Posted in politics

the siege of stupid: Trump

It amazes me everyday how he manages to hang on. More amazing still: lawmakers let him.

It amazes me everyday that he followed in the wake of one awesome President.

When Obama was elected, I was so proud that I was a citizen of a country, of that country that elected that guy to be president. The entire world envied us for the cool dude we had in the White House. Twice. Twice. We managed to honor smart twice.

I guess it was too much smart, too much class, too much intellectualness, too much integrity. We had to go for the opposite. We had to bow to the stupid. The stupid, the brazen, the con, the criminal, the bigmouth, the ugly American. The horror clown. The wannabe mob boss.

What I didn’t foresee was the spinelessness of those keeping him where he is. With few albeit principled exceptions, too many grovel before this wretch. Welcome to the Grand Old Party. The dirty old white man’s party.

You know, in the private sector, Americans are no nonsense executors of what has to be done. Consolidating, downsizing. Also known as firing. You’re not viable anymore, you’re doing a crappy job, you get sick, the boss doesn’t like you. Any one of those reasons will get you fired and out the door within a day. Two weeks notice max. Clinical efficiency. Cruel efficiency. Americans are used to that cruelty. It’s how the economy works.

So why doesn’t that same efficiency apply to the highest office where a lot more is at stake? Where the influence of this crazy person can affect so many and so much?

I honestly don’t understand. I mean, you can pick and choose any number of crimes to impeach the guy. From paying off women, intimidating them, using inauguration funds to finance legal fees for his crime family to financially profiting off the presidency through his businesses to misusing tax payer money for countless trips to his hotels to hiring only the most corrupt unqualified people to run the most important departments (I mean, really, it should be a crime nominating the worst possible people for the jobs; consistently) and the lying. The lying. The constant lying. Isn’t there a law? X amount of lies? “You’re fucking fired.” ?

I honestly don’t understand. On the one hand, we Americans know if you gotta chop off that leg, you gotta chop off that leg. Yet with this president, we are letting the leg turn gangrenous. The danger of leaving the leg attached for too long, you kill the whole thing.

Leaving Trump in office for too long is going to kill our democracy. Sure. That sounds dramatic. And maybe I’m exaggerating, but I do believe the longer he stays, the more damage he does, the harder it will be to recover from the wrecking ball destruction on the environment, the public school system, the banking sector, trade, relationships with allies but also upon the simple institutions of dignity, respect and language.

Those simple institutions are, after all, the pillars of a humane society. I hope we can get out from under the grip of stupid. Soon?

PS I can’t wait to read A Higher Loyalty by James Comey. From what I’ve read and heard, his fly on the wall insights are very compelling.

Posted in opinion, politics

how to survive in the age of Trump: Broadway vs. off Broadway

I’m an American in Vienna. Austria for those of you who don’t know. But I will assume you do. It’s in Europe. Let me jog your memory about Austria: Hitler was born here. And Austria became the Ostmark in 1938 when Hitler and Nazi Germany marched into Austria on the 12th of March, 1938 (yep, exactly 80 years ago today. And I can tell you, it makes me shudder). The Austrian Broadcast Network ORF has been showing footage from that dark dark time in history. “The Gates of hell opened this day” said one witness. So, while some want to see Austria as a victim of Nazi Germany’s expansion to the East, Austria was part of the problem ie was happy to help. Not all. There were some notable resisters.

When Austria shook off some of the mief, in 1955, when it became a republic, it was stipulated in the constitution the Wiederbetätigungsverbot, Nazi Symbols etc. against the law. While the US government can get away with a racist president, a white supremacist advisor and a shitload of politicians with varying degrees of explicit racism, the USA’s special friendship with Israel (to the tune of billions in economic help which does seem to soften the sting of racism -it’s mostly against Brown people anyways, right? So Israel doesn’t care about those racists) Austria cannot. And should not. The above mentioned reasons. And 6 million more. It’s the law engrained in the constitution.

And now to my personal dilemma: not only do I as an American Citizen and staunch believer in social justice, health care for all, equality for all, Bernie Sanders fan ( but not a fan girl and did and do vote democratic) and proud member of the #resistance #impeachTrump hashtag movement, relentless Trump denouncer, have to deal with that wretch Trump back home, now, in my current place of residence, I have to deal with neo nazis as part of the coalition government here. It’s totally unfair and really pisses me off. And I’m being mean here, but they all look like nazis. Stupid nazis. I hate them. Here, the right wing party is called the freedom party of Austria. You know if a political movement has freedom in its name it’s code for we hate all non-white people. If the freedom part isn’t a dead giveaway, the fact that the FPÖ (its official acronym) was founded in 1955 by an Austrian guy named Anton Reinthaller, a former SS Brigadenführer, who spent time in prison for his role in the Holocaust, this latter tidbit seals the deal: it’s a party of racists.

To use a metaphor for what’s going on there and here: the Trump show is bright, gaudy, loud, expensive, lavish – not unlike a big Broadway production. In Austria, it’s the same script (fake news, the meanies on the left calling out right wing fraternity members who like singing songs that celebrate exterminating another one million Jews. It’s a conspiracy! ) except the production value is comparable to off off Broadway: lousy, small theater, uncomfortable seating, rotten production design, no private jets to fly around in, no citizens united, no billionaire donors. Just stupid wanna be nazis pinning after the good old days when you could get away with mass genocide.

According to research, 28% of Austrians are anti-semitic. Within the EU, the average is 24%, worldwide 26%, according to a NYT poll. So, always a little higher and a little more pervasive than most places. Which I totally don’t get. Some of the most famous Austrians were Jewish: Stefan Zweig, Joseph Roth, Bruno Kreisky, although now, they’ve added another facet to their playbook: Islamophobia. You know, immigrants, refugees. That’s the right wing freedom party’s favorite bogey man. The average anti Semite (out of tradition)/Islamophobe (out of ignorance and the stupid) can be rallied by headlining immigrant owns smartphone. Don’t worry about corrupt politicians and greedy business people evading taxes by parking billions offshore. They don’t see them on the bus or tram. So who cares, right? The same rhetoric you get via tweets from Trump, you get here via some newspapers: all immigrants are criminals.

So, it’s stressful having to deal with horrible politicians both sides of the pond. I have to take days off not looking at my Twitter feed because it’s gets obsessive. Not good. Instead, I read. I read books and have subscribed to physical newspapers. There’s something soothing about the crackle of paper. And instead of watching the talking heads on MSNBC or CNN, I listen to podcasts. Or Beethoven. His symphonies in particular remind me there is wonderful genius possible in this world not only nightmarish awfulness. You forget sometimes.

recommended podcasts:

The New Yorker Radio Hour (because it’s not only politics)

The Daily from the NYT (because it’s not only about Trump)

Pod Save America (because I can rant vicariously through these guys)

Stay Tuned with Preet (because it’s the closest you can get inside a fellow prosecutor’s head ie Mueller)

Trump Inc, WNYC Studios (because they shine the light on The Trump crime family’s shady business dealings)