Tuesday Reads: Disgust and Despair . . . Is There Any Hope on the Horizon?Posted: January 3, 2017
I’ve really hit a wall today. I’m kind of paralyzed. I don’t think I can stand to read or write another word about Donald Trump. He just plain sickens me. I don’t think I’ve ever felt such disgust for another human being before. The sight of his ugly, bloated, orange-tinted face and his ludicrous hair; the sound of his bellowing voice and vulgar accent literally turn my stomach. I can’t begin to imagine how we will survive his presidency.
So I’ve been sitting in front of the computer for hours trying to figure out what stories to share today; here’s what I’ve come finally come up with.
In the days following the election, president-elect Donald Trump appeared on 60 Minutes with a promise to be “very restrained” on Twitter as president, “if I use it at all.” But it’s hard to see Trump scaling back his use of the platform that turned him into a political phenomenon. Since then, the incoming president has sparked a diplomatic conflict with China; attacked private citizens, including a union leader; praised Russian president Vladimir Putin; and even more recently, decided to follow (and promptly unfollow) a Twitter account dedicated to posting pictures of kittens.
And Trump won’t stop tweeting anytime soon, no matter how much Melania begs. “Absolutely you’re going to see Twitter,” Sean Spicer, who will be Trump’s press secretary, told ABC News. “The fact of the matter is that when he tweets he gets results. So whether it’s Twitter, holding a news conference, picking up the phone, having a meeting, he is going to make sure that he continues to fight for the American people every single day.”
Right. He’s fighting for the American people, if you define “the American people” as billionaires, corporations, and foreign dictators. I used to love Twitter, and it’s still the best place to get breaking news; but now that tRump is dominating Twitter too, it isn’t much fun anymore.
tRump has been busy on Twitter for the past couple of days. He’s still attacking China, which seems like a bad idea. Yesterday he accused China of not helping control North Korea.
A state-run Chinese newspaper accused Donald Trump of “pandering to ‘irresponsible’ attitudes” Tuesday after the president-elect alleged that Beijing had failed to rein in North Korea’s nuclear program.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Sunday that his country was close to test-launching an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Having conducted three nuclear tests during Kim’s five years in power, he is thought to be pursuing the missile technology it would need to attack South Korea. North Korea also has designs on reaching the U.S. military outpost of Guam and the U.S. mainland itself.
Of course tRump didn’t explain how he proposed to stop North Korea’s nuclear development plans.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded Tuesday that China’s hard work in trying to ensure the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is obvious to all, Reuters reported.
However, the state-run Global Times tabloid was more aggressive.
It responded to Trump’s tweets by stating that he was “pandering to ‘irresponsible’ attitudes” and stoking “the anxieties of some Americans” who blame China rather than looking inward, according to The Associated Press.
Also yesterday, tRump continued his insufferable bragging about winning the election.
This man is not only evil; he’s also incredibly boring.
He’s been even busier today–attacking General Motors and Obamacare, and criticizing the House for being so public about getting rid of the independent Congressional ethics office. He has no problems with gutting ethics oversight, mind you; he just wanted them to wait until no one was paying attention. After the public reaction to their brazen action, the House suddenly “reversed course.”
Following a public outcry, and criticism from President-elect Donald Trump, House Republicans reversed course Tuesday on drastic changes to the independent Office of Congressional Ethics.
After a hastily convened conference call, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) offered a motion to restore the current OCE rules that was accepted by the GOP conference via unanimous consent.
“They need to know the gravity of this situation,” said one senior GOP source ahead of the vote to restore the OCE’s full powers, while noting that the office was not without flaws. “The best thing may be to unwind it.”
The abrupt reversal marked a rocky first day for Republicans, one that was supposed to have been jubilant, with the GOP taking control of both chambers of congress and prepping for the takeover of the White House by their party leader, Donald Trump.
Of course tRump will soon take credit for this too.
Quite a few people seem to be dealing with the coming horror by reading books. A number of prominent writers have either weighed in on what’s coming or offered reading lists. Here are a few examples:
On Optimism and Despair, by Zadie Smith at The New York Review of Books.
I find these days that a wistful form of time travel has become a persistent political theme, both on the right and on the left. On November 10 The New York Times reported that nearly seven in ten Republicans prefer America as it was in the 1950s, a nostalgia of course entirely unavailable to a person like me, for in that period I could not vote, marry my husband, have my children, work in the university I work in, or live in my neighborhood. Time travel is a discretionary art: a pleasure trip for some and a horror story for others. Meanwhile some on the left have time travel fancies of their own, imagining that the same rigid ideological principles once applied to the matters of workers’ rights, welfare, and trade can be applied unchanged to a globalized world of fluid capital….
As my dear, soon-departing president well understood, in this world there is only incremental progress. Only the willfully blind can ignore that the history of human existence is simultaneously the history of pain: of brutality, murder, mass extinction, every form of venality and cyclical horror. No land is free of it; no people are without their bloodstain; no tribe entirely innocent. But there is still this redeeming matter of incremental progress. It might look small to those with apocalyptic perspectives, but to she who not so long ago could not vote, or drink from the same water fountain as her fellow citizens, or marry the person she chose, or live in a certain neighborhood, such incremental change feels enormous.
Meanwhile the dream of time travel—for new presidents, literary journalists, and writers alike—is just that: a dream. And one that only makes sense if the rights and privileges you are accorded currently were accorded to you back then, too. If some white men are more sentimental about history than anyone else right now it’s no big surprise: their rights and privileges stretch a long way back. For a black woman the expanse of livable history is so much shorter. What would I have been and what would I have done—or more to the point, what would have been done to me—in 1360, in 1760, in 1860, in 1960? I do not say this to claim some pedestal of perfect victimhood or historical innocence. I know very well how my West African ancestors sold and enslaved their tribal cousins and neighbors. I don’t believe in any political or personal identity of pure innocence and absolute rectitude.
The Audacity of Hopelessness, by Roxane Gay at The New York Times.
Throughout this election cycle I was confident of a Hillary Clinton victory because she is eminently qualified for the presidency and she ran a strong campaign. As I watch the election results come in, I am stunned. I was confident, not only because of who Mrs. Clinton is. I was confident because I thought there were more Americans who believe in progress and equality than there were Americans who were racist, xenophobic, misogynistic and homophobic. This is a generalization, but it’s hard to feel otherwise.
As I’ve watched the pundits try to contextualize Mr. Trump’s performance Tuesday, they have talked about how a postindustrial reality was a big part of his success. I understand why “economic anxiety” is part of the story — working-class families who have seen jobs disappear are looking for real change in Washington. They are hoping that somehow, a political “outsider” will create the kind of change that will, in turn, bring back well-paying jobs. I understand this hope. I want to see the American economy thrive for everyone, but I do not think Mr. Trump can revitalize the economy.
A bigger part of tonight’s story is that millions and millions of Americans are willing to vote for a candidate who has been endorsed by the Klan. They are willing to vote for a candidate who has displayed open contempt for women. They are willing to vote for a candidate whose base is openly hostile to people of color, immigrants and Muslims. We cannot ignore the hate that Mr. Trump both encourages and allows to flourish. I am terrified that the more virulent of Mr. Trump’s base will see his election as permission to act on hatred.
On Monday night, I was hopeful and excited. I thought Nov. 8 would be an amazing day. I thought we would finally see a woman president after 44 men held the office. To see the highest glass ceiling of all cracked, the idea of that meant so much to me. Now I wonder, will I see a woman president in my lifetime?
I feel hopeless right now. I am incredibly disappointed, but I cannot wallow in these feelings for long. I will not. The world will not end because of a Trump presidency. Tomorrow, the sun will rise and the day will be a lot less joyful than I imagined, but I’ll get through it. We all will.
So many of us felt and still feel the same way.
Division besets us. But the US must live up to its role in the world, by Marilynne Robinson at The Guardian.
Americans are very good at parsing disaster in order to learn from it. Now, with Donald Trump’s victory, it is time to do just that. From the very beginning, this election season has been a stress test. It has revealed weaknesses, actual and potential, in the American political system. Voters have now ensured these can no longer be ignored….
Elections are of unparalleled value as a means of letting the country know how things stand with it. Until the primary results started coming in, the press and the leadership of both parties had no notion that Trump would be a force to be reckoned with. His victory has made it very clear that they need much better means for understanding the public mind, which is, so long as we remain a democracy, the crucial factor in our national life….
The election itself showed us the degree to which Trump’s venting of anger and frustration resonated with Americans across the country, including those from traditional Democratic strongholds….
We have a role in the world we must try to live up to. With Trump victorious, just how we do that is a big question. We like to forget that the people of other countries follow our politics day by day. If the ugliness of Donald Trump’s campaign continues into his presidency, that will do more harm to our standing than any economic or military preeminence can recover. A city on a hill cannot be hid – even with a President Trump in charge.
Two reading lists from well-known authors:
Resistance Lit: Jonathan Lethem and T.J. Stiles via LitHub.
Nine Must-Read Books in the Age of Donald Trump, by Nina Burleigh at Newsweek.
What stories are you following today?