coherence of thought and the signs of curiosity one would expect in someone actually fascinated by the grand questions of life:

  • How do we build the Just Society?
  • How do we care for our fellow humanity?
  • How do we protect the individual Freedom and Liberty of citizens while balancing anarchy against the best interests of society

These are deep, involved, and complicated trains of thought. These are questions which the Athenians plumbed. These are questions to which there are no perfect answers, only a continuum rated in better and worse. Mr. Trump has not demonstrated the quietness of mind to have grappled with these questions. He has not shown the humility with which these questions must be approached. He has only shown that he chooses the path of the idiot: brute force, arrogance, and disrespect.

Even now, after careening his way to the Presidency, what could be considered the United States’ First Citizen, Mr. Trump has not shown the slightest inclination to attempt this transformation.

One thing is certain -

We, the People, of the United States of America, caretakers of the birthright of Athenian democracy, have elected an idiot.

 

Mr. President-Elect, here’s the thing about the thing with Taiwan…

2016 December 5
by Mike Parmele

Evening Mr. President-Elect,

So, first things first, I saw that episode too and I’m glad to see that you’re doing SOME studying in preparation to become President. However, I have to tell you that I don’t think you can pull this one off. Due respect, the fictional President in this contrived controversy about Taiwan was much pretend smarter than you are. Just so we’re on the same page here, they wrote the script of this episode so that it would work out alright and everyone would retain a tight grip on their horses.

This, again just so everyone is looking at the same playing field, is reality.

While China (remember my admonition about your security deposit) probably isn’t interested in going to war over a phone call, the estimation of which you correctly made (truth is, I don’t think you considered it at all, because you don’t get this is real); but we’d like you to show your work next time. I don’t think your math and my math explaining why China isn’t bombing because of you, yet, match. Don’t get me wrong, I suppose we can keep this thing between the pipes for four years with you “missing it good” (golf term that people who play by the rules understand, you’ve never hit it bad, sir – because you cheat).

I’ll also admit something here; I have to guard myself against you “missing it good” or stumbling on some decision with which I happen to agree (again, I’ll need to see your work next time because WHY and HOW one does things matters). I mean, ultimately, I agree with you – you took a phone call which, I’m certain, felt astounding to take. Yet another reminder that you won and that your opinion and your impulsiveness are going to rule the day. By the way, about that limitless power you think you’ll hold? You might be interested to know that President Truman – no sir, THAT President Truman – referred to the Oval Office as “the Crown Jewel of the American penal system.” Owing to the large gulf between the reasoning abilities of the Founding Fathers and yours, my money is still on the Constitution at this point; but please don’t take that as a challenge or a dare.

I admit, though, that it’s a phone call and it’s a good thing to rattle the status quo and remind those on the frontier of liberty, much closer to the threats of tyranny (right, sir? You’ve promised.) than you or I, that we are with them and encourage them to keep up the good fight. I acknowledge that you, astoundingly, are the one person on the planet who can take that phone call, say what you said, and get away with it (Again, I don’t think we agree on why that is, but we don’t need to…for now).

I would like to ask a question, when you get a chance. I know you’re busy, but it’s only Monday night, there is an entire week before Baldwin makes fun of you again – but only if you’ve got time:

Why is it that, had President Obama made the same deal with United Technologies (we’re grown men here, you’ve advocated calling things by their names) in order to save fewer than 50% of the jobs he claimed he’d save, you’d malign him for “picking winners and losers” (to be fair, you’d do it much more crudely with talk about Kenyan Socialism and sneaky urban people, but you’ve called for unity, so I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt) and “intervening in the market” (ibid.); why is it that when you travel to Indiana and agree to give United Technologies millions of dollars and the “trust me” about future tax policy, you are the savior of the American Worker, harkening back to your father’s habit of collecting nails across his job sites ($20 says he was a bit of a dick to you, but was an honorable man – you can pay me after golf), a smart businessman making shrewd business decisions (As always, with other people’s money – this isn’t your money either, Mr. President-Elect, it’s ours), and sending a message to the world that “America is open for business” (sorry, I just can’t with the caps lock, it’s unbecoming of the office – TRUST ME)?

Think about it and get back to me, I know that’s a lot of stuff to attempt to unpack and not even consider before rejecting it outright.

But let’s get back to the point of your phone call with the President of Taiwan (I get to say “President of Taiwan” you don’t; I know, it’s another one of those words that you can’t say that other people say – but at least this time it’s not because you’re white): your remarkable continuing conflicts of interest and apparent ineptitude in staffing your government. Your EPA “landing team” (we’ll talk about that more later) hasn’t landed at the EPA, meaning, they have not been in contact with the EPA. The clock is ticking, Mr. President-Elect.

Trust me, this is still as much a shock to me as I’m sure it is for you; but tick tock, Clarice.

I know that you have said that all of the conflicts of interest will be accommodated (or not, “the President can’t have conflicts of interest”) by January 20th, noon. I also know that you will become President at that hour on that day whether you actually accommodate those conflicts or not.

What I don’t know, is how you’re going to get around the appearance of a conflict of interest. I say that because, until you, most Presidents-Elect at least have made the pretense of not being personally corrupted by private interest upon entering the office.

I’ll tell you this, though, the only actual way I can see you accommodating the appearance of conflicts of interest in the manner in which the Founding Fathers envisioned would be to sell it all, take the name plates off the buildings, steaks, water, wine, ties, condos, bankruptcy notices, lawsuit filings, criminal investigative papers…all of it; Hand it over to a guy you’ve never met before and say, “I’ll see you in four years (Let’s not talk like that yet, shall we? One term at a time).”

Nothing in the public record of your life suggests you would do such a thing – sell all of it, down to the first “Trump Tower” cufflinks you keep in a drawer to play with in your fort at night; the first model (of a building, Donald, focus) that had your name penciled in; all of it – but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. No one expects you to sell it all, you’re not the type. I don’t know who would be, except many Presidents before you, almost as a matter of course. But you’re not the type. Funny thing about types, though, you don’t have to be the type of person who would do a thing, to be the person who does a thing.

It would be a quality golf shot, Mr. Trump, if you happen to be the person who does a thing while not having been the type of person who would do a thing.

Mr. President-Elect, on the occasion of your Cincinnati Rally

2016 December 1
by Mike Parmele

I wonder, sir, do you know who  Cincinnatus was?  Do you know what the Society of the Cincinnati is? Is that why you picked Cincinnati?

You stand there tonight, speaking of “action plans,” “love,” and “bringing the country together;” yet you are also equating the citizen with the “company.” That is where things get unnerving sir, not that you understand – it’s fine, after the Pakistan call I can’t expect you to understand this one. But when we start hearing about “companies” being on an equal footing with “the People,” we who think about the histories of government, our ears perk up, sir, because ultimately, the People come first. Not in a Che Guevara, red bandana, HUAC kind of way (though, towards the end of HUAC, yes, exactly those “the People”) but in a “We, the People” kind of way.

Now, sir, you’re rambling about how wrong the press was with their analogies while projecting your defeat. Yes sir, politics and government is tougher than the NFL. That’s because the NFL is a game, sir, grown men playing a boy’s game chasing a ball. Politics is prerequisite to government (even authoritarian regimes, sir, you can’t get around it; see: Kim Jung Un’s uncle and, well, ok his entire extended family) and government is civlization so, yes sir, it’s a bit tougher than boys chasing balls.

You can’t not do it, can you sir? You just can’t. I mean, I get it, I border on the arrogant at times; but you can’t follow rule number 2. Rule #2 – Never miss an opportunity to shut your mouth.

I’m sorry, sir, did you just say that you appointed General George Patton as Secretary of Defense? I mean, I know you appointed “Mad Dog” as SECDEF. But did you just equate him to General George Patton? As SECDEF? Begging the Generals’ pardons, sir, General Patton would have been a HORRIBLE Secretary of Defense.

“Higher than people who were supposed to have done well.” Please, sir, at least have the respect to have prepared your bullshit beforehand. That just shows you’re not even trying.

I think the “Harbor” line was a metaphor, sir. But you digress.

You brought it up again, sir. You’ve now suggested twice that there should be criminal punishment for burning the American flag in protest. Again, sir, name the place, name the time, after you’ve passed your flag burning legislation; I will be there and I will be the test case. Sir, with all due respect, you may not fuck with settled law of the First Amendment. You seem to be relatively easy to convince on things if you are shown to be in a good light – I’d like five minutes of your time to show you how you’ll be LESS of an asshole if you recognize that the only thing you do when you talk about criminalizing speech is make people like me decide to show you to be wrong. Name the place, sir: let’s play.

And so, here we have it sir. This evening you’ve spoken about the following things;

  • Building up our industry, corporations, and military
  • Installing a Combatant Commander as “Civilian Control” over the military
  • Gloating over the election victory
  • Dismissing those against you as poor losers and idiots
  • Rehearsing the threat to criminalize speech and, by extension, thought

Do I need to go on, sir? Do you get it yet?

Wait, I’m sorry, what? Restore the sovereignty….? OH, Wall, got it; as you were.

You have to have read political histories of the WWII era, no? You went to military school for high school, you have to have been assigned those readings. Trust me, I get it that you didn’t do the reading but you had to pick something up while you were writing your crib sheet (I’m just saying, many people are saying you cheat at golf so I assume you cheated at school, MANY people, sir), no?

Sir, did you just threaten the People of the United States if they don’t go along with your anti-terror policies? Because it sounded a little bit like you did. You really did just give us the “Mighty nice country you got there…” line. You need the “Movement” to be more vigilant in Making America Great Again? You really don’t understand echoes of things do you?

SO, if I may sir, since you obviously haven’t given it any thought, I think what you’re putting together as a political philosophy is the populism of the French Revolution with the anger of fascists when they were yelling at each other in German beer halls. That is potent, volatile stuff, sir; there really isn’t much use for that strain of political thought anymore, sir. Any major power war ends in nuclear exchange and major power wars are where that strain of political thought leads, every time, guaranteed. Abuses of rights and transgressions of international law aside.

“Our Great Movement, I’m just the Messenger. Although, let’s face it, I’ve been a pretty good Messenger.”

All in all, sir, you are not doing a good job of assuaging my concerns about your fascist-adjacent words, reasoning, and thought process.

Just letting you know.

Golf or flag burning, let me know where you’d like me to be.

 

Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 – Just so we’re all clear

2016 November 28
by Mike Parmele

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

ARTICLE I, SECTION 9, CLAUSE 8

 

The President-Elect’s Cabinet

2016 November 28
by Mike Parmele

So, we here at the Moose believe in holding people accountable for knowing how their government works. It really is the least we, as citizens, owe each other. Obviously, the local level (Mayors, Alderpeople, etc.) is where one may make the most immediate change in one’s daily life; however, we here at the Moose ALSO think we have the types of minds to play RISK! for real, so – WE would like you to know how the Federal Government works. At least, how it’s supposed to work. Think of it as “The Rules” – baseline, default, etc.

To that end, here is a current list of the President-Elect’s Cabinet/Political Appointees and what their spheres of influence entail.

I never thought I’d be saying this about my own country, but, Let’s Play the Feud!

POTUS-ELECT: Donald J. Trump

VPOTUS-ELECT: Michael Pence (Gov. a little scary with the “God loves cured gays” angle, but whatever, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but he’s normal compared to the other guy up there)

Chief of Staff: Reince Priebus (He. Has. No. Idea. What he signed up for – Good Luck and Godspeed, Mr. Priebus)

Chief Strategist: Stephen Bannon (yeesh, more on him as we go along; UPDATE – God forgive me, but I get this guy; more on that later)

Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs: Lt. General Michael Flynn (USA ret.) (whoo-boy, wait until we unpack this one)

Attorney General: Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III (I’m serious, that’s his name)

Director Central Intelligence (DCI) – Rep. Mike Pompeo (Apparently, we aren’t really supposed to freak out about this guy, so what the heck, I’ll give him a try. UPDATE – Especially if the President-Elect continues to pass on the Presidential Daily Brief)

Ambassador to the United Nations – Governor Nikki Haley (R-SC) (she’s done the right thing when the right thing was obvious and apparent, even though it pissed some heavily armed folks off for twenty minutes – I’m from Tennessee, so please don’t)

Secretary of Education (SECED) – Betsy DeVos (as of this writing, never heard of her – but what I hear is that she might be sketchy, but WHAT ISN’T IN THIS SITUATION? Please don’t ever think of the next four years as normal, please do not normalize this; please, I want to play golf for a living, not have to fight fascism…I beg of you)

White House Counsel – Donald McGahn (ibid. UPDATE – really, I beg of you)

Secretary of State (SECSTATE) – Rex Tillerson (CEO ExxonMobil)

Secretary of Homeland Security (SECHS) – John F. Kelly

 

And, well, from here we wait on the Infant-King named at the top to make his next move. I’ve decided I’m going to give him until January 20th at noon before commencing my path to a Supreme Court Case.

See?

This is how I fight fascism if you make me people. I’m perfectly willing to be the guy who defends the First Amendment with a case based around my desire to mock incessantly this poor, pathetic man who; incredibly, was selected in a free and fair election to be the President of the United States. In case you’ve forgotten, I’d much rather play golf, but I’m trying to find the “ask not what my country can do for me” moment.

By the way, since someone mentioned golf; I’d like to renew my challenge to the President-Elect: I’ll play him anywhere, anytime straight up (though, Mr. President-Elect, your claimed 3 handicap means you owe me strokes, it sure is a good thing I’m fairly confident you’re a cheater…anywhere, anytime sir; let’s play) 18 holes at stroke play or match play. For the Presidency of the United States (THINK of how much money you can make on that story, I’m not an unreasonable man sir). Calm down, I know what I’m doing.

 

This post will be updated as puffs of white smoke come out of Tump Tower as he makes more decisions (if it’s good enough for a Pope, it’s good enough for his underlings, no?) and/or as we hone in on the precise type of precipice upon which we dangle.

We certainly have work to do.

Congratulations, Mr. President-Elect

2016 November 22
by Mike Parmele

Well, sir, you did it. Congratulations on piecing together a rather surreal coalition across the moral spectrum.

I have to admit, I didn’t think you’d win. I thought that the system would hold together and you would be beaten just badly enough to really have to question your sanity if you didn’t accept the results. However, I also thought you could win. As people I spoke with over the last three weeks wrote you off, I would always respond, “this isn’t over.”

So, golfer to “golfer,” nice miss, Mr. President-Elect.

Now, that said. I hope that you have realized in the last week that this is for real. For whatever strange confluence of events in history, you will be the 45th President of the United States. I hope that has started to sink in. I hope that weighs on your soul, sir. You should be able to taste that by now. Fred Trump’s kid that got sent away to military school because he needed a good ass-kicking grew up to be President.

Please don’t misunderstand the above congratulations – I disagree with almost every position you have attempted to take, tactic you have employed, counsel you have kept, and word (even the true ones) you have uttered. Based upon my knowledge of your life and career, you are singularly incapable of comprehending the ship of State, much less steering her.

You, sir, are the very person the Founders had in mind when writing our Constitution. I suppose you are free to feel some pride in that as well, except, truth be told, they knew you’d be of less than stellar intellect and riding a wave of public anger. But I digress.

You are about to discover the straightjacket into which you are going to be placed for four years. Please don’t break the China while you rage against the dark in the residence at night; it will cost you your security deposit.

I don’t know if you know this, sir, but there are some sketchy people basking in your orbit. No, I’m not so negligent as to accuse you, directly, of Fascism. You’re not capable enough for all that. However, there are those who are sincere in their fascist beliefs who find you to be their empty vessel. These people seek to pour into you all of their hate, misguided views, and authoritarian ideals.

I implore you, please, resist these charlatans. You’ll know who I’m talking about because the charlatans will remind you of you, but you won’t think they’re as good at “business” as you. See, sir, that’s the thing; what you call “business” they call “remaking the world in their image.”

I understand that you most likely viewed this run for the Presidency as mostly masturbatory, seeking the adulation of those less than you, basking in their blind abeyance to your randomly assembled words which show not just a complete ignorance of, but a disdain for, the way the actual world works, the way history has unfolded, and any concept of intelligent political thought.

But here we are. You are the President-Elect and anyone who can string a complete sentence together is your critic. You didn’t get that, did you? You are the center of the ridicule universe.

- When the cast of “Hamilton” wants to scold your Vice President-Elect? They will. Too bad. You are, literally, the Man.

- When tens of thousands of refugees cry out not to be abandoned to the realities of realpolitik? They’re crying out to you. No, it’s not fair, but it comes with Marine One; part of the job.

- When the majority of Americans lament your election, that’s a burden you’re just going to have to bear. Damn Electoral College. You have no mandate, yet, you are President. We truly are a messed up country, aren’t we sir?

- When the press decries your lack of transparency, your conflicts of interest, your penchant for McDonald’s, your hair, your challenges with telling the truth, your framing of reality in direct opposition to all objective fact, that’s the price of the awesome view of the National Mall.

I understand why you might be confused. It comes from our system. You seek sycophancy, but our system guards against it. In their indelible wisdom (yes, the same ones which brought us the Electoral College and the Emoluments Clause *ahem*), our Founders decided to combine the Head of State with the Head of Government.

THAT truly is a sticky wicket.

You want to demand all the trappings of the Head of State, but you face the slings and arrows being the Head of Government as well. Feel free to curse Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton (see: above), and, above all else, President George Washington. He really screwed it up for the rest of you, didn’t he?

See, the thing is, you’ll NEVER be George Washington. I don’t just mean you won’t ever be the George Washington of history, the one we all remember from Second Grade: Cherry Tree, Wooden Teeth, Cannot Tell a Lie. I don’t fault you for that, no one lives up to myths, that’s how myths work.

No, I mean that you will never be the ACTUAL George Washington. Raised of actual gentlemanly stock, reared in the Wilderness, suffered losses and learned what it means to lead men whose lives depend on you.

Not possible.

Every day of your life has been play-acting compared to that.

President Washington actually did it.

He hewed a nation out of a backwater colony. Twice.

Do you know what he knew that you don’t? Sometimes, it’s not about winning; it’s about not losing. That’s how he won the Revolution, by not getting destroyed. You don’t get that, do you?

You don’t get that other people matter, that the opposition (in this context, that’d be me, sir) has a voice, a vote, and a choice of action. You don’t get that you can win the Presidency and yet, not a mandate (from the People, your employers, remember?).

I know that you don’t get it. From all the evidence, it is clear that you had no idea what you were getting yourself into. However, I’d refer you to a truly Trumpian legal concept: Caveat Emptor, “Let the Buyer Beware.” In your parlance, “tough shit, you won.”

So here’s how it’s going to go from here, sir.

You will play-act at being President of the United States.

I will repeatedly remind you that you have no idea what you’re doing and that, small hands and all, you have no clothes.

To The Fascists who met recently in DC

2016 November 22
by Mike Parmele

So, we’re going to have to do this again, are we? We’re going to have to have the conversation about fascism (you won’t call it fascism, you’ll call it being proud of your race and fighting to save its heritage, which is the best civilization the world has ever known).

We had this argument last century, you know? It cost dozens of millions of lives and was the greatest conflagration the world has ever known. This argument unleashed terrors, technologies, and destruction on a scale which humanity had yet to encounter. Quite correctly, our species was willing to stake its very survival on the question.

No to Fascism!

It is, in fact, better that we be wiped out as a species on the planet than have the question go the other way.

No to Fascism!

I understand that anything the President-Elect may say disavowing your position, renouncing your support, or, most likely, saying some group of words which mean things other than he understands, matters not to you. I understand that, in him, you see the empty vessel (on this, we agree) into which you may pour your worldview – trust me, if I were a Fascist, he’d be my guy too. I get it – suspecting that the same self-serving, authoritarian instincts which guide the President-Elect will advance your own self-serving, authoritarian wet dreams.

Trust me, I understand why you feel flushed with excitement about a possible “our idea was just a century too soon” renaissance.

However, trust me also when I say, it isn’t going to happen. Those of us who prize actual liberty, actual freedom, and actual self-determination see your game, we’ve been waiting for you. We learned the lessons of the past and have been awaiting your return and attempt to find new root in an amnesiac public more concerned with free delivery of *insert your product here.*

By the way, to Mr. Richard Spencer and some of his other compatriots at the recent meeting in DC, you’re cowards. At least a few of your attendees had the courage to make the Hitlergruß. Your half measures of the arm gesture while holding a glass as though making a toast shows you lack the courage of your convictions.

Fascism does not look kindly upon half measures, my dear Mr. Spencer. It’s always the way, though, the people who claim so much dedication to their race, to their cause, to their Kampf are the ones who can’t quite make it all the way…always try to be too cute by half…in words you’d understand, cuck out.

So, here’s the thing, those of us who paid attention to the lessons of your false promises the first time you swept to power, in exchange for the most precious possession of the People, our autonomy, no thank you. We watched to the end of the movie, we know how it turns out, and we prefer civilization to your cult of death, destruction, and absurd notions of racial heirarchy.

And remember, the stakes are already decided.

I suppose, in a way, you are right. You must conquer or die. Not your whole “race” though. Trust me chief, science and porn wins, there’s no such thing as “race.” You and yours, however, you and your twisted, misguided, fascist dreams – THOSE must conquer or die.

As I said at the beginning of this, I thought we had settled that question, it’s your call; we can run it again if you’d like.

You remember how it turned out the last time, right? The world convulsed with violence until the Fascists quit. Broken. Repudiated. Shown to be the liars and charlatans that you are.

You aren’t the only ones who fondly remember the destruction of the enemy and a jealousness of a previous generation who earned the title Anti-Fascist.

That title is one, if necessary, we will earn again.

We’re here.

Let’s Play.

The Black Flag: Always a Temptation

2016 February 25

“Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”

–HL Mencken

After stumbling across this quote this morning, I was stunned to begin realizing that this encapsulates the current national mood. This single thought accesses what the country is feeling as voters begin selecting the next nominees for President.

Donald Trump, even by his own account, is an authoritarian demagogue determined to return the United States to “greatness” through sheer force of his individual will. He has vaguely diagnosed the ills facing the country, he has offered illusory and ill-informed causes for those ills, and he has committed political malpractice in prescribing the elixirs which will heal the body politic. Also, let us not forget, he has repeatedly countenanced, promoted, and made promises to commit war crimes on behalf of the American People; and they love him for it. Mr. Trump has found that humanity often wants the caretaker, the one who will make everything alright, the one who will protect it from the “other.” This is especially the case in eras of increased uncertainty, radical changes in the world, and periods of disillusionment as to the way things were “supposed to be.” He has sounded the right notes, amorphously categorizing his supporters as his protected and lumping anyone who deigns to disagree with him as the threat dismantling the country.

Bear in mind, Mencken was not talking about individuals like Mr. Trump; no, he was talking about Mr. Trump’s supporters. Those supporters who, for myriad justified and irrational reasons, seek the solutions offered by the strongman. The strongman’s offer is so seductive: not only a solution to the problems and recovery from them, but also a culpable party – some individual or group which can be blamed for the problems in the first place.

What differs from Mencken’s “normal man” and those supporters of Mr. Trump is that his supporters wish someone to raise the black flag on their behalf, rather than doing any of the throat slitting themselves (though, rest assured, there will be plenty of people available for that activity, should Mr. Trump conclude that the return to greatness requires it); they are content with what they claim to hate: leaving the running of the country to its leaders. They are no different from those who have earned their disdain and ire, those other “sheeple” who cast their ballots and expect others to solve the problems facing our nation and world. The difference and the reason that their abdication is acceptable is that, in their view, Mr. Trump will actually solve those problems – in a manner the details of which they would prefer not to know.

So, where does that leave us? In my view, it leaves us with a fear-biting dog leading cowards who will allow crimes to be committed on their behalf, with their approval, but preferably with their ignorance. They hope that Mr. Trump will make the problems go away and they don’t want to know how.

Just days ago, a good friend of mine was casting about trying to grasp to anything which could be seen as hope “that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t an oncoming train.” Unfortunately, he was speaking to me, a cynical rationalist, who was only able to offer the cold comfort that, “sometimes it is, in fact, an oncoming train.”

Dangerous Seas

2015 February 10

So, what does the election of the, allegedly, radical left wing, SYRIZA mean?

“The sovereign Greek people today have given a clear, strong, indisputable mandate, Greece has turned a page. Greece is leaving behind the destructive austerity, fear and authoritarianism. It is leaving behind five years of humiliation and pain.” — PM Alexis Tsipras, 25 January 2015

Other than business casual dress in Syntagma, it’s too soon to tell.

There has been much rhetoric, at least, which gives the Greek people some relief that their government is finally echoing their sentiments – that austerity is paupering them; that Greeks would prefer a representative of their interests, rather than the troika or Northern Europe; and that the status quo is unsustainable – this fact was recognized by some in Europe, noting that Greeks have a government again, rather than an envoy from Berlin. However, the excitement of campaigning, election night, and victory speeches is over and SYRIZA, in the person of Alexis Tsipras, now has the task of sailing the Ship of State.

In the short time since his ascendance to Prime Minister, Tsipras has both rocked the boat and shied away from shoals which have harassed Hellas since 2008; he has refused to wear a tie, noting that he will don the neckwear gifted him by the Italian PM once Greece’s issues are solved; he has rocketed a Finance Minister to rock star status; he has rattled the scabbards declaring that austerity is over and “hope has returned;” but it seems he may not have the courage of his convictions. It seems that he has no sabers in his scabbards and Europe seems to have guessed that to be true. In all of the announcements about what is going to change in Greece and in dealings with the troika, the Eurozone has, ironically, replied with a firm, “OXI!”

The reaction of PM Tsipras? A course correction, to be announced tomorrow, that Greece will honor most of the austerity provisions attached to the bail out funding, stressing that Greece does not wish to leave, and will not be, ejected from the Eurozone, and an overall change in tone from one of populist defiance to one of acquiescence and contrition for having deigned to call for Greece to rise to her full height in the family of nations.

For the first time in many years, Greeks thought they were getting something different and actually demonstrated in Syntagma Square IN SUPPORT of their government and its dealings.  The PM appears to be squandering that good will.

While I certainly understand pragmatism may need to prevail, the only radical thing from SYRIZA since taking office seems to be how quickly they have faltered and returned to the safety of the coastline, holding to the line offered by Europe. Governing is certainly different than running – after all, how else could candidates win without promising more than they are certain they can deliver; campaigns are both aspirational and, hopefully, inspirational. The problem Mr. Tsipras and SYRIZA face, however, is that Greeks have been inspired by SYRIZA’s defiance. Greeks also aspire to see SYRIZA fulfill the mandate promised during the campaign, which led them to believe that something different was in the offing.

Sometimes, one must leave the safety of the shore.

It is said that there is nothing more dangerous than a person (or People) with nothing left to lose, Mr. Tsipras knows that; but he appears to have come down on the side of those who have vastly more to lose than the Greeks who continue their trudge through a long, cold winter – on dangerous seas.

 

 

Thanksgiving

2013 November 28
by Roy

by Roy W. Bakos
We at the American Bull Moose are thankful today for our families, friends, and our lives. Thank you for you responses and readings in the past and keep an eye out for more commentary and writings in the Moose in the very near future.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.