Tick tick tick tick

Donny

Can you hear the minutes

ticking off the clock?

Do you see yourself

with ball and chain

Sledge-hammering a rock?

Do you feel the noose tightening

around your flabby neck?

As you scream and yell

in ALL CAPS:

“WE NEED ALL HANDS ON DECK!”

Donny

Has defeat’s fowl stench

finally settled in your nose?

As the ghastly pile of corpses

from COVID-19 grows

As your grip on power

starts to slip

from your puny, chubby fingers

The rot

you’ve wrought,

for the last 4 years

still festers and still lingers

Good riddance to you

You portly prick

You stain upon our nation

Just go away

and don’t come back

Your train has left the station

Moving forward and against Trump and Trumpism

Street sign illustrating the concept of Democracy versus Dictatorship.

As the Trump administration enters its death throes, look for supporters on social media to shift their attention to Hunter Biden or any other story that distracts from the retelling of Trump’s horrifically negligent handling of the pandemic, and his criminal activity (both as a candidate and as president).

I’ve gone back and forth on how I think the state should move forward on citizen Trump. Part of me wants the government to cut a deal with Trump — Forgo prosecution if Trump agrees to retire quietly to the dustbin of American history. America turns the page, and Trump slinks away. “It’s time to put this shameful chapter behind us and move on”.

A continued focus on Trump through criminal and civil prosecutions just fans the flames of political tribalism and deepens the divide in our country. But a deal works only if Trump is capable of quietly walking away – is Trump capable of doing anything quietly? I don’t think so.

The other part of me wants to crush the orange menace unmercifully in the juicer of the American Justice System. Squeeze that motherfucker until there’s nothing left in that sorry orange hide of his. Prosecute him aggressively and relentlessly on all fronts criminal and civil. Make an example of him, because the next fraudulent criminal thug with autocratic tendencies might not be as inept and incompetent as Trump.

Regardless how the justice system proceeds against Trump personally, America must go full medieval on any organized effort to promote Trumpism in the future. Trumpism is the enemy of Democracy. It’s a poisonous and divisive political philosophy that ferments mistrust, fragments the population, and promotes a cult of personality (dipped in nationalism, sprinkled with religion) as a solution.

Trumpism is the blueprint for democracy’s demise – regardless of who sits at its head. When Trump leaves, another ambitious thug is sure to pick up the banner. Waging war against Trumpism is the only way forward.

Our national conundrum

I remember my kids watching a Trump speech early-on in his run up to the presidency, and the expression on their faces as they listened to him.

In Trump, they saw all of the behaviors and attributes they were taught to fight against. He was awash in them — he was a brazen an unabashed example of what they were taught not to be — he was the embodiment of the worst human attributes and characteristics (mean, petty, vindictive, and intellectually lazy) and surprisingly, there was no attempt by Trump to obscure any of this, no subterfuge – he reveled in these negative attributes like a hog in the slop.

I remember my kids watching Trump on television, then looking over their shoulder at me with a confused expression, bracketed by nervous laughter. An expression that occurs when realizing somethings not quite right at an elemental level — an expression that bubbles up from your core when what you’re seeing doesn’t jibe with what you were taught. It was an expression that said “Is this guy for real? This can’t be real, right dad?”

“Right dad?”

And I think that’s why I detest Trump so much. Because his ascension to highest office in the land was a refutation of the values that I so strongly believed in and that I so vigorously instilled in my kids. Values like kindness, empathy, understanding, hard work, and strength of character.

After the 2016 presidential election, I had to come to terms with the fact that the person elected to the highest office in the land — the person representing America to the rest of the world, was unkind, apathetic, and totally dishonest.

For nearly four years, I had to deal with a buzzing dissonance deep inside the frontal and limbic lobes of my brain. Not only could I not make sense of a Trump presidency, but its very existence agitated the shit out of me (as evidenced by my social media posts over the last 4 years).

If I take a step back, my anger at Trump is misdirected. Sure, Trump is an intellectually lazy and vindictive narcissist. But he’s never tried to hide that from anyone, he’s totally transparent, never tries to be something he’s not, which normally is an admirable trait, if you’re not a raging asshole.

If I were on a psychiatrist’s couch, it would be a relatively short session to get to the true source of my anger.

“Mr. Reilly, you’re not angry at Trump at all, you’re angry that so many of your fellow citizens voted for him – TWICE!”

And, that would be an accurate diagnosis.

Which brings me to some questions:

Doesn’t every good parent teach their kids the basic values that I taught mine (work hard — be respectful — be honest — be a good sport – admit your mistakes — don’t bully — don’t brag)? And if they do, how do they square that with voting for a person who exemplifies the opposite of those values?

I have a theory.

My theory does not take into account the people who support Trump because they’re drawn to the President’s bigoted views and white supremist tendencies (fuck all of those people), in my view, these are not the majority of Trump supporters.

I’m pretty sure that the Trump supporters who I’m friends with, know the President is a deeply flawed and selfish man.

If they were to walk into a bar and see some schmuck spouting disparaging remarks about women or a handicapped person – or, if they saw an individual bragging about his intelligence and then, in the very next minute, demonstrating his ignorance, they’d think that person was a moron.

And yet, they turn a blind eye to the same behavior when it’s the president.

Why?

Because for some Americans, Trump’s flaws are insignificant and easily dismissed when balanced against the views they hold on abortion and religion.

For other Americans (though I suspect there’s a lot of cross-over with the first group) they believe in a wildly-weird conspiracy theory that pits President Trump against a cabal of global elites who are trafficking in human flesh. Like the first group, these folks are willing to dismiss the President’s intellectual ineptitude and moral decrepitude, because the alternative is a country being run by cannibalistic vampire sex traffickers.

These two groups (the religiously-fueled and the conspiracy-driven) are tightly spooning bedfellows when it comes to their support for the President. For both groups, the president’s casual relationship with truth and facts matter less than what they see as the alternative.

I’m still working on how we overcome this phenomenon.

A Terrible Price

The battle against COVID-19 required competent and steady leadership. To stop the spread of the disease, we needed our President to be honest, smart, and humble.

Honest, because we needed to trust him. We needed to know that what he was telling us about the disease was factual and true, so that we could make well-informed decisions to keep ourselves and our family safe.

Smart, because infections disease epidemiology is complicated and heady stuff. We needed a president who could read briefings and synthesize and extrapolate the relevant data. We needed a President who could sit down with scientists and listen to what they were telling him and effectively make sense of it, so that he could communicate what he learned to the public clearly and concisely. Being able to do this would result in public confidence.

Humble, because COVID-19 was an unknown and ruthless disease. What we learned early-on was subject to change as new data became available. We needed a president who was humble enough to admit the challenge would be extremely difficult and would require Americans to work together in a coordinated and unified manner.

We needed honesty, intelligence, and humility from our President, and he was glaringly 0 for 3.

COVID-19 has killed more than a quarter million Americans. Tens of thousands of those deaths can be blamed on the incompetency of our President. It has wrecked our economy, devastated small businesses, and crippled families. It also shined a light on an immoral and criminally incompetent leader, and in all likelihood, ended the Trump presidency. In a weird twist-of-fate, if not for the virus and incompetent leadership that ensued, we might have lost our democracy.

What a devastating price to pay for electing a conman and reality TV celebrity to the Presidency. I hope we learned a lesson as a nation – that cheap populism makes for a dangerously shaky and ineffectual national platform, and that honesty, intelligence, and humility matter in a President.

Bye Bye Motherfucker

We the people had our say

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

We dumped you on election day

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

Clear your desk, be on your way

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

YOU DON’T GET TO FUCKING STAY!


The way you act is a disgrace

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

Can’t accept you lost the race

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

We’re tired of your orange face

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

SO, GRAB YOUR SHIT AND PACK A CASE!


So long orange, hello blue

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

You bit off more than you could chew

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

Let this be your Waterloo

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

TAKE JARED AND IVANKA TOO!


You’re a traitor and a louse

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

We don’t wanna to hear you grouse

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

Be quiet as a fucking mouse

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

AND GET OUT OF OUR FUCKING HOUSE!


Trump, Lindsey, and Tortoise Mitch

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

Drove the bus into a ditch

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

Helped their buddies all get rich

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

AND GAVE US ALL A NERVOUS TWITCH!


You’re nothing but a pussy grabber

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

Full of shit and constant blabber

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

Your twitter feed is full of lies

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

YOUR BANK ACCOUNT HAS RUSSIAN TIES!


Your Christian views are fake as fuck

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

We’re tired of the “Rudy Tuck”

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

Load your shit on to the truck

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

AND MOVE ALONG, YOU FASCIST FUCK!


You played the Christians like a fiddle

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

A simple folk, without a middle

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

Save the fetus, cage the kids

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

YOU PUT OUR NATION ON THE SKIDS!


Ignored the data and the science

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

Said fuck the mask with great defiance

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

Got RONA from your noncompliance

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

AND STILL RELY ON PSEUDOSCIENCE!


Inject the bleach insert the light

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

Don’t stop until you get it right

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

You plunged our nation into the night

(Bye-Bye Motherfucker)

NOW GET OUT OF OUR FUCKING SIGHT!

2020 Presidential Election Postmortem

Republicans gerrymandered districts, closed polling places, and appointed a crooked pro-Trump Postmaster General, who, in the middle of a pandemic, ripped sorting machines out of postal facilities and removed drop-boxes to hinder the ability to handle an increase in mail-in ballots. And after all of that politically-motivated and strategic malevolence, Trump still got his ass handed to him in a big blue box, beautifully adorned with 306 electoral bows, in what the Department of Homeland Security called the most secure Presidential election in history.

And ever since that stinging rebuke of America’s one-term orange menace, we’ve had to listen to republicans’ bitch and moan (without evidence) about voter fraud — 0 for 13 in lawsuits at the time of this writing – laughed out of courtrooms across battleground states.

We watched in bemusement at the more than eleven thousand pathetically lost souls at the “Million MAGA March” with their “Stop the Steal” signs, and thought to ourselves how easy it is in America to sway the masses. All you need is a website, a lie, and a human desire to be part of something “big and just” and its down the wallpapered-with-Q-conspiracy-theory-rabbit-hole they go, screaming and yelling like snowflakes on steroids, like zombies on crack, like lemmings on Led Zeppelin.

Shut the fuck up already. You lost. Despite all the slimy underhanded efforts to suppress the vote and misinform citizens, YOU STILL FUCKING LOST.

Instead of bitching and moaning without merit, start thinking about putting up a better candidate in 2024, and while your at it, you might want to consider the fact that America is changing. We’re becoming more diverse, less religious, and more concerned about our planet – deal with that by backing candidates who will hustle for new voters, who will reach out to the people who live and work in their state and look to genuinely understand their needs and concerns.

And for the love of Mike, don’t blindly back a shallow and vacuous megalomaniac like Trump, who for 4 years padded the wallets of rich people, lowered the tax burden for multi-billion dollar corporations, ratcheted up fear, racism, and xenophobia, tried really really hard to limit access to healthcare, rolled back environmental regulations, diminished the integrity of the Presidency by lying at an astronomical rate, withheld lifesaving information about the dangers of COVID-19, tongue-kissed authoritarians across the globe, and wrecked America’s reputation around the world.

If you can’t elect a candidate better than Trump next time around, you deserve to lose again. Biggly.

And quit being that single-issue-ban-the-fetal-tissue-voter, because all that does is make you a target for manipulative vote-grubbing slugs like Trump, who, let’s be honest, would mandate abortion if it meant overturning the 2020 election results. If you want to reduce the number of abortions in America, let’s start with improved health education, reinforced by frank and honest discussions with children about sex, sexuality, and the importance of acting responsibly, and combine that with easy access to birth control. Then, implement these measures nationally, so  everyone gets the same message at the same age, regardless of their background or where they live – that would do more to reduce abortions than 9 Amy Coney Barrets.

And finally, can we please get back to the core human values that actually have made America great – kindness, empathy, honesty, and integrity and get off the dangerous, religiously-fueled-patriarchal-cult-of-personality path we’ve been on for the last 4 years, because that shit is rotting this country from the inside out.

The Mad King and the Undeniability of Math

There’s something poetic about how the last few days of the 2020 presidential election played out.

As batches of counted ballots were released, I envisioned the President, alone in the White House, at the mercy of math. This muttering mad king, a slave to his television, forced to listen to the American press he so fervently hates, report on the facts, which he refuses to accept.

The harsh and austere undeniability of math.

The steadfast and steady march of the count.

To a person whose been married to the denial of facts for his entire life, it must have felt like death by a thousand cuts.

Hopefully, the people of this country can put down their blue and red tribal flags and start the hard work of talking with one another, instead of at one another.

We got this!

Time to take our country back

Knock the Trump Train from the track

Wear a mask and get to work

Control the virus, end the jerk


Flick the fly from Pence’s head

Sweep them both into the shed

End the tweets and stop the lies

Clear the darkness from the skies


Let’s put an end to our disgrace

The divisive talk on god and race

Vote for competence, vote for peace

Fuck it, just vote for the guy

who lies the least


Create a wave that’s long and blue

Save democracy from you know who

Put an end to the Orange Schmoe

And pull that lever for BlueNami Joe!

Values and the personalization of politics

America succeeds and prospers when her citizens get along with one another. And in a country where politics often ignites passion, getting along with one another means not digging too deeply into each other’s political views.

So, Americans consciously work at not letting how we vote affect our relationships. Its not always easy, but one thing that helps us keep the peace (and the republic) is a shared set of values that transcend politics.

We might have divergent views on taxation, education, healthcare, and foreign policy, but we unite around a core set of values rooted in our humanity – values like honesty, decency, kindness, integrity, and empathy. It’s these shared values that allows you to tolerate my politics, and me to tolerate yours.  

So, what’s changed in America? Why are we so quick to disregard that unspoken rule that keeps the personal and political separate?  

I suspect Trump supporters are saying to themselves, “I’m not acting any different than I’ve acted in the past, I’m simply voting for the republican candidate – why all this outrage?”  

And I agree with them, they’re not acting any differently than they have in the past.

What’s changed this time around is not you or me – it’s the president.

The president openly derides anyone who oppose him, he mocks and puts down people, he constantly pits Americans against one another, and he’s been a human wrecking ball to the long-held American values of “welcoming the stranger, dignity for all human beings, equality under the law, respect for dissent, and love of truth”.

Donald Trump is demonstrably mean, dishonest, and apathetic. He is the antithesis of the values that we assumed transcended politics and united us as Americans.

So, when I hear a colleague, a neighbor, or a Facebook friend vociferously support the President, I process that support as an indifference to the personal (not political) values that I hold strongly — honesty, decency, kindness, integrity, and empathy.

America’s never had to deal collectively with a leader like Trump. The personalization of politics we see in our country today comes from the jarring realization that honesty, decency, kindness, integrity, and empathy do not transcend politics for Trump supporters.  

President Trump tests positive for Karma

The man who lied to the American people about the dangers of a deadly virus, putting millions at risk, and undoubtedly contributing to the death of thousands of Americans, has contracted that very same virus – forcing many of us to balance decorum and our capacity for empathy, against a genuine contempt for the President.

We humans have an innate capacity for empathy, which can be developed further though our shared experience with others, and the moral guidance of loving and nurturing parents — neither of which Donald Trump had.

Donald Trump grew up in an insular environment, where he was taught and praised for cutthroat behavior – he was raised in an environment that put a stranglehold on cultivating that innate capacity for empathy. Under such conditions, the result is usually disastrous and tragic on a “localized” level. Meaning, those who find themselves directly involved in business with Donald Trump, or those who are part of his inner circle because of familial ties, end up being hurt or damaged by his abject apathy and malignant narcissism.

Unfortunately for America (and the world), when Trump became president, the collateral damage borne from his apathy grew exponentially, metastasizing from a localized problem to a global catastrophe. Because of this, our democracy and the health of our planet are threatened.

We’ve witnessed Trump’s apathy in both behavior and policy — from his denial of climate change science, to his willingness to snatch and cage children, to callous paper towel tossing to hurricane victims, to labeling killed or wounded soldiers as “suckers and losers”, to his weak and feckless response to racial injustice.

When the traitorous and narcissistic fool who is dismantling democracy and destroying America from within, contracts a deadly virus, how do we draw upon the “better angels of our nature” and wish him well? (especially when we know in our hearts, that the President wouldn’t give a rat’s ass if the shoe were on the other foot).

Feeling empathy towards the deeply apathetic, is perhaps the truest empathy test of all. We owe it ourselves and our country to give it a try.