Trump Sez the Chinese Curse is a Hoax

The Chinese Curse is devastatingly simple: may you live in interesting times, and-- unless the Chinese Curse is a Chinese Hoax-- there is no question that we have entered The American Era of the Chinese Curse . . . and I've exhausted myself thinking about the implications of this, and I've been trying to process and digest everything I've seen, read, heard, and thought before I posted on the election, but now that I've heard Trump's pick for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, things have hit close enough to home and I need to vent about it all . . . and so here are some of my thoughts:

1) Betsy DeVos is a union-busting proponent of charter schools and vouchers, and she'd like nothing better than to privatize the most venerable community democratic institution in America, the public school . . . this causes me a great deal of anxiety, both for my job and the future of funding for the public school my children attend . . . and DeVos has ties to Amway . . . yuck;

2) I live in a wonderful liberal enclave where the kids walk to school, play in the streets (and occasionally get hit by cars) and enjoy a fairly safe, often wonderful, multi-cultural, friendly community . . . in my town, the vote tally was 3900 for Clinton and 1100 for Trump, and most of the Trump support seems to have come from the Orthodox Jewish population, who held a Trump rally at a synagogue, and who were probably voting for Trump for the reasons outlined in number one-- they pay Highland Park taxes, but they send their kids to private schools, and Trump would be their best bet on saving some money in this regard;

3) I was excited by Trump's infrastructure promises because I thought I might get air-conditioning in my classroom, but since Trump's infrastructure plan is to incentivize private companies to do infrastructure work and he'd like to appoint someone who wants to dismantle the public education system, I'm not going to hold my breath;

4) Clinton didn't get people out to vote the way Obama did-- perhaps because she was an establishment candidate in an anti-establishment campaign, and the Ohio and Pennsylvania counties that flipped are the ones plagued by heroin and opioid epidemics, so while I thought America was Pretty Great and Addressing Some Issues So It Might Get Greater, the people in these towns really think America Sucks-- they are uneducated, jobless, angry, and addicted to drugs or surrounded by people addicted to drugs, or working a crappy job, or working a decent job but surrounded by people working crappy jobs and addicted to drugs and watching their town go to shit-- and so while I liked some of the policy tweaks Clinton was proposing . . . maybe they would make college cheaper, or provide more pre-K and childcare, or help working mothers, maybe she would strengthen Dodd-Frank, etcetera-- and while she wasn't overtly proposing things I really care about-- she wasn't promoting unionization and radical environmental protection and carbon taxation, at least she wasn't completely opposed to them . . . but my life is generally great, and so while I fear massive change from the status quo, a bunch of people that I don't know or live near were really angry and wanted any kind of change, especially one that would make things worse for immigrants and minorities and terrorists and women, because if you can't find a way to improve your life, the best way to feel better about yourself, is to make someone else's life worse;

5) the best best case scenario of Trump's term (which will probably be eight years, unless he does something really really egregious, because he'll be able to create some short-term-- but very costly-- windfalls in the economy in order to get elected again) is that he fosters some diplomatic ties with Russia, remains a bit isolationist and doesn't get involved in some awful militaristic adventure, doesn't go too nuts with the wall and immigrant thing, and doesn't dismantle too much of the Clean Air and Water Act and other environmental regulations, figures out a way to revise Obamacare without making 22 million people lose healthcare, and basically doesn't get much done . . . but the more typical scenario is that moderate Republicans like John McCain reign him in a bit and we just have a typically terrible Republican term . . . so you can expect tax cuts that will drive up the national deficit, cuts in government programs, a stupid purposeless expensive adventure in the Middle East, a weakening of organized labor, a super-conservative Supreme Court, the return of torture, environmental deregulation and devastation, but a bit of a windfall from tearing all the coal from the mountains and fracking all the gas out of the earth and drilling for oil everywhere, financial deregulation followed by a financial bubble followed by a recession . . . for more on this, just read about the eight years under George W. Bush . . . yuck;

6) Myron Ebell, the climate change contrarian leading Trump's EPA transition team, is a scary motherfucker . . . while the education stuff hits close to home, nothing scares me more about Trump than his belief in conspiracy and hokum, and his lack of understanding of the scientific method . . . he's an anti-vaxxer, for Christ's sake;

7) if you're a guy like me, and just can't understand why anyone would vote for Trump, and would consider him a populist here, then you need to read this great post my friend John sent me . . . it's written by a guy who grew up in a white Jesus-fearing red community, and he says stop trying to understand the rural Christian voters because they don't understand themselves-- they are angry and brand loyal and would never let any "facts" or "critical thinking" or argument or logic sway them otherwise . . . Clinton is a socialist crooked politician and God is a white guy with a  beard who controls the weather and the best news source is the post that makes you happiest on Facebook-- whether it's fake or alt-right propaganda  and white people are superior and no elitist coastal bastard is going to tell you otherwise . . . and these people have been voting against their best interests for quite a while, Thomas Frank fully explains it in his masterpiece What's the Matter with Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America . . . it's a moral choice that's about brand loyalty, not critical thinking or policy, and if you're brand occasionally talks about grabbing women by the pussy, well, you can put up with that;

8) even if Trump said the things he said purely in order to win the election, the hate and vitriol he spewed against women, Mexicans, immigrants, and Hillary Clinton should never be forgotten and the pussy grabbing remark should be mentioned at every press conference . . . despite blind conservative brand loyalty, I'm surprised that any father with a daughter or any woman at all voted for this crass idiot, and I am ashamed for them . . . and I know that these people who voted for Trump hate me because I pity them for their ignorance and provincialism, it's an ugly dynamic;

9) worst case Trump scenarios are really scary: he's capable of bullying, intimidating, and coercing the press; he might really screw up banking regulations and trade deals; he might hurt the U.S. diplomatically for many years to come; he might start a nuclear war; he might intern all Muslims; the First and Second Amendment will be under attack; he might spend tons and tons of money building a wall; he's angry, petty, and he's been the butt of the joke for decades and now, in the ugliest and weirdest "underdog" victory ever, the butt of the joke-- the Ugliest American-- has become the most powerful man in the free world . . . it's best not to think about these situations and just concentrate on the stuff he will definitely fuck up, and scrutinize him constantly;

10) the press really dropped the ball-- they were vetting Clinton as if she won, and not doing story after story about Trump's crazy conspiracy theories, his lack of core principles, his corrupt business practices, his lack of tax information, his insane business conflicts, and the very real possibility that he might end up running an autocratic kleptocracy . . . he won't be doing political favors for people, he'll be directly enriching himself with his policy moves . . . this one is too depressing to continue;

11) I was trying to explain to my wife why we still have the electoral college, and I was really having trouble-- I know the Founding Fathers wanted to give rural states enough power to have some say and they wanted to promote a more stable two-party system, and the electoral votes make this possible, but it's gotten to the point where there are two Americas . . . and there are a lot more of us progressive city folk, who would like parks and good schools and clean air and water and green energy and multicultural tolerance and more Northern European style policy such as single payer healthcare and better family leave and help with college education and a progressive Supreme Court, and then there are these smaller states that are holding us hostage, and I'm not sure what they want-- and I don't think they know what they want either-- and I don't want to be stereotypical, so I'll refrain from speculating, but if there are any red state Trump supporters who read this blog (not a shot in hell) then please explain in the comments what policy you expected from Trump . . . anyway, we're getting to the point where we should be two separate economic entities, which would be nice, because the blue states are far less reliant on the federal government, and would do much better without the baggage of the red states-- who are incredibly thankless for the money we send to subsidize them;

12) some folks voted for Trump because he'd be tough on terrorism and ISIS, but I can't understand why people in rural America-- the least likely place for a terrorist attack-- are far more fearful of Muslims than the folks on the coasts, and some people voted for Trump because they see him as a bastion of law and order, a voice of reasonable justice wearing "the mantle of anger" amidst the gun violence, flood of immigrants, city riots and kowtowing to minority groups like Black Lives Matter . . . and while I don't agree with any of this, and think these people received their information from fake news on Facebook, at least it's a reason;

13) I'm not saying Trump is like Hitler . . .  that would be hyperbolic, plus Hitler was organized, a compelling speaker, and Hitler actually had a plan of action-- joke stolen from David Cross-- but Hitler promised jobs, Hitler promised revenge for the deals that Germany had made with the world (The Treaty of Versailles) and Hitler was an intimidating bully who hated immigrants and promised to make Germany great again . . . those are just some interesting parallels, but I'm not comparing the two leaders because I don't want to get put on leave, like this teacher;

14) and so that's what it's come down to . . . the majority of the country, myself, included, can't believe what has happened, and many of us would have no problem leaving the red states to fend for themselves-- I would gladly vote to secede from the crap that's going to happen in the next 4-8 years . . . the red states can pollute themselves to hell, cut all the government services, privatize everything, dismantle the schools, ban gay marriage, make kids study Creationism, do lots of heroin, carry semi-automatic weapons everywhere, refuse to vaccinate, insult women and the disabled, deport immigrants, build walls and do whatever insane shit they want to do, with a spray-tanned game-show host as their beloved daddy-leader . . . just don't touch my America, because my America is Pretty Great . . . it could use improvements, but it's certainly never been better than this . . . so all I can hope for is that the political forces in my town and state can keep the political forces of Donald Trump and his ilk at bay, and maybe that's why we have the electoral college and why we are a loose federation of states . . . and readers who voted for Trump, perhaps you could explain yourselves in the comments, because you folks are an angry apocalyptic cipher to me . . . I still haven't gotten to have an actual conversation with a real Trump supporter, which makes me pretty sheltered-- I guess I live behind my own wall of elitist coastal intellectualism, which I've erected out of brain cells and books, but maybe someday soon some folks from Trump's America will make their way over my wall and explain things to me.


Lecky said...

Obviously you did not go snowboarding over Thanksgiving break. Again, your efforts deserve an extended commentary but I'm still lazy. I do agree with just about all of your sentiments here, but I do think there are more than two Americas - there was a huge cadre of Bernie supporters - progessive, with that Socialist fervor - they are the opposite of Trump supporters but I think they live amongst them across the continent. Not sure how they fit in. Also, the minority experience in the U.S. has no home in Two Americas but it' a big part of our national identity.

I'm jut going to focus on darts and music the next eight years and hope it's so complex that no one figures it out enough to fuck it up too much.

Dave said...

true, the bernie stuff-- which i was more in tune with-- shifted hillary to the left, which i liked . . . but it still didn't galvanize people. i feel like the minority experience is very different here in central jersey, where i live wedged between a dense indian population, a mainly hispanic city, in a town that is increasingly asian instead of white and african american and jewish . . . it can't feel the same to be a "minority" here as it does in nebraska.

and you're right, i'm going to stop listening to podcasts and go back to music for the next eight years. should be good for stand-up comedy as well . . .

zman said...

I like the line about brain cells and books and I too cannot believe that our president rose to prominence in large part by hosting a game show. According to Colin Woodard there are eleven American nations. I haven't read his book but I've been meaning to for years. I would've thought you read it by now--maybe you did and forgot since you used all those brain cells to build a wall.

Lecky said...

On Obama and what I'll miss- I watched the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony, and Obama is The Man amongst the 21 cultural giants he honors this year, but he is reverent and humbled in their presence and deeply appreciative of their contributions to our country.  He also gives credit to their influence on his personal journey to be a decent and caring human being.  He was at his finest, which is saying something.  My mind then went to Trump in the same ceremony, giving a posthumous award to Roy Cohn for his great work with McCarthy and 20 awards to himself.

zman said...

At long last, have you left no sense of decency?

Dave said...

i read that book about all the american nations, he gave them cool names, which i forgot.

those pacific northwesterners seemed to have a good idea on how to do it . . . actually, i read a book called the nine nations of north america, by joel garreau. so now it's eleven

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