Archive for Donald Trump

Jeff Sessions: Cruelly Stupid, or Stupidly Cruel? Discuss.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 10, 2018 by drmiller1960

Pop quiz time!

Oh, stop complaining. I know it’s summertime, and that school isn’t in.  But we at the New York Military Academy for Troubled Scions are made of sterner stuff.  So quit moaning.

Besides, class, how often does life hand your teacher the opportunity to test you on knowledge so recently imparted?  That’s right.  Hot on the heels of my discovery of two new logical fallacies (“screwing the pooch” and “lacking a moral compass”), fate has dropped into my lap the perfect opportunity to assess your ability to understand and distinguish between the two.  And besides that, we’ll get to help out a worthy member of the federal judiciary, too!  Neato, huh?

You might want to re-read “Fantastic Fallacies and Where to Find Them” before taking the test to ensure total comprehension.  However, for the lazy amongst you (and you know who you are), here’s a brief rundown.  “Screwing the pooch” occurs when the argument shows that the person making it (or on whose behalf the argument is made) reveals a depth of stupidity matched only by the Marianas Trench—and that stupidity results in disastrous consequences for a third party.  “Lacking a moral compass,” on the other hand, occurs when the argument reveals a total disregard for the blindingly obvious difference between right and wrong—also with disastrous consequences for a third party.  The crucial difference between them is not intelligence—stupidity often goes hand in hand with immorality.  Just ask David Duke.  The distinction relies upon intent.  Did the perpetrator mean to cause havoc by being an evil piece of work? Or was she so moronic that she couldn’t possibly foresee the shit storm her actions or words would engender, despite all the arrows, flashing red lights, and sirens surrounding the decision?  In other words, are you looking at a Stephen Miller or a Don Jr.?

Clear?  Good. Now here are the facts you need for your test. Be warned:  what you are about to read is not a hypothetical.

The ACLU is currently representing a group of twelve people who are contesting the Trump regime’s new asylum pronouncements, including a mother and child who are fighting deportation.  The judge in the case granted the plaintiffs’ motion to delay deportation until he could reach a decision in the case. So, today, while the lawyers from the ACLU and the DOJ were arguing before D.C. U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan about whether this particular mother and child should be deported, they (oh God, you won’t believe this) were at that moment on a plane being deported to El Salvador.

Yep.  On a plane.  To El Salvador.  Being Deported.  After the Court had granted a stay of deportation.

Judge Sullivan took the news in his stride, and displayed full equanimity and bonhomie when ACLU attorney Jennifer Chang Newell told His Honor about the email she received during the hearing informing her that her client (and her child) were flying the unfriendly skies of ICE Airlines to the lethal situation confronting them back home.

Nah.  I’m just messing with you.  This Reagan-appointed judge was pissed.  As well he should be.

Now, “This is outrageous,” and “I’m not happy about this at all,” might sound fairly mild to you.  But as an erstwhile lawyer, I can assure you that the collective DOJ sphincter was tightening so much that its motions were picked up by the U.S. Geologic Survey’s seismographs on the other side of the country.  In fact, Judge Sullivan was so incensed by this flagrant violation of his order that he is actually considering holding Attorney General J. Beauregard Sessions in contempt of court. Now that is a sentence I never dreamt I would be writing, not because I hold Sessions in high esteem, but because you wouldn’t expect an official who is the chief federal law enforcement officer to have so little regard for the law as to be held in contempt.  I mean, my goodness, it was Jeff’s Christian love of the law that forced him to rip little babies from their mothers’ arms in the first place, right?  How could such a statute-hugger disregard a legally issued and fully enforceable judicial order?

Now, we all know that intent is not necessary to hold Sessions in contempt of court.  The judge does not need to determine whether that impish little devil meant to ignore the court order, or if he is just such an incompetent boob that it accidentally happened.  However, as I warned in “Fantastic Fallacies,” such a determination just might be relevant to the degree and kind of punishment that a tribunal might assess against someone like Sessions.  “Screwing the pooch” might result in a slap on the wrist and a de minimis fine.  “Lacking a moral compass,” however, might warrant being slathered with honey and being staked out on top of an ant hill.  Decisions, decisions.  It’s tough, going through the small and very narrow channels of Jeff’s mind to determine his motivation, and I’m sure Judge Sullivan would appreciate any help he might get along the way.

So, without further ado, here’s your essay question:  Was Sessions merely screwing the pooch, or was he acting without a moral compass?

Answers should be submitted to Judge Sullivan, care of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, or in the comments section below.  Extra research should not be necessary to answer the question.  However, extra credit will be given if you decide to delve deeper into the story.  And, as always, your argument must be factually supported and rooted in reality. I’m not Alex Jones, after all.

©2018 D.R. Miller

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Fantastic Fallacies And Where To Find Them!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2018 by drmiller1960

As a Critical Thinking Teacher, it has been my mission to teach my readers about various, well- established logical flaws that are fatal to any reasoned argument.  I follow in the foot steps of giants, starting with Aristotle, who first categorized thirteen logical fallacies in his light-hearted classic, Sophistical Refutations.  Since then, a long and noble line of Critical Thinking Teachers have identified and catalogued at least twenty-four logical fallacies, as well as twenty-four cognitive biases.  (If you’re curious about learning more about these fallacies and biases, I strongly urge you to go hereafter you’ve finished reading this blog, that is.)  I imagine my intrepid forebears, sifting through the linguistic equivalent of hot messes to seek and destroy these barriers to logical thought, and I shiver in admiration, never daring to believe that I might join their illustrious company.

Until today.

Yes, that is right, dear reader.  Like a zoologist announcing the discovery of a particularly slimy species of mud slug, I am thrilled to reveal that I have found not one, but two new categories of logical fallacy.

And I owe it all to Donald Trump.

The first logical fallacy occurs when the statement is so nonsensical that it belies an incompetence so deeply rooted in and inextricable from the speaker’s intellect that it is damned near geologic in its depth and breadth.  I call this flaw “screwing the pooch.”

The best (and brightest?) example of “screwing the pooch” comes in the Department of Justice’s most recent filings concerning the reunification of immigrant children with their parents. As a bit of background, you need to understand that when the ICE was enforcing Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, it was far too busy deporting the parents whom they coerced into signing away their rights to their children to take down the information needed to eventually reunite them.  As a result, ICE is unable to find the parents of around five hundred children.  They sought them here, they sought them there, but they could not find them anywhere—mostly because they didn’t know where to look in the first place.

In a Joint Status Report filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, lawyers for ICE helpfully suggested (presumably with a straight face) that the ACLU, who is representing the children and parents separated at the border, be responsible for looking for the deported parents.  I mean, God knows that the might of the United States government, including the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security, couldn’t possibly match the financial and human resources of the ACLU.  What makes this such a perfect example of “screwing the pooch” is that the government’s lawyers are basically admitting that their clients are so inept that they couldn’t—and shouldn’t—be trusted to match column A to column B.

Happily, the Honorable Dana M. Sabraw didn’t need a Critical Thinking Teacher to tell him how to refute an argument infected by “screwing the pooch.”  After rubbing his eyes in disbelief at what he had just read, Judge Sabraw issued an order that was the judicial equivalent of, “Are you fucking nuts!?!”  Additionally, George W. Bush’s appointee to the federal judiciary solemnly reminded the DOJ’s finest that, “for every parent who is not located there will be a permanently orphaned child and that is 100 percent the responsibility of the administration.”

Hurray for our independent judiciary—let’s just hope we still have one next year.

Now, the second fallacy I’ve discovered is one I’ve decided to call “lacking a moral compass.”  The result of “lacking a moral compass” is frequently similar to “screwing the pooch”—they both can result in a condition known to my engineering friends as “FUBAR”—fucked up beyond all recognition.  However, there is a vital distinction between the two: “screwing the pooch” is the result of idiocy, while “lacking a moral compass” requires you to know the difference between right and wrong, but not giving a toss about it.  In order to discern which fault is at play, therefore, the listener needs to determine the intention of the person making the fallacious statement before categorizing it as either “screwing the pooch” or “lacking a moral compass.”  As the astute amongst you probably noticed, this is very similar to the kind of determination you need to make before distinguishing ignoratio elenchi from a red herring. (And for the not-quite-as-astute-as-one-might-wish amongst you, you might want to refresh your memory of the difference between the two by re-reading the delightfully written Ignoramus Rex. And, yes, there will be a quiz.)

So, for example, the failure to take down the name and address of a hysterically crying woman who desperately wants to be reunited with her child might be down to the fact that ICE has decided to hire an army of morons.  If that were the case, then the bright spark at ICE making this error in judgment would be guilty of “screwing the pooch.”  On the other hand, if there were a deliberate effort to rip families apart as a deterrent to lawful immigration despite being warned of the permanent damage that could be done to a child as a result of losing her parent, then the person perpetuating this action would definitely be “lacking a moral compass.”  And this is especially true if a senior administration official is actually delighted by the scenes of sorrow taking place at the borders because he thinks it will help his party in the mid-term elections.

Of course, the amount of harm done to the victim of either “screwing the pooch” or “lacking a moral compass” will probably be the same.  After all, losing one’s child or parent permanently will be a source of inexorable pain, quite probably scarring the victim’s psyche irreparably, whether it is the result of cruel stupidity or stupid cruelty.  However, being able to determine whether one merely “screwed the pooch” rather than “lacked a moral compass” might be useful to tribunals that might review the actions of the Trump administration and its cronies—either in this world, or the next.

Finally, while researching the mountains of money that Trump’s corporate backers have been making as a result of his immigration scandal, I might have stumbled upon a third logical fallacy.  I’m tentatively labelling it “who ate the all pies?”  However, I’m not sure if it’s actually a separate fallacy or merely a subset of “lacking a moral compass.” I therefore require further research to ensure that I’m not mistaken—I definitely want to keep my dog’s honor intact, after all!

©2018 D. R. Miller

 

 

Have You No Sense of Decency?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2018 by drmiller1960

“Have you no sense of decency?” Joseph Nye Welch, counselor to the U.S. Army, asked Joseph McCarthy after the honorable Senator from Wisconsin assassinated the character of Fred Fisher, a young lawyer in Welch’s firm.  The answer, apparently, was “no.”  McCarthy clearly had no sense of decency left.

It’s funny how history enjoys repeating itself.  Earlier in the hearing, Welch had demanded that Roy Cohn, McCarthy’s chief counsel, provide the U.S. Attorney General with the list of 130 “known subversives” McCarthy had alleged existed in the Army—and to do it before sundown.  Rather than respond substantively to Welch’s demand, McCarthy resorted to a personal smear against someone who wasn’t even in the room. Sound like a familiar presidential tactic to you? You might also recall that Cohn was Trump’s favorite lawyer—so much so, that Michael Cohen seems to have modeled his own charming MO after Cohn’s. Oh, how time mirrors itself!

But I’m not addressing this question to the Commander of Cheese.  First of all, he’s too easy a mark.  From ripping babies from their mothers’ arms to engaging in the greatest grift-a-thon in the history of the Republic, the evidence of Trump’s lack of decency is too exhausting to enumerate.  Second, it’s been done already:  a quick Google search reveals that Warren Buffett, Jeff Flake, Politico, and Kos all used Welch’s rhetorical question as entrée to a well-deserved Trump trashing.  Done and dusted. Finally, Trump’s answer is so obviously “Nope” that it isn’t even worth asking the question.

Instead, my question is directed to all those patriots who just couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary because of her email server and Benghazi.  If these sins were so grave, then why are they maintaining such a stalwart silence in the face of Trump’s even more alarming trespasses?

During the 2016 election, Trump’s supporters and surrogates used whataboutisms with ninja precision to avoid answering embarrassing questions about their standard bearer.  For every question raised about Trump’s mendacity, racism, or just about anything, his supporters would counter with, “What about her emails?” or “What about Benghazi?”  Throughout the 2016 campaign, we were inundated with all kinds of right-wing outrage about Hillary’s emails.  Emails, emails, emails.  She used a personal server.  She deleted 30,000 emails.  She threatened national security.  Burn the witch! Benghazi, in particular, became such a favorite stalking horse for the GOP that the mother of slain U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens pleaded with the Republicans for “an immediate and permanent stop to this opportunistic and cynical use” of her son’s death.  It was a master class in the art of laying red herrings.

But now, nary a word about Trump’s obstinate use of an eminently hackable cell phone to send out his tweets.

In fact, in the face of all of the revelations about Trump’s highly questionable business links with Russian oligarchs, not to mention his campaign manager’s ties to a pro-Russian Ukrainian strongman, what do I hear?  On a good day, all I hear is crickets.  Usually, though, the response is “witch hunt,” “13 angry Democrats,” or “it’s time to wrap up Mueller’s investigation.”  Incredibly, I also hear “Hillary’s emails.” Frankly, I find this position as insulting to my intelligence as it is farcical.  Do I really need to remind Trump’s supporters that in little over a year Mueller (a lifelong Republican, by the way) has indicted twenty people or entities, and that five of them have pled guilty?  Compare this to Benghazi:  after a two-year investigation with thirty-three closed hearings and 4 public, Chaffetz’s committee released an eight-hundred page report that had all the explosive nature of a fart in a bathtub. Turns out, Hillary wasn’t the Bitch of Benghazi after all. And Fox News is seriously saying that the Mueller investigation is unproductive?  As if.

Of course Fox will downplay any attack on Trump.  He’s their man, and they have to watch his back.  But what about those voters who couldn’t stomach Hillary’s Benghazi sins?  Where is their outrage?  Where is their patriotic concern for our nation’s security?  I seek it here, I seek it there, but I cannot find it anywhere.  And it isn’t as if there is a lack of opportunities to express moral outrage.  Everyday, Trump and his coterie of kleptocrats engage in the kind of corrupt behavior that would make Boss Tweed blush.  Do we really think it was a mere coincidence that Ivanka Trump got a slew of Chinese trademarks approved right after Daddy supported removing sanctions against ZTE? Do we really expect Scott Pruitt to be fired for ethical violations when he’s doing such a bang-up job of ripping apart the EPA, per the Koch brothers’ request?  And are we really surprised when Vlad’s puppet rips apart our oldest alliances and attacks our strongest trade partners?

The loyalty of Trump’s supporters in the face of these transgressions is nothing if not breathtaking.  It would be a thing of beauty if it were not so insidious. But Trump’s base is so fanatical that fear of upsetting it has paralyzed the GOP and made Congress forget its Constitutional duties to act as a check on the Executive.  Mitch McConnell is looking less like a malign turtle and more like a deer caught in the headlights every day.  If I were cynical, I would think that Trump’s base is more interested in soothing some misplaced sense of injury than in upholding the nation’s best interests.  Heaven forfend!  But I simply cannot help asking the 38% this simple question:

Have you no sense of decency?

 

©2018 D.R. Miller

Holy Smoke (And Mirrors)!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2017 by drmiller1960

 

 

“The Devil can cite scripture for his purpose.”

William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

 

Brothers and Sisters!  It is such an honor for me, The Really Reverend Reynard J. Foxworthy, to take this mighty pulpit!  It is always exciting to attend the Values Voter Summit, but never more so than this year, when, for the first time ever, we have been blessed by the presence of the President. Wasn’t his speech vowing to protect Judeo-Christian values just the most incredible thing you’ve ever heard?  We are truly blessed to have such a powerful advocate who will defend the sanctity of the family, the church, and the proper role of women!

And, speaking of blessings, did you all remember to bring your faith shower caps?  That’s right, that’s right.  Bring them on up here!  Now, all of you remembered to say the special prayer, right?  Excellent.  And the crisp twenty dollar bill, all rolled up nice and tidy and tucked in along with your prayer concerns?  No checks.  The Lord don’t accept checks.  Just cold, hard, cash. Wonderful.  That’s right.  Just bring ‘em on up. Remember what the good book says:  “There will be showers of blessings!”  Ezekiel 34:26.  Good ol’ Ezekiel.  And Acts 20:35!  “It is more blessed to give than to receive!”  Remember!  The more you give, the more blessings you receive!  Thank you, thank you!

Whew!  That sure is a powerful pile of shower caps, folks!  God bless you! I mean that, from the bottom of my heart!  I know that you are a holy people!  I can bank on that!

That sure is a bright spot!  A bright spot in these dark days.  Oh, yes, Lord, these are dark times.  There are dark murmurings.  Portents. Omens.  Unchristian malcontents muttering about our blessed, blessed president. Ho-mo-sex-u-als.  Mus-lims.  Lib-er-als.  Fem-in-ists. Sinners, all of them! But you, my brothers and sisters, you are the bright light in the dark, dark world. The light under the bushel!

Yes!  The Christian Union of Nationalist Trumpites is a veritable house of Lot in the middle of Sodom AND Gomorrah!  A pure white herd of fat, juicy sheep in the midst of wolves and scavengers! Alleluia!

Now, there are some who will tell you that our president is not a good man!  That a twice divorced man who admits on tape to committing sexual assaults, has alleged Mafia ties, bamboozles his students at his “university”, and refuses to pay his subcontractors , to name but a few transgressions, must be one of those wolves!  Well, that might be!

But let me ask you this: Who would be better at protecting a sheep than a wolf?  And not any old wolf, but a wolf who knows every trick in the sheep-fleecing book, yet has mended his ways, has seen the awful wrongness of his sins, and has crept back to the fold? I have laid these hands on Donald Trump, brothers and sisters, and I know just how real his contrition is.  I felt that he was my brother, and that, deep down, he was just like me.   I’m telling you, folks, Donald Trump is part of God’s plan!  It’s right there in the Bible!  “The wolf will live with the lamb”! Isaiah 11:6.  I sure do love that Isaiah!

Of course, there are some who think I shouldn’t be talking about our president up here from my pulpit.  Some, like those pawns of Satan at the IRS, think our blessed Christian Union should lose its tax exempt status just because I am exercising my first amendment rights by using my sermons to persuade you to vote in a certain way so as to benefit our blessed denomination.  But I had a vision, beloved friends!  I saw the very paper on which that rule was first penned eternally burning in the fiery pits of Hell! And do you know who I saw lighting the first match?  That’s right!  Our president, Donald J. Trump, Sr.!

Now, I was out in the concession stand, signing copies of my book, and I heard some of you chewing the fat over what the president did to Obamacare (or, as I like to call it, NO!-bamacare)!  You heard all the fake news about the $200 billion it will add to the federal deficit, and how millions of poor and middle class people, people just like yourselves, won’t be able to afford to pay for health insurance, especially if they have a pre-existing condition.  You might be worried that your kids could pay thousands of dollars into a health insurance plan that seems real cheap but don’t cover squat, or has eye-watering deductibles.

But don’t worry!  Remember what Jesus said about worrying!  “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”  Matthew 6:26.  Trust me, you are much, much more valuable than a sparrow!   You are precious treasure, believe me!

And even if all this fake news is true, which it isn’t, you need to ask yourself:  how does this fit in with God’s plan?

Now, you know that God’s plan isn’t always the most obvious thing in the world.  Like my old pappy, the Reverend Billy-Todd Foxworthy, used to say to me, “Reynard, God has the damnedest sense of humor sometimes.” Amen!  But if you try real hard, sometimes you can figure it out. And folks, I think I’ve cracked the code!

Remember what Jesus said:  “Blessed are the poor!” Luke 6:20.  My favorite gospel, that Luke!  Well, think about it.  If Trump makes more people poor, isn’t he actually spreading God’s blessing?  After all, if it’s “easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God,” then isn’t President Trump opening up heaven’s gates to more people? And isn’t that a miracle?  Glory!

So don’t believe what that lying Whore of Babylon Rachel Maddow says about the President.  And remember: your gifts of time, talent, and especially treasure to the Christian Union of Nationalist Trumpites help us carry out God’s mission.

Now, please turn to page 666 of the hymnal, and join me as we sing the offering hymn “Lord, Thou Lov’st the Cheerful Giver.”

©D. R. Miller 2017

 

 

 

The Bot Who Came In From the Cold

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on September 30, 2017 by drmiller1960

It was a dark and stormy night. Schumer’s phone belted out, “I’m not the world’s most passionate guy!”

Damn, he thought.  He declined the call without even looking at the phone.  He didn’t need to.  There was only one Lola, and he knew what it meant.  He pulled out his second phone, the phone to be used only in an emergency, the phone with only one number on it. She answered on the second ring, as arranged.

“You see it?” she asked.

“Yeah. I saw it.  He must be in deep shit, using the fire-the-son-of-a-bitch code.”

“No kidding.  He just flew in from Huntsville. We’re meeting him in twenty minutes.  I’ll pick you up in ten.”

“Where?  The Roosevelt Room?”

“No.  Too public.  We’re going to use Zinke’s Cone of Silence.”

“Right.  See you in ten.”

“And Schumer?”

“Yeah?”

“Don’t forget to burn the phone.”

Schumer smiled as he pulled the SIM card out and ignited it with his Zippo.  That Pelosi.  She never misses a trick.

 

Pelosi and Schumer, both wearing duck masks to befuddle Interior’s face recognition security system (he was Hewey, she was Dewey), waited wordlessly while the elevator brought them to the Secretary’s floor.  It was late—a miserable, rainy night in Washington—and Chuck found the silence of the normally busy building unnerving.  But if Pelosi were nervous, she didn’t show it.

Finally the elevator doors slid open and revealed the President pacing up and down the hallway.  He, too, was wearing a mask.  He was Donald.

“Chuck! Nancy!  Thank God you’re here!”

Barely controlling her annoyance, Pelosi motioned for him to shut the hell up.  Abashed, Trump smacked his forehead, nearly knocking his mask off.  Schumer took the President by the elbow and guided him to the Secretary’s office before Pelosi could kick Trump in the shins.

Once inside, all three sat at Zinke’s magnificent mahogany conference table.  Pelosi flicked a switch, and a huge plastic dome, with the name FOXWORTHY ENTERPRISES etched on its side, descended upon them.

“Oh, boy!  Am I glad to see you two!” the President cried as he slipped the mask off.

“We heard you use code red in Alabama.  ‘Fire the son of a bitch.’ What’s the emergency, Donald?”

“I can’t do it any more, Nancy.  I want to come in from the cold.”

Schumer felt his sphincter tighten.  Donald wanted to come in from the cold?  Their best-placed mole?  He glanced sideways at Pelosi.  If she felt any shock, she didn’t show it.  God, she was magnificent.

“Tell me about it, Donald,” was all she said.

“I just can’t handle it any more.  All the hate.  And those god awful hats!  Why do I have to wear those hats?”

“Now, Donald, you know that you have to wear the hats.  Everyone expects you to.”

“But I look like such a dork in it, Nancy.  And it’s not just the hat.  I can’t get a decent burrito any more.  I show up at Taco King and they spit in my carnitas.  And they don’t even bother hiding it!  I’ve been eating at Chipotle, for fuck’s sake.  Chipotle, Chuck!”

Pelosi patted Donald’s tiny hand, looking genuinely concerned.  “Go on, Donald.  That’s right.  Let it all out.”

“And poor Colin Kaepernick.  So brave!  So strong! Taking a stand against white supremacy! And he’s blackballed!  All those wife beaters and drunk drivers in the NFL, and they blackball that brave young man.  And what do I do?  I call him a ‘son of a bitch’! I’m the son of a bitch, Nancy!  I am!”

The President wept into his hands.  “And North Korea!  All those terrible things I said about Kim Jong Un. I know he’s sick, well, crazy really, and I have to go and call him Rocket Man! The next thing I know, he’s talking about dropping an A bomb on Sausalito.  What was I thinking?”

Pelosi nudged Schumer.  This is where you come in, was the silent message. One New York Democrat to another. She was the master strategist, but Schumer was the human touch.  It was why they were such a great team.

“Donald, Donald.  C’mon, buddy!  Pull it together! Be a mensch, for the love of Mike.”

The magic words did their trick.  The President took in a huge, shuddering breath and wiped his nose with the hankie Schumer offered him.

Schumer went on.  “Look, Donald.  I know it’s been tough for you.  It’s a rotten job, but we needed the best, and baby, that’s you.”

Donald nodded.  “I know. I know.”

“Look at all you’ve done. I mean, thanks to you, the whole world knows that a Hell’s Kitchen alley cat has more intellectual honesty and moral fortitude than Paul Ryan. And what you did to Christie!  Jesus H. Christ, that was beautiful, man.”  Schumer leaned back in his chair and chuckled in that way he has.  He had meant every word of it.  Donald was the best.

Donald laughed, too.  “Did you see the look on McConnell’s face when I told him to get back to work?”

Pelosi chimed in with her silvery giggle.  She had the most beautiful laugh.

The three laughed long and hard, then sighed deeply and looked at each other.  Good times.  Then, just as suddenly, Donald’s face darkened.

“I don’t think I can keep it up anymore, guys.  It’s just too hard.  The responsibility is bone-crushing.  Who knew that being president, even the worst-ever president, would be so hard? Everybody hates me.”

“Donald.  Donald! Listen to me.”

They both looked at her, her chin thrust forward in graceful determination.

“Donald, you have done more for the cause than any other Democrat in history.  Thanks to you, Americans are talking about racism and white supremacy more openly than ever. You’ve shown us more clearly than anyone the threat to our country that Russia poses.  And as for opening our eyes about health insurance policy, well, Donald, even Barack admits that you’re second to none.”

Donald visibly preened. But just as suddenly, he looked crestfallen.

“But I just don’t think I can last to 2020.”

Pelosi broke out into a grin that reminded Schumer of a sunny day in May.

“Donald, don’t be so silly!  Of course you don’t have to hold out to 2020.  All you have to do is hold out to the mid-terms.  Once we get the House and Senate back, I swear, we’ll impeach your ass so fast it’ll make your head spin.”  Schumer smiled.  Her mixed metaphors were so adorable.

“I know, but if you impeach me, then that’ll leave Pence in charge.  I’d rather choke on a chicken bone than let that self-righteous, hypocritical homophobe in the Oval Office.”

Schumer stepped in.  “Don’t worry about Pence.  Bobby Mueller found so many links between him and Manafort that little Mikey’s gonna be up shit’s creek—“

“—Without the paddle!” Trump chortled.

They high-fived each other.

“Just one more thing,” Trump said.  “What about the girl?”

Pelosi and Schumer looked at each other, nonplussed.  “What girl?” they asked in unison.

“Melania.  This is killing her, having to dress up all the time and put on that bullshit about cyberbullying.  All she wants to do is stay at home, read the metaphysical poets, and bake potica.”

“Don’t worry about Melania.  Of course you can bring her out with you when you come home.”

“Yeah, Donald,” Schumer added, “I’ll tell you what. Once all this is over, we’ll all meet up at the Breukelen Coffee House, you, me, Melania, and Nancy.  We’ll have a good laugh, and I’ll show you my neck of the woods.”

“Yeah, Chuck.  That’d be great.”  The President smiled, but there was something sad in his smile. Schumer felt a little sorry for the poor schmuck.

 

Pelosi pulled her Aston Martin up alongside Schumer’s townhouse.  Schumer cast around for something to say.  He just wasn’t ready to go up those marble steps alone.

“Well, that was close,” he said.

“Sure was.  But you did a great job.”

“Oh, you too.”

An awkward silence hung in the car.

“Do you think he’ll be okay?” Schumer asked.

“I don’t know.  Sometimes I think Donny should just shut the fuck up.  He’s out of his element.”

Schumer threw his head back and laughed.

“Schumer.”

“Pelosi?”

“I think you’d better go.”

“Yeah.  Me too.”

He unbuckled his belt and turned to open the door.  As he was about to leave, he felt her elegant hand on his shoulder.

“We’re a good team, aren’t we?” she asked, a tremble of vulnerability barely audible in her husky voice.

“You bet we are.”

“Good night, Chuck.”

“Good night, Nancy.”

©2017 D. R. Miller

 

 

 

Donald in the Classroom: Could Do Better

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on September 21, 2017 by drmiller1960

Dear General Kelly,

I understand that you are concerned about your ward Donald’s lack of progress in Rhetoric and Critical Thinking, especially in light of Professor McWhorter’s latest assessment, and you have requested this update as a matter of some urgency.  It distresses me to inform you that I share your concern.  I cannot recall the last time I ran across a student with so little affinity for the subject.  It is not that he lacks ability—Donald certainly exhibits native cunning—but it is almost a badge of honor for him to disregard the most basic tenets of the discipline.

Perhaps the problem has its roots in a common, if inaccurate, belief that “rhetoric” is synonymous with “insincerity.”  However, given Donald’s tendencies, I would have thought that this false equivalency would have been an attraction for him.  But rhetoric, the study and practice of writing as a means of communication and persuasion, is more than glib flourishes. The truly persuasive writer marries eloquence to clear thinking.  Both are necessary:  persuasion without substance descends to demagoguery, while logic without fluency is devoid of humanity.  Perhaps that explains Donald’s lack of interest in the course.

Or perhaps he is just a lazy bugger.  Whatever the root of the problem, it is obvious that Donald’s ability to express himself clearly, persuasively, and logically is strikingly anemic.

While his areas for development are legion, it would be utterly dispiriting (and, I should think, beyond the realm of human possibility) for Donald to attempt to correct all of them.  Therefore, I think that he should take small steps and focus on improving his register and avoiding dangerous hyperbole. His most recent speaking and listening assessment (a speech before the UN entitled “Why America is the Best and the Rest of You Suck (Except You, Vlad)”) provides a dazzlingly apt vehicle for illustrating these deficiencies in his rhetoric.

“Register” refers to the degree of formality adopted by the writer or speaker.  To appropriately gauge register, the writer needs to be aware of his audience.  Here, Donald was supposed to be addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations, for heaven’s sake—not a bunch of bros hanging out in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven.  Referring to a fellow head of state as “Rocket Man on a suicide mission” is simply not the done thing, no matter how crazy you think he is. To call it juvenile would be an insult to adolescents everywhere.  Frankly, it was excruciating just to hear it, and judging from the photo of your reaction  while listening with the other grown-ups in the auditorium, I think you agree.  No wonder the judges gave him such poor marks.

However, such cringe-worthy remarks are indicative of an even greater problem.  Maybe, as has been suggested by some members of the faculty, his audience was NOT the legions of dignitaries and ambassadors seated before him.  Perhaps his actual audience were the very yahoos and locker room fauna that made him the student body president of this erstwhile fine institution of learning in the first place. The jarring informality of his tone certainly indicated that, even though Donald was standing behind the most prestigious podium in the world, his heart was in a half-empty convention hall in Phoenix.  But if that were indeed the case, then it might indicate that Donald’s narcissism is even more full-blown than the school psychologist had previously reported.  It takes a damning degree of self-regard to twist a solemn occasion into a campaign rally—especially when the election is long over.

I also believe that his tone deaf register is inextricably linked to his use of dangerous hyperbole. Instead of using facts, expert opinions, or any of the other tools available for developing reasoned arguments, Donald relentlessly resorts to facile exaggeration to make his points.  It’s always easier to use bombast than to take the time to unravel the threads of a diplomatic tangle, and it’s tempting to lob a grenade when we lack the patience (or wherewithal) to devise new approaches to intractable problems.  But as personally satisfying such tactics can be, they frequently cloud the issue, blind the listener, and needlessly antagonize the opposition.  We need only look at how the delegates’ collective sphincter visibly tightened after Donald threatened to “totally destroy North Korea” to understand how destructive gratuitous and emotional hyperbole can be.

Finally, although you did not request information about Donald’s behavior in school, I would be remiss in my duties as his homeroom teacher if I did not express my concerns about Donald’s continued association with young Stevie Miller.  Frankly, I find Stevie’s mesmeric hold over Donald not only confusing, but pernicious.  Donald exhibits truly nasty tendencies towards Mohamed and Maria whenever he and Stevie spend recess huddled together in a corner of the playground.  I hardly need to remind you of the trauma the class experienced earlier this term when Donald ripped Barack’s prize-winning essay, “My Birth and Childhood in Hawaii,” out of his hands and force fed the pages to the class’s pet lizard, Tucker. Furthermore, I’m aware that Vice Principal Mueller will be sending you a thorough report on Donald’s unhealthy relationship with Vladimir and its possible consequences on the student body president election.  On a more positive note, I would like to point out that Donald has become far less disruptive (although perhaps more disgruntled) since we moved the Bannon lad to a different homeroom.

I hope that this information is of use to you.  If you require any further assistance, please let me know.  God knows you’ll need it.

Best regards,

 

The Critical Thinking (And Homeroom 7B) Teacher

The New York Military Academy for Troubled Scions

 

©2017 D.R. Miller

My Non-Racist Bones Will Not Suffice

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2017 by drmiller1960

Dear Fellow White American,

I’m afraid I have a confession, and it is this:  if I hear one more time that you don’t have a racist bone in your body, I think I might have to smack you.  It isn’t that I don’t believe you, even though we both know that this statement or something similar is frequently the preface to an outrageously racist remark.

No.  That’s not it.  I’m willing to assume the truth that your skeleton is, indeed, lacking the racist bone.  I’m even willing to go even farther in my assumptions:  not only are you entirely non-racist, you are also utterly colorblind and totally devoid of implicit biases (you know, those impulses that make you assume that the black woman in your doctor’s office is a nurse’s aide and not the new internist).  Somehow, you’ve managed to escape the pernicious effects of living in a racist society. I know you, and I honestly believe that most of you possess good faith and good will in abundance.  But even under those conditions, I’m afraid that your non-racist bones (and mine, for that matter) do not suffice.

That’s because, as innocent as you individually might be, you (and I) are still the beneficiaries of centuries of racist attitudes, actions, and policies that have placed us at the top of the heap.  The issue is not that things would change if only black people were more like us.  The issue is that things won’t change until we are less like us. And if that surprises you, then I suggest that all of us (myself included) need to stop blathering on about our non-racist bones, and instead shut up and listen.  If we did that, we might understand that nothing is going to change unless we change our attitudes, assumptions, and actions about race.

Here’s an example of what I mean.  A lot of people I know get very riled about the idea of “Black Lives Matter,” not because they are racist, but because in their idealistic, good old fashioned liberal way, they think that all lives matter[1].  People of a certain generation were raised to believe that because race doesn’t matter, we shouldn’t ever make distinctions based on race.  And when applied to things like water fountains, school buses, and public restrooms, that seems about right.  But we need to make distinctions based on race if not to do so would result in the perpetuation of an injustice.

Frankly, the reason why the movement is not called “All Lives Matter” is that our history has shown time and time again that this is simply not the case.  White American hands have torn, broken, and burned black bodies with impunity since the arrival of the first black slaves to Virginia in 1619.  You don’t have to go far back to see the violence wrought upon black bodies.  There is no reason to look at the Civil War photos of Private Gordon’s scourged back or the photos of Emmett Till’s desecrated body in his coffin to see what I mean; you can look at Trayvon Martin’s body, shot down for buying Skittles in the wrong part of town.  Perhaps they should have called the movement “Black Lives Matter, Too.”  Sigh.  For want of an adverb, a cause was lost.  And who says grammar doesn’t matter?

But easy flippancy aside, I doubt that even the inclusion of “too” would make the acceptance of “Black Lives Matter” more likely, because it flies in the face of what we white people believe about our country and ourselves.  We are raised to believe in the fundamental fairness of America, where due process and equal rights exist for all, and the American dream is attainable to anyone willing to put in the hard work necessary to achieve it. But what due process did Trayvon Martin have when George Zimmerman tried and convicted and executed him for being a young black man in a white neighborhood?  What equal protections were afforded to Sandra Bland, who was pulled over for not signaling a lane change, beaten by the cop who arrested her, and then found swinging from a sheet in her cell three days later?  And how attainable is that American Dream to a black child born into a black neighborhood that had been transformed by racist housing policies from a “nice” white neighborhood to a living diorama of urban ills?

And the list goes on:  incarceration rates sky rocket among black men and women; schools are increasingly segregated, while white schools receive more funding than black schools;  and  even though the life expectancy gap has narrowed, black life expectancy is still significantly below whiteeven in the same city.

The easy and, frankly, most popular way to explain these disconnects between white patriotic ideals and grim African American realities is, simply, to blame the victim.  To assert that there must be something wrong with them that creates these difficulties.  A nice idea, except for one tiny flaw:  it ain’t so.  These ills have their roots not in black capacities or inclinations but in the systems that allowed and then justified the subjugation of blacks.  Crap housing and dilapidated neighborhoods?  Thank the block busters who instigated white flight by terrifying white homeowners with the vision of black neighbors, while selling the resulting abandoned houses to black families at inflated prices they couldn’t afford.  Shitty schools in black neighborhoods?  Take a hard, long look at Brown v. Board of Education, which enshrined in educational law the belief that black schools were inherently inferior, thereby holding up the white school as the institution worthy of support and improvement.  Entrenched poverty?  Blame the vast difference in wealth between white families (with a median nest egg of $111,146) and black families ($7,113—not so much a “nest egg” as a “nest crumb”) on, among other factors, the lasting impact of the discriminatory housing policies in the GI Bill.  Most of our wealth takes generations to build, and the houses of our ancestors have contributed much to our present wealth.  But what if your ancestors were precluded from buying houses?  Or if they were forced to buy inferior housing stock?

See?  The typical American narrative—the plucky immigrant who came to America and worked his socks off so his children could have a better life—doesn’t apply to the African American experience.  For one thing, despite the assertions of a Texas history book to the contrary, the African Americans who found themselves on our lovely shores were not “immigrants” or “workers”; they were slaves, property, chattel, whose designation as “souls”  in their owners’ accounting books demonstrates unequivocally their absolute subjugation to the white population who regarded the black people in their midst with little more respect than what they would show a draft horse or mule.  And despite their emancipation, they were subjected to an unrelenting campaign to keep them “in their place.” To white eyes, the Civil Rights movement, Dr. King, and the election of Barack Obama are proof that the campaign is over and the battle against racism won.  However, the hate-filled faces of the white-supremacists in Charlottesville, and the support given to them by our Equivocator-in-Chief, are chilling reminders that the struggle is far from over.

And the fact is, the struggle might never be over if we white people don’t do our part.

So, what is our part?  Well, as I said above, we all need to shut up and listen.  How about inviting a black friend for dinner, and then letting him or her speak without interruption, explanation, or excuse?  Just take it on the chin, no matter how much you want to interject.  And then we need to read histories and analyses to learn what our textbooks have long hidden from us.  A great place to start would be “The First White President” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, recently published in The Atlantic. It is an eye-opening analysis of the role white supremacism played in the 2016 election of that man.  For a magisterial history of how racism and racist policies shaped our country from its foundations, you really need to read Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi.  The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander is another crucial book.  But you should also check out Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, because you can never underestimate the power of metaphor to explain the truth.  And there are lots more out there.

After that?  I don’t know.  Taking a stand?  Calling out bullshit? Writing a blog? Going on a march? Donations to Black Lives Matter or the Southern Poverty Law Center?  Any constructive ideas gratefully received.  It’ll be a start.  But not a finish.  Not by a long shot. But in the words of John Milton, “Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to light.”

© 2017 D.R. Miller

 

[1] I’m perfectly aware that there are many rabid racists who foam at the mouth at the thought of “Black Lives Matter,” because they really think that black lives don’t matter.  Some of them even hold the highest positions of authority in our government.  But I’m not talking to them. I’m talking to you!