Trump

The emperor has no clothes…

Well… I knew it was going to happen. Remember a couple of days ago when I wrote a tongue in cheek post about Clorox and Lysol anal probes? In that post, I wrote this:

“…many major news outlets, including The New York Times, ran articles imploring people not to follow The Donald’s advice. Alas, they are probably right to make the statement, since there are people out there who are stupid. Seriously stupid.”

Just days later, I read another article about how poison controls got twice as many calls about people ingesting bleach and disinfectant in the wake of Trump’s comments last Thursday. From the Vice article I linked:

In the 18 hours after Trump’s widely condemned comments during the White House coronavirus task force briefing, the New York City Poison Control Center reported that it received nine calls about Lysol exposure, 10 calls about bleach exposure, and 11 about exposure to unnamed cleaners, according to WNBC in New York. That’s more than double the exposure calls the center received during the same period last year.

“Two people in Illinois called the Illinois Poison Control Center’s hotline to report “inappropriate exposure” to disinfectants, according to local CBS station WCIA. Calls have also spiked in recent weeks in Maryland, Kentucky, and Iowa, although many cases appear to result from kids consuming household cleaners.”

THIS is exactly why I think it was so irresponsible of Trump to make the comments he did, even though many apologists have said that Trump didn’t specifically mention Lysol or Clorox, nor did he explicitly say that people should ingest them. The trouble is, he got in front of a microphone and cameras and commenced with his usual diarrhea of the mouth. People heard him talking about disinfectants and UV light rays and ran with it. It was irresponsible for him to speak the way he did, because he’s technically a leader, and there are people out there in the world who, for whatever inane reason, respect and admire him. And they do what he says, even if it’s ridiculous, dangerous, or non-sensical.

Trump also doesn’t take responsibility when he says bizarre things. Since his Thursday disinfectant speech, he has angrily fired back at the media and claimed that his comments were “sarcastic”. I have listened to and watched the video made during that press conference and I heard what Trump said. He was NOT being sarcastic. He was dead serious.

Why in the HELL is he speaking about medical procedures? He has no expertise in that area whatsoever!

Some people have said that he was “thinking out loud” or “brainstorming”. After three fucking years as POTUS, one would think he’d learn to do that off camera. But he hasn’t learned, because he won’t listen to experts or take advice from experienced people. He comes up with half-baked and harebrained ideas and demands that educated people agree with him and/or back him up, no matter how insane what he says is. He’s not a scientist and has no medical background, but he’s a narcissist and he thinks he knows better than people who actually do know better– and have spent their whole lives studying and proving their knowledge to other people who have spent their lives becoming experts.

Trump enjoys being in power. He enjoys having people do his bidding. He wants to be respected, listened to, and adored. But there’s nothing respectable or adorable about him. And when he inevitably fucks up, he says he was “just kidding”… or “testing people” to see what he could get them to believe. First of all, I don’t think Trump is intelligent enough to come up with such a scheme, especially on the fly. And secondly, even if he was “playing a prank”, it’s a completely inappropriate thing to do as a world leader, especially during a pandemic! Thousands of Americans have died in the past few weeks, and some have died directly due to Trump’s irresponsible comments about medicine and their unfortunate decisions to take Trump’s ludicrous comments seriously. We’re definitely not in a situation that calls for “comic relief” or testing the media to see what gets reported as “fake news”.

From the New York Mag article I linked:

“…Trump does not seem to be saying it was a haha joke, but some kind of serious prank, in which he would float a completely preposterous idea and see if he could get the White House media to report it as news. The prank required Trump to maintain a completely deadpan demeanor, and to get Birx’s cooperation, and to let the untruth go uncorrected for about 18 hours before finally revealing the gag. Trump was using his briefing on a deadly pandemic that has killed 50,000 Americans already for an Andy Kaufman–esque ruse, with the concomitant risk that his supporters will be killed in the process.”

Yeah… and I’m suddenly remembering that childhood fable about the emperor’s new clothes… The vain emperor gets hoodwinked into buying new threads from people who could supposedly make the “best” clothes. They were able to convince the public that only the smartest people could see the clothes. So when the emperor showed up naked to greet his public, everyone marveled at how beautiful the clothes were… and only a small child was brave and smart enough to state the obvious. The emperor was not wearing anything. But instead of admitting he was wrong, the emperor simply continued as if nothing had happened, and the public continued to champion him.

This story keeps coming to mind as I listen to Trump.

This is the kind of leader Trump is… and so many people, otherwise intelligent and sensible, continue to champion Trump, explaining why he says and does so many stupid things. I think a lot of them know, deep down, that they made a terrible choice when they voted for Trump. Most of them simply don’t want to admit it. Just like the people in The Emperor’s New Clothes, oohing and ahhing over the emperor’s “new” non-existent clothes, they keep insisting that Trump is doing a “great” job. They smile and nod as leaders suggest reopening the country, putting thousands of people with heightened risk factors of the coronavirus in jeopardy. The leaders speak of the sick, elderly, and disabled sacrificing their lives for the good of the economy. At the same time, they speak of forcing pregnant women to give birth, as abortion is not an “essential” service.

Don’t be fooled… Trump isn’t doing you a favor.

Trump supporters speak of the need to be “respectful” to Trump because he’s the president. They talk about how most Americans will get $1200 to “stimulate” the economy. Trump insisted on having his signature on the physical checks, as if he was personally giving away the cash. But we all know that money comes from our taxes, and it’s not appropriate for presidents to sign checks, anyway.

Well… I might be “respectful” to Trump as a fellow human being because that is the decent thing to do. But I cannot respect him as a leader, because he’s not a good leader and he repeatedly proves it. I don’t know how we can afford another four years of this chaotic nonsense. We need an “emperor” who isn’t an emperor and wears practical work clothes. We don’t need an “emperor” whose focus is on impressing people and showing off his vanity with naked male egotism and vanity, or supposed “pranks” on the press. Unfortunately, I don’t think Trump will give up his power gracefully, and it will not surprise me if he tries to come up with a way to delay the elections or call them off completely.

Sigh… well, I guess it’s time I closed this post, now that I’ve done some venting. Time to get started on the day. Stay safe, y’all… and please don’t inject yourself or drink any disinfectants. The poison control centers have enough to deal with already.

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true crime

In Spain, you can be sentenced to prison for being an asshole…

But in America, we let any nut with a chip on his or her shoulder wield weapons.

Okay, so maybe this is an oversimplification of things. However, I couldn’t help but take notice when I read a news story about YouTuber ReSet (otherwise known as Kanghua Ren) who made over 2000 euros on a video he made in 2017. Mr. Ren, who was 19 years old in 2017, filmed himself offering an Oreo cookie filled with toothpaste and a 20 euro bill to a homeless man sitting outside of a supermarket in Barcelona, Spain. The man, who was probably really hungry, ate the cookie and vomited.

Chinese born Ren, who acknowledged that maybe he went a bit too far in carrying out this prank, then quipped, “This will help clean his teeth– I don’t think he has cleaned them since he became poor.”

The video got plenty of views, which helped Ren make some money. He had made the video, in part, as a response to challenges set forth by his followers, who evidently wanted him to raise the bar on being an asshole and taking advantage of vulnerable people. However, a lot of people found his dirty trick completely reprehensible.

The homeless man, in his early 50s and identified as Gheorge L., was born in Romania and was once a shepherd before he wound up in Barcelona. He has a daughter. Mr. Ren offered her 300 euros not to file a lawsuit after having filmed himself visiting her father again, offering him another 20 euro bill.

Clearly, Gheorge’s daughter was not moved by the offer of 300 euros. Mr. Ren was forced to answer for his callous behavior in a Spanish courtroom. Noting that Ren had done other videos depicting himself being cruel to vulnerable people, Judge Rosa Aragonés found Ren guilty of violating the moral integrity of the homeless man. She sentenced Mr. Ren to fifteen months in prison and handed down a 20,000 euro fine, which is to be paid to the homeless man.

Because this is Mr. Ren’s first offense, and the sentence is less than two years, he is unlikely to go to prison. However, he has also been ordered to shut down all of his social media channels, including YouTube, for the next five years. I guess this means Mr. Ren will have to find another way to make some cash.

It’s interesting to read about this case, especially in the wake of the most recent shooting in the United States. On Friday afternoon, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, 40 year old DeWayne Craddock, who had just resigned his position as a city engineer that morning, brought a weapon into his former workplace and started firing indiscriminately, killing 12 people and injuring others. Craddock, who died in the shootout, was reportedly a “nice guy” who had quit his job for “personal reasons”. And yet, there he was with a gun on Friday, ending the lives of 12 people, including Keith Cox, who led seven people to safety before he was killed. Before he went on his rampage, my guess is that most people didn’t think of Craddock as an “asshole”.

In Europe, a person can wind up in trouble with the law simply for being an asshole. Granted, what Kanghua Ren did could have been dangerous. It’s not recommended to eat toothpaste and his victim did vomit after eating the Oreo cookie. But ultimately, what he did was mean spirited and cruel, and that was what he was punished for. He wasn’t punished for potentially poisoning someone.

In the United States, it takes a whole lot to deprive people of certain rights. One right far too many Americans enjoy is the right to bear arms. Lately, the shootings have become so common that I no longer really feel shocked when I hear or read about them. Something is causing ordinary people to simply snap and start murdering people.

Christi Dewar, who was employed at the Virginia Beach utilities office and had worked there for thirteen years, said that Mr. Craddock was well dressed and soft spoken. She had no reason to fear him. She said he was a bit introverted, but gave no signs of being the type or person who would go on a shooting rampage. But on his last day living, Mr. Craddock came armed with handguns, high capacity magazines, and a silencer device. He cracked off at least fifty rounds at his former co-workers before he was finally taken out himself. Dewar says that she thinks all of the government buildings need metal detectors and security guards. She says she would happily tolerate daily searches if it means never having to go through another shooting. I would rather not give up more of my personal liberty in the name of stopping gun violence. I don’t think metal detectors and security guards will necessarily protect anyone. Security guards are people too, and if someone is that determined to kill, they’ll still kill… even if it means killing someone else who has a gun.

Seems to me a better solution is to stop making guns so accessible to everyone, make it easier for people to access and afford mental health care, and make eliminating classism and racism a priority. Also, I think there should be more emphasis on not being an asshole. Here in Germany, a person can be fined for flipping someone off, particularly if that person is in a position of respect, such as a police officer or government official. Of course, that doesn’t mean people don’t shoot the bird on the Autobahn. I have seen it happen. But there is an emphasis on not harming other people here– and not being uncivilized to others.

It’s been nice to live in Europe for the past few years, even though I’ve been watching my country disintegrate from afar. It makes me heartsick, and worried about what it will be like when we do move back home. I mean, yes… you can have neighbor disputes in Germany. You can have issues with your co-workers, your landlords, and other people. You can even end up being murdered in a particularly passive aggressive way in Europe. However, random acts of violence against perfect strangers is a lot rarer here than it is in the United States. There are a lot of pissed off, fed up, angry people there who are on the verge of snapping and have lost their senses of decency and humanity.

Anyway… while I’m not sure I think sending a prankster like Mr. Ren to prison is all that constructive, I do think it’s commendable that he’s been held accountable for being mean spirited. Maybe Americans can learn something from Mr. Ren’s case. It’s entirely possible that Europeans have simply had more time to become civilized than Americans have. Maybe, if the Earth is still around in 1000 years, America will be more like Europe is now. Or maybe Europe will be more like America is now. Glad I won’t be around to find out for sure.

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