Believe Me

I was going to do my next post about President Bush’s new book, Portraits of Courage, or the wonderful new PBS miniseries I watch this week, Africa’s Great Civilizations, hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. And I wasn’t even thinking I’d write anything today but then I woke up to the latest craziness from our so-called President and I was like, “Wow! Just, Wow!” watching the reaction of Trump Supporters on Twitter to his reckless and disgusting behavior.

The madness began with a series of tweets from @realdonaldtrump accusing former President Obama of tapping his phone, Trump Towers, and who knows what else.


After making these very serious charges, with no evidence or source cited whatsoever, he then went after Arnold Schwarzenegger; because a petty feud over the future of The Apprentice TV show is apparently every bit as  important as allegations that Obama abused his power.


Some people, myself included, pointed out the fact that Trump’s baseless accusations are the very definition of McCarthyism, but unfair and unbalanced Sean Hannity was quick to accept the “truth” as the Dear Leader told it, asking the infamous Watergate question:


A wide host of similarly fanatical and uncritical Trump Supporters followed suit. @bradcrain seemed to be convinced that Obama has already been convicted and the “DEMS” just couldn’t handle it.


In this up is down version of reality, Trump’s people are the ones showing their true colors. Rude, willfully blind, and childish colors. Honestly, what kind of people read unsubstantiated allegations and say to themselves, “How can I best use a meme to spread this disinformation?” I don’t know but Riya sharma and @chrisk2000 are two more of them:



This is the same pool of people who label everyone who disagrees with Trump as a, “liberal” or “communist,” including conservatives like myself, and then laughs at us for being unable to think properly. Truly crazy.

Worst of all are individuals like @BigStick2013, who embellish fake news with their own lies.


I told Mr. Drain The Swamp that there was “NO news” in the article he linked to, and certainly nothing about anything found at Trump Tower or the White House. All the article did was recaps Trump’s tweets and concluded that, “It is not clear what information Trump based his Tweets on.” For daring to point out the truth to BigStick Swamp Drainer, he blocked me.

What is happening here is a very sick manipulation of our already polarized public, designed only to further divide us and do harm to America, and every patriot should condemn it! Instead, disingenuous fools like Buck Sexton (who’s apparently a radio talk show host) are trying to spin this in ever more creative ways.


  1. Trump did not claim that Obama used FISA (The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) against him. Trump claimed wiretapping of an unspecified nature, carried out by unspecified agents, and told to him by unknown sources.
  2. If the FISA Court was used to tap Trump or any of his people, that would have come from a Justice Department investigation, which would need to make their case to the FISA Judges and show evidence that Trump and/or his team had done something wrong.
  3. There is no universal agreement in the press that Trump conspired with the Kremlin but it has been clearly established by the intelligence community and outside security experts that Russian hackers did try to interfere in our election. Even many of Trump’s key people have admitted this.
  4. There was zero evidence offered from Trump in his very unclear charges.

In short, the items Buck is pretending to equate are not equal. Not even close. Sadly, this is the kind of intellectual sloppiness that passes for logic in far too many public debates and a Yuge reason why we have a President Trump in the first place. I can only hope that we will learn from this and do better in the future.

Let’s get on with the inevitable and appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate the allegations against the President and the allegations made by the President. I am confident that his uniquely horrible character will be exposed in the end, Believe Me!

A Trump in the Crowd

I recently rewatched a classic cautionary tale about the dangers of populism and mass media, A Face in the Crowd (1957). It’s the story of Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes (Andy Griffith), a drifter with no moral center, a talent for playing the guitar, and the gift of gab. When he is given the opportunity to become a radio personality in a small market his new career takes off and before you know it he has his own national TV show and he is an important political figure. Lonesome is billed as the, “Voice of the Mid-South,” a man of the people, and he breaks all the rules of standard broadcasting while making people laugh and telling them what to think. He also attracts a host of unscrupulous people who want to use him for their own ends, from the office boy turned talent agent to the corporation peddling useless energy pills to the corporate boss and his isolationist Senator friend who dreams of the White House.

A Face in the Crowd poster

Lonesome’s arrogant lust for power, his general disrespect for the rest of the world, and his closeted insecurity are fueled by his alcoholism until *Spoiler* everything falls apart when the general public hears what he really thinks of them over an open mic during a seemingly private rant. In some ways the film is a bit dated and tame but overall it holds up well and the message will forever be true. There will always be charming, charismatic, and seemingly good individuals who step out from the crowd and attempt to direct it with simplistic slogans and self-serving motivations. Unfortunately, if the film’s cynical view of humanity is to be taken as fact, it is fairly easy for the masses to get swept up into a mindless mob when the right (or wrong) populist figure comes along. Sadly, my own reading of history, along with my own personal history (I voted for Ross Perot and Jesse Ventura), largely agrees with this assessment of human nature.

A Face in the Crowd film strip

It’s easy to find parallels and make connections between the fictional Lonesome and many historical and contemporary American pundits, from Father Coughlin to Glenn Beck, along with American politicians, from Huey Long to John Edwards, and truly despotic international figures, like Mussolini and Hitler. The man that most viewers probably had in mind when A Face in the Crowd first come out was Joe McCarthy, despite that fact that the film’s director, Elia Kazan, claimed the story was not about McCarthy.

Senator Joseph Raymond McCarthy was a World War II Veteran – Tail Gunner Joe – from Wisconsin, who gained national fame when he claimed he had a list of communist agents in the State Department. Just how many people were on the list and why he would not produce it was never clear but many people came to see McCarthy as a champion of the common man and the American Way of Life in the global struggle against the commies (including Bobby Kennedy, who worked as a McCarthy staff member for awhile and fellow Senator John Kennedy). When McCarthy turned his attention to hunting for communists in the Army, during live, televised hearings, his lack of substance and mean-spirited nature was finally made clear to most citizens watching along at home and his fellow Senators, who publicly repudiated him in 1954. He died nearly friendless in a hospital bed three years later, most likely from a lifetime of hard drinking, the same year that A Face in the Crowd hit theaters. Some people on the fanatical fringe of the conspiratorial-minded right wing (e.g. The John Birch Society) continued to pretend that McCarthy was a hero, brought down by communist forces in the U.S. Government, including President Eisenhower, who were too powerful for McCarthy to take on alone. There are even a few fanatics today who continue to back McCarthy, like Trump Super Fangirl Ann Coulter, who wrote a book attempting to defend McCarthy. Most reasonable people, however, have come to see “McCarthyism” (i.e. behaving like McCarthy) as a bad thing.

mccarthy trump hands outWhen I first saw that Donald Trump was running for President I thought it was a big joke and poked fun at the idea by imagining what his next Reality TV show might be like:

Trump has said some crazy and hateful things during this campaign, from labeling illegal Mexican immigrants as “rapists” to belittling women as unstable when they have blood coming out of their “wherever,” none of this seems to matter to his faithful fans, who miraculously fail to see these comments as revelation about his true character. His most loyal adherents even sound giddy when they explain how much they love the fact that Trump, “isn’t politically correct;” as if his racist, sexist, and otherwise deplorable behavior could be considered correct by any measure.

For me the straw that broke the camel’s back and showed the true heart of the man was when Trump attacked John McCain. I know that a lot of self-styled “real conservatives” think McCain is too liberal, or too unreliable, or too whatever, but to attack the man on his war record and suggest that he’s not a real hero is lower than low. While Trump was dodging the draft and living the life of an up and coming millionaire playboy, McCain spent five-and-half years, two in solitary confinement, in a North Vietnamese prison camp, ironically called the, “Hanoi Hilton.” Yet, in Trump’s worldview, McCain is, “not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

mccain-pow trump draft dodger

Trump’s supporters claim that he loves the military because he has given money to veteran groups and told them what they want to hear. But the real truth is there for anyone willing to listen. “People who were captured,” that means all POWs throughout American History, are not some losers who failed to do their duty. They are, typically, men like McCain, who refused to give up even when all hope was lost. That kind of perseverance and sacrifice doesn’t register with a man like Trump, who speaks of “winning” in much the same way as Charlie Sheen.

Another canard popular among Trump supports is that he is a great businessman, which will magically make him a great President. Obviously, he has been more financially successful than most when it comes to his own, personal enrichment, but it’s not like he built the ladder from scratch himself and climbed his way out of the basement to the top of Trump Tower. He took the final steps to the top from where his daddy placed him, with a “small” million dollar loan and a network of connections. I don’t fault him, or anyone, for being born into wealth, but you’ve got to do something more impressive than real estate deals and sensationalistic TV to convince me that you are such a mega genius in business that you can solve all of America’s problems.

Trump is reminiscent of Lonesome Rhodes and Joe McCarthy, minus the alcohol problem. As one of the characters in A Face in the Crowd explains, “We’ve got to face it. Politics have entered a new stage, the television stage. Instead of long winded public debates, the people want capsule slogans. Time for a change. The mess in Washington. More bang for a buck. Punchlines and glamour.” That reality in many ways has only gotten worse with the birth of the Internet and Trump is the embodiment of populist politics at its worst in our 140 character attention span age, where fame comes without importance and everyone’s right to have an opinion is more significant than the facts. Like the fictional Rhodes and the real life McCarthy, I am confident that Trump will come to a very unglamorous end. The only question is: What damage will this self-centered braggart inflict on the rest of us before he goes down?

mccarthy trump america


Back when McCarthy was riding high on the populist wave, almost none of his fellow Republicans would speak out against him. Even General Eisenhower, who privately told McCarthy in very blunt terms how much he disliked the Senator, stood beside the blowhard in public while running for the Presidency. Perhaps McCarthy could have been taken down much faster if Ike had acted differently, or perhaps it would have only inflamed the reflexively anti-establishment “patriots” to greater levels of madness? We’ll never know. What I can say is that there was one man who didn’t cower in the face of McCarthy’s one-hit-wonder popularity, Senator Prescott Bush (father of President George H. W. Bush). At a campaign appearance, with McCarthy seated behind him and a vehemence crowd in front of him, Bush said that he disapproved of his fellow Senator’s methods. His words went over no better than his grandsons’ warnings about Trump today but the similarities in both cases should give thinking people reason to pause.

I have never been so disappointed in my fellow citizens than I am now at the prospect of a President Trump. As the French philosopher Joseph de Maistre famously proclaimed two centuries ago, “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” If the American people choose a bigoted, sexist, flip-flopping, conspiracy theorist, repeat adulterer, who studied at the feet of McCarthy’s attack dog, Roy Cohn, who thinks nothing of abusing eminent domain and throws out insults like candy, then they will have proved de Maistre correct.

trump take that america

Trump, the new McCarthy

Sixty years ago this week, on December 2, 1954, Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) was censured by his fellow senators for his reckless and disgraceful behavior. McCarthy made a name for himself as a communist hunter, going after alleged commies in the Federal Government, with little or no evidence and an abundance of bravado. In the process he ruined the lives of innocent people. He is now commonly seen as a witch hunter (a man on a false mission for personal motives) and his very name has become a negative expression of unAmerican actions, McCarthyism.

joe mccarthy

Donald “I’m better than everybody because I say so” Trump has been saying outlandish things for decades but we have all become aware of his rude, racist, compulsively disrespectful, willfully ignorant, lying, and reactionary mindset in recent months, thanks to his Presidential Campaign. This populist, some are now beginning to revise this to “fascist” blowhard, is very popular with the same sort of people who once supported McCarthy, The John Birch Society, and other conspiracy-minded, bigoted fringe groups on the far right of American politics. Neither Trump nor his supporters are the, “real conservatives,” that they claim to be. Like most of their proclamations, this claim substitutes volume for reason and demands your adherence, or you will face the wrath of this vengeful mob of, “freedom loving Americans.” The Trump, McCarthy, Bircher, etc. worldview is forthrightly  Orwellian.

Yesterday, Trump was speaking at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington, DC (that’s a mouthful), when he expressed a common complaint: “Radical Islamic terrorism — we have a president who refuses to use the term.” What stood out to me was Trump’s follow up point, “There’s something going on with him that we don’t know about.” Trump, who still seems to be in the birther camp (believing that President Obama faked his birth certificate) also seems to believe that Mr. Obama is a Muslim, or at least in league with the Muslims, against, “us.” This kind of thinking, these kinds of charges, are no more rational than the old claims that President Kennedy and President Eisenhower were communist agents, and they should make every patriotic American disgusted.

It doesn’t matter if you like Trump’s stance on this or that issue. It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of his TV show or his hotels. It doesn’t matter if you think that President Obama is the worst President we have ever had. History is crying out to us! A man like Trump, a McCarthy in billionaire clothing, must never be given political power!

When journalist Edward R. Murrow tried to warn his fellow citizens about McCarthy he famously told them to, “remember that we are not descended from fearful men.” What he neglected to note is that the fearful men are always with us, pretending to be the saviors we long for.