Tripping Over the Limbo Bar
“This was the most conventional speech Trump has ever delivered.” ~ NPR
A former Hillary Clinton volunteer drew swift condemnation — and lost his job — after mocking the widow of a fallen Navy SEAL who was honored by the president during his congressional address Tuesday night.
The Limbo dance is sometimes known as the “under the stick dance” and comes to us from Trinidad in the mid-19th Century. The point is to dance under a horizontal stick which is progressively lowered until, ultimately, it is physically impossible to get under the stick. Last dancer “standing” wins. In the Donald Trump Limbo, the stick has been lowered to the ground, where the only remaining expectation is that no one trips over it and falls, injuring themselves or some innocent animal.
Last night, in one of the greatest Nothingburgers™ ever served up to a joint session of congress, in an ersatz “State of the Union” address, Donald Trump didn’t fall down.
This is not the great accomplishment it is touted to be.
I listened to the speech on the radio, because I didn’t want to confuse it with the endless spectacle of Trump’s four hand gesture movements, used as a mongoose uses its motions to pacify a snake prior to the kill.
My wife asked — when she got home — “How was it?”
I had to take a moment to come up with the exact right word.
“Beige,” I said. “It was beige.”
What do I mean by that?
Beige is the color of industrial gutlessness. It is the color guaranteed not to offend. Thus: it is the color used for everything from phones to laptop towers to walls to carpeting in the world of business. Without any soul or vibration, without any joy or passion, beige is the preferred color of limbo: the color that does not cause offense.
And that was the intent, the delivery and the culmination of Resident Turnip’s speech, a recapitulation of the Hypocritical Oath: First, do no harm to your position.
As bland an invocation of platitude and cliché as it was possible for Turnip to read, it will never make anyone’s “greatest speeches” list for any sort of speech whatsoever.
I have heard a lot of political addresses, from Nixon’s Checkers speech to LBJ’s “Mah Fellow Amur’kins, Ah come ta yew with a heavy haaaht tonaht,” to Ford and Carter and Ray-Gun, Bush the Smarter, Bush the Dumber, Clinton, Obama …. and this was the worst I ever heard. The kindest thing you could say is that he read almost all the words, undoubtedly DIDN’T write them, and they were carefully crafted to mislead.
In other words, it was a sort of midnight infomercial for a pig in a poke.
Remember, there was only ONE policy prescription proposed:
I am sending the Congress a budget that rebuilds the military, eliminates the Defense sequester, and calls for one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history.
My budget will also increase funding for our veterans.
It’s still vague as hell, but it was a concrete proposal of sorts. Beyond that, he added this Nothingburger™:
I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve American Victims. The office is called VOICE –- Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement. We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests.
What “special interests” have silenced victims of crime … who happen to have been victimized by “illegal immigrant gang member”s?
There is no such animal. There’s a unicorn eating roses in the garden.
As I go through the transcript, the entire discussion is hollow: no real proof of so-called “dangers” and zero prescription for mitigating said “dangers.”
Over and over, factual statements turn out to be misleading or even non-sequiturs.
Just platitudes and generalities not even of the glittering variety. An utterly MEDIOCRE performance on every level — save one, which I’ll get to in a moment.
But, according to instant polling, this “styrofoam substituted for rice cakes” speech played in Peoria. And the news media have fallen all over themselves praising and analyzing this monument to mediocrity: mediocre analysis, mediocre writing, mediocre argumentation and mediocre delivery.
In short: beige.
‘I thought tonight was a bold, positive speech — a speech that laid out a vision of America that I think millions of Americans have been hungry for.’
If by that, he meant a flaccid soufflé of Intellectual Nothingness that collapses if you shut the door too hard, sure. There wasn’t really enough to argue about, save for weird notions like the amorphous, amoeba-like VOICE, which would be the first organization to focus not on crimes or even types of crimes, but on specific victims of a certain TYPE of criminal. Sounds good to the average schmoe, but in all probability, will mean NOTHING whatsoever, practically.
Existentialism never offered the utter paucity of meaning that this speech did. It pretends to say things, but doesn’t actually say things. More importantly, Turnip elided over Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, ALL OF WHICH are in the crosshairs of the GOPs, and are mindlessly referred to as “entitlements” by all in the news media.*
[* Social Security and Medicare are not “entitlements,” a term of art that implies a “something for nothing” quid pro quo, e.g. vote for us and we’ll loot the treasury for YOU. In fact, the Social Security Trust fund (remember Al Gore’s “lock box”?) has been raided to the tune of six trillion dollars that Congress OWES to us who have been paying into Social Security our entire working lives. Ditto Medicare. But of course, “Medicaid” — which mostly covers children and the elderly — is seen as an “entitlement” from those mooching children and senior citizens who form no productive strata of society to the GOP’s social Darwinism (consider the irony of THAT term to anti-evolution climate/science deniers) and need to die ASAP so that they don’t threaten the profit margin of the alpha male and alpha male wannabe philosophy of the modern Republican/Confederate Party.]
Chalk that marketing coup up to the evil genius of Frank “Death Tax” Luntz, who found that framing was far more important than policy, and a generation of intellectually bankrupt Post Modernist Democrats to whom nothing is true, but, alas, nothing is permitted — in a clean break with Hassan I Sabbbah, whose assassins smoked hashishim and who apocryphally stated “N0thing is true; all things are permitted.”
Forgive me for a bit of peevishness, having wasted much of my life on logic, inductive and deductive, on epistemology, philosophy and the quaint notion that knowledge is valuable and that expertise means something. Herein, we have an imbecile population happily eating* Nothingburgers™ dispensed by a flim-flam man with no experience or expertise in governance.
(* I do not know what the flatulence will turn out to be, but to be on the safe side, try to get upwind as soon as you can, because indigestion is coming, as surely as night follows day.)
All of which belies the Washington Post headline for their transcription of Trump’s speech:
President Trump’s surprisingly presidential speech to the nation, annotated
I had not realized that “surprisingly presidential” was a synonym for “mediocre” but then I’m still using the fourth edition of the American Heritage Dictionary, so I may have missed the change.
Bow down before your leader
I’m not going to go into the false arrogation of credit in innumerable lines like “The stock market has gained almost 3 trillion dollars in value since the election on November 8th, a record.” (And that’s one of the least IN-credible of our Narcissist-In-Chief’s assertions.)
No: what I finally want to talk about is corpse-humping.
And by that, I mean a rhetorical form of necrophilia, not all that much less disgusting than the straight-up perversion.
What the emotional moment with a Navy SEAL’s widow proves about President Trump
Chris Cillizza / Washington Post
There was one moment in President Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night that people will remember for a very long time. It came when Trump honored the wife of Navy SEAL Ryan Owens, who was killed in a raid in Yemen last month….
“An emotional moment with a Navy Seal’s widow” is what the article calls it. And the cable networks have been going into overdrive about its “authentic” nature. And as the day has progressed, two competing camps have emerged: the jingoes who praise the shilling by the willing, and those, like me, disgusted at the cynical abuse of a grieving widow for the husband sent to his death by an ad-hoc, public dinner conversation at a restaurant Resident Turnip, his son-in-law and accused Svengali Steve Bannon were eating at.
Somehow, those who conducted endless partisan investigations — on the taxpayer’s dime — into “Benghazi” over the deaths of four Americans had no problem with exploiting those corpses for political gain are more than willing to defend the “nobility” of an equally failed American adventure and attack anyone who, like they had done with Ambassador Chris Stevens, and much earlier, with the suicide of Vince Foster (don’t believe me? take Kenneth Starr’s word for it, from the special prosecutor’s final report on the Clintons’ NON-murder of their friend).
As it is when deficits are damnable and an existential threat when Democrats are in the majority, but totally OK when Republicans are in the majority, complicity in the deaths of Americans is OK when it’s GOPs but disqualifying when Democrats are involved, and can’t we just STOP this partisan BS about the nature of reality?
Reality is reality. Opinions — no matter how fallaciously and speciously Republican/Confederate — are what come FROM reality. You don’t get to constantly play IOKIYAR* games just because you’re too vicious, too uneducated and too ill-mannered to admit that you’ve ever made a mistake in your pathetic excuse for a life. That’s not how it works.
* It’s OK If You’re A Repubican
You see, Trump was criticized for the bungled mission and the bungled manner in which the mission was green-lighted. But this morning, generals came out to defend it, and call the dead soldier’s father (a veteran himself) essentially unhinged by grief.
This ignores NBC’s reporting that the mission was a failure, Sen. John McCain’s statement of the same, and other reporting on the subject. But in spook-ville, playing the “I have secret information that you don’t and can’t get” is always the (excuse the pun) trump card, and Trump played the card:
I just spoke to General Mattis, who reconfirmed that, and I quote, “Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemies.” Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity. For as the Bible teaches us, there is no greater act of love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Ryan laid down his life for his friends, for his country, and for our freedom –- we will never forget him.
If that isn’t the smarmiest sentence uttered in this new century, I don’t know what is. Quoting your own underling covering your own ass has all the credibility of “I am not a crook,” but wrapping it in the flag AND the bible to boot has to be a new kind of low in demonic discourse. Because it’s all about Trump, about defending HIS reputation. The prior paragraph is the one all are fixated on, and somehow the spectacle of the applause for the tearful widow is seen not as the emotional rape that it is, but, rather, the warm and fuzzy feel good moment of the year.
The challenges we face as a Nation are great. But our people are even greater. And none are greater or braver than those who fight for America in uniform.
We are blessed to be joined tonight by Carryn Owens, the widow of a U.S. Navy Special Operator, Senior Chief William “Ryan” Owens. Ryan died as he lived: a warrior, and a hero –- battling against terrorism and securing our Nation.
“Blessed.” (God and Jesus) America in uniform (the Flag) and as vicious a fulfillment of Sinclair Lewis’ (attributed) prophecy as I’ve yet seen:
When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.
(And, even though it actually ISN’T from Lewis, you have to admit that Donald J Trump makes a crackerjack Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip.
How is an extremely emotionally vulnerable person NOT going
to react in precisely the manner anticipated to this blatant manipulation?
And missing from the transcripts is this, which is the capper and ought to be cited in dictionaries as the textbook example of buffrontery, as Turnip turns TO THE WIDOW after letting the guilty applause go on for a couple minutes:
And Ryan is looking down right now — you know that — and he’s very happy, because I think he just broke a record.
Using the grief of a fresh widow as a prop
The shameless manipulation of this moment is pure Trump and the GOP side of the aisle even laughs as the widow laughs — more the laugh of “if I don’t laugh, I will explode” than any real warmth. She’s just been USED and, as a good con man always manages, even GOES ALONG WITH and ADVANCES the con. (Remember the Oregon pyramid scheme scammed a decade or so ago, who COMPLAINED when the Attorney General shut down the Ponzi Scheme they had fallen for? That’s the hallmark of the flim flam man.
Note that Trump’s daughter is right there to make sure the
reaction is just what it’s supposed to be. But it’s not about the widow.
It’s about deflecting criticism from Trump. WHAT record? Why would
a dead man care about an ovation for dying pointlessly?
The eyes of the nation are upon her, and she HAS to be the good soldier and take one for the team. It is the most vicious kind of manipulation this side of when a not-so-honest mortician upsells you on a more expensive coffin and service, so you won’t be a (implicit) cheap bastard who doesn’t really care about your dearly deceased. This is NOT a particularly exotic con.
And she wasn’t the only flim flammed: Van Jones, who I had formerly thought had a good head on his shoulders adlibbed this idiocy:
‘He became President of the United States in that moment, period.’
Sorry. It ought not be a period, but, rather a question mark, and then several exclamation points.
Trump University: Manipulation 101?
The entire scam is as pure a piece of soulless manipulation as any fake “miracle” preacher pulled at any tent revival in any rube venue in the Bible belt.
The emperor is naked before us, but because he’s not as grotesquely offensive to every canon of civility and civilization as he normally is, why it’s “presidential.”
No, it’s beige, spattered with blood.
Let me articulate it carefully, lest some misunderstand:
Trump greenlights a Navy Seal raid into Yemen (YEMEN? We’re sending soldiers into Yemen? When did THIS war get declared?)
It fails miserably. One Seal dead, twenty wounded and a Navy V-22 Osprey (the notoriously unsafe and cranky helicopter to prop plane hybrid) fails mechanically and has to be destroyed to the tune of $20 million.
V-22 Osprey — US Navy Photo
Trump is (rightly) criticized for this, and promptly:
- Blames Obama.
- Blames his generals
- and, when that doesn’t work, uses the dead Seal’s wife as a god damned PROP to get him off the hook with a lazy, immoral and incapable of rational thought press/populace.
And the evening and morning and the warm and fuzzy.
But some are as appalled as am I and manage to draw the wrath of the hyper-partisans (the same that humped the corpse of Ambassador Stevens through SEVEN separate hearings and investigations on Benghazi) are you keeping up so far? And “former Hillary Clinton volunteer”* has lost his job for reacting honestly to this obscenity of manipulation.
[* How’s that for Goebbels-like guilt-by-Pavlovian-association? A “Clinton volunteer” is such red meat for Faux Nooz. Because guilt by association isn’t just a classical fallacy. It’s a Fox News modus operandi. The the shamefully manipulative video HERE.]
She is going to cry. That is a foregone conclusion. The audience will either applaud or be exposed to the withering denunciations and damnations of the Vince Foster/Ambassador Stevens corpse humpers.
Because they’re so damned moral.
The amoral and immoral TeeVee press corpse will play the warm and fuzzy game.
A more cynical and manipulative use of a dead American can’t be imagined in a public forum. It was the moral equivalent of the beheading of James Foley. And with the same kind of cynical and evil political ends.
James Foley beheading (photo courtesy ISIL and Satan)
The emperor is naked, and the spectacle was bad enough on radio. Watching it on TV this morning was nauseating, and the repetition reminded me of the endless replays of the Twin Towers falling on Nine Lebbin’ and the original obscenity: the endless shots of Christina McAuliffe’s parents watching their daughter explode along with Space Shuttle Challenger. It is the form of emotional pornography that cable news can’t manage to avoid, and avoid it they didn’t and haven’t.
But there is a moral component here, and I would like to state, for the record: stop using political necrophilia as a tool, GOPs.
For a gaggle that claim the moral high ground, there’s damn little of it in sight in your vicinity.
See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil
But tell me once more how “presidential” the Nothingburger™ was.