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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/31/19

The elephant in America's living room

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All the talking heads confirm that the GOP is now "Trump's party." But the usual language of political victory fails to capture what Trump has done to the party and its base. He has subjugated the Republican Party by turning its base into a cult that will not tolerate criticism of "my president" and will follow him into a moral abyss.

His language and behavior trash the values invoked by words such as honesty, decency and dignity. He doesn't just violate traditional codes of honor and morality; he scorns them. He hasn't let up on the insults, name-calling, lying, and childish boasting which were staples of his primary and presidential campaigns. His sewer-like stream of consciousness spews at boisterous rallies and in incessant tweets, and flows through the consciousness of the nation thanks to the compulsive attention of reporters and pundits.

He has divided the nation into two hostile tribes. One applauds his character and values, or at least accepts them as the rough edges of something good for the country. The other regards him as vile, as morally unfit to be our president and representative to the world. This moral divide must be distinguished from policy differences, even though they too are intense and fundamental.

I encounter this moral chasm is when I ask myself HOW some of my neighbors and acquaintances can possibly be Trump supporters. I avoid certain topics with them, but in other respects they seem to be decent, trustworthy people and good citizens. Many are generous with their time and money for good causes.

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The phrase 'elephant in the room' refers to a large fact that people are aware of, but are reluctant to acknowledge. The elephant in America's living room is this moral abyss. There's a lot of public reporting on issues of domestic and foreign policy, although much of it is uncritical gossip about candidates' positions in our incessant elections. But there is almost no airing of this huge question: what does it do to our country to have a President who is so indecent? Should any one of either party be willing to make the devil's bargain that such a person is OK as long as they are 'right' on certain issues (e.g. abortion or low taxation)?

The commentariat is aware of this moral divide, but they treat it in terms of the political horse race: they speculate on how much Trump's bad character affects his re-election prospects. For instance, will the loyalty of White Christian evangelicals be enough to offset anger among southern Blacks over his racism? Such questions are relevant and unavoidable. But they have the effect of normalizing the moral calamity that is Trump.

One of the most striking examples of making a devil's bargain by supporting Trump is Franklin Graham, son of the late Billy Graham, world-famous, globe-trotting evangelical preacher in the second half of the 20th century. Franklin inherited his father's $765 million evangelical empire, and he's one of Trump's best known supporters. In a Nov. 25 interview, he said that Trump "defends the faith. And I appreciate that very much." Trump defends Graham's faith by appointing judges who will be unfavorable to abortion, gay marriage and the freedom of retailers to discriminate for religious reasons, and by fanatically supporting the Israeli government.

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His devil's bargain leads Graham to dismiss Trump's incessant lying. To paraphrase Huey Long, he seems to think that Trump "may be a liar, but he's my (or our) liar." Or maybe Graham is himself a liar, as in this sickening exchange with MSNBC's Craig Melvin on Jan. 31:

"You and I both know that this president has said things, over and over, that aren't true," Melvin said.
"No, I don't know that," said Graham.

By not impeaching Trump, we are normalizing his lying and moral nihilism. We are allowing his rot to settle into public discourse. He reduces factual claims to tribal beliefs, beliefs that are adopted from a sense of identity with a tribethe like-minded MAGA-hatters that roar with delight at his shameless falsehoods. In the latest example of his thousands of documented lies, he tells his crowds that the Mueller report (as yet unseen by him or us) gives him "Complete and Total EXONERATION." Never mind that AG Barr's summary says that "while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."

As philosopher Immanuel Kant explained, lying to people devalues them as persons, as rational beings. Instead of letting people exercise their freedom by making up their minds based on facts and logic, the liar treats them as things to be manipulated into doing what they would not do if properly informed. This devaluation of persons easily leads to violence as a way to resolve disputes. Once factual claims become tribal beliefs, disagreements become power struggles.

It's not surprising that a hard-core liar such as Trump frequently exhibits cruelty and insensitivity to the pain of others. Their feelings have no importance to him except as means of manipulation. He can relish inflicting pain for the same reason he is an enthusiastic liar: it's an exercise of power. He often invites his crowds to share enthusiasm, e.g. when he mockingly imitated a New York Times journalist whose arthrogryposis limited his arm flexibility, or when he told a crowd in Las Vegas that the security staff were too gentle in removing a protestor: "I'd like to punch him in the face." He vilifies refugees fleeing for their lives from Honduras and Guatemala, and traumatized thousands of refugee children by separating them from their parents at our southern border.

Trump wants his followers to disparage unwelcome information as "fake news." Never mind documentation (such as Obama's birth certificate), science (as in global warming) or even photographs (such as the ones showing sparse crowds at his inauguration). If evidence contradicts a tribal belief, dismiss it as fake. The Republican devil's bargain is undoing rational public discourse.

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Brian Cooney Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I'm a retired philosophy professor at Centre College. I also am a regular columnist for The Danville Advocate-Messenger,the local paper in what was my home town (I now live in Connecticut. My last book was Posthumanity-Thinking Philosophically (more...)
 

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Brian Cooney

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He should be impeached NOW, because the nation can't be secure, or even functional, with a deranged liar at the helm. We don't need investigations to conclude he is unfit.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 1:24:43 PM

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Going for impeachment is like playing patty cake - Trump merely moves up in line with many others who must ultimately be brought to account.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 8:27:03 PM

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Please name anyone else who is as dangerous to civilization as Trump. Yes, there are many others who are in serious need of disappearing. But Trump is the most dangerous insane man on the planet, is he not?

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 10:57:59 PM

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Pence, a Christian fanatic, who wants Armageddon is equally bad if not worse than Trump. The hardly dovish Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Dunford clearly stated that Hillary's plan to create a no fly zone in Syria would cause a war with Russia. She and Joe Biden were behind the neoNazi coup in Ukraine.


They're all flirting with nuclear war

Submitted on Monday, Apr 1, 2019 at 1:51:02 AM

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Very well said! I couldn't agree more. CNN has gone off the rails in this direction. They discuss minutia and speculate on what it might mean for the future unwinding of Trump's unhinged leadership while avoiding talking of the perils we face because of his insanity and the failure of Congress to do their duty to our nation.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 2:31:12 PM

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The real Elephant in the room is 911. How anyone can believe the official story is truly mind boggling. Consider this; Half way thru the towers collapse, the upper floors are gone. There's no more weight pushing down from above. Yet over 200 steel support columns, along with the other support structures continue to collapse with no resistance. Maybe it was magic.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 4:14:12 PM

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This article looks at one sick tree in a dying forest and implies that the forest will return to health if liberals and the FBI continue to nip at the tree while irrigating it liberally with the elixir of publicity. There is no bad publicity for a freak like trump.

Most people are not in any love or hate thing with Trump. That is an intentional fabrication trying to keep the 99% fighting with each other.

If I have the need to argue with an irrational fool, trump-hating-progressives are far more irrational than MAGA monsters. Trump is a symptom of their own delusions about how the American Empire and the two branches of the War Party operate.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 5:08:50 PM

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Stunning! Thank you.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 8:23:17 PM

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Please stop buying into and perpetuating the trope that Trump's opposition is composed of "trump-haters".

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 11:00:31 PM

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Paragraph 3:

"He has divided the nation into two hostile tribes. One applauds his character and values, or at least accepts them as the rough edges of something good for the country. The other regards him as vile, as morally unfit to be our president and representative to the world."

When was the last time you spoke to a rabid russiagater without immediately being accused of loving Trump. They just do that. Most of the opposition I personally run into are definitely irrational haters.

Submitted on Monday, Apr 1, 2019 at 3:31:14 AM

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I admit that I don't talk to russiagators, so I yield on that. However, I do know a lot of people who are frustrated beyond words that politics has dominated all discussion about Trump, and the reasons his supporters in Congress give are absurd if the US Constitution still means anything. They seem to be worse than any other Trump supporters about using the hate trope.

Submitted on Monday, Apr 1, 2019 at 2:12:57 PM

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I think the elephant in the room is that there is very little discussion about how to undertake revolution in every aspect against those that are killing us in slow motion as Hedges might say. No discussion about federal agencies arming themselves, fusion centers integrating with what should be our "controlled" security/police aparatus, no discussion about the elites bellying up to the fed when they need another injection to tell us bullshit about how well the economy is doing, no discussion about the murderous Israeli entity murdering kids, emergency workers, ditto for the Saudis, no discussion about the puny Macron strutting about and calling out the military which may ignite an international violent revolution, no discussion about how our deposits with banks will now be confiscated to bail them out...there are several elephants in the room. We are being trampled by them apparently waiting for the end to come.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 8:22:24 PM

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As a Canadian, I have no dog in this race but, like most Americans, I cannot tear myself away from the Trump saga on CNN. It's like the serialized story of a notorious crime syndicate run by a ruthless and ignorant Mafia boss. I don't know how the saga will end but I will watch it till the very last episode. For what it's worth, I think impeachment is a terrible idea. Trump will not lose the trial in the Senate. The only two Presidents (Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton) who were impeached both won. Trump will also win because there will not be 66 votes in the Republican-controlled Senate to remove hm from office. And when it's over Trump will take yet another victory lap.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 8:53:48 PM

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As a Canadian you do have a dog in this race. The possible misbehavior of Trump could damage Canada and much of the planet.

Submitted on Monday, Apr 1, 2019 at 2:20:15 AM

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This was an excellent article, well written.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 9:53:21 PM

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If the 2020 election does turn him out, hoping he will just go away, it must be said that now that he has learned how to tweet, he will continue to assault social media and stimulate his 'herd'. And he will continue to criss-cross the country, supported in his narcissistic need for a crowd that will laugh at his lame, incomprehensible jokes that he repeats, and repeats, and repeats. It is my hope that he will continue his addiction to diet soda drinks, which will continue to gradually deteriorate his big uh-brain, until his already evident slurring of speech becomes so prevalent and too obvious and embarrasing to ignore that his handlers will keep him out of the public eye, and his tweets will become utter gibberish.

The one thing I dread is the national observance of his passing as a former president, far beyond anything he has earned.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 10:12:04 PM

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The elephant in the living room is capitalism. Both parties are joined at the hip on that so they are both a grave danger to life on the planet.


This whole stinking system needs to be replaced with a life enhancing one based on cooperation, human rights for all and peace.

Submitted on Monday, Apr 1, 2019 at 9:26:13 PM

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The article is mistaking the elephant for the coffee table. MIC is the real elephant, and it's sh*tting on the carpet.

Submitted on Friday, Apr 5, 2019 at 9:43:51 PM

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I agree with Lois "The elephant in the living room is (unchecked) capitalism" however I also agree with you "MIC is the real elephant, and it's sh*tting on the carpet" in the sense that the MIC/NATO is the enabler and hit man for the transnational criminal cabal whose US members are from both parties, none loyal to the citizens under the Constitution..

This article (intentional or not) contributes to the criminal cabals' control and subverting of the Constitution, our Treasure, Commons and Unalienable Rights while storming through the china shop distracting from the real issue/s which is a tearing down and rebuilding of the whole system as in a Phoenix Rising.

Submitted on Friday, Apr 5, 2019 at 10:53:20 PM

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The Globalization of War. America's "Long War" against Humanity

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, April 05, 2019

Submitted on Friday, Apr 5, 2019 at 11:15:09 PM

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Great article. Thnx for the link. But MIC would be doing what it does with or without capitalism. I'm no advocate of unregulated capitalism, but it is a mistake to view MIC as just a hired hitman. It is in full control and exists for its own advancement. It is the capo di tutti capi. For example, Ireland is a capitalist nation that poses no threat to the world (especially now that it brought its cuisine into the 21st C). American exceptionalism could exist under any economic regime. I've been repeating ad nauseum that the US is more Sparta than Rome. It exists for war. I respect Lois...big fan of hers, but capitalism can be tamed through regulation, militarism per se cannot. It's a horse before carriage paradigm.

Submitted on Saturday, Apr 6, 2019 at 7:23:13 PM

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I agree, maybe I was unclear in my statement of the role of the MIC/NATO. I was referring to the MIC as the enabler as part of the transnational criminal Banking/Corporate Cabal (the Cabal brings in its vassal Generals to their Board/s of Directors as not only rewarding them ($) but also as continuing asset/s in melding the military/s and government/s control to its dictate). As far as "the capo di tutti capi" goes, it is not a stretch in the overall picture of the organization/s we are talking about although it was mainly a construct of the media and law enforcement speak in trying to understand the chain of command/s of the Commission consisting of the bosses of the Five Families in New York and some non-New York families. These men had equal say in Mafia matters. Since then, the title of boss of all bosses has been given by the media to the most powerful boss, although the Mafia never recognized the position itself. Here we are talking about those behind the scenes as well, often referred to as the "Deep State".

Do I need to name them all here? Raytheon, Boeing, Defense Contractors, Suppliers, NGO's, Think Tanks and the list goes on. I believe this is correctly a part and partial of the Corporate Empire of death and destruction of/for the Treasure, Commons and Unalienable Rights of all nations (including the US homeland) globally.

NATO is the enforcer (strawman) for consensus to bypass (ignore) Multilateral International Laws, Treaties and Conventions. Remember NATO was heralded as a defense coalition publicly but as has been exposed by word and deed was created to "keep the US in Europe, Germany down and destroy/capture the Commons of the USSR of which only Russia remains as a check and balance (MAD) on US Unilateral Empire aggression/s. Only is this possible now as Russia has recovered from the assault of the global Oligarchies (much like Iceland who jailed the bankers and recovered their Commons), reconstructed a viable military and economy through co-operation with China and the Silk Road initiates in Asia and Europe now that Italy has expressed interest in infrastructure investments with and from China.

Interesting you bring up "the US is more Sparta than Rome" as I had been thinking about this along the lines of the history of Sparta, Athens (Greek City States mostly agriculture but not very effective) and Rome, their differences and modus operandi and fate/s. Who could ever forget about the "Trojan Horse" and its applications throughout history including the latest attempt in the Venezuelan aid fiasco that the UN and Red Cross would not participate in for the obvious "Trojan Horse" objective by Empire?

In the following chart we see that the forms of government are listed as different but if one takes in the "Iron Law of Oligarchy" (he who says organize, says Oligarchy), both listed Democracy and Republic we understand the metamorphose back into a mix of Aristocracy/Oligarchy and Monarchy (despite the efforts to suppress it!

Submitted on Sunday, Apr 7, 2019 at 8:22:58 AM

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