The First Meeting

donaldt1

It’s an amazing likeness, I must say.

This one should be short and relatively non-venomous. I’ll do my best.

Prime Minister Abe will meet with Trump

This was a little unexpected, really. I figured it would be Putin, but who can tell with these things?

Anyway, I’ve long had a suspicion that Prime Minister Abe was hoping for Trump to win, mainly due to Trump’s insistence that Japan up its payment to the U.S. for military protection. Interesting fact: Japan pays about 75% of the cost of the US being here, more than any other nation. But that’s neither here nor there. Here’s the scenario I think Abe is hoping for:

Trump shakes Japan down for more money. Japan says, “Sorry, but no.” Trump then threatens to withdraw troops, to which Abe says, “Go right ahead.” This gives Abe and his party (kind of like a hawkish, just as racist but not quite as insane GOP) the excuse to do what they’ve been aching to do for years now – revise the Japanese constitution and take out Article Nine, which forbids Japan from having the power to go to war.

Japan has slowly been working out ways around this clause over the last few years. It’s pretty obvious that the Powers That Be want a proper army again, most likely in case China or North Korea get uppity. The current Self Defense Force has been gaining more and more militancy, but they’re still not allowed to really go to battle the way other armies are. At best they can engage in support actions, more or less. I’m simplifying, but you get the idea.

The rest of the Japanese population, though, is dead against it. They really like being the only country that is constitutionally forbidden to go to war, and most people would like to keep it that way. Unfortunately, the ruling party is not terribly concerned with what the people want (surprise), and are working their way to railroad constitutional revision through. Having the U.S. pull troops out would benefit that process, adding urgency to the whole thing. Next thing you know, Japan has an army and a navy again, and countries up and down the Pacific start to get very, very nervous…

Or Abe just wants to see if Trump is actually real. I have no idea. Either way, it’s an interesting turn of events.

The Anger of Crowds

The Boyfriend asked me this evening if, were I in the US, I would join the protests that are going on. And it turned out to be a little tricky to answer.

For one thing, I don’t like crowds. Angry mobs even less so, but generally speaking, the idea of joining up with a giant group of people makes my skin itch. On the other hand, though, were I still in the US, I’d have a lot more to lose under a Trump presidency, so it might be enough to get me past my dislike of other people.

On the other other hand, though, I remember all of the horrified gasps and pearl-clutching we did when Trump refused to promise to abide by the results of the election. We denounced it as un-American and an attack on the basic tenets of our democracy – which it was. And it was horrifying to hear him say that he would only accept the results of the election if he won.

trump-protestThat’s why I can’t bring myself to join in with those groups chanting “Not my President!” and crying out that the election was rigged. When Trump was making such claims, we carefully but firmly pointed out how hard it would be to rig a Presidential election, and that was that. We can’t turn around now and take up his dishonest banner just because our candidate lost.

When he wouldn’t promise to accept the results of the election, we were – to use Hillary’s words – “Horrified.” We couldn’t believe he would be so willing to disregard a fundamental requirement of the peaceful transition of power in this country. We can’t turn around now and do the same just because we didn’t get our way.

Trump will be President in January. That’s it. Yes, Hillary got more votes. Yes, the Electoral College broke our hearts. But what’s done is done. He will be President, and not just for the people who voted for him. He will be the President of every United States citizen, like it or not.

It is incumbent on us, the outraged and incensed citizens who wanted him nowhere near the White House, to understand that. He will be our President. This means he will also be our responsibility. To walk through the streets chanting, “NOT MY PRESIDENT” is pretty close to saying, “NOT MY PROBLEM”, when he is very much your problem.

The facts are the facts. Don’t try and wish them away, because it won’t work. Instead, pledge yourself to vigilance and opposition. Watch that man and the writhing pile of plague rats that comes with him. Don’t let them gain an inch or take a breath without being there.

Trump will be our President. He will be our responsibility. And we will be damned if he gets away with anything on our watch.

How Do We Solve a Problem Like The Donald?

Damned if I know.

Right now, three days after the election, pretty much everyone who didn’t see this coming is scrambling for two things: an explanation and a plan. I suspect that an explanation will come in due time. A plan, however, is something we need right now.

sgtanckI’m angry. For lots of reasons, really. I’m angry that a racist, woman-hating con man got himself elected to the highest office in the land. I’m angry that he brought a horde of misshapen, venomous parasites with him. I’m angry that the racists and bigots and xenophobes seem to think that his election means it’s open season on everyone they’ve always hated. I’m angry that so many people I know and love are scared. I’m angry that other people I know and love aided and abetted this ignominious defiling of the Presidency.

I’m angry that lies and slander and outright cruelty can not only go unpunished, but can be rewarded. I’m angry that the institutions we trusted to keep this from happening just stood by and let it happen.

I’m angry that my country isn’t what I thought it was, on so many levels.

And I know I’m not the only person who’s angry. Lots of people are angry, and rightly so. The problem with anger is that it can very easily lead to doing great and irreparable harm to oneself and others, so what we need now is that plan.

Unfortunately, the plan we’re being offered from our leadership – Obama, Clinton, much of the press and punditry – is to let it go. Give the next President a clean slate and the benefit of the doubt. Maybe, they say, he’ll do the right thing.

To that I say: Bullshit. Here’s why:

When he rode down that gleaming escalator, we all laughed and said, “There’s no way he’s serious. He won’t go through with this.”

But he did.

When he was one of nearly two dozen Republicans vying for the nomination, we said, “There’s no way he’ll get through this without screwing up.”

But he did.

When he became the nominee, we said, “Well, now that he’s facing the general election, surely he’ll move to the center. He had to make use of his dogwhistles and his angry stump speeches for the GOP base, but now he has to deal with the rest of the electorate. He can’t keep spewing all this anger and mendacity.”

But he did.

And when he came up against Clinton, a woman with more qualifications and experience than he could ever hope to have, a woman who resoundingly trounced him in three debates, we all turned to each other and said, “There’s no way he can win.”

But. He. Did.

And now Obama and Clinton and the press and the punditry want us to believe that he’ll turn around. That the reserves of his awfulness have been expended, that running for President is one thing but being the President is another, and he’ll govern the country responsibly from January 20th onward.

Why on God’s green earth should we believe that? Why should we believe that he’ll change this time? What evidence do we have that this is even remotely possible? At what point have we seen him decide that there is something bigger than himself, something to which he must show even a sliver of compassion and humility?

And the theory that the GOP will somehow be a check on him? Like they were in the primaries? Like they were during the general? The closest they got to controlling him was taking away his Twitter access right before election day. That’s what you do to control a recalcitrant teenager, not the President. The Republican Party won’t be able to control this man any better when he’s in the White House than they did before.

And those of you hoping that he’ll just get bored and leave everything to his underlings? Look at those underlings and bury that hope in the deepest hole you can find.

So. The plan.

I don’t believe there can be any common ground. No clean slate. No buried hatchet. In order to do that, there must be trust, and I don’t trust him any further than I could spit a dead rat. I have no reason to believe that he will be a better person come January 20th. None whatsoever.

The new President and his party of preening, pustulent parasites must have no quarter and gain no ground. They must be fought tooth and nail for every inch until we can replace them with people who value nation over party and responsibility over power. They must be rejected, rebuked, and repudiated on all fronts. The President, his hangers-on, and the cowards who can’t bring themselves to stand up to him are owed nothing from us because nothing is all they stand for.

I feel like I should be waving a flag. Like La Marseillaise should be playing in the background. And yet…

And yet, who the hell am I to be saying this? I’m thousands of miles from the USA right now. Unless the plan to pull US forces out of Japan goes through, or that tangerine hobgoblin decides to nuke North Korea, I won’t see the kinds of effects that people are already seeing – the violence, the discrimination, the slurs and epithets and hate.

I’m well-insulated over here, typing away on a blog that has about as much influence over national affairs as not blogging at all. What I think and what I want, well… It really doesn’t count for much. Or at all.

But I can’t keep all this inside my head without going mad.

I am angry. I suspect that I will be for quite a while. I just hope that I can make it count for something.

Thanksgiving, Day 8: Democracy

Deal with it.

Yeah, I know, it’s a gimme topic today – but I like it.

I often like the concept of democracy more than the thing itself. Like all political systems, it’s much better in the abstract. In an ideal democracy – or democratic republic, if you want to get all pedantic on me – a well-informed citizenry would stand up and cast their votes for a leader from those who were best suited to guide the nation forward. These candidates would be the best the country had to offer, and the choice would be made based on their skills and their record.

Of course, as with any political or economic system, once actual people get involved, the whole thing goes pear-shaped. A lot of voters aren’t informed, or limit their information to what they want to hear. A lot of the candidates aren’t interested in governing as much as they’re interested in winning, and in the end the whole thing is an exhausting endurance trial for everyone involved. Everyone on every side tries to game the system, adhering to the letter of the law rather than the spirit, and when it’s all over just shrug and say, “Well, that’s just how the game is played.”

But, as has often been said, of all the political systems on offer, it’s one of the best. And especially after yesterday, I’m thankful for it.

It is true that we are, in essence, exactly where we were before the election – Barack Obama in the White House, a Senate controlled by the Democrats but not locked down, and a House controlled by the Republicans. If the last couple of years are any indication, it looks like the way forward will remain much the same. A lot of gridlock and obstructionism, with each side complaining about how the other side isn’t playing fair, and how if only they would change their minds to think like we do, we could get work done. So there is that.

But look at all the good things that came of this election – and I’m sure I’ll miss a few:

I’m sure I missed some – sound off in the comments.

In general, I’ve always thought this: people, as individuals, are usually pretty smart. The People, in aggregate, are as dumb as a box of dead squirrels. [1] But I am always happy to be proven wrong on this point, and I would say that the 2012 election did a nice job of that.

—–
[1] And thus ends my 2016 Presidential campaign.

Thanksgiving, Day 7: Distance

I’ll make this quick, as it’s been a tiring day.

Barack Obama won, as well he should have. The campaign – the endless, endless campaign – felt like an ever-increasing burden on my mind, and as every day drew closer to the election, I fretted and worried and refreshed Nate Silver’s site…

And I’m not even in the country.

There are times when I do miss being in the States, but election season isn’t one of them. It’s one of those times when I’m glad for the immense distance between me and the funhouse mirror universe that is a Presidential campaign.

People back home have complained endlessly about the mailers, the robo-calls, the inescapable attack ads and pollsters and door-knockers. For the people back in the homeland, this was the water you swam in, the air you breathed for the last eighteen months because you had no choice.

I, on the other hand, do. I can choose the websites I visit and the television I watch. IF I see an attack ad, it’s usually only after it’s been chewed over on The Daily Show and mocked relentlessly on the internet that I deign to go to YouTube and check it out. Hell, even the time distance insulates me – when something huge happens, it’s while I’m sleeping. I wake up and get the settled-dust aftermath.

This distance keeps me safe, it keeps me sane. In normal times it’s frustrating and unpleasant, but during an election season? It is comfortable as all hell…

Four more years…

Hooray! I matter!

I got a campaign mailer!

Those of you living in the US are probably completely jaded about this by now, I get that, but I haven’t gotten one of these in ages. It’s from Bill Wadsworth, the Republican candidate looking to be re-elected to State Rep. It came with a nicely-done CV and statement of principles, along with a letter that someone had written my name on in what I assume is ink.

Well played, Bill.

Now keep in mind, he’s too late – I’ve already sent my ballot back, and even if I hadn’t, I would rather set my own hair on fire than give a vote to the Republican party. He seems like a decent guy on paper, but he doesn’t belong to a decent party, and there’s no way in heaven or on earth I’ll reward them with my privilege as a citizen.

Still, I have to give Wadsworth credit: His people must have sent this out right after my ballot application arrived, and it raced across the planet only to be a couple of days too late. On top of that, I’m a voter living abroad – not exactly a demographic that’s going to tip the scales for this or any other election. Someone made the decision to send this to me, and for some reason that warms my cold, shriveled heart a little.

Man, I need to get more mail.

So kudos to you, Bill Wadsworth! If you weren’t allying yourself with bigots, plutocrats, and thieves, this might have convinced me to vote for you. Better luck next time.

Dear Benghazi Mob…

Why don’t you have a seat over there? Thanks.

Look.

Back in aught-one, the US was attacked. Planes, towers, Pentagon, “Let’s roll” – you know the story. Hell, there are probably hill tribes in Borneo who know the story. The point is, we were attacked in a way we never expected to be. It hurt us. It scared us. And on that day, our reaction was to freak the hell out.

We really lost our shit over this, passing laws that five years prior would have sounded like something out of a tinfoil hat conspiracy newsletter. We launched two wars, one of which was completely unreasonable, and the other of which has been the longest in our history. We allowed our anger and terror to get the better of us, and by doing so we handed victory to the forces that had attacked us. It’s unfortunate, but it’s an all-too-human reaction. Quick, reflexive decision-making may have been what saved our ancient ancestors in Africa all those millennia ago, who knows?

Pictured: One of those bad decisions.

That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea now. Very little good has come from the decisions made in the aftermath of 9/11, and if we had it all to do over again (not that I’m offering, mind you), I should hope that we’d handle the situation with more care and greater forethought.

Why do I bring this up? Well, because you have fallen into the same trap that we did. You were insulted and outraged by this inane video, produced by a puffed-up religious bigot who thinks it’s funny to incite international incidents. And you reacted without thinking, lashing out not at the people who actually made the video, but at a target only barely related to them at all. Like I said – we get that. We’re the United States. That’s kind of our thing.

Osama bin Laden told the world that we were reactionary, violent warmongers, and we fulfilled that image. Terry Jones told the world that Muslims were an irrational, murderous mob, and you have fulfilled that image as well. You have, as we did, accepted your antagonist’s vision of who you are.

If it were just confined to you, maybe that wouldn’t be so bad. Unfortunately, your actions tarnish the reputations of a whole lot of people who aren’t you. Just as there were many Americans who opposed post-9/11 policy-making, there are many Muslims who think what you did was an abomination. And just as the Bush administration tainted the image of The United States, you have tainted the image of Muslims which, at least in the U.S., really doesn’t need to take any more abuse.

You know what they call people who make other people apologize for them? Assholes, that’s what they call them.

The real takeaway from it is this: attacking a U.S. embassy and killing an ambassador isn’t going to do a damned thing except ensure the prompt delivery of a group of very angry Marines. Terry Jones won’t change his ways – hell, you’ve basically confirmed all his prejudices against you – and you’ve managed to make life a lot harder for that vast population of Muslims and Arabs who aren’t screaming maniacs.

Anger is understandable – some jackass openly mocked your sacred traditions. I get that. But there are limits to the acceptable expression of anger, and killing people who had nothing to do with what made you angry, well, that’s out of bounds. And now a whole lot of people who were perfectly willing to get along are going to have to play damage control just because you have problems expressing your rage appropriately.

You have to be better than the people who have attacked you. It’s a lesson the U.S. has had a hard time learning – hell, it’s a lesson that can vex any human being. But it’s vital if we’re ever going to see an end to people like Terry Jones. He needed your rage and you gave him a feast. From now on, don’t feed the trolls.

There.

Problem solved.