Sunday, January 29, 2017

It's Chauncey Gardiner On Crystal Meth

Something is telling me that this immigration ban isn't working out the way the president (shudder) thought it would. He probably thought that since he's, you know, Donald Trump and that, you know, Steve Bannon told him that Muslims are terrible, and that, you know, his rabid fan base voted for this craziness, that he could just, you know, do this immigration ban thing. Never mind that zero terrorists have come from the countries we're banning people from. And make sure that we don't include countries where Trump has businesses. Appearances matter, you know.

This is a nightmare. And it's only been 10 days. All I can say is thank heavens for the Federal court system and the judges who understand the Constitution and our way of life, because clearly Donald Trump is the biggest Know-Nothing this country, or at least a minority of voters, has ever elected president. And it's up to the majority who oppose him, a majority that's getting more major every day, to stop him.

Consider what else we've learned since January 20.

We have a president who doesn't read. He only likes to watch television and and then regurgitweet what he's seen and heard.  Using the same language as the news shows.

He engages in conspiracy theories about illegal immigrants, 3.5 million strong, who came out to vote in November for Hillary Clinton. They didn't vote for anybody else--not Senate, not House, not Dog Catcher--only for Hillary. And she got almost every one of their votes. That's amazing.

And that's why its a conspiracy theory. Because to an average, thinking, reading, analyzing, overworked, underpaid, patriotic American, it makes no sense. But to the leader of the free world? A perfect explanation for why he simply couldn't, ever, lose the popular vote.

I shudder to think of what Trump would have done had he lost the election and made good on his promise to not concede. Here he won the election and he still can't let go of the fact that he's not more popular than he's convinced himself that he is.

And all of this has nothing to do with actual policy. Remember the fuss the GOP made about Obama's use of Executive Orders? That's all Trump has used since his inauguration and not a peep out of the purring, moist right wing. What about the deficit, you say? Hey, $20 billion on a superfluous, irrelevant, showy wall is a fine use of taxpayers pesos, I mean, dollars. We might not get Mitch McConnell to go along with funds for highways, bridges, roads, hospitals, airports, water systems and other extras that we really don't need, but a wall that will immediately become cover for tunnels? I can see him sidling up to Paul Ryan, with a handful of bills and in a low, conspiratorial voice say, "Don't tell your father I gave you this."

The Trump administration is making good on its campaign promises, and now we are seeing why more people voted against them. They are creating chaos, uncertainty and unnecessary hardship for many Americans, and they contradict this country's values of tolerance and equality before the law.

For more, go to or Twitter @rigrundfest

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Oppose and Replace

I completely understand how you felt Friday at around 12:20, after President Donald Trump (shudder) delivered the last of his vapid, sloganeering, frighteningly insipid and angry remarks after he was sworn in. You don't recognize the country or its values or the office of the presidency or how the constitution fits into his plans and you wonder how anybody who calls themselves a patriotic, thinking American can vote for...that. Perhaps the best we can say is that James Buchanan, William Henry Harrison and Richard Nixon no longer occupy the bottom spot on any of the presidential rankings. It's Trump's spot all alone. And he owns it.

But it's vitally important to understand that reasoned arguments, references to facts, visits and links to mainstream news sites or paper-based articles dogeared, cut out or copied for relatives will not do any good to win arguments in the political present and the near future. Statistics mean nothing. The fight will be won on emotion and righteousness, patience and repetition, repetition, repetition.

The Women's Marches on Saturday were an excellent start. More people showed up to the one in Washington than attended the inauguration. Add in the number of marchers in other cities in the United States and around the world and you have a supermajority of people who will not stand to go backwards on civil rights for all people. We will need more of these types of mobilizations and actions to show the Republican administration and Congress that they must pay attention to the words and tone they use, and the laws they attempt to pass.

The rest of this is going to be up to our use of language and messaging. As much as Trump is described as unpredictable, he really won't be. We already know that he's concerned with winning every battle. He hates to be criticized. He has no coherent policies. The press needs to ask questions repeatedly and not let Trump or Sean Spicer off the hook. Yes, their antics might play well in precincts where Trump won, but even there, the people want action and they want details about what he's going to do.  In short, question and oppose everything and let Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan complain about obstruction. Do not apologize. Do not outwardly cooperate. It seems to be the only strategy that works, but with our country at stake, it's what we need to do.

For more, go to or Twitter @rigrundfest

Sunday, January 15, 2017

On the Transition, There is No Comparison

It is inevitable that United States Presidents are compared not only to who served before them, but to those who came after them. If these past few weeks are any guide to the next four years, if Trump can avoid impeachment and conviction, then we can start making room for Barack Obama on Mount Rushmore.

It's not just the sheer grace, intelligence, humanity, empathy, joy and focus that Obama brought to the office. It's the way he conducted himself and the way he presented the image of the United States to visitors, other heads of state, and anyone else who still believed that this country can be, and must be, a force for good in the world.

Yes, there were times when I wanted President Obama to be full of righteous anger and to show it. To get a little sweaty under the collar. To yell a little more. To get carried away, But at the end of a speech or press conference, I would usually marvel at how he could make a point forcefully without resorting to histrionics or contrived media moments. And there were no scandals, personal or otherwise, and no need to follow the money or worry about a wiretap. He served as a president we could be proud to have lived under. Anyone who is turning 20 this year can honestly say that they lived their formative years under a president who was a political, moral, and family role model.

And compared to what's next in our future, Obama will go down in history as one of the great ones. Perhaps he will be remembered as the last of the presidential presidents, who understood that the Commander-In-Chief and head of the Executive Branch had a responsibility to act like a role model and to be aware that others were watching him, and not just as someone commanding a media audience. He might also be remembered as the last president to actually have a plan as to how to run the country, rather than repealing first and worrying about what happens later. Or who used social media to further a positive agenda, not to denigrate, bully, lie, obfuscate or brag.

I will miss Barack Obama as President of the United States. He broke a major barrier and made this country greater. I hope that we can hold on to that greatness in the face of someone who doesn't recognize that we are great, and have been great for a very long time.

For more, go to or Twitter @rigrundfest

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Post Hack, Ergo Propter Hack

News that the Russians, which means Vladimir Putin, wanted Donald Trump to win the election shouldn't surprise anyone. They've clearly sized him up and see him as the friend that he will turn out to be. They also are taking him seriously when he says that he will support torture and doesn't care much for getting the United States involved in other country's affairs. That Trump will help the Russians in Syria is merely icing on the babka. Trump hasn't a clue as to how to conduct foreign policy and Putin knows that.

But I'm not willing to follow others who say that the Russian effort turned the election. After all, if the point was to get more people to vote for Trump, then the Russians failed miserably, as Hillary Clinton's 2.7 million vote majority will attest. And it would be a real stretch to conclude that the Russian hackers focused on blue collar, high-school-educated, former Obama voters in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania because that's where Trump won the election. Were those voters especially susceptible to fake news? Perhaps some of them went into the last week of the election and weighed the candidate's positions on jobs and, with the Comey letter, concluded that Hillary was not the person to solve the problem. Let's not forget that Clinton ran a bad campaign, taking Michigan for granted in the final weeks when the lesson of Bernie Sanders' shocking performance (or maybe not really shocking) in the primaries should have alerted her team to the potential for an upset.

The real problem with the hacking is that Donald Trump encouraged it as a candidate, and then dismissed it and the professionals who will be advising him once it threatened his fragile hold on his self-esteem. We are now going to be led for the next four years by a classic bully, one who is unsure of himself so he couches his responses in anger, dismissal, disparagement and unthinking emotional outbursts rather than reason and analysis. He's already shown that when he's attacked, he goes into survival mode and lives on twitter. As someone who lived through Chris Christie for eight years, I can tell you that this isn't going to end well.

This strategy has worked to a limited degree when Trump goes after companies that make plans to build plants in Mexico, but it failed miserably with the hacking issue, and it probably won't serve him as well as he thinks once he takes office (shudder). Eventually, Trump is going to realize that Americans want their president to act a certain way, and tweeting your fears every morning won't substitute for policy.

For more, go to or Twitter @rigrundfest

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year.

The new year always begins with so much hope, and this year is no different. I hope that my friends will be healthy and happy. I hope that we can solve some of the country's big problems and more of the little ones. I hope that we can come together as a nation and a world and finally realize that we're all in this together and that the deaths and atrocities are a stain on the human race. I hope that I can be a better person, a better friend, a better spouse, a better parent, and a better teacher.

But hope can only get you so far. At some point, you have to fight for what you believe in and for what you want done. On that point, this will be a year of fighting. For justice. For the right of everyone to have a healthy body, a healthy mind, and a full stomach. For the right to exercise the vote. For the right to free speech. For a free, quality education. For economic growth that begins to close the gap between wealth and not-so-wealthy. For clean air and water. For facts.

There is more, but you get the point.

There will be challenges as soon as this week because Congress will begin moving towards legislation that will ultimately strip 20 million people of their health insurance. The assaults on Medicare and Social Security are sure to follow as will the foreign policy meanderings that will be endemic to an administration that only sees raw power as worthy of respect.

The good news? That we will turn our attention and energies to fighting for what we believe in.  That's what this year will be about. More people voted against the agenda than for it. Never forget that.

And have a healthy, happy, prosperous New Year.

For more, go to or Twitter @rigrundfest