One Year of President Trump

At this time last year, as 2016 hastened toward its conclusion and Donald Trump prepared himself for the beginning of his ill-boding Presidency, many millions of people were at their wit's end, distraught to the utmost degree. They writhed and wailed at every opportunity, losing themselves in unrestrained fits of self-deceiving misery. They wrongly believed, with a deep, desperate fervency that only those who have fallen, completely and hopelessly, under the spell of a powerful delusion can summon, that having Donald Trump as President was the worst of all imaginable outcomes for the United States of America.

One year later, an honest observer is compelled to closely examine the situation, calmly and rationally, and finally ask, "Are most things actually worse, in ways that are clearly perceivable, as a direct result of Donald Trump becoming President of the United States?" The answer to such a straightforward question, if duly arrived at through the deliberate application of knowledge and reason, is both unmistakable and unavoidable: "No." That answer, however, clearly is not what President Trump's wild-eyed enemies want to hear, because it conflicts with the hollow precepts of their own muddle-headed outlook.

The burdensome problems that weighed heavily on America during 2017 were not solely created by Donald Trump. Indeed, it is beyond dispute that nearly all of those problems first began to manifest themselves under the watch of former Presidents, who were aided and abetted in their actions by the casual assent, freely given, of a careless public. The towering amount of reckless debt, for example, that currently is owed to lawless banks by several generations of spendthrift Americans came into being many years before Donald Trump had ever conceived the slightest thought of running in an election.

The murderous wars that are being waged by America now, in a number of countries around the world, already were being brutally waged before Donald Trump became President. (His predecessor, Barack Obama, did much to promote and expand those wars.) The huge corporations that stealthily control and remorselessly exploit every corner of our lives had achieved a malign state of unassailable dominion long before Donald Trump blustered himself into the White House. American values had been steadily undermined and continually degraded by the dark forces of capitalism for many decades before Donald Trump sought to be the Chief Executive.

Things were bad (and likely to get worse) before Donald Trump became President, things are bad (and likely to get worse) now that he has become President, and things will continue to be bad (and likely to get worse) when his Presidency has withered into a foul residue. The first year of Donald Trump's leadership has not been an altogether happy experience for anyone (least of all, it seems, Donald Trump himself, who frequently conveys the impression that he is suffering from an advanced case of perpetual tetchiness), but, even at his most damnable, he is no more than a minor figure in the general decline of everything.


A Refusal to Keep Quiet

When surveying the prevailing trends of 2017, especially as reflected in the press and social media, one can only conclude that the 21st century is not destined to be renowned as a period of unabridged freedom. Human rights are faltering in varied ways, as a result of being under continual assault from all sides. Freedom of speech, in particular, is being curtailed and diminished by a sour gathering of heavy-handed forces, and could, in the future, be entirely lost.

Any utterance, whether spoken or written, that stands in open defiance to the narrow mainstream of liberal thought in 2017 is certain to be swiftly pounced upon by those who have, quite presumptuously, ordained themselves as the primary guardians of self-righteous acceptability. Thus, the range of what is deemed "acceptable" to the tender minds of the oversensitive masses becomes narrower and narrower, causing clear detriment to the integrity of free discourse. Unfortunately, glaring examples of this narrowness are distressingly abundant.

Nowadays, the casual exchange of endearing gestures between men and women has become nearly as treacherous as walking across a minefield. Hardhearted feminists, in their ongoing battle to vanquish the quaint traditions of heterosexual romance, seek to eradicate the expression of even the mildest sentiments between males and females. If a man so much as smiles or nods at a woman, he is likely to be accused of making unwanted advances. If he makes the well-intentioned mistake of praising her appearance, he is asking to be hit with a lawsuit.

If white musicians choose to play the blues (a form of music that is acknowledged as being "black" in origin), they are found to be guilty of "cultural appropriation." (By the same token, it ought to follow that black musicians should not be allowed to perform the works of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, etc.) If a man who enjoys the harmless practice of dressing as an alluring woman is perceived as an old-fashioned transvestite, rather than as someone who happens to "identify" as "transgender" or "non-binary," it is regarded as being close to a punishable offense.

If someone who is undeniably overweight (owing to a habit of gluttony and a lack of exercise) is referred to as being "fat," it is received as a gross error of thoughtless description. In the world of high finance, extreme greed must never be referenced as such, but instead comes under the general heading of "wealth management." When a ruthless corporation rids itself of longtime workers, it is merely engaging in an act of "downsizing." In one situation after another, forthright declarations of unreserved truth are avoided, discouraged, disparaged, and deliberately excluded.

The same trend is evident in other, more serious, realms. Any person who questions the current patterns of worldwide immigration will be branded as a racist. Any person who condemns Israel's vicious persecution of Palestinians in Gaza will be judged as being antisemitic. Any person who objects to the unbending doctrines of Islam (such as women being required to cover themselves, from head to toe, at all times) will be excoriated as a shameless bigot. Any person who denounces the Chinese custom of eating dogs will be seen as bearing deep-seated prejudice toward all Asians.

Any person who opposes abortion, on the thoroughly reasonable grounds that an abortion necessarily involves the willful destruction of a human life, will be scornfully rebuked for attempting to deny a "woman's right to choose." When the Pentagon pursues a savage policy of wholesale violence against civilians in the Middle East and elsewhere, the inevitable casualties will be dismissed from the public mind as being no more than unfortunate instances of "collateral damage," rather than being reported, examined, and discussed as evil actions of reckless murder.

It seems that soon, no one will be allowed to express, or indeed form, an opinion in regard to anything, and therein dwells a foul threat. Freedom of speech, in common with all modes of freedom, tends to become weak and worthless when it is not put to frequent use. Freedom can abide, and thrive, only to the extent that it is active and flexible. Other people may do as they wish, but as for me, I value my fundamental right to express myself, and therefore I refuse to keep quiet.


The Enduring Fallacies of American Liberalism

Public life in the United States is continually shaped (and continually perverted) by the "conflict" that supposedly blazes between liberals and conservatives, between those who imagine themselves to be on the "left" and those who imagine themselves to be on the "right." In truth, of course, there is not much difference between the two sides (both sides being guided by faulty reasoning and threadbare delusions), but liberals, in particular, appear to thrive on the false disputes that effectively separate one half of America from the other.

Most American liberals are happily dedicated to following a self-satisfied way of life, subscribing to a collective outlook that carefully avoids any hint of contamination by untoward verities. They read The New York Times and The New Yorker. They watch PBS and MSNBC, and listen to NPR. They vote for any Democrat who happens to be running at any given time. They eat organic food, practice yoga and mindfulness, promote "green energy," travel to third-world countries, and offer mild sentiments in favor of peace. They espouse equality, tolerance, and diversity, and pride themselves on being open-minded. In short, they are utter hypocrites.

They generally are affluent (or, if not, are actively seeking to be so), and display no shame or regret at being far more comfortable than millions of other people. They tend to be highly educated, believing that holding a marketable degree is the key to achieving a life of wealth and luxury. They are attentive in regard to worldly matters, with money and security as their main priorities. They do, when pressed, express a middling concern for the unseemly plight of those who are deprived, but they refuse to abandon their acceptance of capitalism, thereby ensuring that current patterns of widespread poverty will continue without hindrance.

They become slightly uneasy when America openly engages in the killing of civilians in foreign lands, but they are loath to take a firm stand against America's wars. They are adamant in maintaining their faith in the United States as, essentially, a "good" nation. They steadfastly dismiss the many offenses against humanity that America has regularly committed throughout its history, choosing to view such acts as rare deviations which are not, in any way, representative of the "true" America. They are hopelessly resolute in their support of this fantasy, and no amount of knowledge or information can induce them to question or relinquish it.

For American liberals, the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States was a gift from the gods. With Donald Trump as their President, ungraciously showing himself to be a total blockhead at every turn, liberals need do no more than frequently excoriate him to feel good about themselves. His temerity allows them an opportunity to wallow in the enduring fallacies of American liberalism. Whatever will they do when Donald Trump no longer is their leader, and no longer provides them with a daily supply of bounteous inspiration for their narrow animosity?


Brexit: When Will the UK Actually Leave the EU?

On June 23, 2016, in response to a referendum put forward by the Conservative government of Prime Minister David Cameron, the people of the United Kingdom voted, by an admittedly small margin of 51.89%, to withdraw from membership in the European Union. Since that fateful day, there has been much discussion and much dispute, but so far, more than a year later, it remains to be seen when, or indeed whether, the UK will succeed in departing.

The 48.11% of Britons who voted to remain in the EU were greatly surprised, and greatly dismayed, by the outcome of the referendum. They had taken for granted that their ill-founded wishes would prevail, with the UK eternally deferring to the haughty overlords in Brussels. To those crestfallen Britons, the EU is a glorious enterprise, one that promotes a philosophy of harmony and understanding, with prosperity for all. A pleasant thing to believe, perhaps, but exceedingly far from the truth.

The EU has never been a source of benevolence. It is a capitalist organization, created by banks and corporations to serve their own narrow interests, and is, therefore, fundamentally opposed to the interests and rights of most citizens in the UK and Europe. To accept the EU as a benign representation of European unity is to accept a gross delusion. The EU clearly manifests ugly forces of greed and tyranny, not lofty principles of equity and freedom.

Europe should be seen, and should be valued, as a varied expanse of sovereign nations, each with its own history and culture. Instead, under the heavy-handed rule of the EU, it has been transformed into a business undertaking, a golden opportunity for high finance, an efficient means by which a well-heeled gang of smooth-spoken bureaucrats has seen fit to enrich themselves, at the ongoing expense of the lowly millions who are considerably less than affluent.

When will the UK actually leave the EU? Banks and corporations are not known for graciously, or willingly, surrendering their vile prerogatives, particularly in regard to the preservation of their wealth, so it is quite likely that the formal process through which the UK seeks to free itself from the foul clutches of the EU will continue to be dragged out. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that a sharp blow has been struck against the unwholesome power of a long-standing dictatorship.


Donald Trump Is Not the Problem

During the months that have passed since Donald Trump commenced his churlish Presidency, millions of Americans (as well as millions of other people, around the world, who are not Americans) have gone out of their way to express, repeatedly and clamorously, their extreme loathing of him. It seems that directing vehement avowals of hatred toward Donald Trump has, in the general flow of current discourse, become the latest craze. Because he offers such an enormous target, each spiteful arrow of half-baked scorn that is aimed at him easily finds its mark.

Unfortunately, those arrows of scorn result from an erroneous line of thought. Hating Donald Trump is, for the most part, a useless activity. It serves no greater good, and it changes nothing. We all know that Donald Trump is an imprudent fool. (One even suspects that he knows it himself.) Being an imprudent fool is what he does best, as he has proven again and again, but he is no more impudent, and no more prone to foolishness, than the American citizenry as a whole.

Donald Trump is mere evidence of the problem, not the problem itself. The problem is capitalism and its inequitable effects. The problem is a brutish mentality in which the constant pursuit of money is put above every other consideration. The problem is a widespread acceptance of malign devices that control their users with oppressive technology. The problem is too many weapons and too many wars. The problem is a nation of servile consumers who have lost the ability to think and act in accordance with the essential demands of reason.

No, Donald Trump is not the problem. In the extended view, he can be seen as no more than a shallow distraction, the brainless star of a cheap sideshow, whose main purpose is to divert the masses from the urgent necessity of coming to grips with the true import of their collective situation. Given the quickness with which the American mainstream flits from one fad to another nowadays, how long will it be until Donald Trump's peevish enemies require a new distraction?