Saturday, November 12, 2016

This Is Not Slut-Shaming

This photo, from a modeling shoot that then-Melania Knauss did for a French magazine in 1996, made this rounds this summer as The Donald's campaign heated up.

There's nothing wrong with the photo: it's shows a moderately attractive -- I have extremely high standards -- if awkward looking woman, posing nude, protecting her femininity from manual assault by, say, some creepy short fingered vulgarian with her left hand.

She posed for it as a struggling young model in New York City, a city filled with some of the most beautiful women on the planet. She's done many many more, including one that sees her rolling around on a faux-Oval Office rug (you'll start seeing that more often, now).

As The Donald edged closer to the nomination, and ultimately the Presidency, this photo was circulated more and more.

Many people believe this is slut-shaming at a new level, and I can understand that point of view. No one posted nude photos of Hillary, or Sarah Palin (altho some were spoofed up, to be sure), and while much humor was made at the expense of the moral fiber of Bristol Palin (two children out of wedlock) and that could conceivably be slut-shaming, no woman had ever directly been exploited in quite this way in a Presidential campaign.

"Exploited". That's quite an explosive word. Paula Jones was exploited. She was dragged out into the limelight to confront Bill Clinton because she was promised fame and fortune. She got infamy and a small check. The other Clinton accusers, they were exploited.

Monica Lewinsky, exploited. She still is, every time someone cracks a joke about a blue dress or a Bill Clinton cigar.


I'm not sure.

It's certainly titillating, no pun intended. It's certainly attention-grabbing. Slut-shaming, though?

I'm going to disagree. I believe the reason this photo has such energy about it, is such a good summary of the entire Trump family, is not about Melania. Rather, it's about The Donald.

More specifically, it's about The Donald and his "say anything, do anything" campaign of desperation to get elected. He made a choice early on to campaign as a "come to Jesus" Christian. He stumbled badly, so badly that it nearly cost him his nomination ("Two Corinthians walk into a bar...").

This photo is about the fundamentalist Christians who abandoned Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee, and flocked to The Donald's message of hate and spite, abandoning even their stern and conservative Lord  God for this Antichrist.

If this photo is about Melania in anyway, in fact, it's about her personal shames. After all, take a good look at that photo (or any photo of her, if this one offends you). This is a woman who by all accounts has a nice temperament, is a devoted mother to their son, Barron, and who has a decent figure and a well-sculpted face.

She even plagiarized her looks...
This is about a woman who has all the attributes one might want in a partner...and still the Rapist-Elect felt the need to cheat on her.

We know that rape and assault are not crimes of sex, they are crimes of power, of control. A man feels the need to physically dominate a woman (in the case of man-on-woman rape) and use her for his own pleasure. 

Yet, this photo of Melania speaks to me as photographer of her power, her autonomy, her control over her own body. 

I don't know that she's like that in real life, but for the good of the women of this nation, I truly hope she can stand up to The Donald in the manner this photo presents. 

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

It's Mourning in America

When George W Bush won in 200 and again in 2004, I was angry. I was worried he'd take us down the wrong road (he did) and would cause irreparable harm to the United States (pretty close).

But I was never scared of him as an existential threat.

A few thoughts about Trump before I get into the meat of this post: I don't see him surviving the first term in office. Not that he'll be assassinated, and goodness knows I don't wish that on him. I think the combination of stress, his weight and foul temper will do him in.

Remember, this is a man who is used to taking even perceived slights and turning them into street fights. He's not going to be able to do that anymore (certainly to the extent he did as a civilian). He won't be able to tweet at 3AM, he won't be able to get his attaboys from his followers, he'll effectively be locked away in the White House.

He'll be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He'll wake up to a briefing, go to bed with a crisis, and pretty much never sleep.

Then you look at the toll the office takes on a younger, healthier man, like President Obama or even a completely disinterested generalist like Dumbya, and you realize this geezer doesn't have enough gas in the tank to do this. Reagan could do it, but the Reagan wasn't dealing with cell phones and the internet, and 24 hour a day decision making.

Trump can't hide from the world, even if he wants to.

What scares me most about a Trump presidency is his utter lack of interest in anything. He has demonstrated time and time again that he can't get past page one in a briefing book, and that executive summaries had better be three paragraphs or less.

And he'll be expected to make decisions based on that summary. Decisions that will affect the entire planet (just look at the markets today, the day after Armageddon), decisions that will need to be finessed and nuanced.

He'll rely on his advisors but if you look closely at those advisors, you can't find a more motley crew than those: bootlickers, rageaholics, toadies who were the only public faces willing to step up in support of him. The debris of the 1990s political power nexus so desperate to remain relevant they hitched their wagons to the only person who wasn't afraid of all the baggage they brought along because of his own baggage.

And Chris Christie, notably absent from any talk of a Trump administration. Interesting, that.

As for his policies and how he's going to implement them, well, there's another fear factor: how?

He doesn't have a bulletproof Congress. The Senate can be filibustered, unless McConnell invokes the nuclear option. His own party is deeply divided over him, so badly that Marco Rubio couldn't even talk about him by name until the last weekend of the campaign. Yes. they'll unite behind the President but it won't be unity driven from party spirit but a facade ready to fall apart at the slightest hint of weakness on Trump's part.

Yet another reason to believe he won't survive his first term. He'll be wrangling cats.

As for Dems, forget any chance of a bipartisan solution to anything. Given the absolute certainty of a filibuster on any legislation in the Senate (Dems took notes these past years), Trump's agenda is dead in the water.

Repeal Obamacare? No.

Tax cuts for the wealthy? No.

The wall? No. Not even if Mexico offered to pay upfront, which they might for President Trump.

New trade deals? No.

Jobs bill? No.

And Republicans will be forced to defend the use of executive orders. Again. Executive orders only have limited scope and force, however. He can't, for instance, overturn Roe v. Wade. He can make it harder to find a clinic.

Foreign policy could be even worse. Trump has called Angela Merkel, the most powerful woman in the world, a "disaster".  He's butted heads with his own party over Vladimir Putin, whom he admires -- despite the fact that Putin is an absolute threat to the United States (more on that in a bit).  And if Russia does decide to become an aggressor, NATO is on their own, according to Trump.

China is practically chomping at the bit to test Trump's resolve on trade deals and has to feel threatened by Trump's overtures to India.

All of this is taking as a given his feelings about the Middle East, South Asia, and our involvement there.

We do know Trump loves him some Sharia Law...when it comes to women, and not much else when it comes to Muslims.

So I'm failing to see where Trump's Presidency is anything but an abject failure from day one. Maybe, if he had President Obama's temperament, he could get stuff done.

You know, like Obama did.

And he really only has a short window to accomplish much of anything, since the midterm elections are literally around the corner in political time. He'll lose seats in Congress, bigly (the standard operating procedure in the first midterm elections, altho there have been exceptions.)

Now, there is one window that trump might be able to clamber out of, and curiously, I think it involves Russia and Putin.


As you know, Julian Assange did signal service to Putin by dumping buckets of emails purported to come from he DNC and aides to Hillary Clinton in the middle of the campaign. While the emails themselves were pretty, dinner dates, small talk mostly...the reminder that Hillary has this baggage helped seal the deal with independent voters that she can't be trusted.

But what if...

After all, Putin's goal wasn't to stop Clinton. That would mean admitting that he was afraid of her and while that's a distinct possibility, I think he has larger ambitions.

To destroy democracy. To finish the job that Osama bin Laden started. To bring the greatest nation to its knees by raising fears that, in fact, it's not as great a system as it seems.

Let's play the first half of this scenario out: assume Clinton had won.

Well, we already know that the useful idiots in Congress would have tied her up in endless hearings over her emails, more about Benghazi, etc etc etc. Jason "Bacon on the Hoof" Chaffetz admitted as much.

While her coattails might have drawn enough Democrats in behind her to prevent some of this nonsense, it would have gone on and like the birther conspiracy, would have given a significant portion of the population reason to doubt her legitimacy.

Probably moreso than the birther movement affected Obama because this kind of nonsense has been going on around Hillary since the 1990s. There's sort of this air of presumption that she must be guilty of something (she's not.)

So if Clinton wins, Putin still gets a version of his disruption of American democracy. His best case scenario is if Trump wins.

In the lame duck period between now and January 20, I think -- altho I have no hard information on this -- we will see a new Wikileaks dump on Trump.

Tax returns, admissions of felonious behavior, infidelities, who knows? The point is, dump enough stuff on Trump to raise a ruckus and cast the results of the election into doubt.

(Given the closeness of the vote versus the polling, it wouldn't surprise me to find out that some of the results were manipulated already, but I digress.)

Trump, already wildly unpopular, will lose any chance of making a case for his Presidency, a case as I've already demonstrated was not likely to be worth a bucket of warm spit, and will leave an electorate even angrier than before.

A nation already practically at each other's throats is not a long stride from a nation at war with itself.

And THAT is why I find Trump to be so scary.