Don’t Read Bolton’s Book

Donald Trump’s deep-seated and irredeemable racism, on full display for his entire life, is going to help pull him kicking and screaming out of the White House on January 20, 2021.  It is becoming more apparent every day that Trump is likely to drag enough Republicans down ballot out of office along with him, even as the party writ large continues their silence despite the growing list of lies and outrage that spews from Trump’s Twitter feed, to give power to the Democrats in ways that really matter.

Joe Biden is going to have his work cut out for him when he enters office (just undoing Trump’s executive orders will take days!), considering the hollowing-out of the executive branch Trump has managed during his time in office, but Biden has an advantage Trump never did – the experience necessary to know who to bring in with him to get things done for the American people and the desire to do what’s best for all of us.  Trump only knows how to do what he thinks is best for Trump.

The past week has been a shit show, as Trump’s ineptitude is made even more apparent while he pretends that Covid-19 is “dying out” while simultaneously forcing the cult to sign liability waivers in order to attend his narcissistic rally in Tulsa.  I am sorry that the non-cult citizens of Oklahoma are going to be exposed to these fools, who have been proud to tell reporters who were sensibly and thoughtfully wearing facemasks to protect those around them that they would not wear facemasks while at the rally unless they were required to do so.  Since Trump and his sycophants have managed to make protecting our fellow citizens political instead of normal, of course his cult refuses to wear masks.  The silver lining to this idiocy is that by doing so, they will be culling their own herd. 

The CDC was previously seen as the top of the heap when a contagious disease appeared anywhere in the world.  Trump and the Republicans have succeeded in just 3 ½ years to destroy the reputation of this and every other well-known and respected agency in our federal government.  Trump, in his infinite lack of wisdom and competence, sees the entire federal government as his own empire, a larger and much more powerful version of his personal organization, and he has used the levers of presidential power solely and completely as a means of lining his own pockets and maintaining his hold on The White House.  His inability to see beyond his own selfish needs has revealed in stark terms the huge lift that will be necessary to enshrine into law those ‘norms’ previous residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue have upheld during their own times in office.  The expectation that presidential candidates will reveal their taxes, put their assets into a blind trust, or any of the other myriad things all previous presidents have done to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest – none of these mattered to Trump, because Trump didn’t have a conflict of interest.  Trump’s interest has only ever been for himself and his money, so no conflict exists!  Holding a crowded rally indoors without social distancing or facemasks during a pandemic?  Not a problem, since Trump and his cronies get rapid tests on a daily basis.  Who cares if the people in the audience are the beginning of a super spreader event, so long as Trump gets his ego soothed by the cheering crowd.

Trump is trying to run his 2020 election as a do-over of the one in 2016 – he doesn’t even have the wherewithal to come up with a new platform, preferring to recycle the previous one that was centered on how awful the president in office was performing.  The thing is Trump’s refusal to hear anything from outside his media bubble makes him blind to how angry the majority of the country is at his rank incompetence and inability to perform even the most basic job of uniting the country during this time of social upheaval.  This is denial of the most obvious outcome of his behavior during these 3 ½ years, and it is going to result in what is possibly the largest repudiation of a sitting president in recent history.  At least, I hope it will, barring Republican voter suppression tactics and Republicans forcing their own citizens to vote in person.

Then there is the book John Bolton wrote while he was Trump’s national security advisor, taking notes on yellow legal pads under Trump’s nose, now pending release next week.  Trump told his lawyer William Barr to sue to keep the Bolton book from being published after it was printed and shipped all over the country (and likely the world), and was of course thwarted by a judge in his attempt.  I refuse to buy Bolton’s book – had Bolton testified during the House’s impeachment inquiry, maybe (although highly unlikely) he could have swayed some of the Republicans to do the right thing and remove this dangerous malignant narcissist from office.  At the very least, Bolton’s knowledge that Trump is incompetent to be president and incapable of performing the duties required for the position made public could have provided the Republicans in the Senate with a little cover to vote to impeach.  Surely a president Pence would have been less dangerous to the country and the world than this giant boy child now in office has been, right?  Certainly, he would not have been worse.

Now, Trump is having a temper tantrum as another book, this one by his niece Mary Trump, is set to be released in July.  Titled “How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” it is clearly not going to wax poetic about how wonderful it’s been being related to The Donald.  Trump is of course looking into suing his niece for violating an NDA, not that this is a surprise from the most litigious man to hold the office.  Another book released this month about Melania reports that her delay in moving to the White House was a result of her renegotiating the terms of her prenuptial agreement, while showing that in fact she supports the awful things Trump has done while in office (although not to her parents, who were brought here under ‘chain migration’ from Slovenia).

Never Trumpers continue to wave their bullshit flag, pretending that the world began in 2016.  Republicans outraged by Trump are gleefully telling us how the Democrats are screwing up their chances to vote Trump out in November, while pretending that they have no culpability for where the Republican Party has gone under their stewardship!!!  Listening to Bill Kristol on MSNBC telling us that John Bolton was ‘truthful’ despite his lack of patriotism and refusal to uphold his oath of office was infuriating, since Kristol and Bolton were friends for years.  Many of the senior Republican Senators were also friends with John Bolton and were likely privy to the same information Bolton withheld from the House in order to line his pockets with a $2 million book deal, yet still they voted to let Trump remain in office.  The Republicans have only one thing they care about, and they place that about all else – maintain their grip on the reins of power.

This is obvious in all the ways that Republicans work to keep those with whom they disagree from having a seat at the table.  They have used their time in office to prevent Democrats from voting, gerrymandered districts, purged voter rolls, and literally stolen votes (by forging mail-in ballots), all while pretending that they gave a damn about the people who voted them into office.  Using racial dog whistles, they’ve played on the systemic and pervasive racism they have continued to endorse in order to inflame their base, all the while knowing that the only people likely to benefit from their tenure in office are themselves and their donors.  They’ve lied to their constituents about their plans for improving their lives, fully aware that their regressive taxation puts those at the bottom of the income bracket at a significant disadvantage.  In fact, they continue to work to eliminate the social safety net in order to benefit the wealthiest among us, further exacerbating the wealth inequality to their own benefit.

Big changes are a-coming, and the first has to be a complete repudiation of the Republican Party and all who have supported it.  The Never Trumpers cannot be allowed to erase their own histories, and must be called to account for their part in getting their party to where it is – because they were and are part of the problem.  They are welcome to continue to produce and air their anti-Trump ads – since right now, getting Trump out of office has to take precedence – but that does not mean liberals should be embracing them as allies, as in “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”?  No – not when these political consultants did their jobs that guided the Republican Party to its present iteration – the party of Trump.  No, these people need to dig a hole, jump in, and pull the hole in on top of them. 

I’m tired of hearing ‘Never Trumpers’, who did such a wonderful job of screwing up their own party, tell liberals what they should be doing.  They may have ‘left’ the Republican Party, but they are still deeply conservative and their beliefs about their conservatism are ingrained.  These folks have not shifted to the left, supportive of anti-racism, addressing climate change, real policing reform, and all the other things liberals hold high on their lists.  They are still devoted to their belief in small government and gutting the social safety nets, while giving tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy.  Unless and until they acknowledge their own responsibility in getting us to where we are now, they should be ostracized from any access to mainstream media outlets.  Their continued ability to use these outlets to pretend they are outraged by the party they have created only makes their ouster more unlikely, thereby leaving the door open for them to reclaim their places in the party after Trump has left office. 

They cannot have it both ways – either they take responsibility and work to undo the damage they have done to the body politic or they just go quietly into the ether.  They should not be given any platform to use to re-configure their culpability and pretend the past didn’t happen.  If these ‘never Trumpers’ really want to help, they should shut up and listen – to everyone their previous work has hurt, held back, criminalized, or locked in prison – until they finally understand the real damage their policies and support has wrought on the populace writ large… and small.   

No one should provide any financial incentive for any of Trump’s former officials to write tell-all books when none of them were patriotic enough to stand up under oath and reveal the things we all knew were going on when there was the slimmest chance their testimony could have made a difference.  It’s ironic that, today, my daughter texted me a link to Bolton’s book (now apparently no longer working!) that had been leaked, providing access to his words without lining his pockets.  Even for free; reading Bolton’s tome is not worth the time it takes to do so.  Life is too short.  I’ll wait for Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow to tell me the worst of it on Monday.

Trump, the Fascist Swine

John Bolton doesn’t have to publish a book to let the public know what he saw and heard during his time in the Trump Administration; all he has to do is contact a non-right-wing media outlet and agree to a no-holds-barred on-camera live interview or even just offer to make a statement.  Of course, those options do not successfully line his and his publisher’s pockets, so damn the damage Trump does to the country, let’s wait until we can charge people for the information!  No giving anything away for free, no siree!

Not that Bolton’s self-interest is anything new – this is the same man who refused to testify to the House to provide first-hand knowledge during the impeachment investigation, after all.   In fact, most of the revelations Bolton has made in public have been made during paid speaking engagements, not during media news interviews.  Bolton’s behavior is on a par with Trump’s, although with much less power to wield and he appears to share in the narcissism Trump is so clearly suffering from. The point is that John Bolton, in order to benefit his bottom line, is completely happy in his disloyalty to the United States.   His continued silence in the face of rising, brazen fascist actions and rhetoric from Trump is all the proof anyone should need to recognize that Bolton does not care about the country anymore than Trump does.  No one should spend money on his book; we’ll see the most inflammatory parts in the media anyway, so why line Bolton’s pockets?

I hope that more people now recognize that John Bolton, Jim Mattis, John Kelly, et al are not showing their patriotism now, as the world watches the United States turn into a tin pot dictatorship – they are trying to be let into the lifeboat.  They had a chance to make a difference during the impeachment, although we’ll never get to know if their information could have swayed the Senate Republican denizens to put country over party.  Their continued silence at that time means they now have ownership in the absolute abdication of responsibility or accountability that Trump has exhibited, this fascist bent including the most recent abuse of power, subverting the Constitutional right to peaceably assemble and protest by using excessive force to get a photo-op.

So again, thank you to all the former administration collaborators/employees/sycophants who have waited until now to tell us what most of us knew before the 2016 election – that Trump is a useless piece of shit who only got where he was by stealing his father’s money and abusing the legal system, the latter a skill he has continued to benefit from since taking office.  I’m unable to understand why, with the first-hand experience you have all had with this incompetent boob, it took so long for you to speak up, although there are still more of you who remain silent out of greed or what?  Fear?  Of Trump?  Seriously? 

Trump may be tall in height, but he is otherwise a very small, scared, shell of a man.  He has never, in his entire life, ever been required to do anything he didn’t want to do.  His ego is so fragile; he is utterly incapable of acknowledging his mistakes or obvious lack of understanding for so many things that they require their own blog post!  His opinion of himself is inversely proportionate to his actual knowledge base, making me wonder who he paid in order to graduate from college and graduate school.  There’s no question why he keeps all his school records hidden – it’s impossible to pretend you’ve always been all that and you’re a “very stable genius” if your post-secondary records reveal you graduated “summa cum prematurely”.

All who have kept silent, regardless of your reasons, have culpability in what comes next.  For those who served in the military, thank you for your service.  That said, when your country really needed you, this time to put only your reputation on the line, you refused to do so.  When you offered your life in service, you were one person out of thousands doing so, but when you were one of only a select few who could have averted at least some of the ongoing crises, you sat back and did nothing.  That’s not patriotism.  That’s greed… or cowardice.

The silver lining to this huge thundercloud of disaster we are now living through is this – we are now painfully aware that there is an overwhelming need for sweeping changes regarding things once considered ‘norms’ but not officially enshrined in statutes and laws.  No longer can we go blithely along, expecting that those with the power will do what’s expected of them without the force of law that provides for swift and fair repercussions when the executive branch refuses to submit to oversight, ignores subpoenas, or misappropriates money using bogus emergency declarations. 

It is now no longer acceptable for those in positions of power, including in the Senate and the House, to remain in their seats indefinitely; twelve years for either chamber, whether consecutive or not, should be the maximum amount of time anyone can serve, and maybe it’s time to change the House from two year terms to three years.  Along with this, there has to be huge election reform, particularly with regard to election financing.  Elections must be federally funded in an equitable way, while allowing actual people only (no companies, corporations, SuperPACs, or other entity) to contribute to those they wish to, using some type of voucher system so that everyone, regardless of income or wealth, can participate in this part of politics.  The time for only the most wealthy to have all the political power is over.

It is no longer reasonable for judges throughout the judiciary, up to and including the Supreme Court, to be given lifetime appointments.  When this was first written into the Constitution, the average lifespan was 35 years, so a lifetime appointment was only a few years.  Now, judges routinely sit on the bench for 25 years or more, leaving at an average age of 78!  There is no reason at this point in our development to continue with this outdated method of populating the bench.  All federal judges must serve for a limited period of time with every president given the opportunity to name two justices to the court during each term (see https://fixthecourt.com/fix/term-limits/).  Although there is always the possibility of an unexpected death of one of the justices, having a term limit means that death is not the most frequent reason justices leave the court.

It is no longer acceptable for lobbyists to have a place in Washington, DC.  The wealthy, including corporations, foundations, foreign governments, and who knows what else, should no longer be allowed to continue their unfair and undemocratic ability to influence policy that disadvantages the rest of us.  Corporate welfare at all levels must be eliminated; no more subsidies for giant agribusiness, the fossil fuel industry, the pharmaceutical industry, etc.  Once, monopolies were broken up into smaller companies, now they’re approved and allowed to overtake everything, concentrating the wealth at the very top.  This should never have been allowed, and must be undone ASAP.

Racial inequality and oppression must be addressed.  It requires all white people to work at it, since we are the ones with the problem; the black folks are the ones who suffer because of our problem.  Every one of us must work, every day, in all ways, to change not just our own misconceptions and biases, but we have to speak up when we see or hear them in the people around us.  That’s the only way we can begin what we’ve been pretending was done after the Civil War – treating people of color with the dignity and respect we have often only shown to fellow white people.  See White Fragility: Why it’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism at your local bookstore or ebook platform.

Finally, social media has to be brought to heel.  Jeff Zuckerberg does not care about the damage being done to our social discourse, so long as people keep clicking.  Jack Dorsey will keep letting Trump and others like him post false, misleading and inflammatory things in order to keep people coming back for more.  These and other social media platforms, while not the creators of the information posted, have a responsibility greater than that of the established media giants.  The ability of their platforms to spread in a nanosecond makes it more imperative that they be held accountable financially so that they are more likely to do what other media outlets have been required to since the beginning – prevent the dissemination of lies, propaganda, etc., and be required to prominently post retractions and corrections when something slips by. 

Vote the Democratic ticket – only by taking power from the obstructionist Republicans can we hope to see the changes we need.  Then hold those we vote into office accountable.