The Elephant in the Room

Alright, let’s tackle that elephant in the room, and then I’ll take your questions…

Killing folks is wrong. War is bad. Launching missiles to kill generals in order to incite a war that can be a distraction to your own impeachment in the hopes of securing an election on the road to a desired position of despotism is … exactly what we all expected from Donald Trump. There was never a question of if, just a question of when. He wants the coming retaliation and doesn’t give a shit how many have to die to get it. In fact, to him, the more bodies the better. Tyrants need causes to topple democracies. Hitler had the Reichstag fire. Putin had the Dubrovka. Trump wants Iran.

Classically, war makes for a great coup on liberty. Propping up your enemies, at home and abroad, as “extremist” and portraying “this moment” as the critical moment in history and “myself” as the only answer is vintage autocracy. Whether Trump is smarter than he looks (doubtful) or happens to be the right man at the right time with the right, fearful, gullible populace and the right warhawks around him (likely), it is the right move. For anyone who puts himself before his people. For anyone who wants to be king. It’s the right move for that.

So here we are. In the last year of this misbegotten presidency with all his corruption on full display, unapologetically. With the call to arms, the cries about enemies in the press and on the American left, the desire to turn brother against brother for the greater glory of a demagogue. As democracy after democracy fails across the globe, with the greed of rampant capitalism giving birth to inequality and oligarchy and fascism and nationalism, and the politics of fear wielded as a weapon to club the masses, we too – the harbingers of modern liberty – now fall prey to the whims of the selfish and the mad.

One of our bad guys killed one of their bad guys. I shed no tears for a bad guy fallen, but neither do I think I ought to make the Joker a hero for taking out the Riddler. Or vice versa. Since coming to power Donald Trump has systematically – no, that’s the wrong word – foolishly made the world more unsafe. This week, for his own self alone, he did it again.

Donald Trump is self-serving and reckless. Always has been. He’s upped the stakes and will continue to do so for his own benefit. If he can he will send our young to die. If he can he will stop the free press. If he can he will rip up the Constitution and burn the Bill of Rights. If he can. He will.

It is up to us to speak truth to power. To hold the corrupt accountable. To preserve democracy.

Killing folks is wrong. War is bad. This was unnecessary. Escalation is unwarranted.

Republican or Democrat, you ought to see that by now.

*flickr photo by David Blackwell

47 thoughts on “The Elephant in the Room

  1. Well put. I especially like this: “I shed no tears for a bad guy fallen, but neither do I think I ought to make the Joker a hero for taking out the Riddler.”
    Nothing like newly-created drama to distract from the real problem.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Once again, you absolutely slayed that elephant, Tom. And though November looms like a lumbering chimera, I take solace in knowing that there are other great people watching this, living through this, and most importantly, having the resolve to try and change this. You’re one of those people and even though I sometimes seem to have a bottomless reservoir of pessimism, your thoughts on the situation always leave me feeling a little better, more prepared, more hopeful. It doesn’t matter whether this sliver of optimism turns out to be justified — it’s very appreciated, all the same.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Formula works until it doesn’t.
    “Hey, isn’t that another Deathstar? Gee, are they gonna try and blow it up?”

    Start a war and probability shows you’ll be elected for a second term.
    “Uh, seen this movie. It doesn’t turn out good for either side.”
    (Is Cheney in on this? I’d bet his stubby, shotgun-misfire fingers are deep in this Drumpf DooDoo Dumpling.)

    All of the Democratic candidates should be using this as an appeal to Iran. “Belay your retaliation. When I’m elected President we will negotiate in a sane and equitable manner—not like this ID10T. The world does not want war. You do not want war. We do not want war. Do not give into this IBI and his belligerent tactics. Work with me and I’ll work with you.”

    • TBT, excellent essay. Cogent, topical and factual. Great job.

    Sanders v Drumpf in 2020.
    Sanders for the win.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Mole. The closer we get to election, the more Bernie Sanders is the obvious pick for the future of democracy. I don’t know how or why I strayed; humility and goodness over selfishness and corruption. That’s the formula I like best.

      I really don’t think a war will help Trump win again. He might, anyway, but that’s because we’re already far past the moment when those who can see have seen his true colors, and those who refuse shall never.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. • Drumpf it too stupid to have a “plan” outside of kick a hornets nest and kill the hornets that attack.
        • Drumpf needs a media diversion. What better than to worry the world about WWIII.
        • Had he not needed this diversion and the poll boost that it will give, but still collaborated with the Pentagon and realized that this Iranian needed to be eliminated, there are a dozen other ways to have done it — quietly, or politically advantageous — to some other country/party. He intentionally chose this very public display.
        • Binary thinking fits his third-grader mind: Kill the bad guys. I’m great now.
        • This thinking also plays into the Screamedia lies that a will out-shout any rational counter argument. Imagine his tweets, “Could an impeached President have stood up for America like I did?”

        Going through this list I’m wondering who help him figure all this out?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. How does all this play in Drumpf’s relationship with Putin? Is there a trick Drumpf is playing, or being played? What international players win when this pointless escalation of animosity rises to spill into other countries? I know the price of oil and gold will go up. And the markets have already reacted — down. I always try and determine the grand impact even no grand scheme was intended.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh, he had help; he is surrounded now by warhawks who have wanted this type of escalation for years. The adults have left the inner circle, those old voices of restraint. Trump will do, has always done, will always do, what he perceives is in the best interest of Donald Trump, and Donald Trump alone. Exactly as you said, now he can “brag” to his sheep that he’s the tough guy, that he won a bar fight or playground brawl. I’m sure he’ll post that photoshop again of himself with muscles. And 20% of the country will say that’s really him.

        This went against Putin, but that doesn’t surprise me. He’s not a tool of the Russians, simply more beholden to them than to our allies in democratic nations. Make no mistake about it, Trump doesn’t do the bidding of Vladimir, he wants to BE Vladimir. And, like any ambitious fool without a conscience, he’ll step on anyone he has to get to the top. Even his tyrannical allies and heroes.


  4. I don’t think his actions are necessarily foolish, although he may appear to act the fool (and does so systematically), I think the truth is he lacks the intent to made the world a safer place as a priority; any attack by him on others is an act of defensive ego. This at best only gives Americans (for that is his priority) the illusion of strength, to those that fail to see through the illusion.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good point on that, Brian, that he strikes at everything with his own ego. It isn’t about America or American lives, it’s about the glory of Donald Trump. I think you might overestimate him when you call anything he does “systematic.” I would bet that everything he does is done without the wisdom of foresight, and that is the very definition of the fool.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. If we’ve gotten to the point where a so-called civilized country can just assassinate someone from another country without due process or a trial (and before people scream “Well, he was a horrible murderer!”, let’s not forget that even the Nazis were tried in Nuremberg), I think the end is definitely near.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Great point! Yes, this was murder, and committed not for the safety of Americans and American allies, but for the glory of one Donald Trump. He’ll escalate whatever he has to to ensure his ascendancy. He won’t rest until American democracy is dead and only one voice (his) has absolute power. He has said as such, for those who listen.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I keep wondering when the decent Republicans will say enough…. and dump Trump. The line keeps moving and it never happens. Will war be the final straw? And how will they defend his rash actions when soldiers start dying.
    It’s shameful.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Your questions are the same ones asked from every honest citizen about every tyrant ever. When Hitler started rounding up the Gypsies and Jews, the sane folks started saying “when will enough be enough?” until their voices were completely silenced. When Putin began to silence his critics in the press, even have some of them killed, honest Russians said “when will enough be enough?” But among the Russian nationalists his approval remained high. Now Putin is president for life and democracy is a sham in Russia.

      That’s what Trump wants. Absolute power. He claims to already have it, now he just wants to make it real.

      When will his adherents wake up? The answer, if history is any revelation, is never. It’s up to the rest of us to keep him in check, and to end his reign. But make no mistake, when he is gone there will be another. His rise to power has awoken the dark underbelly of American society that does not care for democracy or rule of law. They want an authoritarian ruler to stamp out the “enemy” within. Then, they think, America will be great “again,” like it was in some mythical past.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow. I’m stunned. I’ve read what you’ve written. I respectfully say I have a different, not necessarily right, take on this. You know I HATE politics. I really dislike most politicians. But what I abhor is the continual loss of American lives in a politically charged war that without action will senselessly continue… I have no answers Tom. None.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading, Kim. I agree, I am tired of the senseless loss of life (American or otherwise) in these misguided wars, fought to secure gain for the rich and the powerful. Unfortunately, the murder of Soleimani does nothing to stop the senseless killing and death, it only escalates conflict. A wise leader shows restraint, placing the needs of the many over the needs of the few. Nobody ever accused Trump of having wisdom, however, and now his recklessness will ensure more American deaths, more sustained conflict in the region. Tyrants smile when war comes. His only ambition is personal glory.


  8. I feel like there’s never been a time in history when so many are so well-informed and yet so powerless. And to make it worse we have a president who, I think, has moments of clarity when he realizes just how incompetent and stupid he is, and that he wouldn’t be where he is if he hadn’t been lucky enough to be born with silver spoons at both ends of his digestive tract. Although I may be giving him too much credit.
    His actions certainly don’t seem like those of someone who ever has a clear thought.
    In addition to your words I keep turning to some published a hundred years ago:

    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    And I take some comfort in knowing that there were rational heads then who saw us through a crisis, and, with luck, and with words like yours, we’ll get through this one too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Chris, I feel we’ll make it through this storm, too. A bump in the road of progress, I call it. I am currently and finally reading “Stumbling on Happiness” by Dan Gilbert (very enjoyable) and he opens with a chapter on the loss of the frontal lobe, the part of the brain which allows us to live beyond the moment. As I was reading it I thought about Donald Trump and his apparent lack of a frontal lobe. The moment is all he lives for.

      His story is one of luck, for sure, but also one of disregard. For a man that crooked to make it that far it requires a lot of people to look the other way at his indiscretions and selfishness. Without the benefit of family money he would, no doubt, just be another conman on the street or in jail. But, now, a good third of the country is willing to look the other way and hope, I suppose, that some of that good fortune passes along to them. But a leopard cannot change its spots, and those of us with a good frontal lobe and a little bit of keen awareness can see that the only thing that Donald Trump cares about is Donald Trump and he is the only one who gains from his actions as chief.

      Liked by 1 person

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