“But you cannot have freedom without the risk of its abuse.” I.F. Stone
In December, Lake Cachuma, the main water source of Santa Barbara, was at 7% capacity. Three days ago, Cachuma reached 40% capacity and water was flowing in the Santa Ynez River for the first time in years. On Anapamu Street, near where we live, a trio of century old Italian stone pines, weakened by the long drought, toppled over, downing telephone poles and lifting concrete sidewalks; one poor fellow’s pickup truck was caved in. For the better part of three days the whine of chainsaws was constant.
The heavy rain was a welcome distraction from the latest outrages perpetrated by the Trump regime. It’s unsettling to realize that the President is a man who is proud of his disdain for books and knowledge, and who seems to believe damn near anything he watches on Fox News. What to think about a man who says, “Nuclear holocaust will be like no other”?
Trump is a fool floating on a leaky raft in the deep end of the pool. He represents the psychosis of our celebrity-obsessed consumer culture. He is a member -- albeit one who until now has roamed the fringes -- of the oligarchy that owns this country and seems determined to rob it blind and run it into the ground. Neoliberal capitalism, supported and nurtured by Republicans and Democrats alike for decades now, has corroded and corrupted human values and priorities and we are living through the predictable results; the situation is likely to become much worse for many people before it improves.
Echoes of another dark time, when Americans saw communists around every corner and under every bed, in the halls of our universities, in the State Department, and in Hollywood; the lives of many innocent people were destroyed, not for what they had done, but merely based on suspicion of what they might do. Guilt by circumstance, by association, by rumor and innuendo. Now we fear Muslims, Mexicans, and anyone else deemed an “other.”
According to Trump, hordes of evil people are streaming across our borders intent on mayhem. The fury emanating from Washington about illegal immigration is bizarre. It’s as if we are under attack every day -- as if innocent children are being yanked from their beds in the middle of the night and sold into slavery -- or murdered.
The psychotic Trumpian worldview oscillates between fear and belligerence.
Trump is compelled to hold a “rally” to feed his need for adulation. When was the last time you saw a new American president hold a campaign-style rally within the first month of assuming office? I can’t remember, and I’ve lived through a fair number of administrations, including that of Richard M. Nixon. Nixon, it should be noted, was insecure and paranoid but he was, for the most part, a rational actor. The same can’t be said of King Donald. Trump is not only insecure, paranoid, narcissistic, misogynistic, crude, and vindictive, but appears to be mentally unstable. While I don’t perceive him as a puppet, I do worry about the influence upon him from advisors such as Steve Bannon. Many odious people surround Trump, but to my mind Bannon is the most dangerous of the lot.
For the record: I continue to read, watch and listen with dismay to the hysteria about Russia’s alleged theft or manipulation of our presidential election. As historian Peter Kuznick said at a recent lecture sponsored by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Hillary Clinton lost because she was a lousy, over-confident candidate.
What I’m reading: The Master and Margarita and The Best of I.F. Stone.