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Est. April 5, 2002
June 25, 2020 - Issue 824
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How Low?

"It will be a long haul, but it needs to be done and,
as Frederick Douglass said, 'Power concedes nothing
without a demand. It never did and it never will.'  And
on another occasion, he said, 'The limits of tyrants are
prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.'”

There is no need to use a depth finder to determine how low the U.S. has gone: Donald J. Trump is its president.

That should be enough to indicate to all sentient citizens that there is little room for the nation to drop, before it reaches the bottom. He is not just tone-deaf to the vital issues of the day, things that are matters of life and death for average Americans, but he seems to be ignorant of just about everything that is happening to make life miserable for millions of those Americans.

Trump's grasp of American history is virtually nil. It's a wonder that he even knows which side Washington's continental army was on in the War of Independence. He definitely has no clue about chattel slavery and the horrors of believing that one can own another person and how that owned person can be treated. Of course, the floggings and torture of slaves for any slight, big or small, are crimes that the nation never has paid for.

He has rarely mentioned vital issues of the day in the course of his public utterances and, even then, he is likely to have been coached by some adult in the White House, who has told him that he must address this or that issue, but you can tell that he does not even want to mouth the words. He reads the teleprompter without feeling or energy, as if he doesn't understand what he's saying. And that's easy to explain. He doesn't understand or feel the words. It's just verbiage in his mouth.

It could be why he didn't say much in front of St. John's Church, across from Lafayette Park near the White House, several days ago, when he had the police and military break up a peaceful protest with tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash-bang explosives. He and his attorney general, William Barr, still have to pay for their blatant violation of the protesters' First Amendment rights. But he got to hold up his (somebody else's) bible. What point he was making by his silent display is between Trump and Mammon, the god he worships. It's questionable whether he ever opened the book to St. Paul, whose writings charged that “the love of money is the root of all evil,” tracing all wrongdoing to an excessive attachment to material wealth.

Although he claims to be a “stable genius,” some of the statements he has made over the past few years are indicative of an IQ much lower than that of a genius. That the president of the world's biggest economy and military establishment did not know that Finland was not a part of the Russian Federation, but is an independent country, and that he knows extremely little about world history. It's part of what former national security advisor to Trump, John Bolton, said in his book, “The Room Where It Happened.” Like him or loathe him, Bolton has given a picture of the Trump White House that other insider books have not. In a TV interview this week, ABC's Martha Raddatz asked him how he thinks history will remember Trump.

He replied: “I hope it will remember him as a one-term president who didn't plunge the country irretrievably into a downward spiral we can't (recover) from. We can get over one term. I have absolute confidence—even even if it's not the miracle of a conservative Republican being elected in November. Two terms, I'm more troubled about. But I'm really troubled about the absence as well of a viable national security wing in the Democratic Party. So this is an election for me of a choice of two unacceptable alternatives. And it's not one I relish.”

Bolton, a “conservative,” who never saw a war or prospect of a war that he didn't like, will vote in November, but it won't be for Trump or the Democrat on the ballot. He did not directly say that Trump is unhinged and that he should be removed immediately, but he revealed things that others have surmised. He parsed his words carefully, but didn't get to the quick of the story of the Trump White House: That no one is in control and things just happen, according to the whims and prejudices of a president that is so out of his depth that anyone who stays longer than a month or two should be seen as culpable as Trump for the disaster his administration is. Fred Trump's boy is not fit for office.

The president is unable to grasp the Black Lives Matter movement that swelled in the streets in cities across the country in the wake of the murder by police of George Floyd. He has no clue that it is 400 years of pent-up anger and resentment of people who have been marginalized and oppressed for all that time, even though there has been some progress in the past half-century. He's lucky for that small amount of progress, because individuals in the black community are doing their best to approach his indifference in a peaceful way. It may be because they realize that he is just as ignorant about issues, domestic and global, as he is about the country's lasting stain of chattel slavery.

How could a president of the U.S. ask the question: “Where are the protests over the attacks by blacks on white people?” How could he not know that the power of the state and its oppression of black citizens is what makes the difference and has made the difference for centuries? They are two different things, but he can't see it. It is a part of his addled approach to virtually everything. His dangerous, often deadly, indifference to societal problems is something that he cannot help, being narcissistic, selfish, greedy, and cruel, both in his policies (if he has any) as president and, before, as the head of the Trump Organization, which is notorious as a cheater and wage thief, and abuser of workers among other things.

The U.S. cannot look to its president for ideas to solve the domestic problems and many look with horror at the power he has over the country's nuclear arsenal, along with his insane behavior in trashing and removing the nation from longstanding treaties and agreements that tended to make the world a little safer than it was. Now, he has his finger on the trigger, so to speak, and he needs people around him who will mitigate or stop his worst impulses. In the same way, he has loosed the worst elements of white supremacy and other extremists (neo-Nazis, KKK, skinheads, white nationalists, and others), who have come out into the open, especially since Trump proclaimed that there are “good people on both sides.” He has made the world safe for such people and is dragging the nation back into ground that we must never travel again.

At this moment, Trump is desperately trying to suppress a book by his niece, Mary L. Trump, titled, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man.” The book is due out presently, but the president's lawyers are in court to try to stop it. He claims that she signed a non-disclosure agreement that prohibits publication, but her lawyer, Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., told The Daily Beast, “President Trump and his siblings seek to suppress a book that will discuss matters of utmost public importance. They are pursuing this unlawful prior restraint because they do not want the public to know the truth. The courts will not tolerate this brazen violation of the First Amendment.”

Bolton's book is a narrative of Trump in the White House that has a unique point of view, but Mary Trump's book is a narrative of Trump and, as a clinical psychologist, she knows what she is seeing and has lived it within the Trump Family. That's what is scaring and enraging the president...that his niece's book will give the world an insight into his persona that others have only speculated about, even though they might have been correct in their assessments.

Simon & Schuster is the publisher of both books and has said of Mary Trump's work, she “has the education, insight, and intimate familiarity needed to reveal what makes Donald, and the rest of her clan, tick...She alone can recount this fascinating, unnerving saga … because she is the only Trump willing to tell the truth about one of the world’s most powerful and dysfunctional families.”

President Trump's racism and xenophobia may have come from his upbringing and family life in Fred Trump's house, but he has honed both of them and he has let his innate bent toward cruelty grow as he grew older (children in cages at the Mexico-U.S. frontier). He wants long prison terms for protesters he doesn't like and, even, penalties for journalists he doesn't like (most of them, especially women). No one could better describe the reasons for President Trump's perverted thinking than his niece.

None of what is happening across the country is new with Trump, except that he is, indeed, a very dangerous man, but there is an election coming up. Until then, the demonstrations and rallies for justice need to continue. It will be a long haul, but it needs to be done and, as Frederick Douglass said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” And on another occasion, he said, “The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

The motto must be “Endure and Demand.” We know who the tyrants (or would-be tyrants) are and they must be forced to defend their refusal to act to bring justice to all. Although it could be dangerous, the president would be a natural first to answer personally to the people. Columnist, John Funiciello, is a former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.

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