On Patriotism and FoE

America has wrestled with hypocrisy ever since it was birthed by slave-owning founders who wrote searing declarations of freedom. But never has the gulf between the hallowed position of the presidency and the hollowness of the person who inhabits it been as wide as it is today. And never has Mr. Trump faced a foe like Mr. Kaepernick, whose silent protests hit harder than any of the President’s tirades because they force Americans to contend not only with complicity, but complacency. If Mr. Kaepernick can live his values, destroying his popularity and football career in the process, why can’t we all? If we have freedom of speech, who will we speak up for?

There are many reasons to hate Donald Trump, all of them to do with what his hate-filled words and intemperate, ill-judged actions have done to the socio-political fabric of his country.

But there is one reason to be thankful to him for: through the unprecedented challenge he poses for journalists, he has given permission to so many fine journalists to find their sharpest voice. Sarah Kendzior, quoted above, is among the consistently finest.  Her book The View From Flyover Country is a superb collection of prescient essays.

Her latest essay, written against the backdrop of the Colin Kaepernick issue, the instinctive reactions from the likes of LeBron James to a tangentially related issue, and the nationwide Take A Knee protest Trump’s words, is worth reading in full.



Donald Trump’s rant at a rally in Phoenix, Arizona yesterday is creating a ton of disbelief, even outrage in media circles. It demonstrates, the consensus goes, that Trump is not fit to be President.

What, again? In just the Charlottesville incident, Trump had already demonstrated that, twice. First when he veered off the carefully scripted remarks on his teleprompter to add the palliating interjection “on many sides… on many sides”. Then again when he rebelled at being made to read an unequivocal statement of condemnation and, first chance he got, veered off the development track at his New York press conference to defend the racists and denounce the protestors. Why does it take a repeat performance in Arizona to convince anyone of the blindingly obvious?

This is now fully in rinse/repeat mode. Trump does something batshit. Cue outrage. The White House tries to contain the damage. Trump breaks free of his handlers. Cue more outrage. And so on, ad Infinitum — the issues change, the pattern never does.

So no, there is nothing about Phoenix to outrage about. At least, there is nothing new to outrage about — the Trump of yesterday is the same Trump who kicked off his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists, the first salvo in a series of racist, misogynistic, bigoted remarks that no right-thinking person could possibly condone.

What I find hard to believe is the crowd that surrounded him in Phoenix. As Trump deliberately distorts the case against him, as he portrays himself as the wronged party by fudging his own public words, watch how they nod in agreement, watch how they cheer.heer, applaud, n

Surely they had seen the “many sides” clip too? Surely they knew — as anyone who is not clinically brain dead would know — that he was lying through omission? So how do they smile, and cheer, and endorse a pathological liar?

Is it that they have invested so heavily of themselves in the dream Trump sold them that they cannot now turn apostate, without risking the loss of their self-esteem? And how does this map to events in India, where the powers that be have a large, active cheering squad ready to shield them from their follies, to attack anyone who dares criticize them?

Trump is a walking talking Rorschach Test. We look at him — and what we really see is ourselves.




Eye on the ball?

For all the soul-searching after November 8, all the angst, and the clearly voiced determination to keep its eye on the ball and not get distracted, the media continues to go chasing every shiny object the Trump team throws in its way, wittingly or otherwise.

The latest example is this:

WASHINGTON — President Trump loves to set the day’s narrative at dawn, but the deeper story of his White House is best told at night.

Aides confer in the dark because they cannot figure out how to operate the light switches in the cabinet room. Visitors conclude their meetings and then wander around, testing doorknobs until finding one that leads to an exit. In a darkened, mostly empty West Wing, Mr. Trump’s provocative chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, finishes another 16-hour day planning new lines of attack.

Usually around 6:30 p.m., or sometimes later, Mr. Trump retires upstairs to the residence to recharge, vent and intermittently use Twitter. With his wife, Melania, and young son, Barron, staying in New York, he is almost always by himself, sometimes in the protective presence of his imposing longtime aide and former security chief, Keith Schiller. When Mr. Trump is not watching television in his bathrobe or on his phone reaching out to old campaign hands and advisers, he will sometimes set off to explore the unfamiliar surroundings of his new home.

That clip from an NYT story has the media in an orgiastic frenzy. The staffers stumbling around in the dark because they don’t know where the light switches are? A metaphor, we are told, for the Trump Administration itself. A lonely Trump wandering around the unfamiliar rooms of the White House, clad in a bathrobe? Again, typical of the chaotically disorganised accidental president.

Meanwhile, the real smoking gun lies buried in paras 19 onwards, when the story talks of how the stream of Executive Orders were signed. Here is para 23:

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Would you vote for Donald Drumpf?

John Oliver takes on Donald Trump:

In passing, how I wish we had our own version of John Oliver. Maybe it is time to invent one.