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Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS)

(I wrote this for the Urban News, January 2021)

It was almost 11 months ago when I wrote about TDS or Trump Derangement Syndrome. It is that is the feeling that falls over you when multiple conservatives have repeatedly lied to you. It is a combination of nausea, disgust, and anger—overlaid with frustration.

Recently, the lies have been flowing like the mighty Mississippi river. If there were an Olympic category for lying, Trump would be a gold-medal decathlete. If, for some reason, you thought that he would crawl into his gold-plated Mar-a-Lago hole and disappear because he lost the general election, you were, and are sadly mistaken. His crazy, stupid, paranoid, delusional and un-American tactics to overturn the election results have been overwhelming.

I could go over the list of more than 60 lawsuits that Trump and his allies have filed in state and federal courts since the election. For the most part, Trump and the GOP have lost all their “legal” challenges. All of them. What I thought was the boldest and most un-American move was when Donald Trump invited a group of Republican members of the Michigan state legislature to the White House, where he tried to pressure them into overturning the election. In what can only be called an act of patriotism and duty, the Michigan legislators, after meeting with Trump, stated in a joint press conference that they had not seen any information that would change the outcome.

Our Democracy

Conservatives always like to point out that we don’t actually live in a democracy but a “constitutional republic.” For the most part, this difference is meaningless. Our Constitution is set up so that our government is chosen by its citizens—a democracy—and works within a system of checks and balances reflecting its different governing parts—a republic.

For example, if the president tries to overstep his authority, Congress and the Supreme Court have the power to reign in the president. Also, states have authority over certain rules and laws that the federal government cannot override—including how to run elections.

But over the past four years, those checks and balances have been stretched to the limit. Trump requires everyone to be loyal to him personally, or be fired. He believes they take an oath of office to obey him, not the Constitution or the laws of the United States. Unfortunately, our founding fathers did not have an answer for this. They did not foresee all three branches of government being taken over by one person.

In my opinion, our democracy is in trouble. The rule of law is in peril. This is not like after Watergate when Americans, overwhelmingly, rejected Nixon and the Republicans who supported him. Instead, we have a large swath of Americans who believe and support the lies of Trump.

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley has stated his plan to publicly object to the Electoral College being free and fair. He’s been joined by eleven other Republican senators: Cruz of Texas, Johnson (WI), Lankford (OK), Daines (MT), Kennedy (LA), Blackburn (TN) and Braun (IN), and four newly elected senators who took their seats Jan. 3—Cynthia Lummis (WY), Roger Marshall (KS), Bill Hagerty (TN) and Tommy Tuberville (AL).

Their objection to Biden’s election will cause contentious votes in the Senate. More importantly, I think it causes more and more Americans to distrust our system. I have no idea how we get the trust back. I don’t think that there’s anything that Biden/Harris can do or say that would sow the seeds of trust in those who have swallowed the nonsense of the Trump administration. Without trust, our democracy will fall apart.

Coronavirus

As a nation, we continue to be in the midst of the worst pandemic in over 100 years. The Trump administration has inexplicably chosen to downplay the virus at every turn. Trump himself explained to best-selling author Bob Woodward last January that he always wanted to downplay the virus—because he didn’t want to cause a “panic.” Well, what he has caused instead is millions of infections which were completely preventable. Over three hundred thousand Americans have died, many because of mismanagement and misinformation. Trump’s refusal to wear a mask or endorse mask wearing has itself killed tens of thousands of Americans. The simple wearing of masks saves lives. This is a fact.

Now it appears that we have two effective vaccines. Yet, because Republicans hate government, it is near impossible for them to make the government work effectively. Back in August or September, the Trump administration knew that the vaccine from Pfizer and the vaccine from Moderna appeared to be on track for FDA approval. This is when “Operation Warp Speed” should have begun comprehensive planning on how to get the vaccine to hundreds of millions of Americans quickly. This is a huge logistical nightmare. (more…)

By |2021-01-15T21:55:59-04:00January 15th, 2021|Congress, Elections, Healthcare|Comments Off on Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS)

Donald Trump and the Hillsong Church

(I wrote this for the Urban News in December 2020.)

I’m exhausted. I’m physically and mentally spent. The past six months have been draining. Almost every minute of every day I spent wondering what bizarre, crazy, cockamamie, cruel tweet and/or policy was Donald Trump going to implement today.

Were we going to lock immigrant children in outdoor prisons in Alaska? Was the Supreme Court or any number of federal judges going to strike down Obamacare? Was it going to be okay to dump coal waste in my front yard or possibly in our national parks?

Then, just to prolong the pain and suffering, the election was not over on November 3. It took four more days for projections to declare a winner. I could’ve cried big, huge crocodile tears but I did not. I rolled up my sleeves and asked, “What’s next?”

Hillsong Church

I have only gone to a couple of alternative church services in my life. In my opinion, the services were short on sermons but there was a lot of singing and fellowship. I like more traditional church services. Hillsong Church is one of these mega-churches. It started in Australia and now has churches (branches) in six continents.

Celebrities like Kevin Durant and Selena Gomez have been seen at the church. Pastor Carl Lentz, the leader of the New York branch, had a personal relationship with Justin Bieber! Now, you have to say that’s cool—or at least TMZ thinks so. Lentz had been mentored by Brian Houston, the founder of Hillsong.

But then there seemed to be a loss of focus. There was lying, cheating, and infidelity. Early last month, Carl Lentz was fired from Hillsong Church. In an Instagram post, the pastor said, “I was unfaithful in my marriage, the most important relationship in my life.”

This statement is a little jarring coming from a pastor. Wouldn’t you figure that his most important relationship would be with God first, and his wife second? Maybe I’m wrong.

To me, there are a lot of similarities between Donald Trump, the Hillsong Church, and pastor Carl Lentz. Donald Trump and the Hillsong Church seem to focus on superficial appearances. Smiles and a good photo op are more important than sitting in any “stupid” policy meeting. Being friends with Justin Bieber seem to be more important than the tenets of Christianity— honesty, fidelity, and humility.

We all remember Donald Trump clearing the street so that he could walk across Lafayette Square, unimpeded by protesters, and wave a Bible in his hand (upside down) for a photo opportunity as he stood in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church. Trump has lied. He has lied about just about everything you and I can think of, and he is still lying.

Of course, I may be wrong about Carl Lentz. He may be a great guy and fantastic pastor who just lost his way. I know I’m not wrong about Donald Trump.

Trump

Trump and his incessant whining about the election are like that child who keeps asking if he can have a cookie after being told “NO!” three or four times. (Trump and the child both need to be sent to their room.)

Trump and his accomplices have come up with one conspiracy theory after another. He has filed one lawsuit after another and lost in court time after time, but he continues. Why lie and insist that he won the election which he lost by over 7 million votes?

Maybe he truly believes that former Venezuelan Pres. Hugo Chavez (who died seven years ago) infiltrated Smartmatic (a company that supplied voting machines to only a single US county); released a computer virus that changed Trump votes to Biden votes; and covered its tracks so well that no Republican or Democrat noticed the problem—oh, and did this only in states where Trump lost.

Or maybe his whining has a purpose. Maybe Trump understands that he is in legal jeopardy. He is sending out email after email to his supporters begging for money. Maybe Trump can’t simply ask for money in a straightforward fashion. Maybe the only way that he can shake millions of dollars out of his flock—$207.5 million between Nov. 3 and Dec. 3—is with these stupid conspiracy theories.

Maybe Trump is ending his presidency as he began it, with a grift. Several federal agencies are looking into his inaugural committee which took in $107 million dollars but has not accounted for its spending. Now, as Trump exits the White House, he again is vacuuming up money from his followers.

At work a couple of weeks ago, one of the anesthesiologists was sitting across from me in the surgeons’ lounge. He wanted to know why I supported Joe Biden. He asked me to explain my support without mentioning Donald Trump. I just smiled and took a deep breath:

Joe Biden will take the coronavirus seriously. Joe Biden will restore the NATO alliance. Joe Biden will work toward universal healthcare and will strengthen Obamacare. Biden will help America rejoin the Paris Climate Accords and help you and me have cleaner air to breathe and have clean water to boat, fish, or drink. He will fight for social justice and help reform our justice system so that there are far fewer George Floyds. He will get our economy on track, and he will tax the wealthy. Biden will never call White supremacists “good people.” He will work to end corporate welfare. He will work with Democrats and Republicans and find some way to reform our immigration policy.

Not a bad list of reasons, after all. (more…)

By |2021-01-08T14:37:25-04:00January 8th, 2021|Elections, Healthcare, Party Politics|Comments Off on Donald Trump and the Hillsong Church

Why WW84 was so bad

Wonder Woman 1984 Poster

First, let’s look at Wonder Woman the movie (2017). This movie came out of nowhere. I don’t think that anybody thought that the movie was gonna be good. I remember going to the movie theater and having little or no expectations. The casting was magnificent. From Gal Gadot to Christopher Pine, to Robin Wright to Denny Huston, the casting was just perfect. As the movie unfolds, you have this wonderful landscape of the Amazon island of Themyscira. Connie Nielsen plays the Amazon Queen and the mother of Diana. As with most of the superhero movies, the initial 15 to 30 minutes is sucked up by telling the back story. Here, we see Diana grow up. We see her become more and more competitive. We see her become stronger.

Let’s fast-forward to the trenches of World War I. There is a scene where Diana understands what she must do. She takes control of the merry band (Charlie, Samir, the Chief and Steve). Later on in the scene where Diana runs out of the trench into no man’s land – is one of the best scenes that I’ve seen in the past 10 or 15 years. It’s about grit and determination. It’s about understanding who you are and what you can do. It’s also about trying to do the most for your fellow man. Besides that, it was visually stunning. Next, we see Diana almost single-handedly taking out a German garrison that is nestled into a village. After the fighting settles down, he returned to the humanity. Charlie, for all of his bluster, really cannot shoot. Or at least, he can’t shoot anymore. Diane is a warrior. She could’ve trashed Charlie. Yet she did not. This movie was about friendships. It was about humanity. It was about a superhero being more human than the rest of us.

I’m not sure what WW 84 was about. I don’t have any idea why they decided to make a movie in 1984? Why didn’t they make a movie in World War II? Why did they make a movie about the Cold War? Instead, they pick an obscure year that seems to have no particular meaning.

Do you remember the old short story the Monkey’s Paw? Remember you to get three wishes from the monkey’s paw but there would be something odd or tragic with the wish. Like you would wish for million dollars and you find out that your wife, who you love dearly, died and her insurance policy was worth $1 million. So, only something awful to accompany your wish. Basically, that’s what this movie was about. There was some ancient artifact which could grant you one wish. Diana wishes for her beloved Steve to return. Diana’s officemate, Barbara, wishes that she could be Diana. Soon, Barbara begins to develop Diana’s strength that her speed. Unfortunately, Barbara begins to lose her humanity. She becomes cruel and mean. For Diana, we find out throughout the movie is that she begins to lose her powers. The exact reason is unclear. It is only towards the end of the movie we figure out that she is losing her powers because she wanted Steve to return. For some time, in the middle of the movie, I thought she was losing her powers because Barbara was gaining her powers. I was wrong.

There are lots of things in this movie that makes absolutely no sense. Let’s fast-forward to the final scene in which Maxwell Lord, the bad guy, played by Pedro Pascal, is using some sort of fancy satellite contraption to touch the TVs of millions upon millions of people around the world. He is granting their wishes. I have no idea why this type of incantation causes a windstorm so powerful that Diana, Wonder Woman, is stopped in her tracks. She is unable to make any headway. She tries to throw her magic lasso and that doesn’t make any headway either against the fierce winds. What?

There are several of these head scratching moments throughout the movie. Diana and Steve Trevor steal or borrow a jet from the Smithsonian. Remember that Steve Trevor was a pilot in World War I. These were single-engine prop planes basically. Yet, he is able to jump into the cockpit of a jet and with no instruction, he figures everything out. He is able to fly it without a problem. What? To make matters worse, he is flying from the United States to Cairo, Egypt.. He knows nothing about radar. He knows nothing about advanced navigation. Prof he is there. What? (He does fly back from Cairo without a problem.)

This movie did not have any of the great camaraderie that we saw in the first movie. It did not have the humanity that we saw on the first movie. It just simply doesn’t hold together as well as the first movie. I would give the first movie 9/10 stars. WW 84 gets 4/10 stars.

By |2020-12-31T22:50:59-04:00December 31st, 2020|Movies|Comments Off on Why WW84 was so bad
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