Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Presidency Under Siege

The presidency of Donald J. Trump is under siege. It is being held captive by the megalomaniac, pathologically-lying, self-destructive president himself. It’s not the ‘sore-losing obstructionist Democrats’ who are undermining Trump. It’s not the ‘enemy of the people fake-news media’ who is out to get him. It’s not “crooked Hillary, cryin’ Chuck Schumer or sleazy Adam Schiff.” No one but Trump has doomed his colossally failed presidency. 

To borrow from Trump’s dishonest, manipulative rhetoric about Obamacare, the U.S. presidency is collapsing under the sexist, racist, hate-filled, do-nothing weight of the bloviating maniac at the top of the shit pile. The “I alone” president has fulfilled his biggest campaign promise: he’s totally fucked things up all by himself. 

While Trump loves bragging about his massive accomplishments during his first six months in office, reality is quite the opposite. His is a presidency mired in controversy and scandal. A presidency under House, Senate, FBI and special counsel investigation. A presidency with not one single major piece of legislation passed (by contrast Barack Obama had the economic stimulus; the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; and was creating what would soon be the Affordable Care Act). A presidency paralyzed by internal leaks and staff infighting, defections and shake-ups. A presidency facing possible impeachment and indictment. A presidency already reviewing the legality of pardons, even for Trump himself. A presidency with a dreadful 36% approval rating, the lowest in history. 

We have a president driven by an insatiable need for attention, praise and loyalty even at the expense of the United States and its citizens. Who chooses to demean and undermine his cabinet members, staff and surrogates publicly. A no-character coward who hides behind 140 characters on Twitter when attacking his opponents instead of facing them like a real man. An impulse-challenged Manchurian Manbaby who surrounds himself with yes-men and sycophants like his new mini-manbaby communications director Anthony Scaramucci. A president with a disdain for the rule of law. Who thinks he’s above the law. Who may be guilty of obstruction of justice, collusion, treason and who knows what else. 

And now we have a president who, amid several ongoing investigations into the campaign’s possible role in Russia’s hacking of last year’s election, is contemplating firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions after having fired FBI Director James Comey. Unconscionable actions which make Richard Nixon’s Watergate crimes pale in comparison. 

To be sure, Trump’s main priority is his unrelenting Tweet’nado to deny, distract, deflect, demean, disrespect and discredit RussiaGate and the investigations. He’s become increasingly paranoid, desperate and emotionally unglued. It’s as if he knows the Feds are closing in. The presidency is spinning out of control and paralyzing not just Trump, but is keeping the Republican-controlled Congress from pushing its agenda through as well. 

“He’s a chaos candidate and he’ll be a chaos president,” Jeb Bush famously predicted during the campaign. 

The big question now is, how much longer Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan will ride Trump’s reckless roller-coaster before it jumps the track and destroys them all...

Monday, July 17, 2017

Republicans Voting Against Their Own Interests: It's the Hatred, Stupid...

In his recent NY Times op-ed (”What's the Matter with Republicans?”) David Brooks asked, "Why do working-class conservatives seem to vote so often against their own economic interests?" It's an excellent question relating to a truly inexplicable phenomenon. But I disagree with Brooks' thesis that it's primarily attributable to anti-government fervor. The truth is much uglier than that. 

The Republican party, and most recently Donald Trump, have perfected the art of playing to the lowest common denominator of the GOP's base which, over the past several decades, has fully succumbed to a toxic cocktail of ignorance, intolerance and hate. 

Just as Trump's perfected the art of demagoguery—scapegoating immigrants, Mexicans, women, the judiciary, the intelligence community and the media—to brainwash his followers while stoking their anger, sexism and racial animus, the GOP has also historically used abortion, religion, guns and gay marriage as smokescreens to deceive those who voted for them and who most need their economic help. 

The party has succeeded in diverting these voters' collective attention away from the issues that should matter most to them—jobs, education, healthcare and the environment, for example—instead harnessing their most basic, primal fears and insecurities and converting them into invaluable political capital. 

In Trump’s 2017 America, the media is “the enemy of the people” while a brutal dictator-wannabe from a hostile nation like Russian President Vladimir Putin is a revered world leader who’s allowed to hack into and influence our elections. It’s an America where an attack on our Democracy is more tolerable than an attack on our megalomaniacal president. Where anger, fear and hatred trumps facts and the truth. 

Republican voters claimed to want change. More jobs, better education, affordable healthcare and housing and to ‘make America great again.’ But instead they’ve allowed themselves to be exploited and dragged into Trump’s self-destructive rabbit hole. 

The likelihood is that this bait and switch will continue until poor and middle class Republican voters realize that their fear and hatred has made them complicit in the longest-running con game in political history. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

I Lost My Wife Too, Patton Oswalt

3901 days, 15 hours and 10 minutes ago I found my wife, the actor and filmmaker Adrienne Shelly (WAITRESS), dead in her office. Murdered. Her killer staged it to appear as a suicide. She was 40. Young, beautiful, vibrant and the love of my life. She had so much to live for, yet was so easily, senselessly and violently yanked from the world, from me and from the toddler daughter she adored. Adrienne’s death left me devastated, heartbroken and unable to fathom a future without her.

In April of 2016 the actor and comedian Patton Oswalt dropped off his 7-year-old daughter Alice at school, picked up coffee and went home. He immediately discovered that his wife, crime writer Michelle McNamara, 46, had died in her sleep. He emotionally described his tragic ordeal in a moving New York Times story last October.

Fifteen months later, Oswalt is now the target of ridicule and harsh criticism after he announced his engagement to actor Meredith Salenger. Because it’s “too soon.” Because he’s still grieving. Because it can’t be real love. Because people are cruel and judgmental. And because many of them are inherently miserable and would rather see this dude drown in his fucking sorrow than be happy again. And misery loves company, right?

I remember missing Adrienne so much and craving the scent, touch, closeness of a woman. I missed her incredible brain, her ferocious wit and humor, and her intense love for me. But I also missed her body. Her skin. I was so distraught, broken and frightened. Empty. Alone. I just wanted to be held. To be comforted. And so I fell into the nurturing arms of a couple of understanding, compassionate women very soon after Adrienne was gone. While they couldn’t fulfill the deep emotional crater that had swallowed me, they did have bodies. And skin. And they could hold me. And for a moment make me feel good. And safe. And could let me drift and forget that a nuke had been dropped on my world.

Those early times spent with other women didn’t mean that I wasn’t grief-struck. Didn’t mean I didn’t love Adrienne. The truth is, I traversed the Earth in a coma. I was lucky I could put one foot in front of the other and simply walk. These women filled a primal need. Kept me from sinking further into the abyss. I had a daughter to take care of. And I had to take care of me. And so I was with them, unapologetically. My life. My horror. My decisions.

From those early physical involvements to removing my wedding ring to subsequently dating to eventually meeting someone and falling in love again, it all happened on my timeline. I didn’t give a shit what the peanut gallery thought. Why should I? Were they with me on the closet floor curled in a fetal position as I cried my eyes out? Were they helping me understand the cruelty in being the happiest schmuck on the planet one minute and a lifeless zombie the next? Were they raising Sophie with me? Did they share in any of the responsibility, the work, of putting this shit show back on track?

Oswalt’s wife is dead. My wife is dead. And ya know what? Only we have a say in what we do and when we do it. No one else gets a vote. Until you excitedly rush to see your wife or husband and find them dead instead, spare us your judgement and wisdom. Our pain and sorrow never goes away. And when it does subside, even temporarily, we just grieve all over again the minute we see our motherless children.

So please just fucking leave Patton Oswalt alone. Be happy for him. He’s a survivor.