Only a fool tests the depth of the water with both feet
-- African proverb
Trump was going to defeat ISIS in the first 30 days.
He was going to “win” in Afghanistan – after all, he knew more than the generals who had studied war for their entire lives and who had been fighting in Afghanistan for more than a decade. He knew more than the State Department. He knew more than the history professors. He scoffed at the experts, the “elites,” because he knew more than they did. Remember?
He was going to "repeal and replace" Obamacare "on Day One." That’s what he promised. It seemed impossible, such a promise, but it would be easy, he said. He had a great plan. Great, Folks, you’ll see.
He was going to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it. When critics questioned how that would work, how he could possibly make good on such a preposterous promise, they were shouted down. And the press was vilified and penned into corrals far from the stage.
He was going to throw out all the illegal immigrants.
He was going to make a deal with North Korea and Iran and China and Russia and the world.
He was going to … do something. Yes, something. Something something gazpacho and make America great again.
The ignorant mouth breathers who make up his base ate it up, even though he was always short on details and long on rhetoric.
They actually believed him.
They actually believed Donald Trump – Donald Trump of all people – could somehow bring them some vague undefined victory in the Middle East. That he would somehow secure 10,000 miles of porous American borders and make a profit doing it. That he would give them great high-paying jobs complete with healthcare that didn’t require any effort or education or initiative on their part whatsoever while at the same time sticking it to everybody they considered lazy and unworthy and unfit to be an American. And somehow – somehow – he would cut taxes and reduce the size of government while at the very same time increasing spending by untold billions on some mightily “restored” military and he was going to eliminate the national debt through some magical new trade deal that he would personally work out with the rest of the world.
And he was going to power the whole damned thing with clean coal.
And they actually believed him.
But then these are the same drooling cross-eyed dipshits who think a billionaire New York real-estate developer who builds tacky casinos and swanky country clubs staffed by foreign workers, a Reality TV host whose shows are an hour-long fuck-fest of tits and ass and self-serving backstabbing narcissism portrayed by the personification of some backwoods West Virginia county fair demolition derby cheered on by drunken rednecks in cow shit spackled overalls, married to a string of vapid trophy wives, buoyed up incestuous nepotism, and surrounded by a scurrying host of toadies, sycophants, ass kissers, discredited fringe political hacks, cashiered generals, Wall Street crooks, war profiteers and foreign interests, a guy who has never shown the least charity or nobility or degree of compassion, a guy who daily craps in a golden toilet, yeah, that guy, is actually going to look out for their interests from his penthouse windows.
These are people who steadfastly refuse to face reality in any fashion while the seas rise and America falls.
These are people who think there are easy, cheap, simple sound-bite answers to the problems of civilization.
These are people who believe that you can end terrorism by bombing nations into rubble -- because for them, every problem can be solved with a punch in the face or a bullet in the guts.
These are people who think poverty, racism, and inequity can be solved by smugly telling poor people, "get a job, loser!"
These are people who actually think human migration can by stopped by a wall despite thousand of years of history that repeatedly and definitively proves exactly the opposite.
This morning, even the most stalwart Trump supporters are howling in outraged betrayal.
Reality is setting in, both for Trump and for them.
The Great Wall they were promised is just a renovation of what they already had, and they’re going to pay for it, not Mexico. Because building an actual giant wall across 2000 miles of Mexican border is not only impractical, it’s fiscally impossible – and it won’t work anyway.
Trump is now making noises that he’s maybe open to fixing Obamacare, single-payer in the form of Medicare for All is suddenly making progress in Congress, and the diehard Trump supporters are disappointed to the edge of tears.
Trump’s big MOAB of a plan to crush ISIS is a dud, and his plan for Afghanistan is, well, more of the same.
This morning he’s actually praising the Dreamers and saying he doesn’t want them kicked out of the country.
Former Trump supporters like Anne Coulter…
… are now shitting their collective colons inside out in white hot fury.
A year ago, those like Coulter thought Trump was “the only one making sense.”
Except he wasn’t.
He wasn’t making sense.
He never made sense.
At all. Ever.
He never answered a single question. He never gave any details. There was never any plan of any substance whatsoever.
It was all just bombast and bluster, vague hand waving and impossible promises and I’d like to say than any fool could have seen it coming but that’s obviously not true. More than Sixty millions fools just like Anne Coulter couldn’t seem to see it.
The simple truth of the matter is that there are no simple solutions.
There are no simple solutions and there never have been.
If you believed Trump’s promises, well, you’re a goddamned fool and you have nobody to blame but yourself.
You can't end terrorism.
Not in thirty days. Not in thirty years. Not ever.
War, conflict, terrorism, you can't end war and killing and destruction by more war, more conflict, more terror.
Wars to end all wars don’t. And never have.
You can't drop civilization on people from the belly of a B-52.
World War II?
We ended World War II by bombing the Nazis and the Japs out of existence?
Did we really?
Or did the killing actually end when those nations were rebuilt over decades into new, peaceful, productive civilizations? When the things that precipitated that war, food, resources, rights, industrialization, inequality, trade, economy, were addressed and at least to some degree fixed.
I spent my entire adult life bent to the business of war. I’m a professional at it. So don’t roll your eyes and call me some silly liberal peacenik with flowers in my hair. I know all about war and I’m not at all a fool. I’m not saying that the war isn’t sometimes necessary, or that we don’t need rough men ready to do violence in the night on our behalf.
But war is a failure of civilization.
Afghanistan has been bombed to rubble over and over, but there still isn’t any peace there.
Africa has been bombed and blown up and raped and mauled and mangled and shot and pillaged and there still isn’t peace there.
No matter how many bombs, no matter how much death, no matter how many die, the war, conflict, terrorism does not end.
It does not end until there is something better.
It’s not the bombs that end the war and terrorism, it’s civilization.
You can't magically give everybody healthcare. You can't magically feed everybody. You can't magically end poverty, homelessness, racism, hate, disenfranchisement by waving your hand.
You can't do it by telling people to get jobs.
You can't do it by telling people to pull themselves up if there’s nowhere for them to pull themselves up to.
You can't do it by giving people things.
But you also can’t do it by not giving them things.
You can't end illegal immigration by arresting people.
You can't end illegal immigration by deporting people.
You can't end illegal immigration by imprisoning people.
You can't end illegal immigration by building a fucking wall, no matter how long or how high.
You cannot – can not – make America great by engaging in the things terrible countries do.
There are no simple answers.
Civilization is complicated.
Our civilization is the most complex in all of history.
All of these things, war, peace, terrorism, safety, poverty, economic opportunity, law and order, chaos, immigration, jobs, stability, all of these things are facets of the same complex, ever-changing, fluidly dynamic structure – that is: civilization.
There are no simple answers.
There are no permanent answers.
Moreover, there is no single right answer.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Not on the left. Not on the right. It’s more complicated than that. It will always be more complicated than that.
Every single day, you have to push back against the fall of night.
If you really want to end war and terrorism, then you have to work to reduce the fundamental problems that lead to destruction.
People resort to terrorism – and to illegal immigration for that matter – because they don't have anything better.
People turn to crime, to drugs, booze, cults, to myriad destructive actions including violence and terrorism, and to politicians who promise easy solutions and simple fixes, because they're looking for something better. But you don't end war and conflict, terrorism, illegal immigration, crime, chaos, by building walls and blowing up the world.
And you sure as hell don’t end it by pulling the ladder up after yourselves.
“Fuck you, I got mine” is a lousy ideology to build civilization on.
The rest of the world sees America, the ideal of America, and they want that. That’s why they come here – legally or not.
A moral people would strive to bring the rest of the world up to our level, to ensure all people everywhere have what we have, not slam the door in their faces.
Hunger, poverty, lack of healthcare, lack of opportunity, disenfranchisement, bigotry, inequality, homelessness, hate, fear, uncertainty, all of these things are what lead to war, to conflict, to crime, to illegal immigration, to division, and ultimately to the collapse of civilization.
The only way to ensure a stable and reasonably secure future for you and your descendants, is by building a better world for everybody.
You reduce the likelihood of civilization’s collapse by working to reduce inequality and disenfranchisement, by working to see that everybody has the things they need to live decent lives – for themselves and for their children. Food. Shelter. Healthcare. Jobs. Stability. Order. Education. And so on.
It's ongoing, forever.
There are no simple answers.
There are no easy solutions.
If someone tells you there are, simple answers, that it's easy, that they can fix it all in a few days, well, then they're either a con artist or a damned fool. Maybe both.
Now, to some extent, America can abide foolish leaders – our founders expected such an eventuality and they planned for it.
They built in safeties.
You are that safety.
America can abide a foolish leader, for a while anyway, but it cannot long survive as a nation of fools.
If you want a better nation, a better civilization, then you have to be better citizens.
For starters, that means being smart enough to know when you’re being conned.
And then to face the world as it exists, not as you want it to be.
There are two fools in this world. One is the millionaire who thinks that by hoarding money he can somehow accumulate real power, and the other is the penniless reformer who thinks that if only he can take the money from one class and give it to another, all the world's ills will be cured.
-- Henry Ford