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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Winning Civilization

 

What then, the price of civilization?

"Jim Wright you said we need to compromise with those [who] voted for Trump. How? If they are truly okay that Trump lied where are the grounds to start?"
--
Margaret B. Munday, from comments under a post in the Stonekettle Station Facebook Group

How do we compromise with those who voted for Trump?

Not just those who voted for Trump, but especially if those conservatives don’t honestly care that he’s engaged in deliberate falsehoods?

Particularly if they themselves know President Trump’s statements to be false?

This question was prompted by two things, the previous essay here on Stonekettle Station, No Man’s Land, and a Facebook post I wrote regarding an article by Daniel Dale at The Star which detailed Trump supporters who openly believe Donald Trump is deliberately lying as part of some elaborate chess game.

In No Man’s Land (and two previous essays, Bug Hunt and Red Sea) I suggested liberals will have to compromise with conservatives in order to win back not only the White House, but Congress and the Supreme Court.

Daniel Dale’s article interviewed a number of Trump voters in economically depressed Newark, Ohio, who say they know the president is lying, for example about being “wiretapped” by former President Obama. They know Trump’s claim is a lie. They know it. They don’t think Trump was mistaken, they think he lied on purpose. And they think that’s great. They think Trump is deliberately lying as part of a larger strategy to shake up Washington and send liberals and the media (both of whom they regard as the enemy) into some kind of tizzy. A sentiment summed up by retired factory worker John Tolliver,  

“What he was wanting to do was keep things stirred up so it was all confused. He said he was going to do that from the time he started running for the election. That’s what it’s going to take. When they’re confused, they don’t know what they’re doing, they’re going to make a mistake, and he’s going to grab them.”

How do we compromise with people like that?

Margaret isn't the only person to ask this question.

I've got hundreds of emails, hundreds of comments on Facebook and here on Stonekettle Station asking the same question or some variation of the same.

You said we need to compromise with those who voted for Trump. How?

Well, that is the question, isn’t it?

But that's not exactly what I said.

Though I do acknowledge that since a rather large number of people took it that way, perhaps I could have been a bit more specific.

 

So, let me be more specific.

 

First, let's start with three basic goals:

1. We want to win back the White House

2. AND after we win the White House, we'd like to get something done

3. AND after we get stuff done, we want it to be a foundation for further advancement instead of being erased next time we’re out of power.

Good so far?

I'll assume none of you have any major issues with those goals.

So,

1. WIN THE WHITE HOUSE

To win the presidency, you have to win the Electoral College.

No. NO. Stop. Focus. We're not going to argue, here, now, if the Electoral College is a good idea or not. It is what it is and you have to win it to be president and vice president. The popular vote is nice, but it won't get you into the Oval Office. To win the White House, you need to win the Electoral College. See Trump.

After you win, you can talk about Amendments to the Constitution, but first you have to win big enough to even have that discussion in the first place.

To win the presidency, you have to win the Electoral College – I repeat myself since many Americans don’t seem to know this.

To win the Electoral College you need to win the state governments who appoint the Electors.

Which means you need to win back some of that sea of red in the middle of the county.

Which is why I use the map I used in the previous essays.

[image4.png]

Now, many of you want to argue about that map.

You want me to use a map of voting districts instead.

Ok, here you go.

Image result for voting district results map

Image attributed to Daily Kos

The thing is: no matter how you look at that map, country, voting district, state, whatever, the whole damned middle of the country is red.

Now, you tell me that’s not really what’s going on. You tell me it’s not really just red or blue.

You're right.

But you're wrong too.

It might not be that cut and dried at the people level, but it actually is either red or blue when it comes to Electoral College votes. See Trump et al.  

[image%255B14%255D.png]

 

The Electoral College picks the president and vice president and there you have it, right there.

However, if you're right and when you look at people instead of maps it really is more purple and not nearly so binary, then it should an achievable goal to win over enough of those people to swing the balance of the state. Reagan did it. Obama did it.

You need the states.

You need the red ones.

You need the states for two reasons: (A) to win the Electoral College, and (B) (see below).

Now, for (A) some of the people you need to win over, ALREADY CAN'T STAND DONALD TRUMP.

Yes, they’re conservatives and they voted for him, but they really, really don’t like him.

Maybe they voted for him because they always vote for the Republican no matter what. I know many people just like this. They hate Trump, but they are mortified at the idea anybody would think them anything but a loyal Republican. If the GOP ran Robot Cannibal Hitler's Head in a Pickle Jar, they'd vote for it because they're Republicans. To them the idea of being called a liberal is … disgraceful. 

Maybe they voted for Trump because they didn't think he'd be this bad. Those people are fools, maybe, but that’s human nature. And being a fool isn’t a capital crime – or it shouldn’t be. Sometimes being a fool is how you learn not to be a fool in the future.

Maybe they voted for him because while they don't like him, they purely hated Hillary Clinton (Don't. Just don't start with the Bernie bullshit. Neither Sanders nor Clinton is ever going to be President. Move on)

Look here, there are plenty of decent conservatives who voted for Trump for whatever reason who are now suffering buyer's remorse.

A lot of them didn't want to buy Trump in the first place but they felt they had no choice.

What?

What’s that?

They’re not “decent?”

Okay. Whatever. You know, a whole bunch of liberals were ready to embrace Glenn Beck a few months back when he pretended to turn over a new leaf. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Any ally in the fight, they said. So, let’s not argue about decent, shall we?

Here’s the really funny part: some of those people voted for Obama last time.

Think about that.

It should be possible with the right candidate (don’t start) and the right message (I mean it) and a willingness to listen (you may read that as compromise) to win those people over. To get some of them to change parties or cross party lines. It's happened before, both ways. It can be done.

Some conservatives didn't bother to vote at all.

Many are disgusted with the GOP (and the Democratic Party too). As I noted in the last essay, those town halls that Republicans refuse to show up for? Those are opportunities for liberals, for progressives, for Democrats. But you have to show up, even if the Republican congressman doesn't -- especially if the congressman doesn't.

So, again, it should be possible to win those people over.

And here’s the real kicker: if you can't win those people over now then you never will and you might as well just give up. Get used to it. Get used to losing your rights, get used to war, get used to the rich raping the rest of us, get used it.

Or, you can try to find common ground.

The fanatics? The nuts? The howling stormtrumpers with their KKK hats and Nazi salutes? The evangelical zealots who are right now trying to convince themselves that Trump is some kind of Christian loved by their insane drooling genocidal freak of a God? No. No. NO. Of course you're not going to win over those people, you're stupid to even try. And why the hell would you want to in the first place? I don't want Nazis on our team. You can't compromise with those people, they're assholes, and I suggested no such thing.

But if you can't win over some of that red in the middle of the country, if you’re not even willing to try, well then you'd better get used to Nazis in the White House.

 

2. GET SHIT DONE

Now, once you do win the White House (we’re being optimistic here) you want to get stuff done. You want to pass laws and fix things and generally make life better for everybody.

Otherwise, what's the point, right?

To do that, it's not enough to just win the White House.

Anybody who was warm and breathing during the last six years of the Obama Administration should know that it’s not enough to just win the White House.

Hell, Trump is learning that lesson right now in a very painful fashion.

To get shit done, you have to have a Congress and a Court and state governments willing to at least listen, hopefully cooperate, be willing to compromise, participate in active governing, and who will hopefully not try to fight you at every turn out of pure cussedness.

So, again, you have to win over the the states (and you thought I’d forgotten about (B) up above).

You can't keep ignoring those people in the middle of the country. Our federal government is designed – specifically designed – so that we are not subject to a tyranny of the majority. That means California doesn't get to push around Idaho either in elections or in federal government. That's why we have an electoral college and a senate and we are a republic instead of a democracy.

You've had eight years to get this lesson: It's not enough to win the White House.

If you want to get shit done, you have win the states. YOU HAVE TO WIN CONGRESS.

You've just seen this in action.

Trump just got handed his own ass by his own party.

Republicans voted 52 times to repeal Obamacare when Obama was in the White House and they didn't have a chance of it passing.

But when everything was in their favor, when they couldn't possibly fail, they failed.

Why?

Because the sons of bitches are so habituated to obstruction, they obstructed their own agenda.

They have broken government.

If they can’t make government work when they control the entire government, they have broken government. Quod erat demonstrandum.

And if government is broken, the country is broken.

So, it's not enough to win the White House and it's about more than winning elections.

It's about getting shit done.

It's about a functioning government.

It's about a functioning country.

It's about civilization.

Listen to me: Fanatics tear down civilization, always. It doesn’t matter if those fanatics are left or right, liberal or conservative, fanatics destroy civilization every time. Fanatics thrive on chaos and disorder and war and destruction. They revel in it. Fanatics are the howling barbarians at the gate.

Fanaticism is the enemy of civilization.

Fanatics be they political, religious, ideological, or whatever their particular bent, you can't reason with them, you can't compromise, you can't negotiate.

But if you can't find common ground with those who can be reasoned with then you end up with a nonfunctional government, which in turn means you get a nonfunctional country.

Which means civilization shortly begins to fall apart.

When government is nonfunctional – and thus the country, society, civilization – that, that right there, is when it happens.

That’s when the fanatics seize control.

That’s how you get communism, or fascism, or a feudal oligarchy, or an emperor.

That's how it happens. Every time.

The only thing – the only thing – that keeps fanaticism in check is a functioning, stable government supported by a functioning stable society.

So, how do you compromise with the fanatics who simply refuse to see reason?

How do you compromise with those who believe every loony conspiracy theory?

How do you compromise with people who just don't care if Trump lies to their faces because they like the idea of chaos and disorder and riot?

How?

YOU DON'T.

You can’t. Obviously. But we had better find a way to meet the reasonable people somewhere in the middle. We had damned well better find a way to offer those people something better than Donald Trump or whoever comes after him.

And that's why Goal #3 is the most important one of all.

 

3. ADVANCE OR DIE

For a nation, for civilization itself, to flourish, it must go forward.

Winning the White House isn’t enough.

Winning Congress isn’t enough.

Winning the states isn’t enough.

Winning isn’t enough.

Civilization has to evolve.

Our country and our society must advance.

We can't keep going back and forth, swinging between liberals and conservatives. We can't keep going over the same ground. For civilization to advance it must build on its successes and learn from its failures. We can’t keep fighting the same goddamned battles over and over.

Civilizations that don't advance?

They die.

By fire or by stagnation or by fragmentation, they die.

Every time.

Every. Time.

And the only way we go forward from this place we find ourselves at, is if both reasonable liberals and reasonable conservatives can find common ground, can compromise.

 

Which takes us at long, long last to the original question: How?

 

How?

That's the rub, isn't it?

That's what you've been asking me for three months. How?

How do we find common ground?

Well, you start here: You find the people, whatever their politics, who believe civilization is better than the alternative.

If we can agree on that, the rest is just details.

Some of you want me to give you a detailed blueprint. A road map. The Big Answer.

I don't have one.

Because there is no single big answer.

There are just a million small ones.

And we’re going to have to find them together.

But the greatest menace to our civilization today is the conflict between giant organized systems of self-righteousness—each system only too delighted to find that the other is wicked—each only too glad that the sins give it the pretext for still deeper hatred and animosity.
- Herbert Butterfield, Christianity, Diplomacy and War

Thursday, March 23, 2017

No Man’s Land

 

Alien: Release … me. 
President Whitmore: I know there is much we can learn from each other, if we can negotiate a truce. We can find a way to co-exist. Can there be a peace between us?
Alien: Peace? No peace…
Whitmore: What is it you want us to do?
Alien: Die… Die…
  -- Independence Day, 20th Century Fox, 1996

 

 

Nuke ‘em.

Let’s nuke the bastards.

It’s the movie’s pivotal scene, right?

President Whitmore starts out a liberal peacenik. He’s a nice guy, kind of a young Jimmy Carter type. He’d served in the military once upon a time, flew fighter jets, but as a Fox News commentator says in the background of one scene “Americans thought they were getting a warrior, instead they elected a wimp!”

Then aliens invade the earth.

Whitmore comes face to face with the monster in a bunker under Area 51, the tentacles of its armored suit squeezed about Doctor Okun’s throat, working Okun’s brain telepathically like a broken puppet. We can co-exist, Whitmore pleads, we can have peace. No. No peace, says the alien. Die! Die! And then tries to invade Whitmore’s mind via telepathic assault.  The soldiers in the room shoot the alien monster down in a spray of bullets and as it lays dying on the floor, Whitmore turns to the generals and says,

I saw its thoughts. I saw what they're planning to do. They're like locusts. They're moving from planet to planet, their whole civilization. After they've consumed every natural resource they move on. And we're next. Nuke 'em. Let's nuke the bastards.

Let’s nuke the bastards.

No compromise. No way to co-exist. No peace between us. Die. Die.

That’s a great scene, isn’t it? I love that scene.

What brings this up?

That’s where we’re at, right?

Well, isn’t it?

That’s what you’re telling me. We see what they’re planning to do. They’re like locusts. They’re moving across the country now, consuming every natural resource, and we’re next. No peace. No compromise. Let’s nuke the bastards.

Sure, that’s it.

I’ve written two essays since the election, Bug Hunt and Red Sea, in which I suggested liberals and progressives are going to have to start compromising with conservatives.

I said Democrats are going to have to win over at least some of those red areas in the middle of the country.

 

image

 

I mean, it seems like it should be easy.  

Or if not easy, at least not an insurmountable task.

Look at all that red.

Look at it.

Red is Republican. Blue is Democrat. But the people who live there are conservative – even the liberals in those areas are comparatively conservative. The people in charge of those counties are conservatives. The voters in those counties send conservative senators and representatives to their conservative state congresses.  Those conservative state governments in turn appoint the conservative electors who select the president. And that president now has a willing Congress of his own, made up in the majority of … conservatives.

But here’s the thing: A lot of those conservatives really hate what’s happened to modern conservatism.

They do.

They’re no fans of the de facto conservative party, i.e. the GOP, Republicans.

And yet – and yet – many of them voted for the people who appointed the electors who selected Donald Trump and even though they can’t stand the guy, they voted for him because they’d much rather have him than a Democrat.

They would rather have a guy that they can’t stand, than a Democrat.

Think about that. They would rather have Trump than a “liberal.”

Why?

Well that is the question, isn’t it?

As I noted in both Bug Hunt and in Red Sea, they’re afraid.

Now I’m sure I’ll get angry denials. We’re not afraid! The messages will say.

But they are. 

Sure they are.

We’re all afraid of something. There’s no shame in admitting that. Liberals, progressives, the Left, they have their own exhaustive list of things they’re afraid of, things they fear will come from this administration.

But we’re talking about those red areas in the middle of the country and there? There, as I noted in the previous essay, conservatives are afraid transgender people will assault their daughters in public restrooms.

Yes, they are. That’s exactly what they’re afraid of, don’t take my word for it, go read any newspaper in North Carolina and see for yourself.

They don’t know any transgender people. They don’t understand transgender. Hell, to be perfectly candid, it’s hard for me to understand because I’ve always been comfortable in my own skin. But I’m at least trying to understand. They aren’t. They don’t want to. They look at Caitlyn Jenner and they see a creepy dude in a skirt. A tranny from Pornhub. It’s the joke from their childhood, Flip Wilson as Geraldine. They think transgender is a hairy-knuckled pedophile in a dress, some creeper who wants to sneak into the girls bathroom and molest their daughters.

And they think liberals would rather side with, hell enable, a sexual predator than protect their kids.

Now, that’s not what transgender is. You know it and I know it, but Democrats haven’t done a damned thing to dissuade conservatives of their fear.

image

 

They’re afraid gay people want to get married in their churches.

They mostly don’t give a damn if gay people get married, or at least they’ve resigned themselves to same sex marriage. But they’re afraid the next step is the Big Gay Agenda being forced into their churches, just like their restrooms and locker rooms. They’re honestly afraid that a liberal in power will force their religion to not only accept LGBT people, but make the church actively promote “The Gay Lifestyle” (whatever the hell that is) from the pulpit.

And Democrats haven’t done a damned thing to dissuade them of this idea.

They’re afraid foreigners with strange accents and religions and ideas will come to take over their towns.

Now, sure, this isn’t anything new. Every settled culture is afraid it will be replaced. And no, no, the people who still speak with a Dutch accent in Western Michigan or a Norwegian one in Minnesota, the people down at the local small town pizza parlor, or the folks cheering on the local St. Paddy’s Day parade, or enjoying a meal in San Francisco’s Chinatown or Chicago’s  Little Italy or grabbing lunch from a taco truck, no, no they don’t see the irony. So, yes, the same people who enjoy a good falafel or some shawarma from their local kebob shop, or think nothing of hopping into a cab driven by a guy from Pakistan, or buy a sixer of Bud Light from some brown skinned Muslim down at the local minimart, can still be terrified that those people are somehow stealing their culture.

(note: that last example is from personal experience. I stopped in a very rural liquor store. I couldn’t find what I wanted. So I asked the brown-skinned Middle Eastern looking woman behind the counter. Her English was passible but not extensive so she called her husband from the back. He’d never heard of the brand I was looking for either. So they had me spell it out. They carefully wrote it down and asked detailed questions since, they explained, as Muslims neither of them could consume alcohol themselves and thus had no direct experience. And they kindly promised to carry the brand should I happen by again).

Despite the fact that we are a nation of immigrants or maybe because of it and therefore know how mass immigration can change a culture, many Americans are terrified of how immigrants will impact our way of life – even though ironically the things many of us enjoy most about our culture are those very traditions imported from elsewhere via our immigrant forbearers.

For many, the words “immigrant” and “refugee” and “illegal alien” and “criminal” are all interchangeable.

And because of that, they’re afraid illegal aliens who slipped into America across unprotected borders will come to take their jobs. They’re afraid terrorists who slipped unvetted into America disguised as refugees will murder them in their places of worship or their shopping malls or their businesses. They’re afraid gangs of criminals, foreigners who have no loyalty to America and no desire to assimilated into our culture, will come from the cities to kick in their doors.

And Democrats haven’t done a damned thing to dissuade people of this fear.

They’re afraid liberal teachers are going to turn their children against them and away from their heritage.

In truth, this is something all parents fear to some degree.

But many conservatives are afraid liberal teachers are brainwashing their kids into hating America, into hating white people, into hating “our” history and religion and culture. 

Many of these people have been tricked into believing any criticism, any unblinking look at our mistakes, anything but unquestioning loyalty, is embarrassing and unpatriotic and treasonous.  Worse, a foundation of critical thought often leads children to question the world around them, to challenge sacred beliefs, and seek deeper truths in areas many adults – many Americans – would just as soon remain out of sight and out of mind. It’s damned hard to talk honestly about Manifest Destiny or slavery or WWII internment camps or previous waves of immigration without pain, without guilt, without uncomfortable truths.

When a kid asks a parent why we were attacked on September 11th, 2001, the answer is simple: because the terrorists hate us for our Freedom, that’s why.

Because they hate us for our freedom.

That’s a kid’s answer. That’s an America Oorah! answer. Simple. Easy to understand. They hate us because they ain’t us.

But when a kid asks a teacher, well, the answer is anything but simple and easy.

When a kid asks a teacher why the US was attacked by Muslims on 9-11, the answer is complicated and involves a hundred years of failed foreign policy and wars of colonialism and conquest and oil and money and ideology and religions and has nothing whatsoever to do with our supposed freedoms. They hate us because we blew up their country, because we killed their families, because we sided with their enemies, because we came to their land seeking riches and power and we don’t really give a damn about them so long as we get what we need for our civilization.

What?

What’s that?

You disagree? You violently disagree? You’re instantly pissed off? You think what I said about the causal effects of 9-11 make it sound like we somehow deserved it? Like it was our fault?

Heh.

Well, that’s my point exactly. No, not that America – or any country – deserves terrorism and mass murder, but rather your reaction. Your outrage at my phrasing. We can’t look at history dispassionately and without taking it as a personal affront.

Which is why we keep making the same mistakes over and over. But I digress.

Let me use a different example: Nowhere is the difference between how Americans see their history more stark than the issue of slavery.

It seems to me that slavery is the one thing we can all agree on. I mean, it should be, right?

Sure, there were many reasons for slavery. There were a thousand reasons people used to justify slavery as an institution. Certainly slavery helped build this country and shaped its culture and traditions and prejudices and outlooks and civil rights and its impact is still being felt today. But even though slavery was once acceptable – even the norm – it no longer is. We’ve advanced as a civilization and it should be the one thing we can all agree on without reservation. Slavery is evil. Slavery is wrong. Slavery is terrible. We should all be able to agree on that, black, white, left, right, conservative, liberal, Democrat, Republican, all of us should be able to agree that slavery is a horrible blot on our history.

But we don’t.

As soon as it comes up, a certain segment of Americans reflexively become slavery apologists.

Sure, slavery was bad, they rationalize, but hey, look at all the good things that … and I’m left standing there, mouth agape, boggling at anyone who feels somehow that they must rationalize this horrible thing solely because discussing it honestly within the context of our modern enlightenment is just too goddamned painful and embarrassing and guilt inducing.

People of strength and moral character acknowledge unpleasant truths with unflinching determination and use it to make a better future, one where they don’t hate us because they ain’t us.

But many see that unflattering truth as an attempt to paint America as a villain and they just can’t get beyond it, they’re afraid that if our children are taught that unvarnished truth, then they’ll somehow hate their own country, their own culture, their own traditions and people and parents.

And Democrats haven’t done a damned thing to dissuade people of that fear.

They’re afraid the government is coming to take their guns, their freedom, their rights.

image

And democrats really haven’t done a damned thing at all to dissuade conservatives of those fears. Not really.

Most of all, the people in that sea of red are afraid that their voices are being ignored in Washington.

And Democrat politicians can’t dissuade conservatives of that fear because it’s true.

Their voices are being ignored. 

And so are ours.

That’s not my interpretation, that’s their words, their fears, nearly verbatim. They said so. They continue to say so, in every man-on-the-street interview. At every Trump rally. On Facebook. On Twitter. On Instagram. On Fox & Friends. On Breitbart. In the Wall Street Journal. On the signs in their front yards.

And, yes, some of those conservatives are pretty damned deplorable. They are, no doubt.

image

But not all.

Not even a majority.

Many, many conservatives are just as disgusted with Trump, with the Republican Party, with the Democratic Party, with the country, as liberals are.

To be honest, many conservatives didn’t really believe Trump would be as horrible as he’s turning out to be.

You remember, right?

Sure, they were the ones telling the rest of us, it’ll be okay, you’ll see, he’ll pivot once the election is over, he’ll be more presidential, he’ll stop the bombast and the tweets and the pussy grabbing. You’ll see.

Of course that was wishful thinking.

Of course that didn’t happen.

Of course it didn’t.

And sure, there’s certainly some schadenfreude to be had here. Ha ha, told you so. Absolutely. But if you can see past that, well, you’ll realize those conservatives are just as disgusted as you are, and maybe even more so since they were the ones who got suckered.

But they continue to vote for Republicans because the alternative, so they believe, is worse.

So it seems to me it should be easy.

Or at least if not easy then not insurmountable.  

It seems Democrats have a historic opportunity, a moment when moderate conservatives could be given a choice other than dogmatic partisanship, if the left can pull together, can reach out, can compromise, and can but convince them that their guns and their bibles will be safe. If Democrats can address those fears up above in an honest manner and put them firmly to rest, then now, this moment right here, is an opportunity to prove that the alternative is better.

 

But here’s the kicker: that’s the easy part.

 

The problem isn’t conservatives.

Or at least not just conservatives.

You see, in those previous two essays and up above the word I used was compromise.

Compromise.

I know there is much we can learn from each other, if we can negotiate a truce. We can find a way to co-exist. Can there be a peace between us?

And the overwhelming response was … no.

No. Not from conservatives. But from liberals.

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- I don’t think you know what compromise means!

- When you talk about compromising with the GOP, as it currently exists, what does that mean for you personally? What do you see yourself sacrificing as an individual? You don't have a uterus. You are not black, brown, Muslim, or LGBT […]

- […]What do YOU risk, Wright? Nothing! But nice job mansplaining, condescending prick […]

- […]I agree with you in principle about compromising, but in practice I'm finding this a little difficult. Almost anything we give up is going to hurt somebody. Who do we abandon, or throw to the wolves? It's all too easy to say, well, that issue isn't a big deal, if it doesn't affect us personally. It's a different story when it does.

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- I don't expect this comment to get posted, I just want to communicate with you: Wow, Jim, I'm really disappointed with you for the first time. This essay reminds me of a boss who used to yell at us in our weekly team meeting about not showing up at the weekly team meeting. Hel-lo? Why are you yelling at us? *WE'RE* the ones who DO show up. And I, for one, am tired of being lectured about this when I have never missed *ANY* election since the time I was eligible to vote. I'm also tired of the endless apologia for poor white Trump voters. I live in one of the most affluent counties of America, and the McMansions and estates were positively lousy with Trump campaign signs. The only thing these people were frightened of was that some dark-skinned person might possibly get a nickel more than they "deserved" as a dark-skinned person. It is they, more than the types of Trump voters you cite, who are the problem.

- You can’t compromise with evil!

- And what's your's Jim. I like most of what you write, but too often on this topic you just revert to centrist pablum. As others have said; it's not compromise when only one side is compromising.

- I agree with some of this, but I have a problem with the argument that we are all the same. Statistics show the real gung-ho Trump supporters are white men without a college degree. I think education and diversity of experiences plays a huge part in how we are different. I come from a very rural, impoverished part of Michigan, and I know people who get stuck in that cycle of poverty and lack of education. I'm not like them. There's a fundamental difference in world view. Studies show we don't enjoy the same sorts of entertainment, and so on. Perhaps this is my go to cause for problems with almost everything, but it's a lack of education that's at the root of it.

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- Okay, so what do we say to those who view politics as theater, fear mongering as amusement, who chuckle when liberals and independents concerns are played out by Mr Trump? What do we say to the farmers who thought Mr Trump wouldn't follow through on his threat to deport en masse the illegals and the unwanted? And further, what do we do when the fear is irrational, that belief has replaced facts, and that dismissive rhetoric is considered a good enough explanation for ridiculous policies? Compromise is a two way street, Mr Wright, and when one party demands the other yield...That's not an invitation for compromise, that's a demand for surrender.

- These people have let Republicans lie to them to their faces for decades. They see the terrible results of right wing policies over long periods of time, especially in the South. And they still vote for the bullshit every single time. There is no reasoning and no compromise with this single minded stupidity.

- Pretending you can get people to turn from their tribalism by being reasonable is what got us in this mess in the first place.

 

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- Time to play hardball.

It’s not us. It’s them.

We’re the good ones, they’re the bad ones.

You can’t compromise unless you’re going to lose something too.

If fact, you can’t compromise unless all sides lose equally and all sides  gain equally, we have to keep score.

You can’t compromise with single minded stupidity. You can’t compromise with evil. You can’t compromise if somebody gets hurt. You can’t compromise with people who won’t compromise. You can’t compromise if you’re too centrist – because that’s somehow bad. We can’t compromise with people who got suckered because really fuck those people. We can’t compromise with people who aren’t the same as us.  We can’t compromise because the other side is stupid and evil and unAmerican and horrible hunchbacked stinking black-eyed oily-skinned trolls who eat babies and worship Satan and  who are against everything we believe in Goddamnit! We can’t compromise! No way, no how, and fuck you. No. Hell no. Time to play hardball. No compromise. No peace! No peace! Nuke ‘em! Let’s nuke the bastards! Die! Die!

Right?

And so where does that leave us?

No peace.

No compromise.

No middle ground.

Where does that leave us?

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No really, look at that map and tell me, what does that leave?

You won't compromise. You can’t. 

Because you don't believe there are any rational conservatives left to compromise with.

That sea of red, that’s the enemy. You’ve written them off. That’s the evil. You can’t compromise with evil. If they’re afraid, if they voted for Trump, fuck ‘em they deserve no sympathy, no attempt at understanding. No peace. Die.

And so where does that leave you?

Where does it leave you if you regard half the country as The Enemy?

If you don’t believe the system can be salvaged?

If, hell, you don’t believe the system is worth salvaging, it’s rotten and corrupt and can’t be fixed?

If you believe the game is rigged and you don’t believe you can win via legal means?

If you believe the opposition is illegitimate and therefore not worthy of consideration or any respect?

They hate you and you hate them and there can be no peace between you.

You will not compromise.

They will not compromise.

So what's your plan? Where does that leave us? Where do we go next? What options do we have?

Do you march on Washington with your guns and tri-corner hats?

Do you rise up in violent revolution? 

Secession and civil war?

A coup d'├ętat?

Do you find yourself a disgraced scientist and a daredevil pilot to fly a stolen alien craft loaded with nuclear weapons straight into the mothership in a mad suicide mission, one last desperate gamble, and winner take all in the radioactive ruins? And when you succeed, assuming that you do, and you seize power, what then? What comes then? What do you do with the people you can’t compromise with? Purges? Genocide? Ghettos? Reeducation camps? Mass deportation? Imposition of your ideals via the muzzle of a gun? How will your force those conquered people who you cannot compromise with to comply?

How long do you think you can hold it, assuming you are able to seize the reins of power in the first place?

How stable do you think such a country would be? How productive? How innovative? How free?

Or are these more of those unpleasant truths we don’t want to face? 

 

I used the word compromise on purpose.

 

I used it deliberately and with malice aforethought.

I used it knowing what would happen, how you’d react.

I used it because I knew, I knew, that it would provoke a visceral reaction. I used it because it’s as much a trigger for many of you as it is for those you despise. You hear compromise and instantly your teeth are bared and your fists are clenched. No. No compromise. It’s not up to us to compromise, it’s up to them! No. No compromise. No peace. Die!

But, you see, in those paragraphs describing civil war and reeducation camps up above, the partisan you isn’t identified and as such those statements could apply equally well to the other side – and do.

I said I wasn’t asking you to compromise with hate, but with fear.

You’re just playing with semantics, you yelled back. How do you compromise with those who won’t compromise? How?

How? Well, of course, you don’t.

How do you compromise with hate and unreason?

You can’t.

Nowhere did I suggest that any of us should compromise with neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, with haters and bigots, and gun waving fanatics or dimwitted goons. 

Nowhere did I suggest you should give up your civil rights, your freedom, or your integrity.

But that’s exactly what a number of people thought as soon as they heard the word compromise. Because just like conservatives, liberals hear the word compromise and they’ll be damned if they’ll budge.

Folks, I submit to you that there are far, far more reasonable people, on both sides, standing closer to the middle than to the edges and the only thing which really divides those people one from the other is … fear.

And yes, it’s true that hate cannot be reasoned with.

It can be burned down, shot, bombed from the sky, plowed under, locked up, marginalized until it starves to death, but it can not be reasoned with.

Fear, however, can.

And so perhaps compromise was the wrong word even though it served my purpose.

Regardless of what words I use, we – all of us – must find a way to address that fear. The fear that is tearing our country, our people, our civilization apart.

Not dismiss, not mollify, but address honestly and in good faith no matter how painful and unpleasant.

You know, it’s funny. I came from the Heartland, the Midwest. I spent my life in the ultimate bastion of conservatism, the military. I lived in Alaska, the reddest of the Red States. I live now in the Panhandle of Florida among conservatives. I talk to these people. I eat with these people. I drink with these people. I’m related to these people. Those things up above? Many reasonable conservatives don’t really give a damn about those things. Not really. They want the same things you do, peace, security, safety, good paying jobs, decent schools and decent neighbors, bridges that don’t fall down, clean water, clean air, safe food, affordable healthcare, respect, pride, and it’s likely that we, left and right, have more in common than we don’t.

Look out there. What do you see?

Republican politicians can’t even talk to their own people.

Republican politicians are afraid, terrified, to face their own people in a town hall.

Doesn’t that suggest to you an opportunity?

When I talk to conservatives, the reasonable ones, it seems their ideals and the things that are important to them – really important -- are far closer to that of the Democratic or Independent parties than to the platform of the GOP. But they all say the same thing: I can’t vote for a Democrat. I can’t vote for a liberal.

Because of all those fears, it’s being labelled a liberal they fear the most.

Change that

… and you change the map.

David Levinson: You really think you can fly that thing?
Captain Steven Hiller: You really think you can do all that bullshit you just said?
-- Independence Day

Yes I do.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Red Sea

How do you like your new President?

It’s been a month, give or take, so how about it?

Is the Trump Administration better than you hoped or worse than you feared?

Or is President Trump pretty much what you expected?

 

What say you, Conservatives, is it everything you thought it would be?

 

Donald Trump said he would “immediately” repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Day 1. 

Day 1. Repeal and Replace. This was a big deal for Conservatives. Got to get rid of Obamacare on Day 1.

But, not only did he not do that, so far, there’s no actual plan for a replacement. Republicans don’t even have some draft legislation they’re working on. Hell, they don’t even have legislation for a repeal. And that’s kind of funny, isn’t it? Given that back when they knew it was impossible, Republicans voted fifty-two times to repeal Obamacare. But now that they have a President who promised that exact thing, and majorities in both houses, and a divided Court, they haven’t put forth the legislation for repeal.

When they knew they couldn’t actually repeal the law, they made a big deal of voting to repeal it.

But now that they actually can repeal Obamacare, they don’t dare.

It’s almost like those fifty-two attempts at repeal were empty gestures designed to stir up the suckers.

It’s almost exactly like they were lying about Obamacare all along. 

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You’d think a guy who’s famous for running business would know exactly how complicated employer-controlled healthcare in America is.

Unless, you know, as an employer he didn’t actually provide healthcare.

But I digress.

Meanwhile, here’s Trump bragging about meeting with Insurance Company CEOs.

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And why is it, do you suppose, that you don’t see him tweeting pictures of himself surrounded by cancer patients and diabetics and those with mental health issues?  Many of whom depend for their lives on Obamacare? Why is it that this supposed President of the People goes to the very Wall Street Billionaires who made their fortunes by denying access to healthcare for advice on how to better provide you with healthcare?

He’s your president, so why didn’t he ask you?

Trump promised a lot of things, big and small, from formally calling out China’s currency manipulation to building a wall to not taking vacations to not tweeting.

So far all of his promises are a bust.

But then, we are talking about a guy who conned thousands of people out of millions of dollars via a fake real-estate “university” and conservatives elected him anyway.

So I don’t suppose this is much of a surprise.

 

Trump is basically the Bush Doctrine realized in human form.

 

Sure. The Bush Doctrine. We won the war but had no idea what to do after that.

It’s the same with Trump. He won the White House, fair and square or otherwise it doesn’t matter. Trump won. He became the President. And like the dog who finally caught the car, he has no damned idea what to do with it.

This is a man who is woefully, utterly, obviously unprepared for the office.

This is a man who never did anything to actually prepare himself to be president.

He never served in uniform.

He never held an elected or even an appointed office.

He’s got no legislative experience at either state or federal level.

His education, such as it is, certainly didn’t prepare him for the most complicated office in the world.

He didn’t even bother to bone up on the actual duties of the president before he took office.

And his choice of advisors certainly hasn’t helped. He’s surrounded himself with toadies and yes-men, political flacks, cashiered generals who were drummed out of the service by their own peers, and corporate CEOs who have no more experience running a government than he does. 

The only experience Trump has is business. But the government of the United States isn’t a business – not that Trump was particularly good at running a business either.

 

He’s out of his depth and just like healthcare, everything is vastly, vastly more complicated than he realized.

 

Nothing in his background prepared him to deal with that complexity.

Nothing about this guy adds up.

He played on conservative fears to get himself elected.

But that was easy enough. Anybody could have done that. Conservatives are particularly vulnerable to it.

Conservatives, and many liberals too, have been conditioned by three generations of fear-mongering. It’s always something. Always something to be afraid of. Commies and Rooskies,  Red Chinamen and Black Panthers, Ebola, the brown horde south of the border, gangs and gays and atheism, with terrorists around every corner. It’s always something with these people. Seventy-five years ago, in America’s darkest hour, a withered crippled man in a wheelchair told Americans that the only thing to fear was fear itself, and Americans hitched up their pants and squared their shoulders and faced their fears. But today? Today the politicians tell the people to be afraid. Nowadays we have entire media networks dedicated to inventing things to fear, from Truthers to Pizzagate. Americans as a people are addicted to being afraid, as a nation we embrace fear, we wallow in it, but conservatives?  Conservatives own the market. Hell, they even fear their God. Fear is the very cornerstone of their religion, fear of a crazy genocidal unpredictable deity who just might wipe out the entire nation because he’s mad about the idea of gay people or socialism.

Republicans have been leveraging that fear to get elected for decades, they’re coming for your guns, they coming for your religion, they’re coming for your daughters, they’re coming for your jobs, they’re coming for your way of life. Be afraid! Be afraid!

Trump was just better at tapping into that fear than anybody else.

He promised a wall to keep out the terror. As if Conservatives – if they were to stop and think about it for a minute – really want to live in an armed camp surrounded by barbed wire and mine fields. And he promised to make Mexico pay for it, but it’s us who are now going to foot the bill for his boondoggle. And conservatives just sort of shrugged at the switcheroo and refuse to meet each other’s eyes, at least they’re getting the wall, right? That’s the important thing.

He promised to round up and deport violent gang members and dangerous criminals and rapists. Because who isn’t afraid of that, right?

I don’t think any of us, conservative or liberal, would have a problem with rounding up criminals, but ICE isn’t raiding East LA or the South Side of Chicago and clearing the streets of gangbangers. We not bussing truck loads of Sinaloa Cartel and Mexican Mafia to the border, are we?

Instead Trump is making America safe by deporting people with brain tumors, day laborers, and arresting housewives as they pick their kids up from school.

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What the hell kind of nation does that?

Look at those comments. As if you want to actually live in a country that would let a person die of a brain tumor over politics, as if we are really – really – going to use the (alleged) money saved by letting this women die to save an actual American child. Because we’re not going to do that either. We used to be the place that happily took in these people. We were famous for it. It says so right on the bottom of the Statue of Liberty. 

The hell kind of a country, the hell kind of people, arrests a woman dying of a brain tumor and throws her in jail for deportation?

We’re not rounding up criminals, we’re deporting children and sick people who never wanted anything but a better life.

Tonight he’ll promise tax cuts…

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…while at the same time he’ll talk about increasing Defense spending by $54 BILLION dollars.

It’s going to be “simple” he says.

Simple.

Billions in tax cuts. Billions in lost government revenue, which will result in repercussions throughout the largest, most complex budget in the world, while at the same time increasing spending on military hardware and operations. Massive budget changes across half a dozen major Departments and coordinated by Congress.

Simple, he says.

Simple.

But he can’t do it until he figures out a new healthcare plan for millions upon millions of people. Which he promised to have ready on Day 1. And that healthcare plan will do all of the things people love about Obamacare, while eliminating all of the things Republicans hate, and cost half as much. But he doesn’t have even an outline for it.

And he’s complaining that it’s a lot more complicated than he thought.

Simple. Right?

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Forgive me if I look a bit skeptical.

Meanwhile, Trump says he’s going to pay for his $54 billion dollar military increase by cutting the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department (specifically foreign aid).

Simple.

Except…

The EPA’s total annual budget is about $8 billion.

US Foreign Aid is about $43 billion, of which about $10.5 billion is military aid (a significant fraction of which is to Israel), leaving about $32 billion and change in economic aid. Of that economic aid, about $18 billion is disbursed by USAID under control of the State Department.

Now, since Trump said he plans on paying for his military buildup by taking from the EPA and foreign aid (specifically foreign aid under control of the State Department) and leaving aside the part where those are the very things which help prevent war in the first place, even if Trump liquidates both USAID and the EPA in toto (and assuming he could without, you know, actual legislation), that only gets him to $26 billion.

Leaving him about $28 billion short.

And I don’t care how you cut it, that’s a whole lot of short.

Especially for a guy who brags about his financial acumen.

And remember, that number is based on total liquidation of the EPA and all foreign aid disbursed via USAID – including to Israel.

Likely he’s a whole lot more than $28 billion in the hole here.

Now, it’s entirely possible I’m missing something, but in my defense Trump hasn’t been exactly specific about his budget. He makes some vague pronouncement, like healthcare or border walls or tax cuts, it’s gonna be great, folks, great, and waves his hands around and here we are.

I mean look, really look, at the last 30 days.

Never in the history of the United States has a president started out like this, jumbled, utter chaos, disorganized – and remember, he’s got both the House and the Senate in his pocket and no Supreme Court to stop him.

If he had an actual plan and competent people to execute it, he’d be unstoppable.

And yet, look at the last 30 days. What’s the most important thing? If you look at Trump’s statements, his emphasis, his focus, where is it? What’s he talk about? What does he Tweet obsessively about?

Yeah, his image in the press.

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Maybe if he spent as much effort focusing on his neglected intelligence briefings as he does obsessively combing through public opinion polls he’d garner some of the respect he so desperately craves. Maybe we wouldn’t have lost a SEAL in Yemen – something he today blamed on the military and as Commander in Chief refused to take responsibility for.

This is what you get when you elect a leader out of fear.

This is what you get when you cater to the basest elements of society.

This is what you get when you hire an amateur to run the most complex country in history.

 

This is what you get when liberals and progressives and rational conservatives don’t show up.

 

Oh stop, just stop.

I see you. You were with me right up to that last line, but now you’re mad.

How dare you? Right? That’s what you’re shouting, isn’t it? Goddamnit, man, we did show up. Why, we won the popular vote, didn’t we? Well, didn’t we?

Yes, you did. You won the popular vote. So?

The president isn’t elected by popular vote.

The president is determined by the Electoral College. This is by design. Is that a good design? The founders put this system in place for what they thought were very good reasons. Are those reasons still valid? Yes. No. Maybe. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. For the moment, it is what it is and the popular vote doesn’t elect the president.

And so while liberals and progressives keep shouting “But we won the popular vote!” Donald Trump is still the president and Hillary Clinton is not.

Like it or not, that’s how our system works.

But here’s the real kicker: Trump – or Clinton for that matter, any president – no matter how terrible, should be constrained by a reasonable and cautious Congress. The Founders designed this country, this government, so no one person could exercise power without opposition – or so they thought.

But that entire system of checks and balances depends on one weak link.

The citizens.

Us.

Trump should be constrained by Congress.

But he’s not.

Why?

Because liberals didn’t show up in 2010 or 2014. That’s why.

Because conservatives keep electing their representatives out of fear.

Because we keep catering to the lowest common denominator.

The Electoral College determines the president, but it’s the popular vote that determines your Senators and Representatives. And in the elections where the popular vote actually matters, well, liberals didn’t show up.

And so we have a House led by a Tea Party hack and a Senate run by a self-serving power-mad ideologue who’d rather burn the country to the ground out of pure spite than compromise with anybody. Our representatives, the congressmen who are supposed to be our voice, they don’t show up for town hall meetings because they don’t want to hear what we have to say, because they’re actually afraid of us, because they don’t even have the guts to face the kind of crowd any women has to push through just to get a goddamned pap smear from Planned Parenthood.  

And it’s that way because liberals didn’t show up when the popular vote actually mattered.

Conservatives, they always show up. Always.

They’re afraid not to.

But here’s the real problem, liberals don’t show up at the state level.

They don’t.

Sure, you might. Sure, those of you who read this blog. But in majority? Liberals don’t show up.

Look here:

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That’s the how the popular vote shook out.

Sure, Democrats might have won the popular vote by taking California, but the vast, vast majority of the country is red.

Which means the Electoral votes looked like this:

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Which is why Trump is now president instead of Clinton.

Now, remember last month when the streets of St. Louis were filled by tens of thousands of people in pink hats?  On January 22nd, more than 10,000 people massed in downtown St. Louis. The event was billed as a Women’s March, but thousands of men showed up too. Those people were there in defiant opposition to everything Trump.

Right smack in the middle of the reddest of the reddest red state. There they were by the tens of thousands. Dead center in that sea of red.

Where did those people come from?

 

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That’s St. Louis, that little cone of blue on the eastern border of Missouri.

But the whole rest of the state is red.

Do you see?

Look carefully, what does that map tell you?

Now I’m not pointing out anything that you likely don’t already know, cities tend to be more progressive than the rural countryside, but look at that map. What that map appears to show is that there is this little enclave of liberals surrounded by a sea of conservatism, like the British facing the entire Zulu nation at Rorke’s Drift.

You’re telling me the people of St. Louis are that much different from their country cousins?

Really?

I don’t buy it.

Those people marching in the streets of St. Louis on January 21nd weren’t all city folk, many of them came from the surrounding country.  How many? I don’t know. I can’t find any reliable data. But what matters here is that there’s this little island of blue in the middle of a vast sea of red.  And the people in that sea of red show up to vote for state officials.

Those state officials are the ones who appoint the electors of the Electoral College.

And this is the same across the entire middle of the country.

Those liberals showed up for the march, but they don’t show up to vote on local elections. It’s right there on the goddamned map.

And that’s why Trump is the president instead of Clinton and why we, all of us liberals and conservatives alike, are stuck with this incompetent ass in the White House.

All politics are local.

You’ve heard this, right?

Well, it’s true, and liberals, progressives, they don’t show up where it matters. When it matters. Not enough of them anyway.

Trump is a symptom, not the disease.

Trump is a reflection of that map, that sea of red.

He is the end result of decades of fear and division.

Those colors on that map? They’re not really conservative and liberal. They’re not really republican and democrat.

 

What those colors show you is fear.

 

The people in those little red squares are afraid. And they should be. Because they’ve told to be afraid for seventy years.

They’re afraid that transgender people will assault them in public restrooms.

They’re afraid gay people want to get married in their churches.

They’re afraid foreigners with strange accents and religions and ideas will come to take over their towns.

They’re afraid gangs of criminals will come from the cities to kick in their doors.

They’re afraid illegal aliens will come to take their jobs.

They’re afraid drugs will destroy their children.

They’re afraid terrorists will murder them in their places of worship or their shopping malls or their businesses.

They’re afraid the government is coming to take their guns, their freedom, their rights.

They’re afraid that their voices are being ignored.

Most of all they’re afraid of change. They like who they are, they’re proud of their heritage, they don’t want to change and why should they?

And they aren’t necessarily wrong.

We’ve all been fed a diet of fear and terror and doom since the 1950s. We don’t duck and cover nowadays, we don’t dig fallout shelters in our backyards (most of us), but it’s there that fear of Armageddon imprinted on our hindbrains.

 

And that, that right there, is why Donald Trump is the president and Hillary Clinton is not.

 

If we want to change this, then we have to start showing up.

I’m not just talking about just voting, Folks. I’m talking about showing up.

The day after the election I wrote a long essay, similar to this one, called Bug Hunt. In that essay, I told you what I thought the last 30 days would look like, what the coming four years would look like. Enough time has passed that I can say I think my prediction was pretty accurate.

Liberals are going to lose … well, everything. All the gains of the last eight years.

And they haven’t got anybody to blame but themselves.

Right now, liberals, progressive, democrats, and the more rational centrist conservatives are all fighting among themselves.

They’ve had since November to get over their defeat and get organized and get a plan on the table and get to work. Time’s a wasting, folks. But liberals haven’t done any better at getting organized than Donald Trump has at organizing his administration.

Two days ago, the DNC elected itself a new Chairman, and predictably liberals fell to fighting amongst themselves. They’re all bitching and moaning and rehashing the election, slinging blame and arguing over candidates that are long lost and who will never be president.

 

And they’ll still be fighting when Trump wins his second term unless they pull their heads out of their asses right now.

 

Look up there.

Look at that map.

Look at that sea of fear.

Democrats, liberals, progressives, they lost because they ignored reality. Because they dismissed that red sea as unimportant. Because they dismissed those fears as ridiculous. Because they saw the whole middle of the country as nothing but a bunch of ignorant hicks, dumb rednecks, and unimportant. Because they were confident they’d win the popular vote.

That, that right there, is why they lost.

And that, that right there, is why they will continue to lose.

All politics are local.

Liberals, progressives, democrats, are going to have to show up. At town halls. At community meetings. At local elections. At school boards. Everywhere in that sea of red, and they are gong to have to address those fears.

In Bug Hunt, I said that liberals are going to have to compromise some of their vaunted ideals.

And for weeks afterward I got mail telling me I was a sellout. Liberals told me they would not, could not, compromise, not with racists, or bigots, or homophobes, or Islamophobes, or anti-Semites. No. No way. No how.

 

But, I never said that you should compromise with hate.

 

Believe me, as somebody who daily gets death threats and hatemail from neo-Nazis and the KKK and Bikers for Trump, I’d be the last guy to tell you to compromise with hate.

That’s not what I said.

But I find it interesting and instructive – and frustrating – that many of you thought that’s what I said.

It’s not.

I didn’t ask you to compromise with hate.

I asked you to compromise with fear

I asked you to compromise with the specific fears that put Trump in the White House and will very likely keep him there unless we find a way to turn that sea of red purple.

Look here: I said, “They’re afraid gay people want to get married in their churches.”

What do you say when a conservative voices this fear? What do you say when a conservative says, “The liberals will force our church to marry homosexuals!”

You laugh. It’s stupid. Right?

But that’s not how fear works. People don’t stop being afraid because you think their fears are stupid.

Religion matters to these people. Their religious ideals are important to them, just as yours are important to you. And so when Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck or Alex Jones or Ann Coulter or the local priest or Donald Trump tells them that you, you goddamned stinking liberals, are going to force their church to marry gay people, well, they’re afraid, they’re angry, they’re outraged at the idea.

Now, ask yourself something, during the election, what assurances did Hillary Clinton offer to counter those fears?

How many times did democrats, liberals, Clinton, visit local churches and promise on record that those institutions would not be forced to go against their principles?

Never.

It doesn’t matter if the Constitution already grants those churches the right to marry, or not, whomever they please.

Fear doesn’t work like that.

And so when I said you have to compromise with fear, well, this is what I’m talking about.

How do you prove that you will not force churches to marry LGBT people if they don’t want to? Especially if you yourself find the idea of such refusal stupid and bigoted and wrong and you get angry at the idea of any institution that would discriminate against people for any reason?

Churches are easy. The Constitution already protects them. It should be a simple matter to offer that assurance, to address that fear.

But what about business?

People who own catering companies and flower stores and pizza parlors in small towns, what about them?

Sure, I admit I feel some vindictive glee when a bigoted bakery goes bust because they wouldn’t make a cake for a lesbian wedding, but …

But…

But the people who own those businesses in those small red towns, those people are often on the town council, they’re often members of the Chamber of Commerce, and they show up, every time. And this, this right here, this fear that gay people are going to put them out of business, is why they voted for Trump.

Now, ironically, tragically, very likely Trump is going to be a hell of a lot worse for LGBT people than not having the local pizza parlor cater their reception.  You won the battle, and lost the war.

Is that wrong? Hell yes.

In a perfect world we wouldn’t have to make this trade off. But we don’t live in that world. Maybe we will some day but that day is now further away than closer because nobody on the Left was willing to compromise. And yes, it’s a damned dirty rotten thing to ask people to wait for that world, to wait for the rights they should have as citizens of the United States, but that is the lousy choice we are faced with. That’s what fear does, it puts us in that position. And we can either deal with it … or get used to Donald Trump and have no rights at all.

How do you assure the people in that sea of red that immigrants and refugees will be vetted thoroughly?

How do you assure those people that you are serious about crime? That those gangs won’t come kick in their door, won’t force drugs on your kids, because you’re going to be right there with them, with law enforcement, with law and order? That you’re NOT going to take their guns, their means of self defense against crime and against tyranny? How do you convince them that illegal aliens won’t take their jobs? If you don’t believe in a wall, if you don’t believe in rounding up people with brain tumors and mothers with kids, if you believe that dangerous illegals should be jailed or deported, then how to you convince them of your sincerity?  Trump might never build that wall, but to these people at least he cares enough about their fears to try.

What do you got that’s better?

Republican congressmen refuse to listen to your voice, but how do you convince the people in those little red squares that you’re any better when you don’t show the fuck up?

 

That is what liberals should talking about right now. That is what should form DNC strategy right now.

 

Listen to me, this isn’t 1870 or 1920 or even 1960.

Americans in the cities aren’t that much different from Americans in the country.

TV, the internet, mass communication, mass media, have in many cases reduced the distance between points to zero.

Hell, look at your kids, they play games online via Xbox Live and other similar technologies. They don’t care where their allies or opponents are located physically. For them physical geography doesn’t exist. The virtual world has eliminated the differences between East and West, city and country, left and right, and nations for that matter. And this cosmopolitanism will only grow as connectivity increases (this is what will eventually defeat the communists of China, not guns or bombs, but gaming networks and Facebook. But that’s a different essay).

We Americans, left and right, city and country, have more in common than we don’t.

Me? I don’t have all the answers.

I have the outline of a plan, the basis of a strategy.

It’s going to require a hell of a lot more work. It’s going to require organization. It’s going to require rational liberals and rational conservatives to work together and find common ground.

It’s going to require that we respect the people in that sea of red – and for some of us that will be the hardest step of all.

It’s going to require liberals to show up, every time, no matter what. Just like Conservatives.

It’s going to require compromise.

Compromise not with hate, but with fear.

And if we can do that, if we can compromise with that fear…

…well, then the rest will take care of itself.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Petulance

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Twenty-eight days.

We’re twenty-eight days into the Trump Administration.

Four weeks.

It just seems longer, doesn’t it?

Maybe it’s just me.

The first few months of a new administration define a presidency.

A new president’s inauguration speech, the first major press conference, these are the moments that set the tone for what is to come. 

These are the moments where the new president seizes the high ground and uses the Bully Pulpit to lay out his vision for the next four years.

This is the time when a new president transitions from candidate to leader of the Free World.

This is the moment, the brief moment, when a new president seeks to inspire the nation before he gets down to the tedious grinding work of governing.

Perhaps most importantly, this is when the new president pledges to work with Congress, with his own party and the opposition, to build bridges, to move the country forward for all citizens.

Now, honestly, none of us really believe any of that.

Of course not.

We expect the new president to cater to his party and his political ideology and the people who put him into office. Of course we do.

But we expect him to make the gesture.

And the gesture matters.

The tradition, that moment of inspiration, that olive branch no matter how insincerely extended to the other side, that matters.

It matters because a President must lead the entire nation not just a part of it.

It matters because we are nowadays engaged in the politics of fear and half our country is convinced the other half is out to get them – and they might be right.

It matters because we live in a country of Death Panels and Jade Helm and Pizzagate and Benghazi and Emails and shadowy Russian entanglements and we can’t tell what’s real and what is false and most of us no longer care.

It matters because we are afraid, because we’ve been fed a diet of fear and terror and division.

It is the president’s job – even if nobody believes him – to make the gesture.

But these last four weeks of the Trump Administration have hardly been a period of bridge building and inspiration.

 

Yesterday’s presser should have been a gesture of confidence and leadership.

 

Instead it confirmed all of our worst fears.

I mean, I expected it to be bad. Who doesn’t at this point, right? I expected it to be filled with non-sequiturs and digressions, bombast and bragging and empty promises of greatness, and it was all of that and more.

But it was so much worse than that.

This should have been a moment of inspiration, a chance for Trump to define himself as a leader.

Instead it was again nothing but the airing of grievances.

Thank you very much.

I just wanted to begin by mentioning that the nominee for secretary of the Department of Labor will be Mr. Alex Acosta. He has a law degree from Harvard Law School, was a great student; former clerk for Justice Samuel Alito. And he has had a tremendous career. He's a member and has been a member of the National Labor Relations Board, and has been through Senate confirmation three times, confirmed; did very, very well.

And so Alex, I've wished him the best. We just spoke. And he's going to be -- I think he'll be a tremendous secretary of labor.

Acosta is not currently a member of the NLRB.  He is a former member, serving under George W. Bush for one year, 2002-2003.

You’d think at this point, Trump of all people, would at least make sure he had his leading paragraph bulletproofed.

But this, this right here, is what will define the Trump Administration, they’re amateurs.

And also as you probably heard just a little while ago, Mick Mulvaney, former congressman, has just been approved weeks late, I have to say that, weeks, weeks late, Office of Management and Budget. And he will be I think a fantastic addition.

Weeks late. Weeks, weeks late, dammit.

Two paragraphs in and the petulant whining starts. Hell even George W. Bush had a thicker skin (and was a more stirring and focused speaker and you have no idea how much it hurts me to type that).

It’s hilariously hypocritical  for the Republican President to complain about the slow pace of Congressional action given Republicans have over the last eight years loudly and repeatedly emphasized the supposed idea that the Founding Fathers wanted Congress to work slowly and deliberately. 

The party of obstructionism has a lot of gall complaining about obstructionism.

But then religious fanatics are always outraged over the mote in everybody else’s eye, aren’t they?

Paul Singer just left. As you know, Paul was very much involved with the anti-Trump or as they say, "never Trump." And Paul just left and he's given us his total support. And it's all about unification. We're unifying the party and hopefully we're going to be able to unify the country. It's very important to me. I've been talking about that for a long time. It's very, very important to me.

So I want to thank Paul Singer for being here and for coming up to the office. He was a very strong opponent, and now he's a very strong ally. And I appreciate that.

Paul Singer is a Republican super-donor who spent $24 Million to defeat Hillary Clinton. He might have been Never Trump in the primaries, but there’s no way a right-wing fanatic isn’t going to get something for his money. Trump thinks he’s won over Conservative purists like Singer. He’s wrong. Singer loathes Trump, but just like all the rest, including hardcore true-believers such as Ted Cruz and John McCain, he’ll kiss the ring in order to advance the Conservative agenda.

Because power and ideology matter more to these people than country.

Or people.

I think I'll say a few words, and then we'll take some questions. And I had this time. We've been negotiating a lot of different transactions to save money on contracts that were terrible, including airplane contracts that were out of control and late and terrible; just absolutely catastrophic in terms of what was happening. And we've done some really good work. We're very proud of that. And then right after that, you prepare yourselves, we'll do some questions, unless you have enough questions. That's always a possibility. I'm here today to update the American people on the incredible progress that has been made in the last four weeks since my inauguration. We have made incredible progress. I don't think there's ever been a president elected who in this short period of time has done what we've done.

Gibberish. This isn’t a policy statement, it’s just random fragments of thought pasted together.

And that’s important because language and how we use it defines how we face the world, how we deal with adversity, how we think.

Look at that paragraph. There’s no clarity of thought, no cohesive theme. It’s just … gibberish. He’s going to say some stuff then he’ll take some questions because he had some time after negotiating some transactions that are out of control and terrible and catastrophic in terms of what’s happening and he’s done some good work that he’s proud of but can’t really describe and prepare yourself for some questions unless you have enough questions because that’s always a possibility and we’re back to incredible progress, incredible progress, just like the most incredible progress, I’m amazing.

I want you to remember this paragraph. Because we’re going to come back to it later.

A new Rasmussen poll, in fact, because the people get it, much of the media doesn't get it. They actually get it, but they don't write it. Let's put it that way. But a new Rasmussen poll just came out just a very short while ago, and it has our approval rating at 55 percent and going up. The stock market has hit record numbers, as you know. And there has been a tremendous surge of optimism in the business world, which is -- to me means something much different than it used to. It used to mean, "Oh, that's good." Now it means, "That's good for jobs." Very different.

Trump is obsessed with approval, with what other people think about him. He’s the bore at the party who tries to impress the girls by telling them about his car and his big screen stereo TV.

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He’s calls the press the enemy of the people.

That’s some fascist bullshit right there. That’s unbelievable statement from a US president, that’s the kind of thing you hear from dictators in Iran and North Korea.

He makes vague comments about optimism and tells you how some unnamed people think things are “good for jobs.” But you’ll note he doesn’t tell you about those jobs in any detail.  Who are these people? What are these jobs?

Plants and factories are already starting to move back into the United States, and big league -- Ford, General Motors, so many of them. I'm making this presentation directly to the American people, with the media present, which is an honor to have you. This morning, because many of our nation's reporters and folks will not tell you the truth, and will not treat the wonderful people of our country with the respect that they deserve. And I hope going forward we can be a little bit -- a little bit different, and maybe get along a little bit better, if that's possible. Maybe it's not, and that's OK, too.

And again, he leads off with one thought and ends up some place completely different. The car companies are bringing jobs back to America so the media stinks so I hope we can work together in the future but probably not so that’s fine.

Unfortunately, much of the media in Washington, D.C., along with New York, Los Angeles in particular, speaks not for the people, but for the special interests and for those profiting off a very, very obviously broken system. The press has become so dishonest that if we don't talk about, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people. Tremendous disservice. We have to talk to find out what's going on, because the press honestly is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control.

We all have that one relative, that one person we know, who just won’t shut up about some pet bugaboo. Everything, every conversation, always, every time, leads back to that one thing.

That’s Trump and the press.

It was bad enough when he was merely a candidate, but this is the President of the United States whining endlessly about the press and that should disturb every citizen.

The press was given enumerated protection in the First Amendment for a reason. The press is the only private enterprise given specific rights and freedoms in the Constitution. The press is the only private enterprise specifically protected from government interference.

This was done because the press is supposed to be the watchdog of liberty.

Now granted the press doesn’t always live up to this responsibility. I don’t think any of us would argue that it does. But it is not the president’s job to decide how any of us use our rights. And if Trump doesn’t like how he’s portrayed in the press, then perhaps he should do a better job of explaining himself (see the comments above regarding gibberish et al) or find himself a better press secretary and speech writer.

I ran for president to present the citizens of our country. I am here to change the broken system so it serves their families and their communities well. I am talking -- and really talking on this very entrenched power structure, and what we're doing is we're talking about the power structure; we're talking about its entrenchment. As a result, the media is going through what they have to go through too often times distort - not all the time - and some of the media is fantastic, I have to say - they're honest and fantastic.

This, this right here, is what I’m talking about. The media is terrible but they’re fantastic but the power structure is entrenched because it’s entrenched and I’m going to use the word entrenched for a third time in the same sentence and so the media is terrible.

If Trump doesn’t like how he’s perceived by the media, then he needs to be more coherent.

But much of it is not a,the distortion, and we'll talk about it, you'll be able to ask me questions about it. But we're not going to let it happen, because I'm here again, to take my message straight to the people. As you know, our administration inherited many problems across government and across the economy. To be honest, I inherited a mess. It's a mess. At home and abroad, a mess. Jobs are pouring out of the country; you see what's going on with all of the companies leaving our country, going to Mexico and other places, low pay, low wages, mass instability overseas, no matter where you look. The middle east is a disaster. North Korea - we'll take care of it folks; we're going to take care of it all. I just want to let you know, I inherited a mess.

Three paragraphs back he was telling you how jobs were coming back to the country, now he’s directly contradicting that statement and telling you how jobs are leaving the country.

And the takeaway from this paragraph is what? Everything is a mess, but it’s not Donald Trump’s fault. Right?

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He tells you the country is a mess, but he again he gives you no details, no facts, to back that up. When Trump took office, the unemployment rate was  4.7 percent after the the longest period of job growth in history. Household income rose in 2015 by 5.2 percent which is largest one-year increase since 1967.

While things could certainly be better – and would be better if Republicans had helped America for the last eight years instead of sabotaging government at every opportunity – the country is a damned sight better off than it was last time there was a Republican in the White House and that is provable by any standard measure you’d care to employ.

Beginning on day one, our administration went to work to tackle these challenges. On foreign affairs, we've already begun enormously productive talks with many foreign leaders, much of it you've covered, to move forward towards stability, security and peace in the most troubled regions of the world, which there are many. We have had great conversations with the United Kingdom, and meetings. Israel, Mexico, Japan, China and Canada, really, really productive conversations. I would say far more productive than you would understand.

Far more productive than you peons would understand.

And somehow he completely misses the fact that it’s his job to make us understand.

Trump complains that the press won’t report his truth, but he makes no attempt whatsoever to explain his assertion. He says these supposed conversations were “really, really productive” but he provides no facts, no details, no footnotes, no references, no transcripts, no witnesses. He expects the press to report that everything is peachy simply because he says it is.

Trump never, not once, took Obama at his word, but we’re supposed to take Trump at his.

We've even developed a new council with Canada to promote women's business leaders and entrepreneurs. It's very important to me, very important to my daughter Ivanka. I have directed our defense community headed by our great general, now Secretary Mattis. He's over there now working very hard to submit a plan for the defeat of ISIS, a group that celebrates the murder and torture of innocent people in large sections of the world. It used to be a small group, now it's in large sections of the world.

He combines his daughter’s fashion business with some vague hand waving about defeating ISIS and how bizarre is that?

“He’s over there now…” Mattis. He’s over where now? Working with who? Submitting a plan to what?  I mean, Trump gave you more detail about Ivanka’s purse sales in Canada than whatever the hell war Mad Dog is currently working up.

They've spread like cancer. ISIS has spread like cancer - another mess I inherited – and we have imposed new sanctions on the nation of Iran, who’s totally taken advantage of our previous administration, and they're the world's top sponsor of terrorism, and we're not going to stop until that problem is properly solved. And it's not properly solved now, it's one of the worst agreements I've ever seen drawn by anybody. I've ordered plan to begin building for the massive rebuilding of the United States military. Had great support from the Senate, I've had great from Congress, generally.

He goes from ISIS to Iran in the same sentence without any acknowledgement that these are two totally different entities and then he’s into the Iran Agreement and without even a paragraph break and he fetches up on “rebuilding” the US military.  These are three separate subjects, each extensive enough to be a press conference in and of themselves. Instead, it’s all just jumbled together like a tub of grocery-store pasta salad.

We've pursued this rebuilding in the hopes that we will never have to use this military, and I will tell you that is my - I would be so happy if we never had to use it. But our country will never have had a military like the military we're about to build and rebuild. We have the greatest people on earth in our military, but they don't have the right equipment and their equipment is old. I used it. I talked about it at every stop. Depleted, it's depleted - it won't be depleted for long. And I think one of the reason I'm standing here instead of other people is that frankly, I talked about we have to have a strong military.

“I used it.”

That’s what he said. I used it. Military equipment.

I read it three times. I watched the video over and over. That’s that he said.

And today nobody is asking where Trump supposedly used this military equipment.

I’ll ask. This military equipment Trump claims to have used, to have first hand knowledge of, where and when was that experience?

It must be recent, right? Since he took office.

So, let’s have it. When. Where. What.

And while we’re at it, this grand military, this mighty fleet that we’re going to build and rebuild, I’d also like to know more about that. As a citizen. As a taxpayer. As a veteran.

Trump says we don’t have the right equipment.

Okay. Of all the Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and by ISIS over of the last 16 years, of all the Americans killed or wounded in action, not one – not a single one – was killed by enemy air superiority. Not one was killed by enemy naval action. So, about that trillion dollar F-35 or those $4 Billion per copy Zumwalt class destroyers, or $400 Billion for an upgraded nuclear arsenal, or … well, I guess my question here is this, exactly what equipment is Trump talking about?

And how do we pay for it?

We have to have a strong law enforcement also. So we do not go abroad in the search of war, we really are searching for peace, but its peace through strength. At home, we have begun the monumental task of returning the government back to the people on a scale not seen in many, many years. In each of these actions, I'm keeping my promises to the American people. These are campaign promises. Some people are so surprised that we're having strong borders.

Well, that's what I've been talking about for a year and a half, strong borders. They're so surprised, oh, he having strong borders, well that's what I've been talking about to the press and to everybody else. One promise after another after years of politicians lying to you to get elected. They lied to the American people in order to get elected. Some of the things I'm doing probably aren't popular but they're necessary for security and for other reasons.

And if that last line doesn’t set off alarms, you aren’t paying attention.

And then coming to Washington and pursuing their own interests which is more important to many politicians. I'm here following through on what I pledged to do. That's all I'm doing. I put it out before the American people, got 306 electoral college votes. I wasn't supposed to get 222. They said there's no way to get 222, 230's impossible. 270 which you need, that was laughable. We got 306 because people came out and voted like they've never seen before so that's the way it goes. I guess it was the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan. In other words, the media's trying to attack our administration because they know we are following through on pledges that we made and they're not happy about it for whatever reason.

You see it right?

You see it, right? “We got 306 because people came out and voted like they've never seen before.”

Except the Electoral College vote and the popular vote are two separate things and Trump’s comment makes no goddamned sense at all.

At all.

Not only that, but it’s factually wrong.  Trump didn’t get 306 electoral votes, he got 304. A minor nitpick I suppose given that the rest of his statement is even more wrong.  Barack Obama won with 332 electoral votes in 2012 and 365 in 2008. Trump’s favorite foil, Bill Clinton, won with 379 electoral votes in 1996 and 370 in 1992. 

When he was questioned on this comment, Trump tried to wiggle out of his lie by saying he meant he’d had the biggest electoral win of Republicans since Reagan, but even that isn’t true since George H.W. Bush won 426 electoral votes in 1988.

Out of five presidents since Reagan, Trump is second from the bottom in electoral votes and he shares with the guy on the bottom the distinction of losing the popular vote.

And - but a lot of people are happy about it. In fact, I'll be in Melbourne, Florida five o'clock on Saturday and I heard - just heard that the crowds are massive that want to be there. I turn on the T.V., open the newspapers and I see stories of chaos. Chaos. Yet it is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine- tuned machine, despite the fact that I can't get my cabinet approved.

A fine tuned machine?

Let’s review, shall we?

The National Security Advisor resigned (or was fired, depending on who’s telling the story) for colluding with the Russians and lying to the Vice president about it. Mike Flynn didn’t even last a whole month.

Trump’s first military mission, a raid on Yemen, was a disaster with one SEAL dead, half a dozen injured, dozens of women and children killed, a $73 MILLION dollar aircraft destroyed, and the guy they were after got away and is now mocking Trump in public.

The US Intelligence Community is in open revolt and leaking classified information like piss from an incontinent Russian hooker.

Trump’s pick for Labor Secretary crapped out and withdrew his own nomination.

The White House Press Secretary is a running joke on Saturday Night Live ala Baghdad Bob only more ridiculous and when Kellyanne Conway isn’t hawking Ivanka Trump apparel she’s inventing fake terrorist attacks.

Trump’s Executive Order banning immigration from Muslim countries was halted by court order and even his own AG won’t defend it. His promise to make Mexico pay for a border wall constructed from the bodies of white elephants literally has Mexico’s former president telling Trump to go fuck himself on social media and Mexico’s current president cancelled an official state visit over the issue.

The streets are full of pissed off women in pink pussy hats and the airports are jammed with immigration protestors.

And then Trump’s Director of Scheduling, Caroline Wiles – the daughter of Susan Wiles, Trump’s Florida campaign director and the former campaign manager for Governor Rick Scott – was escorted from the White House today along with five other Trump staffers. Wiles apparently resigned because she couldn’t pass the background check which includes inquires into your credit score, substance use, and personal habits. The other five staffers also failed their background checks. 

The administration might be a fine-tuned machine all right, but it’s like an airplane full of bombs and jet fuel aimed at a mountainside while the pilots play Doodle-Jump on their cell phones.

And they're outstanding people like Senator Dan Coats who's there, one of the most respected men of the Senate. He can't get approved. How do you not approve him? He's been a colleague - highly respected. Brilliant guy, great guy, everybody knows it. We're waiting for approval. So we have a wonderful group of people that's working very hard, that's being very much misrepresented about and we can't let that happen.

So, if the Democrats who have - all you have to do is look at where they are right now. The only thing they can do is delay because they screwed things up royally, believe me. Let me list to you some of the things that we've done in just a short period of time. I just got here. And I got here with no cabinet. Again, each of these actions is a promise I made to the American people.

I'll go over just some of them and we have a lot happening next week and in the weeks - in the weeks coming. We've withdrawn from the job-killing disaster known as Trans Pacific Partnership. We're going to make trade deals but we're going to have one on one deals, bilateral. We're going to have one on one deals.

We've directed the elimination of regulations that undermine manufacturing and call for expedited approval of the permits needed for America and American infrastructure and that means plant, equipment, roads, bridges, factories. People take 10, 15, 20 years to get disapproved for a factory. They go in for a permit, it's many, many years. And then at the end of the process -- they spend 10s of millions of dollars on nonsense and at the end of the process, they get rejected.

Now, they may be rejected with me but it's going to be a quick rejection. Not going to take years. But mostly it's going to be an acceptance. We want plants built and we want factories built and we want the jobs. We don't want the jobs going to other countries. We've imposed a hiring freeze on non-essential federal workers. We've imposed a temporary moratorium on new federal regulations.

We've issued a game-changing new rule that says for each one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated. Makes sense. Nobody's ever seen regulations like we have. You go to other countries and you look at indexes (ph) they have and you say "let me see your regulations" and they're fraction, just a tiny fraction of what we have. And I want regulations because I want safety, I want environmental - all environmental situations to be taken properly care of. It's very important to me. But you don't need four or five or six regulations to take care of the same thing.

Twenty years to get approval for a factory?

Businesses spend tens of millions of dollars for a permit?

Once again, you’ll note he doesn’t provide any actual examples or facts to back up that claim.

It might take years to get approval for new power plant or a large pipeline or a dam, but those things require massive studies and extensive engineering and environmental review and history has shown repeatedly that when that kind of oversight isn’t applied it’s the public who suffers the consequences. Ask the folks of Love Canal or the Down Winders or those who live next to Hanford or the Savannah River or those sucking petroleum byproducts from their faucets in the middle of the fracking fields.

Most of the time, the delays are economic. Alaskans have been trying to build a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to a terminal near Anchorage or even as a pipeline through Canada for decades now. Every governor for the last 40 years has promised to complete the project and every conservative has blamed the EPA and Environmentalists and Liberals for the delays. But the real reason the project has never gotten off the ground is because it’s a white elephant. There’s no money in it. None. Even if you tossed out every regulation and ran the gas though rubber garden hoses right through the middle of sacred Native American graveyards, you still couldn’t turn a profit. For forty years the people pushing this scam have been doing their damnest to find a way to get the Federal Government to subsidize this boondoggle so they can line their pockets with tax dollars while blaming sissy liberals for the cost of doing business.

There’s a reason why these projects need strict oversight and you don’t have to go to Alaska to find them or wait from some massive environmental disaster, you don’t have to look any further than Enron or (Conservatives’ favorite punching bag) Solyndra.

We've stood up for the men and women of law enforcement, directing federal agencies to ensure they are protected from crimes of violence. We've directed the creation of a task force for reducing violent crime in America, including the horrendous situation -- take a look at Chicago and others, taking place right now in our inner cities. Horrible.

Uh huh.

Again, no details. No facts. No names. No references. No objective. No timelines. We’ve directed some people to do some vague thing.

It’s that scene from Indiana Jones: we’ve got top men working on it right now. Top. Men.

We've ordered the Department of Homeland Security and Justice to coordinate on a plan to destroy criminal cartels coming into the United States with drugs. We're becoming a drug infested nation. Drugs are becoming cheaper than candy bars. We are not going to let it happen any longer.

Oh. Destroy cartels coming into America. Boy, why didn’t anybody else think of that?

Drugs are cheaper than candy bars. We’re not going to let that happen any more.

No details. No facts. No names. No references. No objectives. No timelines. We’ve got top men working on it right now.

We've undertaken the most substantial border security measures in a generation to keep our nation and our tax dollars safe. And are now in the process of beginning to build a promised wall on the southern border, met with general -- now Secretary Kelly yesterday and we're starting that process. And the wall is going to be a great wall and it's going to be a wall negotiated by me. The price is going to come down just like it has on everything else I've negotiated for the government. And we are going to have a wall that works, not gonna have a wall like they have now which is either non-existent or a joke.

He promised a wall. He promised that Mexico would pay for his wall.

He was going to negotiate that.

He got told to go fuck himself by Mexico. That was the entire extent of the negotiations.

Now we’re paying for his wall and he’s promised to pay us back later.

This is the same guy who doesn’t pay the contractors who worked on his hotels and casinos.

You can do the rest of the math yourself.

We've ordered a crackdown on sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with federal law and that harbor criminal aliens, and we have ordered an end to the policy of catch and release on the border. No more release. No matter who you are, release. We have begun a nationwide effort to remove criminal aliens, gang members, drug dealers and others who pose a threat to public safety. We are saving American lives every single day.

This morning the media is full of reports of ICE agents arresting housewives and day laborers and school kids, but curiously lacking are pictures of alien gang members and violent criminals and drug dealers being carted off for deportation.

The court system has not made it easy for us. And are even creating a new office in Homeland Security dedicated to the forgotten American victims of illegal immigrant violence, which there are many. We have taken decisive action to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of our country. No parts are necessary and constitutional actions were blocked by judges, in my opinion, incorrect, and unsafe ruling. Our administration is working night and day to keep you safe, including reporters safe. And is vigorously defending this lawful order.

It’s not supposed to be easy.

Isn’t that exactly what Republicans have been telling us for eight years? The president isn’t a dictator. He’s not an emperor. Every single one of his actions and orders are subject to review and approval, by the court, by congress, by the people. That’s what conservatives like Trump told Obama.

I will not back down from defending our country. I got elected on defense of our country. I keep my campaign promises, and our citizens will be very happy when they see the result. They already are, I can tell you that. Extreme vetting will be put in place and it already is in place in many places.

What?

Again – again – no details. What is this “extreme vetting?” He provides no facts, no information, nothing.

In fact, we had to go quicker than we thought because of the bad decision we received from a circuit that has been overturned at a record number. I have heard 80 percent, I find that hard to believe, that is just a number I heard, that they are overturned 80 percent of the time. I think that circuit is -- that circuit is in chaos and that circuit is frankly in turmoil. But we are appealing that, and we are going further.

Trump “heard” that the 9th Circuit decisions are overturned at “record” numbers.

Maybe he should listen to somebody else.

While it’s true that up to 79% of cases from the 9th Circuit Court are reversed IF they make it to the Supreme Court, that’s not the highest rate, nor is it unusual. Nor is it 80% of the 9th Circuit Courts total decisions, it is 80% of the cases that make to the Supreme Court, that’s less than 1/10 of 1% of the Court’s decisions. It’s how our system is supposed to work. In the case of Trump’s immigration ban, the court’s job is to issue a stay on the order if there is any question of Constitutionality. That temporary decision is than reviewed at much higher standards by the Supreme Court (if the case gets that far) and while the ban itself might be overturned it’s often with certain modifications to the order or law to bring it into compliance with Constitutional requirements.

If you need an example, look at the various challenges to the ACA.

We're issuing a new executive action next week that will comprehensively protect our country. So we'll be going along the one path and hopefully winning that, at the same time we will be issuing a new and very comprehensive order to protect our people. That will be done sometime next week, toward the beginning or middle at the latest part.

Comprehensively protect the country how

From what? 

From who?

Using what resources?

And just how “comprehensive” can it be if it doesn’t require legislation and approval of Congress?

What the hell is he talking about?

We have also taken steps to begin construction of the Keystone Pipeline and Dakota Access Pipelines. Thousands and thousands of jobs, and put new buy American measures in place to require American steel for American pipelines. In other words, they build a pipeline in this country, and we use the powers of government to make that pipeline happen, we want them to use American steel. And they are willing to do that, but nobody ever asked before I came along. Even this order was drawn and they didn't say that. And I'm reading the order, I'm saying, why aren't we using American steel? And they said, that's a good idea, we put it in.

He’s reading the order. What order? The Executive Order he supposedly wrote? And if he didn’t write it, who did?

And “they” said that’s a good idea? Who? Who said that?

Never mind, let’s back up to that part where the President can order a private enterprise to buy materials from a particular supplier. Or better yet, let’s talk about how the president can order a pipeline company to buy American steel but apparently Casino owners can “negotiate” a better deal with China.

To drain the swamp of corruption in Washington, D.C., I've started by imposing a five-year lobbying ban on White House officials and a lifetime ban on lobbying for a foreign government.

White House officials were the problem? White House officials? Just White House officials?

We've begun preparing to repeal and replace Obamacare. Obamacare is a disaster, folks. It it's disaster. I know you can say, oh, Obamacare. I mean, they fill up our alleys with people that you wonder how they get there, but they are not the Republican people that our representatives are representing.

Wait, what?

I mean, they fill up our alleys with people that you wonder how they get there, but they are not the Republican people that our representatives are representing.

What?

So we've begun preparing to repeal and replace Obamacare, and are deep in the midst of negotiations on a very historic tax reform to bring our jobs back, to bring our jobs back to this country. Big league. It's already happening. But big league.

By this point in Trump’s press conference I was reduced to shouting What?! over and over and throwing things at the TV.

I've also worked to install a cabinet over the delays and obstruction of Senate Democrats. You've seen what they've done over the last long number of years. That will be one of the great cabinets ever assembled in American history. You look at Rex Tillerson. He's out there negotiating right now. General Mattis I mentioned before, General Kelly. We have great, great people. Mick is with us now. We have great people. Among their responsibilities will be ending the bleeding of jobs from our country and negotiating fair trade deals for our citizens.

Trump apparently thinks that if he just says “negotiate” enough, some kind of magic will happen.

Now look, fair trade. Not free, fair. If a country is taking advantage of us, not going to let that happen anymore. Every country takes advantage of us almost. I may be able to find a couple that don't. But for the most part, that would be a very tough job for me to do.

Jobs have already started to surge. Since my election, Ford announced it will abandon its plans to build a new factory in Mexico, and will instead invest $700 million in Michigan, creating many, many jobs.

Fiat Chrysler announced it will invest $1 billion in Ohio and Michigan, creating 2,000 new American jobs. They were with me a week ago. You know you were here.

General Motors likewise committed to invest billions of dollars in its American manufacturing operation, keeping many jobs here that were going to leave. And if I didn't get elected, believe me, they would have left. And these jobs and these things that I'm announcing would never have come here.

Intel just announced that it will move ahead with a new plant in Arizona that probably was never going to move ahead with. And that will result in at least 10,000 American jobs.

Walmart announced it will create 10,000 jobs in the United States just this year because of our various plans and initiatives. There will be many, many more, many more, these are a few that we're naming.

Other countries have been taking advantage of us for decades -- decades, and decades, and decades, folks. And we're not going to let that happen anymore. Not going to let it happen.

Don’t make me say “negotiate” again.

And one more thing, I have kept my promise to the American people by nominating a justice of the United States Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, who is from my list of 20, and who will be a true defender of our laws and our Constitution, highly respected, should get the votes from the Democrats. You may not see that. But he'll get there one way or the other. But he should get there the old-fashioned way, and he should get those votes.

“You may not see that.”

So, just to be clear, he’s going to personally “negotiate” with our toughest trade partners, countries like China, but he can’t negotiate with Democrats? He can’t make a deal with his own countrymen. But then again, according to Trump “they are not the Republican people that our representatives are representing” so fuck ‘em, they don’t matter anyway. 

This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country. Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time.

You said it, all right.

I swear Trump blows his own horn so much it’s practically autofellatio.

And we have not even started the big work yet. That starts early next week.

Oh great, I can hardly wait.

Some very big things are going to be announced next week. So we are just getting started. We will be giving a speech, as I said, in Melbourne, Florida, at 5:00 p.m. I hope to see you there.

And with that, I just say, God bless America, and let's take some questions.

And so, at long, long last we arrive at the questions.

“…unless you have enough questions. That's always a possibility.”

Apparently not.

Alas

Mara, Mara, go ahead. You were cut off pretty violently at our last news conference.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

TRUMP: Mike Flynn is a fine person, and I asked for his resignation. He respectfully gave it. He is a man who there was a certain amount of information given to Vice President Pence, who is with us today. And I was not happy with the way that information was given. He didn't have to do that, because what he did wasn't wrong – what he did in terms of the information he saw. What was wrong was the way that other people, including yourselves in this room, were given that information, because that was classified information that was given illegally. That's the real problem.

So, Flynn’s a fine guy and he didn’t do anything wrong but Trump fired him anyway because “somebody” reported what he did, which wasn’t wrong, but Trump fired him because somebody else who wasn’t Flynn told the press what Flynn did, which wasn’t wrong. See?

And, you know, you can talk all you want about Russia, which was all a, you know, fake news, fabricated deal, to try and make up for the loss of the Democrats and the press plays right into it. In fact, I saw a couple of the people that were supposedly involved with all of this – that they know nothing about it; they weren't in Russia; they never made a phone call to Russia; they never received a phone call.

So, like I was saying, Flynn talked to Russia and didn’t tell Pence about it, but nobody talked to Russia, except for Flynn, who Trump fired for not doing anything wrong except for getting caught talking to Russia, and besides that was all fabricated by the Fake News and never really happened which is why Trump fired Mike Flynn for it, who is a really great guy, who talked to Russia except for when nobody talked to Russia. Okay?

It's all fake news. It's all fake news. The nice thing is, I see it starting to turn, where people are now looking at the illegal – I think it's very important – the illegal, giving out classified information. It was – and let me just tell you, it was given out like so much.

So, it’s Fake News but it’s real information that was given out, which is really important, illegally speaking, but it’s fake, see?

I'll give you an example. I called, as you know, Mexico. It was a very, very confidential, classified call. But I called Mexico. And in calling Mexico, I figured, oh, well that's – I spoke to the president of Mexico; I had a good call. All of a sudden, it's out there for the world to see. It's supposed to be secret. It's supposed to be either confidential or classified, in that case.

Same thing with Australia. All of a sudden, people are finding out exactly what took place. The same thing happened with respect to General Flynn. Everybody saw this. And I'm saying – the first thing I thought of when I heard about it is: How does the press get this information that's classified? How do they do it?

You know why? Because it's an illegal process and the press should be ashamed of themselves. But more importantly, the people that gave out the information to the press should be ashamed of themselves, really ashamed.

So, anyway, in conclusion, if it had been on, like, you know, Wikileaks, it would have been totally cool. But, um, if the press, you know, reports it, it’s totally lame and Fake News and that’s bad and sad.

Yes, go ahead.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

TRUMP: Because when I looked at the information, I said, "I don't think he did anything wrong; if anything, he did something right." He was coming into office. He looked at the information. He said, "Huh, that's fine." That's what they're supposed to do. They're supposed to, he didn't just call Russia. He called and spoke to both ways, I think there were 30-some-odd countries. He's doing the job. You know, he was doing his job. The thing is, he didn't tell our vice president properly, and then he said he didn't remember. So either way, it wasn't very satisfactory to me. And I have somebody that I think will be outstanding for the position. And that also helps, I think, in the making of my decision. But he didn't tell the vice president of the United States the facts. And then he didn't remember. And that just wasn't acceptable to me.

So, just to reiterate, Mike Flynn was just doing his job and Trump was all “You’re Fired!” and Flynn was like “What the fuck, man?” And Trump was like, “Pence is pissed, Dude. But you can have this nice Ivanka Purse as a parting gift and anyway we gave your job to another guy.”

Yes?

QUESTION: (inaudible) clarification here. During your campaign, did anyone from your team (inaudible) Russian government or Russian intelligence? And if so, what was the nature of those conversations (inaudible)?

TRUMP: The failing New York Times wrote a big, long front-page story yesterday. And it was very much discredited, as you know. It was – it's a joke. And the people mentioned in the story, I notice they were on television today saying they never even spoke to Russia. They weren't even a part, really – I mean, they were such a minor part. They – I hadn't spoken to them. I think the one person – I don't think I've ever spoken to him. I don't think I've ever met him. And he actually said he was a very low-level member of I think a committee for a short period of time. I don't think I ever met him. Now, it's possible that I walked into a room and he was sitting there, but I don't think I ever met him. I didn't talk to him ever. And he thought it was a joke. The other person said he never spoke to Russia; never received a call. Look at his phone records, et cetera, et cetera. And the other person, people knew that he represented various countries, but I don't think he represented Russia, but knew that he represented various countries. That's what he does. I mean, people know that. That's Mr. Manafort, who's by the way, who's by the way a respected man. He's a respected man. But I think he represented the Ukraine or Ukraine government or somebody, but everybody, people knew that, everybody knew that. So, these people – and he said that he has absolutely nothing to do and never has with Russia. And he said that very forcefully. I saw his statement. He said it very forcefully. Most of the papers don't print it because that's not good for their stories.

If you were on trial and you answered a question in that fashion in front of a jury, they’d be fitting you for the electric chair twenty minutes later.

So the three people that they talked about all totally deny it. And I can tell you, speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don't have any deals in Russia. President Putin called me up very nicely to congratulate me on the win of the election. He then, called me up extremely nicely to congratulate me on the inauguration, which was terrific. But so did many other leaders, almost all other leaders from almost all of the country. So that's the extent. Russia is fake news. Russia, this is fake news put out by the media. The real news is the fact that people, probably from the Obama administration because they're there, because we have our new people going in place, right now.

Let’s back up to the part where Trump just fired Mike Flynn for talking to Russia and lying to Mike Pence about it.

What?

Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

You know what? You’re right, he’s rolling. Never mind.

As you know, Mike Pompeo has, has now taken control of the CIA, James Comey at FBI, Dan Coats is waiting to be approved, I mean he is a senator and a highly respected one and he's still waiting to be approved. But our new people are going in. And just while you're at it, because you mentioned this, Wall Street Journal did a story today that was almost as disgraceful as the failing New York Time's story, yesterday. And it talked about – these are  front page. So director of national intelligence just put out, acting a statement, any suggestion that the United States intelligence community, this was just given to us, is withholding information and not providing the best possible intelligence to the president and his national security team is not true. So they took this front page story out of The Wall Street Journal top and they just wrote the story that its not true. And I'll tell you something, I'll be honest, because I sort of enjoy this back and forth that I guess I have all my life but I've never seen more dishonest media than frankly, the political media. I thought the financial media was much better, much more honest.But I will say that, I never get phone calls from the media. How did they write a story like that in The Wall Street Journal without asking me or how did they write a story in The New York Times, put it on front page? That was like the story they wrote about the women and me, front page, big massive story. And it was nasty and then they called, they said we never said that, we like Mr. Trump. They called up my office, we like Mr. Trump, we never said that. And it was totally, they totally misrepresented those very wonderful women, I have to tell you, totally misrepresented. I said give us the retraction. They never gave us a retraction and frankly, I then went on to other things.

Nixon was like Ha hah! Woodward and Bernstein didn’t talk to me so, hah hah! Watergate didn’t happen so I’m still the president! Hah hah, Fuckers! and America just sort of shrugged and said, well, he’s got a point…

Trump (and a lot of journalists apparently) think access journalism is the only journalism.

OK, go ahead.

QUESTION: You said today that you have big electoral margins (inaudible) 300 or more , or 350  electoral  votes. President Obama about 365 electoral votes.

TRUMP: Yeah.

QUESTION: Obama (inaudible) 426 on (inaudible). So why should Americans...

TRUMP: I'm skipping that information, I don't know, I was just given, we had a very, very big margin.

QUESTION: But why should Americans trust you on the information?

TRUMP: Well, I don't know, I was given that information. I was given, I actually, I've seen that information around. But it was a very substantial victory, do you agree with that? OK thank you, that's...

Why should we trust you?

Well, I don’t know.

Fair enough.

TRUMP: Go ahead Sir, yes?

QUESTION: Can you tell us in determining that Lieutenant General Flynn did, whether there was no wrongdoing in your mind, what evidence was weighed? Did you ask for transcripts of these telephone intercepts with Russian officials, particularly the Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, who he was communicating with?  What, what evidence did you weigh to determine that there was no wrongdoing? Further to that, Sir, you said on a couple of locations this morning, you are going to aggressively pursue the source of these leaks.

TRUMP: We are.

QUESTION: Can we ask what you're going to do and also, we've heard about a, a review of the intelligence community headed up by Steven Feinberg, what can you tell us about that?

TRUMP: Well, first of all about that, we now have Dan Coats, hopefully soon, Mike Pompeo and James Comey and they're in position so I hope that we'll be able to straighten that out without using anybody else. The gentleman you mentioned is a very talented man, very successful man and he's offered his services and you know, it's something we may take advantage of. But I don't think we're need that at all because of the fact that you know, I think that we are gonna be able to straighten it out very easily on its own. As far as the general's concerned, when I first heard about it, I said huh, that doesn't sound wrong. My counsel came, Don McGahn, White House Counsel, and he told me and I asked him, he can speak very well for himself. He said he doesn't think anything is wrong, you know, really didn't think. It was really, what happened after that but he didn't think anything was done wrong. I didn't either because I waited a period of time and I started to think about it, I said "well I don't see" – to me, he was doing the job. The information was provided by -- who I don't know, Sally Yates. And I was a little surprised because I said "doesn't sound like he did anything wrong there." But he did something wrong with respect to the vice president and I thought that was not acceptable. As far as -- as far as the actual making the call, fact I've watched various programs and I've read various articles where he was just doing his job. That was very normal. You know, first everybody got excited because they thought he did something wrong. After they thought about it, it turned out he was just doing his job. So. And I do. And by the way, with all of that being said, I do think he's a fine man.

Thank God we cleared that up.

QUESTION: Sir, if I could, on the leaks, on the leaks, Sir...

TRUMP: Go ahead. Finish off then I'll get you.

QUESTION: I'm sorry. What will you do on the leaks? You've said twice today...

TRUMP: Yes, we're looking at them very, um, very, very serious. I've gone to all of the folks in charge of the various agencies and we're, um, I've actually called the Justice Department to look into the leaks. Those are criminal leaks. They're put out by people either in agencies. I think you'll see it stopping because now we have our people in. You know, again, we don't have our people in because we can't get them approved by the Senate.

We have our people in but we don’t have our people in. You can quote me on that.

We just had Jeff Sessions approved. In Justice, as an example. So, we are looking into that very seriously. It's a criminal act. You know what I say, when I, when I was called out on Mexico, I was shocked because all this equipment, all this incredible phone equipment, when I was called out on Mexico, I was, honestly, I was really, really surprised, but I said "you know, it doesn't make sense. That won't happen" but that wasn't that important a call, it was fine, I could show it to the world and he could show it to the world, the president who's a very fine man, by the way. Same thing with Australia, I said that's terrible that it was leaked but it wasn't that important. But then I said to myself what happens when I'm dealing with the problem of North Korea? What happens when I'm dealing with the problems in the Middle East? Are you folks going to be reporting all of that very, very confidential information, very important, very, you know, I mean at the highest level? Are you going to be reporting about that too? So, I don't want classified information getting out to the public and in a way that was almost a test. So I'm dealing with Mexico, I'm dealing with Argentina, we were dealing on this case with Mike Flynn. All this information gets put into the Washington Post and gets put into the New York Times and I'm saying what's going to happen when I'm dealing on the Middle East? What's going to happen when I'm dealing with really, really important subjects like North Korea? We got to stop it. That's why it's a criminal penalty.

But then I said to myself please don’t make me sound like an idiot because I hate that.

QUESTION: I just want to get you to clarify this very important point. Can you say definitively that nobody on your campaign had any contacts with the Russians during the campaign? And on the leaks, is it fake news or are these real leaks?

TRUMP: Well the leaks are real. You're the one that wrote about them and reported them, I mean the leaks are real. You know what they said, you saw it and the leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake. So one thing that I felt it was very important to do and I hope we can correct it. Because there's nobody I have more respect for, well, maybe a little bit but the reporters, good reporters. It's very important to me and especially in this position. It's very important. I don't mind bad stories. I can handle a bad story better than anybody as long as it's true and, you know, over a course of time, I'll make mistakes and you'll write badly and I'm OK with that. But I'm not OK when it is fake. I mean, I watch CNN, it's so much anger and hatred and just the hatred. I don't watch it any more because it's very good, he's saying no. It's OK, Jim. It's OK, Jim, you'll have your chance. But I watch others too. You're not the only one so don't feel badly. But I think it should be straight. I think it should be, I think it would be frankly more interesting. I know how good everybody's ratings are right now but I think that actually, I think that'd actually be better. People, I mean, you have a lower approval rate than Congress. I think that's right. I don't know, Peter, is that one right? Because you know I think they have lower, I heard lower than Congress. But honestly, the public would appreciate it, I'd appreciate it, again, I don't mind bad stories when it's true but we have an administration where the Democrats are making it very difficult. I think we're setting a record or close to a record in the time of approval of a cabinet. I mean, the numbers are crazy. When I'm looking, some of them had them approved immediately. I'm going forever and I still have a lot of people that we're waiting for. And that's all they're doing, is delaying. And you look at Schumer and the mess that he's got over there and they have nothing going. The only thing they can do is delay. And, you know, I think that they'd be better served by, you know, approving and making sure that they're happy and everybody's good. And sometimes, I mean, I know President Obama lost three or four, and you lose them on the way, and that's OK. That's fine. But I think it would, I think they would be much better served, John, if they just went through the process quickly. This is pure delay tactics. And they say it, and everybody understands it.

So, that’s a big no on the talking to Russia thing then?

Yeah, go ahead, Jimmy.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

TRUMP: Well, I had nothing to do with it. I have nothing to do with Russia. I told you, I have no deals there, I have no anything. Now, when WikiLeaks, which I had nothing to do with, comes out and happens to give, they're not giving classified information. They're giving stuff, what was said at an office about Hillary cheating on the debates. Which, by the way, nobody mentions. Nobody mentions that Hillary received the questions to the debates. Can you imagine , seriously can you imagine if I received the questions? It would be the electric chair. OK, he should be put in the electric, you would even call for the reinstitution of the death penalty, OK. Maybe not you John. Yes? We'll do you next Jim, I do you next.

To be completely honest, I’m not sure even an electric chair would help at this point.

QUESTION: Can you clarify…

TRUMP: Yes, yes, sure

QUESTION: Did you direct Mike Flynn to discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador…

TRUMP: No, I didn't.

QUESTION: …prior to your…

TRUMP: No, I didn't.

QUESTION: … inauguration?

TRUMP: No, I didn't.

QUESTION: And then fired him…

TRUMP: Excuse me?

QUESTION: (inaudible)

TRUMP: No, I fired him because of what he said to Mike Pence. Very simple. Mike was doing his job. He was calling countries and his counterparts. So, it certainly would have been OK with me if he did it. I would have directed him to do it if I thought he wasn't doing it. I didn't direct him, but I would have directed him because that's his job. And it came out that way, and in all fairness, I watched Dr. Charles Krauthammer the other night say he was doing his job and I agreed with him. And since then, I've watched many other people say that. No, I didn't direct him, but I would have directed him if he didn't do it. OK? Jim?

Wait, let’s back up to that part about nobody talked to the Russians. Hello?

I admit to being a little confused at this point.

QUESTION: Thank you very much, and just for the record, we don't hate you. I don't hate you.

TRUMP: OK.

QUESTION: So, pass that along…

TRUMP: Ask, ask Jeff Zucker how he got his job. OK?

These two should maybe get a room.

QUESTION: If I may follow up on some of the questions that have taken place so far here, sir…

TRUMP: Well, that's, well, you know, we do have other people. You do have other people and your ratings aren't as good as some of the other people that are waiting.

QUESTION: It's pretty good right now, actually.

TRUMP: OK, go ahead, John.

QUESTION: If I may ask, sir, you said earlier that WikiLeaks was revealing information about the Hillary Clinton campaign during the election cycle. You welcomed that. At one time…

TRUMP: I was OK with it.

QUESTION: …you said, you said that you loved WikiLeaks. At another campaign press conference you called on the Russians to find the missing 30,000 e-mails. I'm wondering, sir, if you…

TRUMP: Well, she was actually missing 33 and then that got extended with a pile after that.

QUESTION: Then your numbers were off too?

TRUMP: No. No, but I did say 30. But it was actually higher than that.

QUESTION: If, if I may ask you, sir, it, it sounds as though you do not have much credibility here when it comes to leaking if that is something that you encouraged during(ph) the campaign…

TRUMP: OK, fair question. Ready?

QUESTION: Well, if I may ask you that…

TRUMP: No, no, but let me do one at a time.

QUESTION: If I may as a follow up?

TRUMP: Do you mind?

QUESTION: Yes, sir.

TRUMP: All right. So, in one case, you're talking about highly classified information. In the other case, you're talking about John Podesta saying bad things about the boss. I will say this, if John Podesta said that about me and he was working for me, I would have fired him so fast your head would have spun. He said terrible things about her. But it wasn't classified information. But in one case, you're talking about classified, regardless, if you look at the RNC, we had a very strong, at my suggestion and I give Reince great credit for this. at my suggestion, because I know something about this world, I said I want a very strong defensive mechanism. I don't want to be hacked. And we did that. And you have seen that they tried to hack us and they failed. The DNC did not do that. And if they did it, they could not have been hacked. But they were hacked and terrible things came in. And, you know, the only thing that I do think is unfair is some of the things were so, they were, when I heard some of those things I picked up the papers the next morning and said, oh, this is going to be front page, it wasn't even in the papers. Again, if I had that happen to me, it would be the biggest story in the history of publishing or the head of newspapers. I would have been headline in every newspaper. I mean, think of it. They gave her the questions to a debate and she, and she should have reported herself. Why did Hillary Clinton announce that, I'm sorry, but I have been given the questions to a debate or a town hall, and I feel that it's inappropriate, and I want to turn in CNN for not doing a good job.

I missed something. Do we still like Wikileaks or not?

QUESTION: And if I may follow up on that, just something that Jonathan Karl was asking you about. You said that the leaks are real, but the news is fake. I guess I don't understand. It seems that there's a disconnect there. If the information coming from those leaks is real, then how can the stories be fake?

TRUMP: The reporting is fake. Look, look, you know what it is? Here's the thing. The public isn't, you know, they read newspapers, they see television, they watch, they don't know if it's true or false because they're not involved. I'm involved. I've been involved with this stuff all my life. But I'm involved. So I know when you're telling the truth or when you're not. I just see many, many untruthful things. And I'll tell you what else I see. I see tone. You know the word tone. The tone is such hatred. I'm really not a bad person, by the way. No, but the tone is such, I do get good ratings, you have to admit that. The tone is such hatred. I watched this morning a couple of the networks. And I have to say, Fox & Friends in the morning, they're very honorable people. They're very, not because they're good, because they hit me also when I do something wrong. But they have the most honest morning show. That's all I can say. It's the most honest. But the tone, Jim. If you look, the hatred, the, I mean, sometimes, sometimes somebody gets, well, you look at your show that goes on at 10 o'clock in the evening. You just take a look at that show. That is a constant hit. The panel is almost always exclusive anti-Trump. The good news is he doesn't have good ratings. But the panel is almost exclusive anti-Trump. And the hatred and venom coming from his mouth; the hatred coming from other people on your network. Now, I will say this. I watch it. I see it. I'm amazed by it. And I just think you'd be a lot better off, I honestly do. The public gets it, you know. Look, when I go to rallies, they turn around, they start screaming at CNN. They want to throw their placards at CNN. You know. I, I think you would do much better by being different. But you just take a look. Take a look at some of your shows in the morning and the evening. If a guest comes out and says something positive about me, it's, it's brutal. Now, they'll take this news conference, I'm actually having a very good time, OK? But they'll take this news conference, don't forget, that's the way I won. Remember, I used to give you a news conference every time I made a speech, which was like every day. OK? No, that's how I won. I won with news conferences and probably speeches. I certainly didn't win by people listening to you people. That's for sure. But I'm having a good time. Tomorrow, they will say, "Donald Trump rants and raves at the press." I'm not ranting and raving. I'm just telling you. You know, you're dishonest people. But, but I'm not ranting and raving. I love this. I'm having a good time doing it. But tomorrow, the headlines are going to be, "Donald Trump rants and raves." I'm not ranting and raving.

I’m babbling like a deranged lunatic, but I’m not ranting and raving.

This goes on and on. So let’s jump over the CNN bashing and the part where Trump explains how he’d be a really good reporter and the bullshit about his great tax plan and get to the part where he’s starting a nuclear war.

QUESTION: Mr. President, you mentioned Russia. Let's talk about some serious issues that have come up in the last week that you have had to deal with as president of the United States.

TRUMP: OK.

QUESTION: You mentioned the vessel, the spy vessel off the coast of the United States.

TRUMP: Not good.

QUESTION: There was a ballistic missile test that many interpret as a violation of an agreement between the two countries; and a Russian plane buzzed a U.S. destroyer.

TRUMP: Not good.

QUESTION: I listened to you during the campaign ...

TRUMP: Excuse me, excuse me. When did it happen? It happened when, if you were Putin right now, you would say, "Hey, we're back to the old games with the United States; there's no way Trump can ever do a deal with us." Because the, you have to understand, if I was just brutal on Russia right now, just brutal, people would say, you would say, "Oh, isn't that wonderful." But I know you well enough. Then you would say, "Oh, he was too tough; he shouldn't have done that." Look, all of the…

QUESTION: I'm just trying to find out your orientation to those...

TRUMP: Wait a minute. Wait, wait. Excuse me just one second. All of those things that you mentioned are very recent, because probably Putin assumes that he's not going to be able to make a deal with me because it's politically not popular for me to make a deal. So Hillary Clinton tries a re-set. It failed. They all tried. But I'm different than those people.

Maybe, and I’m just throwing this out there, Putin thinks he can’t do a deal with the United States because we elected a raving lunatic for President.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: How are you interpreting those moves? And what do you intend to do about them? Have you given Rex Tillerson any advice or counsel on how to deal?

TRUMP: I have. I have. And I'm so beautifully represented. I'm so honored that the Senate approved him. He's going to be fantastic. Yes, I think that I've already...

QUESTION: Is Putin testing you, do you believe, sir?

TRUMP: No, I don't think so. I think Putin probably assumes that he can't make a deal with me anymore because politically it would be unpopular for a politician to make a deal. I can't believe I'm saying I'm a politician, but I guess that's what I am now. Because, look, it would be much easier for me to be tough on Russia, but then we're not going to make a deal. Now, I don't know that we're going to make a deal. I don't know. We might. We might not. But it would be much easier for me to be so tough, the tougher I am on Russia, the better. But you know what? I want to do the right thing for the American people. And to be honest, secondarily, I want to do the right thing for the world. If Russia and the United States actually got together and got along, and don't forget, we're a very powerful nuclear country and so are they. There's no up-side. We're a very powerful nuclear country and so are they. I have been briefed. And I can tell you one thing about a briefing that we're allowed to say because anybody that ever read the most basic book can say it, nuclear holocaust would be like no other. They're a very powerful nuclear country and so are we. If we have a good relationship with Russia, believe me, that's a good thing, not a bad thing.

It would be a holocaust like no other.

That’s what your president has been authorized to tell you. We’ve got nukes. They’ve got nukes. It would be a holocaust like no other, see? He’s been briefed so he knows. Nuclear war is bad, Folks. You probably didn’t know that, but, yeah, bad. So, probably better go easy on Russia because nobody wants a nuclear war, right?

QUESTION: So when you say they're not good, do you mean that they are...

TRUMP: Who did I say is not good?

QUESTION: No, I read off the three things that have recently happened. Each one of them you said they're not good.

TRUMP: No, it's not good, but they happened.

QUESTION: But do they damage the relationship? Do they undermine...

TRUMP: They all happened recently. No...

QUESTION: ... this country's ability to work with Russia?

TRUMP: They all happened recently. And I understand what they're doing because they're doing the same thing. Now, again, maybe I'm not going to be able to do a deal with Russia, but at least I will have tried. And if I don't, does anybody really think that Hillary Clinton would be tougher on Russia than Donald Trump? Does anybody in this room really believe that? OK? But I tell you one thing, she tried to make a deal. She had the re-set. She gave all that valuable uranium away. She did other things. You know, they say I'm close to Russia. Hillary Clinton gave away 20 percent of the uranium in the United States. She's close to Russia.

QUESTION: Can we...

TRUMP: I gave, you know what I gave to Russia? You know what I gave? Nothing.

QUESTION: Can we conclude there will be no response to these particular provocations?

TRUMP: I'm not going to tell you anything about what response I do. I don't talk about military response. I don't say I'm going into Mosul in four months. "We are going to attack Mosul in four months." Then three months later, "We are going to attack Mosul in one month." "Next week, we are going to attack Mosul." In the meantime, Mosul is very, very difficult. Do you know why? Because I don't talk about military, and I don't talk about certain other things, you're going to be surprised to hear that. And by the way, my whole campaign, I'd say that. So I don't have to tell you. I don't want to be one of these guys that say, "Yes, here's what we're going to do." I don't have to do that. I don't have to tell you what I'm going to do in North Korea. Wait a minute. I don't have to tell you what I'm going to do in North Korea. And I don't have to tell you what I'm going to do with Iran. You know why? Because they shouldn't know. And eventually, you guys are going to get tired of asking that question. So when you ask me what am I going to do with a ship, the Russian ship as an example, I'm not going to tell you. But hopefully, I won't have to do anything, but I'm not going to tell you. OK.

Honestly, I don’t know if Hillary Clinton would have been tougher on Russia or not.

I do know, however, that I would be a whole lot more comfortable if her hand was on the button instead of this rambling nut.

Hell, at this point, I’d take George W. Bush back and be glad to have him.

I’ll spare you the rest of this shitshow. It goes on for another couple of thousand words because you can’t just gong the President off the stage even if he starts babbling about nuclear holocaust. Wading through the rest of the transcript is like reading dialog written by an angry Adam Sandler for an Eddie Murphy Pluto Nash sequel. It’s about as funny as waterboarding and sure Rush Limbaugh finds that sort of thing great entertainment but then he’s stoned on Oxy and Rogaine speedballs.

We’re twenty-eight days into this horror fest.

Yesterday’s presser should have been a gesture of confidence and leadership.

Instead it was an extended middle finger waved under the nose of America.