Friday, January 27, 2017

Ignoring Trump at Our Peril

Never in my lifetime have I felt so much animosity toward or fear of a president of the United States, and that includes Richard Nixon and George W. Bush.  The latter two certainly had their psychological issues but despite policy disagreements and active dislike of them, I never viewed them as insane.  That cannot be said for Der Fuhrer who increasingly displays a deeply disturbed personality more akin to Hitler or Stalin than John Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson.  Yet disturbingly, far too many Americans continue to act like sleep walkers ignoring the clear and present danger Trump poses to not only America but the world at large.  We are at risk perhaps more so than ever in our history.  A column in the Washington Post argues that we are at great peril.  Here are highlights:
Where to begin? That’s the daily question for anyone trying to follow the words and deeds of the new administration, which is like drinking from two fire hoses — one gushing policy, the other spewing insanity.
Neither stream can be ignored. I wish I could agree with those who say we should pay little attention to President Trump’s verbal eruptions and focus only on concrete actions, but I can’t. It matters that the most powerful man in the world insists on “facts” that are nothing but self-aggrandizing fantasy. It matters that the president of the United States seems incapable of publicly admitting any error. It matters that Trump’s need for adulation appears to be insatiable.
The president’s most acute obsession is with the false notion that he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton only because of widespread election fraud committed by “millions” of people.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan(R-Wis.) is among the many officials who have acknowledged there is zero evidence of the kind of fraud Trump alleges. It simply did not happen.
At a meeting with congressional leaders on Monday, Trump cited a different piece of purported proof, according to the New York Times: He told a story about how professional golfer Bernhard Langer tried to vote in Florida on Election Day but was not allowed to do so, while suspicious-looking voters ahead of and behind him, possibly Latin American immigrants, were permitted to cast provisional ballots.
[T]his simply did not happen. Langer indeed lives in Florida but is a German citizen. He has never voted in this country.
Why is any of this important? Because Trump, relying on a misinterpreted study and a garbled anecdote, has called for a “major investigation” of all this nonexistent voter fraud. He now has the vast resources of the Justice Department at his disposal, which means that if he wants a big investigation, he can have one. 
Trump’s fixation on his own popularity, or lack thereof, dovetails with the Republican Party’s long-standing political interest in minimizing the electoral weight of Democratic “urban” strongholds — meaning cities with large populations of minorities and liberals. We should prepare for a GOP attempt to channel Trump’s delusion into the rational, but nefarious, purpose of voter suppression.
Another example is Trump’s insistence on the value of torture in the fight against terrorism. Trump pledged during the campaign to bring back waterboarding and “much worse.”  . . . . How can allies fully share intelligence with the United States if they believe captured suspects may be tortured?
Trump’s off-the-wall statements and Twitter rants cannot be dismissed as mere attempts to distract. We have a president who is obsessed with his public standing, given to outlandish statements, eager to believe in conspiracy theories and unwilling to admit when he is wrong. To our peril, his character and moods will shape his policies.

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