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Friday, December 30, 2016

A Dog Chasing Cars

There is a moment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman film The Dark Knight when master criminal The Joker, when asked if he has a plan, responds: “Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I'm a dog chasing cars. I wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught it! You know, I just... do things.”

A true leader is a builder of bridges, not walls, and not all walls are made of bricks and steel. They also can be the more insidious invisible walls which divide communities: between one ethnic group and another, between different beliefs, between political ideologies, between the haves and the have-nots.
In a recent [1]post I drew a parallel between Donald Trump and Moby Dick’s fictional nemesis, the [2]megalomaniac Captain Ahab. Now, having watched, read and listened to more of Trump’s speeches, tweets and comments than I reasonably can count, I realize that I now look at things somewhat differently. Trump is not so much a megalomaniac. It’s more serious than that. He is simply clueless. His many shooting-from-the-hip tweets seem to be a dubious vehicle for outlining his [3]contradictory foreign policy (if such a policy even exists), for petulantly rapping anyone over the knuckles who even mildly has the appearance of attacking him, even in [4]jest, and for any other grievance that seems to chide him in the small hours of the morning.

To make one thing clear: I’m not an aggrieved Hillary supporter. I’m not even a States voter. I have no horse in this race. I’m just calling things as I see them. So how do I see Trump’s campaign promise to [5]’bring back’ jobs? He gave the Carrier company a much-publicised tax break to keep jobs in the States. What did the Carrier CEO announce in an interview? That he would use the tax break to automate his company. Asked if he meant that robots would largely replace his human work force, he simply replied “Yes”. And you know who I truly feel for? I feel for all those decent, hard-working blue-collar voters who voted for Trump in the genuine belief that he would give them job security, and who instead will discover that the teeth of their unions are about to be pulled and it’s now pants-down-and-bend-over time.

The contemporary factory floor is not a place for humans. Reinvigorating the work force is a way more complex issue than ‘keeping jobs in America’, and robot automation is now replacing human jobs in the States by a factor of four to one. Robots might have replaced humans, but humans are not going to replace robots anytime soon.
How many States voters actually realize that the appointments to his cabinet consist largely of Trump’s principal (and therefore his most wealthy) [6]campaign donors? They gave him their money, and now they want a return on their investment. Five of them are billionaires; the remainder seem to be mostly mere millionaires. With all that collective bullion sloshing around, who among them is going to identify with the plight of the less-well-off when not knowing how they’re going to pay the next bill is beyond their life experience?

So how do I see things panning out in 2017? Even for a foreign delegation or dignitary to stay at one of his hotels during Trump’s presidency would technically be an impeachable offence because he would then be profiting from a foreign power, which is in violation of the Constitution. His many conflicts of interest already are a minefield, so one possible scenario is early impeachment. Like The Joker, Trump has no plan: he simply ‘does things’. He does not even have clear and identifiable policies. Is it a wonder that, uniquely for someone in his position, he holds no [7]press conferences?

The ostentatious gold interior of the Trump apartment in Trump Tower, New York. 'Affordable housing' this is not.
There is one truly huge irony in all of this: Trump vowed to unite the nation. He probably will. The way things are shaping up – and this is what gives me hope for the New Year – it looks like he will unite the nation as never before… against him. Already opposition groups are being galvanized into holding mass protests next month, the month of his inauguration. Even some of those who gave him their vote are making clear on social media that they already feel betrayed. He also claims to be [8]‘religious’, but when asked in an interview if he ever had asked God for forgiveness, he was clearly genuinely flustered, and did everything but actually reply to the direct question. Trust me; it’s just not in Trump’s character to bend a knee to the Deity. The most important being in Donald Trump’s universe is Donald Trump.

In his decision to run for political office Donald Trump has been like a dog chasing cars, and by improbably [9]gaining the presidency he actually has caught one. Now, before even taking office, he apparently does not know what to do with it.
Hawkwood 


Notes:

[2] This is not my personal assessment: the term is actually used to describe Ahab in Herman Melville’s text.

[3] To give one example: Trump shows every indication of aligning himself with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. He also has stated that he is ‘against’ Iran. One is left wondering whether he even realizes that Russia and Iran are allies. To what extent the Russian government influenced the election result is something which, at least for the public at large, remains speculative. What seems not in doubt is that Putin favoured a Trump victory. Trump's vanity, as Putin well realizes, makes him susceptible to flattery, and therefore easy to manipulate.



[4] I cite Trump’s tweet attacking Alec Baldwin’s ruthlessly hilarious portrayal of him (above) on Saturday Night Live, in which tweet Trump wanted ‘equal time’ for a response. Baldwin correctly tweeted back that, the election campaign now being over, there was no more ‘equal time’. Trump still apparently cannot grasp that his election to office now also means that it’s open season on the satire front – although he has stated his intention to broaden the libel laws, which is the sure action of a despot in the making.

[5] Under Barack Obama’s presidency the job market actually expanded.

[6] Indeed, Trump’s appointment to Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, was actually his campaign finance chairman. Known as the ‘foreclosure king’, Mnuchin infamously turned a 90 year-old woman onto the street for having a 27 cent debt. As Democratic senator Sherrod Brown remarked: “This isn’t draining the swamp – it’s stocking it with alligators.”


[7] I urge anyone who doubts Trump's inability to answer questions cogently or directly, his apparent inability to parse sentences in a normal way, and his constant penchant for seeing himself as the 'victim' of a 'hostile' media, to read his interview with the Washington Post of March 21, 2016. The term 'prevarication' hardly covers it. His responses to questions are at times rambling to the point of incoherence. Read the full unedited interview or watch the video here.

The cold reality of global warming: the minimum extent of sea ice in the Arctic over a 31-year period. As polar ice is frozen fresh water, the reduction in salinity to the world’s oceans will endanger all sea life including fish stocks, as well as raising global sea levels. At the present rate of sea ice decrease the changes globally will become catastrophic within this century.
[8] This blog primarily concerns itself with heresies, and as can be seen from my label tags these usually are either religious or scientific heresies. Since Donald Trump gives every appearance of simply making stuff up as he goes along, the system in which he is doing this already seems to be so shaken up (and not necessarily in a good way) that I’m adding an extra tag: that of political heresies. But with Trump’s newly-appointed head of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt being a climate change skeptic, I might as well tag this post under ‘scientific heresies’ as well. To doubt the reality of climate change in this day and age is not only to align yourself with flat-Earthists, creationists and the like who willfully ignore the science. It is grossly irresponsible to our coming generations and our planet’s welfare in general.

[9] Trump also has described his victory as ‘overwhelming’ and a ‘landslide’. In reality the final popular vote count was:

Hillary Clinton: 65,844,954
Donald Trump: 62,979,879

That’s a winning margin of victory to Hillary Clinton of 2,865,075, or almost three million votes. Trump’s tactic was then to say that he would have won the popular vote had it not been for the three million ‘illegal’ votes cast – without producing a scrap of evidence of any kind to back up such a serious claim. He still has not done so. I for one am left to wonder: was he simply lying, or did he actually believe his own unsubstantiated claim? Was his claim actual calumny or mere bluster?


Sources:
The late Heath Ledger (below) in the role of The Joker, for which he won a posthumous more-than-deserved Academy Award. The screenplay from which my quotes have been taken was written by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan.


“Introduce a little anarchy.
Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos.
I'm an agent of chaos.”
~ The Joker

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