Is There Anybody More Shameless than Trump?

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Trump hugs the flag at CPAC

W.J. Astore

Trump’s “superpower” is his utter shamelessness.

He’ll tweet lies and conspiracy theories about Martin Gugino,  a 75-year-old activist who was shoved to the ground and sent to the emergency room by Buffalo cops.  He’ll shamelessly use both the Bible and the flag as props.  He infamously teargassed peaceful protesters so he could pose with a Bible in Washington, D.C.  Trump, of course, knows nothing about said Bible; when asked, he couldn’t name a single passage from it, nor did he seem to know the difference between the Old and New Testaments.  No matter — Trump knows a useful prop when he sees one.

When the Bible fails to impress, it’s back to the flag again.  Trump is reviving the whole kneeling dispute in the NFL, when Colin Kaepernick and other black players took a knee in protest against police brutality.  Allegedly finding this “disrespectful,” Trump hugs Old Glory to his body while grinning like the cat who swallowed the canary.

For a refreshing dose of reality, I was watching George Carlin and he reminded me politicians have three favorite theatrical props: the Bible, the flag, and children.  Trump is two for three; when will he start arguing that he should be reelected to save the children?

There’s a breathtaking shamelessness to Trump.  It comes with his all-consuming ego and astonishing narcissism, but it’s more than that — Trump enjoys tapping into his shamelessness so as to inflame his base and further divide America.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party empowers him because they find him both intimidating and tractable.  Trump intimidates because he can fire-up his cult-like base against any Republican with a single tweet; Trump is tractable because he largely does the bidding of corporate elites and financial powerbrokers.  They may not like Trump’s egotism and vulgarity, but they sure do like all the money flowing upward to them.

This dynamic reminded me of a line from the Bob Seger song, “Night Moves“: I used her, she used me, but neither one cared/we were gettin’ our share.  But even those who are getting their share should be wary of Trump: his utter shamelessness means he has very little to lose.

Whose Law, Whose Order?

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The face of lawlessness and disorder in America

W.J. Astore

Along with being a self-styled wartime president (in a totally incompetent attempt to contain COVID-19 that has cost tens of thousands of American lives), Donald Trump now claims to be the “LAW & ORDER” president (the all-caps echoes his tweet on the subject).

But whose law and whose order?

Trump is lawless.  He had peaceful protesters gassed, including Episcopal clergy, just so he could pose with a bible in front of a church.  And, by the way, mixing religious law with civil law is a practice the radical right allegedly condemns (they always cite Sharia law here), but not when the holy book is their bible.  By the way, what was the Democratic response to Trump’s shameless bible stunt?  Nancy Pelosi got out a bible, only she read from hers.  Great “opposition,” Pelosi.

Again, whose law and whose order.  Order imposed by violence and weaponry, non-lethal or otherwise, isn’t order.  It’s tyranny.  And the law in America seems to be what the rich and powerful say it is.

I come back to a crucial point made by Matt Taibbi:

You don’t elect politicians to commit crimes; you elect politicians to make your crimes legal. That is the whole purpose of the racket of government.

So, what is the law in America?  That which has been defined as legal by politicians who are bought — who follow the orders of their paymasters.

That’s the kind of “law and order” Trump is talking about.  The law of the already privileged and the order of the fist.  And it’s also why so many people are fed up, so many people are protesting, and so many people want real change.