Anti-Trump scare tactics are finally burning America down
(June 1, 2020)
It started in the wee hours of the morning after Election Night, 2016. Hundreds of social media postings went up from despondent Hillary Clinton voters, describing how they had just woken up their preteen children at two or three in the morning to give them the "terrible news" that Trump had won and to "cry with them."
Thus began a national mania, as the opponents of the newly-elected president began to figuratively flip the chessboard over after losing the game.
Except that in this case, we're not talking about a harmless tantrum that just leaves a small mess. The anti-Trump hatred, mania, and outright delusions have finally come to the moment where they're burning this great country down.
Let's take a closer look at the worst examples of how those unable to accept the 2016 election results have made our country so much worse:
1) The "white supremacist president" slander
President Trump's opponents began the narrative during the campaign that he not-so-secretly supported white supremacists and neo-Nazis. This later morphed into promoting the idea that Trump's campaign and eventual victory emboldened white racists all across the country and spurred hate crimes.
This was a scare tactic narrative that emerged so quickly and prominently that I immediately debunked it in a column published the day after the election.
But it was too late. Ever since Trump's election, the nation has been beset by what have turned out to be a rash of hoax hate crimes. That is, racist vandalism and alleged attacks initially blamed on Trump supporters but were actually carried out by Trump haters hoping to smear the president-elect and those who voted for him. The most extreme example of this was the Jussie Smollett claim that MAGA-hat wearing racists attacked him and tied his neck with a noose. Smollett was ultimately charged with staging the entire incident.
But the urge to blame Trump for all racial incidents real and imagined rages on to this day. Most Trump haters, including presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, continue to insist that President Trump called the white supremacists and neo-Nazis at the 2017 Charlottesville march "very fine people," when he clearly condemned them. Biden even used this misinformation as the supposed reason for his entry into the presidential race.
But this mania has turned into outright delusion.
When Jewish Brooklyn residents were being routinely targeted by African American and other non-white attackers last fall and winter, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio amazingly blamed the rise in attacks on white supremacists and President Trump's rhetoric.
Some of this would be laughable if it weren't so terribly dangerous and sad. Think of it: There are actually many people in this country, including leading politicians, who hate Trump and his supporters so much that they are willing to stoke fears of racial violence and spur dangerous divisions just in hopes of making him and his backers look bad. The only similar psychosis I can think of is the way Arab leaders have deliberately refused to truly help Palestinians for decades just in hopes of making Israel look bad. Sadly, much of the world falls for that scam too.
What these race-baiting hucksters have undoubtedly succeeded in doing is scaring a number of otherwise non-Trump fearing Americans who now seem convinced he and his administration are bent on hunting them down. No matter how often Trump boasts of his support for African Americans, Jews, Latinos, etc. this narrative is something his leading opponents cling to more than any other. It's left us with the sick reality that millions of Americans will now be disappointed if Trump isn't a profound racist.
Simply put, the people who are behind promoting this slanderous narrative are the ones stoking racial hatred and division. Pretending that President Trump is behind it is simple the product of hate-filled insanity, and those pushing this lie should be made to pay a high price for it... or at least get professional help.
2) The Russia Collusion hoax
This tactic to smear the president and his team as paid agents of the Putin regime, or at least under its undue influence, also had its origins before Election Day as the Obama administration began laying the groundwork for this ruse months beforehand. After the election, these forces inside the government bureaucracy stepped up their efforts to promote this smear.
Again, these efforts were so clumsy and obvious that even a non-intelligence insider like me caught wind of it early on. I called out this attempted coup for what it was in May of 2017, but it took the collapse of the flimsy case against General Michael Flynn last month for more of the public to see this ruse for what it really was.
Unfortunately, those three years in between were dominated by the costly and useless Mueller investigation, endless conspiracy theorizing on CNN and MSNBC that left millions of Americans fearful and suspicious of one another, and who knows how many foreign policy opportunities squandered by an American intelligence and diplomatic community at war with itself?
Apparently, some deranged election sore losers had a destructive nostalgic desire to instigate this new McCarthy era.
In addition to Flynn, a number of other innocent Americans were badly harmed by this phony witch hunt, including George Papadopoulos and Carter Page.
The Ukraine phone call scandal was the fruit of the same coup's tree, as similar leaks and phony whistle-blowing tactics were used there as well by many of the same people. This bit of irresponsible hysteria led to Trump's impeachment, which in addition to adding another log to the nation's divisive fire, also seems to have played a role in distracting many different levels of the government from preparing and protecting America from the COVID-19 threat from China.
That's the really bad thing about scaring people over phony charges; it tends to take our eyes off the things that should truly scare us. But no matter, the perpetrators of the Russia collusion and Ukraine influence smears remain unrepentant for any harm they've caused.
3) Blaming Trump for COVID-19
Will we ever know if China deliberately concocted COVID-19 or deliberately hoped to use it as a biological or economic weapon against much of the rest of the world?
But we do know that China knew the virus was highly contagious when it locked down internal domestic Chinese travel while still allowing its people to travel abroad. Beijing's leaders must have known this would spread the virus exponentially, but they did it anyway.
This verifiable fact is truly the greatest public health scandal of all time. And the debate about how to respond to China's malfeasance is admittedly not an easy one to resolve. But the same Trump haters who sought to blame him for everything before COVID-19 never hesitated for a second to blame him for the outbreak in the U.S. Yes, many of the same critics also attacked Trump for his wise decision to ban travel from China into the U.S. at the end of January.
But again, logical and consistent thinking is not an attribute of this crowd. Instead, we're "treated" to daily freak outs about things Trump says or is misquoted as saying. The push to claim President Trump told the nation to drink bleach, something even promoted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is a stunning example of how far into the realm of the absurd his opponents are willing to routinely tread.
This is not to say the Trump team has performed perfectly or even extremely well throughout the coronavirus crisis. But we've known for some time that this virus came from China and the Chinese government allowed it to spread around the globe. Anything the Trump administration did or didn't do after that should be well off the radar screen when it comes to assigning the supreme blame for this pandemic.
This particular response is a clear sign of how far we've descended as a nation since the 9/11 attacks. Americans with good memories will still remember there were some attempts to blame President George W. Bush for those attacks as well, specifically with some heavy reporting of a memo warning of a possible al Qaeda attack that Bush supposedly "ignored." But luckily that push to blame Bush for 9/11, something that could have ripped America apart bitterly, never really caught on. The anti-Bush fervor didn't reach anti-Trump-like levels until Hurricane Katrina and the financial crisis.
Fast forward to 2020 and our current spate of riots across the country. This appears to be the ultimate result of four years' worth of over-the-top and counterfactual Trump hatred. Yes, many are again blaming the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on President Trump or that supposed "atmosphere of racism" they say he's responsible for. This is despite the fact that the Minnesota is a state completely controlled by Democrats, and the officer who killed Floyd was never fired by the city's Democratic bosses even after a series of serious complaints against him.
No matter, the Antifa domestic terrorists inciting and carrying out the current violence and hijacking the justified protests against Floyd's killing are making this all about Trump. They've repeatedly tried to attack the White House itself and sprayed vulgar anti-Trump graffiti on monuments across the country.
But in yet another manifestation of the slanderous delusions promoted by Trump's opponents, many of them are trying to push the idea that much of the riots are being carried out by... you guessed it... white supremacists! This ludicrous notion is being spread on cable news and social media even as many Trump haters are proudly donating money to bail out those arrested for rioting. That includes some staffers for the Joe Biden campaign.
At some point, all conspiracy theories and broad political slanders start to defy even the most basic logic, but what we're seeing now from the Trump-haters in response to the rioting is beyond ridiculous.
How do we fix this?
The only things that can move us away from this constant cycle of slander, hate-mongering, and now violence are courage and humility.
That silent majority of Americans who may or may not support Trump, but know it's not worth burning the country down over him needs to have the courage to speak out against and reject this national mania.
It won't be enough if just Trump's supporters stand up to this destructive behavior. People who don't support Trump politically, but have the decency and smarts to see what their fellow Trump opponents are destroying, need to stand up too. There are a few people like this who have answered that call like Professors Jonathan Turley and Alan Dershowitz, and journalists like Eli Lake and Matt Taibbi. They have long been carrying that burden for too long, and they need company.
Perhaps they will get more to join them if we spell out these facts: opposing the destruction of our criminal justice laws, opposing the destruction of private property, and opposing the willful dividing of the nation does not mean you support President Trump.
Feel free to oppose Trump's real policy moves, (not the doomsday predicted outcomes), actual statements, (not deliberate misquotes), etc. But remind your fellow Trump opponents that every lie about him will only serve to help him get re-elected and enact more policies when those lies are inevitably uncovered.
Another good idea would be to take a break from tearing Trump down and work a lot harder on cultivating a candidate of your own. The fact that Joe Biden is currently that candidate shows just how much Democrats have ignored that important aspect of the job.
As for the humility part, Trump-haters need to realize that calling an election wrong is nothing to be very ashamed of. It happens to everyone eventually, and it's okay. What's not okay is being so embarrassed and angry at the results that you turn that embarrassment and anger into hatred for American voters and the pursuit of destructive slanders. I've noticed that one thing that unites Trump's biggest critics from the left and the right is that lack of humility that can only come with the realization that Trump won the 2016 election fair and square and he did tap in to legitimate and non-hate filled sentiments held by millions of Americans.
The courageous and humble ways to respond to all of that is to accept the defeat, address those sentiments, and see if you can do it better. Instead, what we're still seeing is an almost four-year-long national temper tantrum that's reached its most destructive boiling point.
And it needs to stop... now.
(From March 20, 2020)
Yes we can have COVID-19 bailouts without the backlash, here’s how
Once again, America is faced with a crisis that is coaxing almost all of us to demand economic stimulus and bailouts.
But we’d only be adding to the tragedy of the coronavirus effect on the country if we fail to learn the lessons from what worked and didn’t work from our responses to the 9/11 attacks and the Great Recession.
Make no mistake, we’re going to need stimulus and bailouts of some kind again. But here are some better ways to go about them to make sure they have the most positive economic, psychological, and even political impact.
Bang for the Bailout Bucks
Not every industry in line for a possible bailout is really able to contribute something in return, but some are able to do so right away. The big U.S. airlines, which are almost universally hated by American consumers, would be wise to jump at any opportunity in this situation
The airlines could go a long way to reducing America’s pent up animosity against them by using their idled jets to bring supplies and medical teams to the hardest hit areas. They could also just pick up the slack by taking on the added cargo flights overburdened companies like Amazon and UPS might be unable to make because of the added online shipping demand.
Hotels can step up to earn some of that federal help by offering to house medical or National Guard teams, or converting some of their spaces for quarantine or triage centers. That’s something a major hotel chain in Israel is already doing. Restaurants can obviously pitch in by helping to feed patients, medical workers, and military personnel.
Where the bars fit into this “pay back equation” is not as clear, but maybe they just donate their refrigerators or storage space for perishable and other supplies.
If ever there was a time to get creative, this is it.
Delay, Delay, Delay
No matter how much money people like Senator Mitt Romney want to send us all, it’s being put in the context of keeping consumer spending afloat. But that won’t do much for millions of Americans who may suddenly have trouble keeping their homes and/or the lights on while they lose their income in this coronavirus shutdown.
Because of taxes, especially property taxes, the federal, state, and local governments act as the ultimate bill collector in America. That means if they all work to indefinitely delay tax collection deadlines, the pressure on landlords, tenants, small businesses, etc. is greatly relieved.
The heavily state-regulated utilities should also suspend bill collections and hold off on shutting off power and water. Unlike other natural disasters, these companies are not overburdened with having to restore their own infrastructure right now. This is the time for them to be asked to step up.
Universal Basic Income in Perspective
While it’s not a bad idea to go ahead with plans to send each U.S. citizen $1,000 as Senator Romney has suggested, this only goes to show why we shouldn’t make this a regular thing.
We should see now that these kinds of payments should be reserved for just this kind of emergency for several reasons. Chief among them is to make sure there’s enough money to make those payments when they’re most needed.
But when the government sends cash to people in these kinds of emergencies, it’s so much more psychologically effective than when it gives out money to people just for existing. Programs that focus on improving the job market and reminding Americans that they have something to contribute to the economy are essential. Otherwise, we not only risk crowding out help for the truly poor, but we telegraph a message that too many Americans are helpless without government handouts.
In this special time of crisis, we don’t risk devaluing Americans simply by sending them cash. We’re just helping them.
Bailouts, tax rebates,etc. have all been tried in the recent past with mixed success. They’ve also often come along with enduring political resentment. But now we have a chance to bring the nation together in a great give-and-take, public/private effort to beat back the economic devastation of COVID-19.
Let’s get this done.
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April 17: Time for another media reality check
April 10: Facebook fact & fiction
April 4: Will Amazon kills our schools too?
March 25: A return to Middle East pragmatism
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