On Day 400,
Trump’s Top 10 TerribleThings
It's not to say that we ordinarily get along, because we don’t. Cat ambushes me whenever I go up (or down) the stairs. And I – as you would, too – chase her away from my food bowl, even when it’s empty. I JUST CAN’T STAND IT when she cruises my dish.
But we’re professionals. When it comes to writing this blog, we are all business. We knock around ideas, work on “ledes” (that’s newspaper lingo for the first paragraph or opening to a story), and we conduct reasoned discussions about how to approach this Trump thing.
However, today, when the calendar calls for our latest Top Ten list, things got ugly right out of the starting gate. And looking back on it, there’s good reason. Because, really, how can you rank the terrible things Trump has done, is doing and is planning to do? A numbered list, whether it’s the Top 10 beaches, or the Top 10 tastiest decayed animals on the side of the road, presupposes that things are ranked, so that Number One is the very worst and Number 10 is somewhat less worse than Number Three. Or Five.
So when Cat proposed starting off with “Increases the Chance of Nuclear War," I countered with “Lies All the Time,” Cat went a little nuclear.
“Jesus, this is Cat speaking. If You can hear me, Jesus, will You knock some sense into feeble Phoebe’s mini-brain, which, after all, You created, just as You have Meow Mix, rotting birds and crumbs for the dog’s dish, and tell her just how terrible nuclear weapons are? Fire and brimstone, with which I am sure You are quite familiar, but only worse, which, of course You know already, given who You are.”
“A lie is the root of all that's wrong, Cat," I said.
“Lies lead to every other terrible thing,” I continued. “So if Trump orders the eradication of North Korea, he’ll make up a reason, saying Rocket Man was attacking, or concoct some sort of Gulf of Trump Declaration, or explain that Mueller's getting too close, and millions of Koreans in the south and the north will be fried and radiated.
“China, in turn, could get really mad, because Korea is too near its food bowl, and besides, it's been itching to see how its nuclear weapons, rockets, space satellites, high tech communications, etc., will work, and why not try them out on Taiwan, and maybe lob a few at where the Transcontinental Railway used to be, settling some scores about how its countrymen were treated way, way back in U.S. history, and then Russia will respond with its nukes, along with Iran, which will say to the rest world: ‘Fooled you!’
“It all starts with a lie,” I said.
#1 – Trump lies. Lots of the time. By some counts, he tells a lie, or makes a false or misleading claim four or five times a day, more than 2,000 since he was inaugurated. That has paralyzed democracy. Nobody believes a word he says, even though he is quoted extensively, and the media, politicians, academics, foreign powers and the rest of us puzzle constantly about what he really thinks. Which is ridiculous, since he doesn’t think beyond the basic functions of his lower brain stem. Lying is infectious, and we start to believe there is no truth, and therefore, nothing matters.
#2 – Trump may start a nuclear war. He speaks of it casually, sometimes like a kid looking forward to lighting a firecracker; goads his North Korean equivalent with insults. And our Cold War system of deterrence, which relies on a quick response to a first strike by the Other Side, leaves the sole decision to launch to a person who has no soul.
#3 – Trump is killing the planet. Is there really a difference between this and #2? Both will end life as we know it. Maybe this is even worse. Perhaps Trump’s first nuclear bomb strike won’t lead to a chain reaction, as it were. But if we destroy the planet, then we and all of our other carbon-based cousins are toast.
#4 – Trump is racist. Again, there are lots of folks who are going to never speak to either Cat or Phoebe for not putting this up much higher. Starting with his attack on immigrants, and continuing with his welcoming attitude towards white supremacists, tongue lashings against black athletes, Trump has let loose the meanest impulses of the American character. We are a nation that built its first economy on slavery. We murdered, betrayed and marginalized Native Americans. Our history is cratered with anti-Semitism, anti-Irish, anti-Italian, anti-Japanese, anti-Mexican bias. At the same time, our country fought a Civil War and conducted at Civil Rights crusade to reverse that. Now Trump is on a mission to reawaken the hatred that hides within our barbarian genes.
#5 – Trump divides us. This may be a subset of #4, but we think there’s a difference. The shock of the 2016 election is that our friends, neighbors, relatives and fellow Americans voted for Donald Trump. Half of America. Now we don’t trust each other. We no longer have political, let alone, casual conversations with the girl next door, our classmates, the shopper ahead of us in the checkout line, the driver tailgating us, or in Cat’s and Phoebe’s case, the vet with whom we have our annual checkup next month.
#6 – Trump is a traitor. Maybe he's actually Putin’s puppet, because the Russian has a video tape and 1,458 contracts showing that he owns Trump Tower and the rest of presidential empire, and therefore Trump worked with our Cold War nemesis to trump Hillary. Or maybe he’s a traitor by failing to mount a full-scale defense against Putin’s continuing war against our voting system. But our Top Guy, our Chief Executive, our Commander-in-Chief, our Leader of the Free World – acts too cozily with the Other Side.
#7 – Trump is a lout. The person who should be a role model is the one uncouth, rude, boorish, unprincipled, slovenly adult with big name recognition that you don’t want your children, puppies and kittens to grow up to be like, or, in fact, be with in the same room. Remember when Trump had children of the White House press corps drop into the Oval Office in their Halloween costumes? Phoebe and Cat seriously considered calling the Child Welfare Hotline to report the parents. The White House press corps knows what sort of human being Trump is, far better than anyone else on what’s left of the planet.
#8 – Trump’s deregulation campaign makes us sick and unsafe. Every important regulation is born of tragedy, a civilized attempt to prevent a past disaster from becoming today’s and tomorrow’s headlines. Regulations keep our houses from catching fire, blowing down and sinking into the ground. They prevent oil spills, car accidents, gas main explosions, nuclear plant meltdowns. Regulations make the water drinkable, fishable and swimmable, allow us to breath the air, dig in our playground sand boxes and safely take our prescriptions. Regulations are our learning curve, our attempt avoid making the same mistake twice, and thereby prevent death and disaster.
WELL, THAT'S A WRAP. We’re done.
Yes, we set out to do 10. But this exercise is so heartbreaking and infuriating, do you really want us to keep going?
If so, fine. Feel free to add your own #9 and #10. Our own complete list might have included No White House Pets.
Maybe public schools are your definition of what makes America great. Or Social Security, a balanced budget, affordable housing, wilderness lands, renewable energy, health care for all.
Every area of American life, every advance, improvement, shared value and tradition Donald Trump and his Republican enablers are spoiling and desecrating, or they will when they get around to it.
But frankly, that’s enough for today, because eight is already too many, and frankly, a fair and full list can’t possibly stop at 10.
And we have to get ready for tomorrow and then for the week after next.
We’ll be positive whenever possible. Not about Trump. But positive about the things that lots of Americans – even a simple dog and a sort-of-savvy cat – can do, should do and possibly will do.
Tomorrow is Day 401, and Day 402 is lurking.
The calendar is our enemy. And our opportunity.