I'm of two minds about watching the inauguration of Donald Trump on Friday as the 45th President of the United States. Just typing that phrase gives me the shakes. Watching the actual ceremony might be too much for me.
But in the past, I've tried to listen to all kinds of political material. Even though I'm a long-time Democrat (back to 1968 and going door-to-door for Eugene McCarthy and Allard Lowenstein, and working elections since then), I've always tried to listen to the other side. As Sun Tzu wrote in THE ART OF WAR: "Know thy enemy."
For years I listened to Rush Limbaugh (Yes, I did, Mr. Snerdley. Who could resist his "talent on loan from God?") It was during the heights/depths of his oxycontin addiction, and Rush was flying high on the air. He sounded like a carnival barker crossed with a particularly sodden W.C. Fields, spouting nonsense with perfect certainty. Lie after lie after lie, but he has such fun lying that the feeling is contagious for his low-information listeners. Limbaugh is a happy warrior, even if his weapons are deceit, exaggeration, prejudice, and nastiness.
I get the WALL STREET JOURNAL every day. (They don't publish on Sunday, but their Saturday paper is full of good features and reviews.) I laugh at their resident columnists (Daniel Henninger, Bret Stephens, Kimberley Strassel, the always daffy Peggy Noonan, and Karl Rove who should be in jail for his efforts to politicize the Justice Department during the Bush 43 administration, among other crimes) and their guest clowns from the Heritage Foundation, Club for Growth, Americans for Prosperity, Manhattan Institute, etc. But I read them.
I also watch Fox News until I can't stand it anymore. The TG makes me turn if off if she comes into the room. Just the other day, one of their anchors called Jeff Sessions "a great civil rights champion." Really. (And you wonder where "fake news" came from? It started when Fox called itself "fair and balanced." From then on, the truth didn't stand a chance.)
On the web, I check out RealClearPolitics regularly and even WorldNetDaily for my amusement. I used to check Breitbart, but now I don't want to give them the clicks.
But will I watch Trump take the oath of office from Justice Roberts? (Do you think that Roberts will screw up the oath, the way he did for Obama in 2008? If that wasn't a sign of the disrespect to come, I don't know what was. ... "You lie!")
The people who say that we have to meekly line up behind Trump seem to forget that he started as a Birther, directly challenging a twice-fairly-elected president. And now we have what is clearly an "unclean" election. Tampering from the Kremlin? Contact between the Trump team and the Russians? A highly unethical move by the head of the FBI, one week before the election? Overall voter suppression?
Going into his administration, Trump's failure to separate his family business from the running of the country almost guarantees conflicts of interest.
So what should we do, and how should we do it? In the short run, start by boycotting the inauguration and give Trump low ratings.
Here is the statement of one boycotter, Jerrold Nadler of the 10th District of New York:
"The rhetoric and actions of Donald Trump have been so far beyond the pale – so disturbing and disheartening – and his continued failure to address his conflicts of interest, to adequately divest or even to fully disclose his financial dealings, or to sufficiently separate himself from the ethical misconduct that legal experts on both sides of the aisle have identified have been so offensive I cannot in good conscience participate in this honored and revered democratic tradition of the peaceful transfer of power.
"We cannot normalize Donald Trump, and we certainly cannot turn our heads and ignore such a threat to the institutions and values of our democracy. His refusal to adequately address his business conflicts of interest, to show remorse for the inflammatory rhetoric in which he engaged during his campaign, his attempts to intimidate the press, and his continuing failure to demonstrate any interest in uniting Americans reveal a deep disrespect for the office of President.
"I refuse to sit idly by as he flaunts his illicit behavior without regard for the American people's interest. I refuse to abide any effort to undermine a free and independent press, which serves a pivotal role in any democratic system and whose rights are guaranteed by our Constitution. I refuse to applaud for a man with a history of offensive and abusive behavior to women and minorities. I refuse to treat January 20, 2017, as business as usual.
"For these reasons, I have no interest in participating in the inauguration ceremony of Donald J. Trump."
Nicely said, Congressman Nadler
I'm going to call my congressman Adam Schiff and urge him to join the boycott. There are already more than thirty representatives who have declared their intention to bypass the Inauguration. Schiff is in a safe Democratic seat – from West Hollywood to Pasadena. He should get on the right side, right now.
Trump will still be president – for the time being – but there is no need to pay him homage. He does that enough by himself.
Why are people behaving like this? Well, as my father said, "If you want to be treated with respect, treat other people with respect."
Trump doesn't treat other people with respect. What does he expect?
Here is a link to an article listing the 289 People, Places, and Things that Donald Trump has insulted on Twitter.
That number – 289 – is not a joke, and the article is from January 2016. Trump has insulted many, many more people since then. He has the impulse control of a child: a bad trait for someone in charge of the nuclear codes and the most powerful army in the world.
He even disparaged a Neil Young song – "Rockin' in the Free World." Picking a fight with Neil Young? Now that's just stupid.
It would almost be comic except that this is really happening. Trump is really appointing these Bizarro cabinet heads. They will be exposed in the confirmation process, but most if not all will take their positions and start to wreak havoc. Already Trump has dismissed Obama's ambassdors without adequate replacements. And once again, the Republicans will proudly fuck up running the government to prove that government is bad.
Fortunately, some of the cabinet choices are already being exposed. The HHS choice bought some medical stocks in a company whose interests he promoted in Congress ... "Little Marco" Rubio beat up on Trump's choice for state ... the labor guy is saying all the attention he's getting isn't any fun ... they had to postpone Betsy DeVos' hearing. I can't wait for that one.
ON THE OTHER HAND ...
As a lifelong political junkie (and American citizen), I want/need to know what Trump says in his inaugural address. Whatever he says, it will be historic. Maybe he'll grasp the importance of the moment, feel the enormity of his task and suddenly grow up. But I doubt it.
I'll see the best chunks replayed on the news, hear them discussed, and read them over. And I'll see what Alec Baldwin will skewer next week on SNL.
I have no idea how Hillary Clinton will be able to stand there, with a smile on her face.
But now that there is a full-fledged boycott, I really can't watch it live. Finally – I stand with John Lewis, not Donald Trump.
But what do we do in the long run? After the inauguration is over and Trump moves into the White House? Channel our inner Mitch McConnells (yech!), resist everything, and try to make sure that the Trump/Pence administration lasts for only one term?
And begin meaningful resistance.
Here is a link to INDIVISIBLE: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda
So our nightmare begins....
Here are some better political speeches:
WINSTON CHURCHILL – We Shall Never Surrender speech (complete)
WINSTON CHURCHILL – Battle of Britain Speech – June 14, 1940 – Royal Air Force Museum
MARTIN LUTHER KING – "I have a dream" speech – with text
BARACK OBAMA – Keynote Address at 2004 Democratic convention – The speech that introduced Obama to the country
LINCOLN'S GETTYSBURG ADDRESS – by Charles Laughton in RUGGLES OF RED GAP (1935) – the speech starts at 2:27
MARTIN LUTHER KING – Letter from a Birmingham Jail
ALEC BALDWIN – GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS – "Always be closing" speech
NEIL YOUNG – ROCKIN' IN THE FREE WORLD – SNL, 1989
NEIL YOUNG – LOVE AND ONLY LOVE
NEIL YOUNG – OVER AND OVER – from Red Rocks – 8/5/12