It has been a long time since I have been able to write. Writing is a personal thing that takes more out of you than I thought.
“Writing is a very personal thing. Writing is working with words in a way that exposes intimate parts of oneself, that reflects who you have become and even how you have become it. Writing is a labor, a travail, a molding and caressing of thought and experience, to be worked and reworked, in times of explosive creativity that cannot be resisted, or later in struggling emptiness of thought. It is a task, which is at the same time an unwanted compulsion and a nagging fruitless exertion.
And it is Sisyphean. Completion is always just out of reach.
The introspection of writing can be narcissistic and selfish. It is doubly selfish in that if the task never ends, perhaps I will not have to leave.”
Excerpt From: Brian Henry Dingle. “TROJAN: Nefra Contact.” Chapter One: Postlude. Available at Smashwords and Amazon and other fine eBook stores.
Writing is tenuous and fragile, in my hands at least. I have been unable to write for many months. The quotation above is from my first book, second to be published (well…self-published, anyway). One of my fans liked this passage, and asked me if it were mine. I was actually very proud of that question. Thanks Barnie.
Tenuous and fragile, I have been unable to write during these months of the American election primaries. ‘Feel The Bern.’ Oh Bernie. You are so good, I wish it had turned out otherwise.
Trump Terrifies Me.
I’m not afraid of a lot of things, but Trump terrifies me. One of the fundamental characteristics of a good physician is self-reflection. We teach our students this, and we examine their ability with it. It is probably important in many endeavours, but I would argue none more so than in medicine, for we cannot police everything that doctors do; we must rely on their ability to self-reflect. That’s why it is so important. Lives depend on it.
Trump terrifies me.
Why does Trump terrify me?
I realized several months ago that the ‘idea’ of Trump is not the terror, narcissistic, ignorant, belligerent bully that he is. There are lots of these. We all know some, though, I confess, I’ve never really known one as bad as Trump. I’ve certainly known some serious narcissists, blowhards and know-it-alls, but mostly they are powerless, and so not so much terrifying as embarrassing.
No, it is the idea that Trump has so many who follow him; that is the terror.
“I have a very good brain.”
He was asked about whom he consults for advice. He could think of no one better than himself. Surely there is someone else? Are not two heads better than one?
“I have said a lot of things.”
Yes, not all of them very good, though.
The self-aggrandizement of this man is breath-taking. Truly. It’s like being hit by that inside line-backer as you try to come through the line. Breath-taking.
“I am very smart.”
Who says this stuff? Virtually with everything Trump says, I am reminded of Christopher Hitchens (Hitch). Whenever someone presents a position and claims that it is an argument (irony here: Trump does this ALL the time), simply think ‘Hitch,’ whenever you see or hear unsupported assertions.
There are ways to paraphrase Hitch, but his words are good enough: “That which may be asserted without evidence, may be denied without evidence.”
Another form, and I cannot remember who said this: “If you cannot show it, it does not exist.”
When I first heard Trump say that he, Trump, was very smart, it was in the context of attending the Wharton School of Business. I assumed he had done an MBA. I, academic snob that I am, assumed no one would brag about anything short of a graduate degree. An MBA from Wharton (the toughest school to get into, according to Mr. Blowhard) is credential enough for anything, for riches and success, for the highest office in the land, for Commander–in– Chief, he appeared to be assuming.
What does Trump have? Two years at U Penn, and a transfer to Wharton for two years in Real Estate finance?
I wonder how many assumed it was better than this, simply because he said he attended one of the best schools. Rumours that he stood first in his class have never been denied by the Donald, as far as I know. And he has the best brain. And the best words.
“I have the best words.” He really said that.
Maybe he does. He just cannot string them together very well. I am waiting for, “I have the ‘goodest’ grammar.” I’ve certainly heard him have trouble with objects versus subjects, and adjectives versus adverbs, and I suspect he has no knowledge of subjunctives, but I have trouble with that. If I were him…well…
Apparently his classmates don’t remember him. Worse yet, it seems they really don’t want him to talk much about his connection with Wharton. But I cannot be bothered to look up that particular post, so, think Hitch, and dismiss that thought.
What I really would like is to see his transcripts. There are words out there that Trump has never disputed, that claim he stood ‘first in his class.’ I guess that depends on what you mean by ‘his class.’ The best arrogant rich-kid?
He has never produced his transcripts (or his taxes) so maybe they are like Obama’s birth certificate. Except we now know that Obama really was born in Hawaii, while we are pretty sure Trump really was not Magna cum Laude. In fact, he wasn’t Magna cum Anything. Maybe Magna cum Narcissism. Magna cum Digiti Minimi. It’s Latin, Donald. Like Bigus Dickus in that movie, “Life of Brian.”
Think Hitch. “That which may be asserted without evidence…” Do we need more evidence? No. This one is too easy, he is a blowhard.
Why do we need a civil leader in the White House? Americans would call this civility, ‘Presidential.’ There are lots of people out there in the Global Village who do not have the same culture, the same context. There are people out there who may think that if the leader of the free world calls them a ‘disaster,’ that they need to raise the ramparts and dust off the nuclear warheads.
From our point of view (the Canadian point of view), the biggest current threat to our sovereignty is American foreign policy. If American relations with some nuclear power, formal or terrorist, disintegrate to a level where their opponents just say, “Ah, f*** it,” and sneak a dirty bomb into New York, Canada and the USA could be blown back to the early eighteen hundreds or late seventeen hundreds, or worse, just from the economic fallout.
This is probably the greatest threat from a Trump presidency.
“The greatest honour comes not from defeating your opponent in battle. The greatest honour comes from defeating your opponent without even fighting.” Gichin Funakoshi, Father of Japanese Karate. Trump does not understand this concept, but Obama does.
Obama has tried to talk to his enemies. He was chastised for this in the last election campaign by the Republican hawks, who seemed to deride the idea of ‘talk’ as over-rated. The deal with Iran over nuclear proliferation is an example. Trump calls it a ‘disaster’. If it works, Iran will never have nuclear weapons. Might be worth it.
Talk is cheap. Cheaper than nuclear fallout in the stock exchange.
It is simply far too easy to bring a nuclear device into North America, and as a Canadian, in the words of Tom Lehrer, “When the bomb that drops on you, gets your friends and neighbours too, there’ll be nobody left behind to grieve. And we will all go together when we go. Every Hottentot and every Eskimo…”
There are other quotes, like Robin Williams: “Canada is like that cozy little apartment sitting above a meth lab.”
Talk is cheap. Cheaper than nuclear fallout in the stock exchange. But some talk is specious.
“We’ll beat ISIS so fast. Believe me.” Twenty billion tons of TNT will not prevent the devastation of one dirty bomb in Washington. That’s what tough talk can get you. Why not listen for a change?
You want to know that your leader is not going to push the button for just anything. If the ISIS leaders call him Little-Finger, (Lord Baelish), what nuclear conflagration will follow as Trump’s face turns red in his fury?
This requires the least argument. To understand Trump’s knowledge, or lack thereof, one only has to listen for a little while.
His statements are vacuous and spurious. He has positions, not arguments (I read that somewhere…wish I could find the reference). Everything he says begs the question, ‘How,’ but is never answered. This anticipated two-step, position supported by explanation, is followed by his voters for only one step. The little dance is never finished. They never get to the second step. Never realize its importance.
“Believe me.” That is Trump’s only second step. Argument over. Trump out.
‘Disaster. Incredible. Sad. So sad. Terrible.’ These are his statements of the first step. Simple and effective in themselves, only thinking people (not Trump followers) ask for the second step, and by that time Trump is off doing something else. Tweets do not lend themselves to a second step, and Donald’s only language is tweet.
He speaks tweet.
Take any Trump policy about any issue, and I can tell you what it is. “We will destroy [insert issue] and I will make it great again. Believe me.”
There is a dichotomy here. Bigotry often means an inappropriate bias against a minority or ethnic group, or a gender group. Ivanka’s defence of her father about his statements about women seem to ring true. He isn’t bigoted against women. He treats everyone like that.
Intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.
In this dictionary definition, Donald Trump is clearly bigoted, but then, a lot of people are. In the usual sense of the word, though, is his intolerance dictated by race, religion, or gender?
Much of the time, I must admit, he seems to be intolerant of those who are evil, such as rapists and murderers, and those who are ugly, such as women he calls ‘fat pigs’ and other despicable epithets, and those who are terrorists. But he conflates rapists and murderers to Mexicans who cross the border, and Islamic Terrorists to all Muslims. He compliments the objectified woman whom he would like to have sex with, and vilifies women who disagree with him by insulting their appearance: “Look at that face.”
And he doesn’t discriminate here, when he really should. About Ivanka, he said, as she squirmed, “Maybe I’d be dating her.”
Yes, maybe. What are those parrots doing, by the way.
What he appears incapable of doing is differentiating the groups in his conflation, or selecting the words (of which he has ‘all the best’) to succinctly describe the group without the obnoxious conflation.
It is OK to be bigoted against rapists and murderers. It is not OK to be bigoted against Mexicans. Donald Trump’s idea of protecting USA is to discriminate against all in order to avoid one.
Of course, sometimes it is ‘discriminate against one’ to avoid judgement: Judge Gonzalo Curiel. Was his racism here prompted by expedience, or the other way around? In this case, it probably does not matter.
But there are also accusations the he discriminated against ethnic groups in his rental properties, which is obviously racist and bigoted, if true. Actually, positive discrimination for some ethnic groups, such as wanting Jews to take care of his money…hard to say that that attitude is really positive, of course.
So, is he bigoted, or just stupid and inarticulate? I don’t really know. I think he is both.
The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Medical schools make a big thing about the differences between empathy and sympathy, but it doesn’t really matter here, because Trump demonstrates neither. The closest thing to empathy I have seen in Trump was his comment during the primaries that we cannot have people dying in the streets because of lack of healthcare. Ironically, this led him to policy considerations that put him at odds with the rest of his party, by implying the need for some kind of universal health coverage.
But the most recent peek at Trump’s level of empathy was the Khan family’s presentation at the DNC.
“You sacrificed nothing and no one.” The controlled anger of the father of the brave marine Captain, decrying Trump’s bigotry at banning Muslims from entry, was met with comments from Trump insulting the mother, Ghazala Khan, because she was too distraught to say anything.
Her pain was so OBVIOUS. Obvious to everyone, her husband said, except Trump.
Even a pet dog would have started looking balefully around, tail between its legs, trying to disappear somewhere at the sight and sensing of that mother’s pain. She did not want to be there, remembering an event in her life that will haunt her forever.
A mother’s son, killed in action saving his men, the ultimate sacrifice. Her son. She did not want to be there, in the limelight of the DNC, but she went to support her husband who was doing something terribly important…for their son, and for their country.
The horror is that Trump could not see her pain, and instead of empathy, he expressed insult. Set aside every other despicable thing about Trump, this alone should frighten all the troops under his command. Then he insulted her, twice. The mother of the dead marine.
“Shame on you,” they said the next day. The world said it too. “Shame on you,” is still reverberating through the airwaves of the globe. And at the same time as we express that horror, we really know there is no shame here. A pillar of salt feels no shame, and cannot be blamed for lack of empathy; neither can Donald Trump.
“Don’t boo; vote.” Obama said, in another context. Don’t shame either. It’s as useless as the ‘boo’.
“Shame on your family.”
This startled me. I immediately attributed it to the Khans’ pain and their anger, for this seemed unfair. I tried to think of the closer cultural family unit as perhaps they perceive it, unfamiliar to me, and how the shame would be felt, that the innocent family would feel it, and that this phrase might simply be an expression of their empathy for the Trump family that had been shamed by their patriarch.
Were the Khans holding Trump’s family members partially responsible? Was that fair? Or do they simply not see the boundary separation of family members as starkly as I do.
I had to think about this. Then that nasty Trump surrogate, the blonde one with the black eyeliner and the upside down mouth, one of many surrogates who constantly twist and turn in the wind to make every despicable comment by Trump look good, impossibly and unconvincingly–that image and memory popped back into my mind.
Her defense of Trump’s rejoinder came back to my mind. She started to defend. She worked it. But within a few seconds she hit a wall. There are military in her family, it seems, and she baulked. You could see the hesitation, the softening of her voice. Unlike her employer, she has some empathy.
She could not do it. She disagreed with her boss on this one, and I damn near fell off my chair. The nasty blonde one with the black eyeliner and the upside down mouth could not abandon her own family. She disagreed with the Trumpster!
Surrogates are connected to Trump by money. Powerful stuff. Family is connected by blood. Powerful stuff. Trump’s family is connected to Trump by blood and money. Really powerful stuff, and you have to wonder which is the more powerful.
“Shame on your family.”
Every now and then you open the lid and see a glimpse of good character in a Trump surrogate, but I suspect money weighs heavily on that lid.
Trump’s character is shaped by his family, the Khans are saying. We know his surrogates are the next best thing, though with much less history, less chance of changing their boss.
A child with integrity and empathy would take their father to task over the despicable comments he has made. If Ivanka (her brothers are certainly not capable of this)
were thinking and smart, she would tell her father to apologize, and if he did not, and she were honourable, she would denounce his unfeeling comments and unapologetic stance. She may yet, whether through true empathy or political expedience of her future goals. There would be a huge cost, of course, but there is no heroism without danger.
I am wondering how much longer we will see that nasty blonde with the black eyeliner and the upside down mouth. Will she still have her job, or will Trump even notice. Trump’s handlers might be wise not to tell him, if he didn’t already know. She is a little less nasty today.
I wonder when we will see Ivanka critical of her father.
“Shame on your family.” Yes. That is a fair comment. They have that responsibility too. Family ties and money ties can only go so far, especially if the whole country is your family. Especially if the whole world is at risk.
To paraphrase Obama, “Don’t shame. Vote.”
Donald Trump doubled down, insulting the wife. He claimed it was wrong and unfair for Khan to stand in front of millions and claim that Trump had not read the constitution. He suggested the Hillary Clinton campaign had written the speech.
The next day Khizr Khan explained about his wife’s illness, that his wife still could not see the picture of her son without breaking down.
Trump sure picked the wrong victim to re-victimize.
Khizr Khan tripled down, unbent. He said the support for him, and the outpouring of love and affection has been over whelming.
He stated that the President of the United States must have two qualities: moral compass and empathy. In his opinion, Trump has neither. His wife had asked him to leave this part out of his speech, but Mr. Khan said it was OK to say this today (his unspoken thoughts, almost certainly, now that Trump has despicably insulted his wife).
Khizr Khan keeps the copy of the constitution with him, always. He believes in its words about equality and freedom. He believes in his son, who was defending the constitution, which he thinks Trump either has not read, or does not understand. What he left out at the DNC was an appeal to Republican leaders Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, to repudiate their support of Donald Trump, or, as he put it, “Their lapse of moral courage will be a burden on their souls.”
Perhaps, “Shame on your family,” is a metaphor. Perhaps it includes Trump supporters. It should. The Khans’ imposition of shame on the family is casting a wide net. So it should. People closest to Trump need to stand up and protect the world.