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William Rivers Pitt | When It Comes to Trump, We Should Be Too Petrified to Laugh

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed
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President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign-style rally at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, March 20, 2017. (Photo: Al Drago / The New York Times) President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign-style rally at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, March 20, 2017. (Photo: Al Drago / The New York Times)

Head like a hole
Black as your soul
I'd rather die
Than give you control …

—Trent Reznor

There's a joke in here somewhere, but in the immortal words of Vincent Vega, I think I'm too petrified to laugh.

White House adviser and Jedi-level bullshit artist Kellyanne Conway told a New Jersey newspaper last week that the microwave ovens are watching us. Too bad she didn't drop that brick a few weeks ago; Betsy DeVos could have used it to buttress the guns-in-schools-because-bears argument she unspooled during her confirmation hearing. They keep microwaves in teacher's lounges, don't they? Surely there's one in the cafeteria. Be afraid.

Not to be outdone, Donald Trump's boon companion Roger Stone was recently on InfoWars with Alex Jones railing that the "deep state" was trying to assassinate him via fender bender. Seems Roger's ride took a little broadside tap from a car with tinted windows, suggesting immediately that it was CIA issue. Had the offending automobile not been going three miles per hour, it might have been a bloodbath. Stone could very easily be the inspiration for Warren Zevon's "Excitable Boy," but he and Conway have a point of sorts: If the cars and appliances join forces against us with the "deep state" behind them, we're all back to living in the trees. Just ask Alex; I think he'll know.

All of this, of course, is trickling down from the First Federated Font of Nonsense otherwise known as the president of the United States. Conway, Stone and the rest of the White House pack may find a jewel of foolishness now and again, but only Trump has the awesome capacity to be ridiculous, embarrassing, insulting, tawdry, orange, dangerous and wrong simultaneously and with astonishing consistency.

President Obama was wiretapping him, eh? Trump dropped that preposterous clunker more than a week ago, and still it rumbles on (FBI Director Comey laid waste to Trump's accusations before a congressional committee on Monday, which means Trump and the crew pushed his wiretapping fiction with newly increased vigor). The president is too much of a cad to summon the ability to admit error. Instead, he sucks poor dupes like Press Secretary Sean Spicer into the maw of his bottomless need for attention, and both Spicer and the United States become an international joke for claiming Britain did the spying for Obama, which is why there's no evidence of it. The US was forced to formally apologize to Britain in historically humiliating fashion, but Trump still refuses to back down. It was, in its own vile way, an awesome sight to behold.

In a short span of hours on Friday, Trump was owned and humiliated by two other international leaders from countries that used to be among our strongest allies. It began at the St. Patrick's Day press conference with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny when Trump attempted to offer an "Irish proverb." What he actually offered, probably, was a Nigerian poem (no one is completely sure, but it definitely wasn't Irish; quite the research team you've got there, Don). Kenny took the podium and offered a stirring, evocative defense of immigrants in the United States by describing how much good the Irish have done for this nation over the generations. It was a stinging rebuke of Trump's demagoguery on the subject and he had to stand there and take it, flapping like a bundle of old rags left out in the rain.

Flash forward to the press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Trump managed to be only nominally embarrassing for most of it, until he decided to blunder into his alleged area of expertise: trade. He began complaining about how well Germany has done in its trade deals with the US, and how badly US workers have been harmed by those deals. Merkel was required, right in the middle of the presser, to inform Trump that, in fact, Germany has no direct trade deals with the US, and all deals between the two countries are handled by the European Union. So much for the trade expert.

A joke was floated months ago that at some point, Trump is going to rip off his mask and reveal himself to be Andy Kaufman. That scenario becomes more plausible by the day. It has to be a joke, right? The phenomenon just doesn't stop, and if Trump fails to make enough of a fool of himself while standing beside a world leader at an internationally televised press conference, there's always Twitter to fall back on.

Yes, I often find these people funny in their rank absurdity. Yet perhaps the more important question is: What do they find funny? I fear I know the answer to that all too well. They thoroughly enjoyed the look of horror on people's faces when the White House budget was revealed last week. The dismay of poor and working-class people, people of color, environmentalists, educators, artists, activists and, frankly, most Americans at the priorities put forth in that document is music to our supposed leaders' ears. It is all part of what passes for bedrock conservative ideology these days: "Make the liberals angry." That is all they have: cruelty for cruelty's sake.

Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, told us that Meals on Wheels and after-school lunch programs for students have to go because they don't actually accomplish anything. This was perhaps the filthiest, most brazen lie yet told by a member of this administration, and friends, that's saying something. Meals on Wheels serves more than 2.4 million elderly people, including 500,000 veterans, to demonstrably beneficial effect. A fed student is a focused student, but just the simple act of filling the stomach of a food-insecure child is a towering victory all by itself.

Compared to the appropriations for Defense and Homeland Security, the money required to fund programs like these is so small as to be practically nonexistent. Cutting them will do nothing to lower the deficit; hell, they could be funded in a year if Trump would only stay one weekend a month in the nice white mansion we have set up for him in Washington, DC instead of flitting off to his golf course or his skyscraper on the taxpayer's dime. There is no plausible explanation for taking such programs away from the most vulnerable among us beyond a hatred and greed that beggars description.

That so many like-minded ghouls have found each other is perhaps one of the most dangerous events in history. They have shown us what they intend to do. They have put it all down on paper, and no amount of slapstick bungling ameliorates the gross horror of their true mission to even the tiniest degree. All we have going for us for the time being is that they're really, really bad at their jobs. For now. Even rocks learn how to roll.

Too petrified to laugh indeed.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

William Rivers Pitt

William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

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William Rivers Pitt | When It Comes to Trump, We Should Be Too Petrified to Laugh

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed
  • font size decrease font size decrease font size increase font size increase font size
  • Print

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign-style rally at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, March 20, 2017. (Photo: Al Drago / The New York Times) President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign-style rally at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, March 20, 2017. (Photo: Al Drago / The New York Times)

Head like a hole
Black as your soul
I'd rather die
Than give you control …

—Trent Reznor

There's a joke in here somewhere, but in the immortal words of Vincent Vega, I think I'm too petrified to laugh.

White House adviser and Jedi-level bullshit artist Kellyanne Conway told a New Jersey newspaper last week that the microwave ovens are watching us. Too bad she didn't drop that brick a few weeks ago; Betsy DeVos could have used it to buttress the guns-in-schools-because-bears argument she unspooled during her confirmation hearing. They keep microwaves in teacher's lounges, don't they? Surely there's one in the cafeteria. Be afraid.

Not to be outdone, Donald Trump's boon companion Roger Stone was recently on InfoWars with Alex Jones railing that the "deep state" was trying to assassinate him via fender bender. Seems Roger's ride took a little broadside tap from a car with tinted windows, suggesting immediately that it was CIA issue. Had the offending automobile not been going three miles per hour, it might have been a bloodbath. Stone could very easily be the inspiration for Warren Zevon's "Excitable Boy," but he and Conway have a point of sorts: If the cars and appliances join forces against us with the "deep state" behind them, we're all back to living in the trees. Just ask Alex; I think he'll know.

All of this, of course, is trickling down from the First Federated Font of Nonsense otherwise known as the president of the United States. Conway, Stone and the rest of the White House pack may find a jewel of foolishness now and again, but only Trump has the awesome capacity to be ridiculous, embarrassing, insulting, tawdry, orange, dangerous and wrong simultaneously and with astonishing consistency.

President Obama was wiretapping him, eh? Trump dropped that preposterous clunker more than a week ago, and still it rumbles on (FBI Director Comey laid waste to Trump's accusations before a congressional committee on Monday, which means Trump and the crew pushed his wiretapping fiction with newly increased vigor). The president is too much of a cad to summon the ability to admit error. Instead, he sucks poor dupes like Press Secretary Sean Spicer into the maw of his bottomless need for attention, and both Spicer and the United States become an international joke for claiming Britain did the spying for Obama, which is why there's no evidence of it. The US was forced to formally apologize to Britain in historically humiliating fashion, but Trump still refuses to back down. It was, in its own vile way, an awesome sight to behold.

In a short span of hours on Friday, Trump was owned and humiliated by two other international leaders from countries that used to be among our strongest allies. It began at the St. Patrick's Day press conference with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny when Trump attempted to offer an "Irish proverb." What he actually offered, probably, was a Nigerian poem (no one is completely sure, but it definitely wasn't Irish; quite the research team you've got there, Don). Kenny took the podium and offered a stirring, evocative defense of immigrants in the United States by describing how much good the Irish have done for this nation over the generations. It was a stinging rebuke of Trump's demagoguery on the subject and he had to stand there and take it, flapping like a bundle of old rags left out in the rain.

Flash forward to the press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Trump managed to be only nominally embarrassing for most of it, until he decided to blunder into his alleged area of expertise: trade. He began complaining about how well Germany has done in its trade deals with the US, and how badly US workers have been harmed by those deals. Merkel was required, right in the middle of the presser, to inform Trump that, in fact, Germany has no direct trade deals with the US, and all deals between the two countries are handled by the European Union. So much for the trade expert.

A joke was floated months ago that at some point, Trump is going to rip off his mask and reveal himself to be Andy Kaufman. That scenario becomes more plausible by the day. It has to be a joke, right? The phenomenon just doesn't stop, and if Trump fails to make enough of a fool of himself while standing beside a world leader at an internationally televised press conference, there's always Twitter to fall back on.

Yes, I often find these people funny in their rank absurdity. Yet perhaps the more important question is: What do they find funny? I fear I know the answer to that all too well. They thoroughly enjoyed the look of horror on people's faces when the White House budget was revealed last week. The dismay of poor and working-class people, people of color, environmentalists, educators, artists, activists and, frankly, most Americans at the priorities put forth in that document is music to our supposed leaders' ears. It is all part of what passes for bedrock conservative ideology these days: "Make the liberals angry." That is all they have: cruelty for cruelty's sake.

Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, told us that Meals on Wheels and after-school lunch programs for students have to go because they don't actually accomplish anything. This was perhaps the filthiest, most brazen lie yet told by a member of this administration, and friends, that's saying something. Meals on Wheels serves more than 2.4 million elderly people, including 500,000 veterans, to demonstrably beneficial effect. A fed student is a focused student, but just the simple act of filling the stomach of a food-insecure child is a towering victory all by itself.

Compared to the appropriations for Defense and Homeland Security, the money required to fund programs like these is so small as to be practically nonexistent. Cutting them will do nothing to lower the deficit; hell, they could be funded in a year if Trump would only stay one weekend a month in the nice white mansion we have set up for him in Washington, DC instead of flitting off to his golf course or his skyscraper on the taxpayer's dime. There is no plausible explanation for taking such programs away from the most vulnerable among us beyond a hatred and greed that beggars description.

That so many like-minded ghouls have found each other is perhaps one of the most dangerous events in history. They have shown us what they intend to do. They have put it all down on paper, and no amount of slapstick bungling ameliorates the gross horror of their true mission to even the tiniest degree. All we have going for us for the time being is that they're really, really bad at their jobs. For now. Even rocks learn how to roll.

Too petrified to laugh indeed.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

William Rivers Pitt

William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.