Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award


Own it, America

We’ve left the Paris Accords.

Let’s face it, Americans. This is who we are. This is our face. This is what we’ve done to ourselves and everyone else. It’s malignant, profane, destructive, and we’re beyond the point that we should be embarrassed. Our current course should be terrifying.

Left-wing talk on social media and over airwaves today begs the world to understand a variety of platitudes, all meant to separate us from the act.

Not all of us are this way! 

A minority elected him!

It’s just a fringe that think like this!

I recycle!

None of that matters. We have a half-literate madman at the helm, driven by greed and narcissism. He’s not supported by some mythological horde of angry and bitter maniacs who deny reality or know no alternative to their passive aggression. Currently, the vast majority of Republican politicians support him. There is no rational, civil or sensible case to be made for the support of a man who puts short-term profit and thumb-nosing above the destruction of our planet. Yet there he stands, complete with his covfefe (which my autocorrect kept trying to change), his party toeing the line as he stomps about the garden.

Our process elected him. He is the result of our apathy and adoration of ignorance. This is from Business Insider:

Nearly 139 million Americans [turned out in 2016]…but that total suggests that only 60% of the country’s 232 million eligible voters actually voted…

For some Americans, the two names at the top of the 2016 ticket were so unpalatable that they opted not to vote for president at all, instead focusing on down-ballot races.

In 14 states, more people voted in the Senate races than voted for president. The overall results show that nearly 2.4 million people nationwide cast ballots but left the presidential line blank.

Inexcusable. We need to be done with the excuses and platitudes and realize that a critical mass of Americans support a party that sees no problem with our current course of mayhem. Not even the potential for mass extinction humbles them before their desire for profit and power. They see a malignant narcissist and wonder what they personally might gain from his madness. Opportunists are everywhere. Presidential candidate Lindsey Graham, who once said our president “doesn’t know anything” about foreign policy, just yesterday tweeted this utter non-sense: “I support President Trump’s desire to re-enter the Paris Accord after the agreement becomes a better deal for America and business.”

Our system is flexible enough that we can change this course, but the first step has to take place in our consciousness. Right now we are a nation led by a party whose only compass is profit and personal gain, whose God is Ayn Rand, not Jesus Christ. Its leader is a man so toxic that he poisons any system he enters. We are, all of us, members of that system, and we can’t change it by putting forth an effort to separate ourselves.

We left the Paris Accord because we elected a man and party who see no course as wrong so long as their wealth is growing and protected, even at the expense of their grandchildren. If we want to change that, we have to take responsibility and action ourselves, and the first step is to look at the mess. It’s in our house.

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The 21st Century Holocaust

The video below is from December. Lucy Aharish told us then that we were facing a holocaust, and the world is witnessing that holocaust right now, amplified and accelerated before us: a barbaric, categorical slaughter of citizens.

While American leaders demonize these innocents, using them to fan fears among imbeciles and racists in an effort to secure votes, our global adversaries dare us to stop the slaughter, thumbing their noses while children lie dead on concrete and dirt, their mouths open like suffocated fish, their skin bleached and burned.An_Aerial_View_of_the_Za'atri_Refugee_Camp

Our grandchildren will ask us why we did nothing to stop the slaughter, why we allowed it to get to this point, and why we did not welcome the victims, offer them refuge. The answer isn’t complicated: we didn’t care. We believed in the delusion that these people were “over there” while we were “over here,” that there was some massive difference between them and us. We saw the videos and photos, read the testimonies, understood the geo-political game and sat back to say, “It doesn’t affect me.”

Whatsoever you do to the least of My people, that you do unto Me.

Realize who our most influential thinkers have been. We are not followers of Hamilton, Franklin, Lincoln or any of the people on our money. We are certainly not followers of Christ, who told us whatsoever we did to the least of His people we did unto Him.

There he is, Jesus of Nazareth, asking to be let in to our home, and we refuse because he might be a terrorist, this Middle Easterner with a beard.

Our most influential thinker is Ayn Rand. She would shake our hands right now and say, “Well done. Help is futile. Fools get what they deserve.” And look at the evidence! The stock market is rising, isn’t it? Haven’t the prices of homes gone up? Aren’t we “bringing back coal” and reducing regulations, cutting aid for the poor, ruining our presently bad schools, getting tough with unions, keeping terrorists out, making sure married people don’t sit at the table with members of the opposite sex, taking rights away from women, from minorities, from people we hired ourselves to work for less than minimum wage? All while shrugging at the images of a holocaust a half-hour after the electorate shrugged off a madman’s racism, rationalizing their vote by claiming they wanted “change” and had “economic reasons,” lying to themselves all in to the trope of bringing America back to some former greatness?

Greatness is just around the corner. Our grandchildren will be interrogating us sooner rather than later. They might not ask us why we did nothing to help. They might be wise enough—er, great enough—to ask the obvious question: “Grandfather, grandmother, why didn’t you care?”

 

Lucy Aharish – nobody stopping holocaust in Halab, Syria from EurOpinion on Vimeo.

Photo of the Za’atri camp in Jordan from Wikipedia


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How to deal with a narcissist

I’ve been reading accounts from the American press written by journalists stunned to find Trump is worse beyond their expectations. I obviously don’t share their sentiments. I’m an abuse survivor, grew up with a (much less wealthy) Donald Trump in the house, and have the misfortune of currently working with a Donald Trump heading my place of employment. Over the years, I’ve seen what sort of madhouse network dances about men like our president.

Get used to it, America. We are now an abusive family.

Abusive families have three primary players: the abusers, the enablers and the victims. If it isn’t clear, the abuser (Trump) dishes it out while the enablers (the establishment) make excuses for it, attempt to rationalize it, sometimes to benefit from it, thereby supporting it, while the victims (citizens) take insults and deal with disorienting confusion, even chaos.

It’s more complicated and shaded-gray in reality. All sorts of professional people have broken these roles down further. Obviously, there’s overlap between them.

Most abusers were once victims, and still perceive themselves, like Trump does, as mistreated or unfairly targeted. Some enablers also abuse, but all enablers are victims of the abuse, at least to some degree, if even by virtue of needing to depend on it to play a role, complete some task or access a resource. From my point of view, victims are enablers until they remove themselves from the system, decompress, gather their bearings and accept, with as much clarity as possible, what the abuse was truly like. This requires admitting it. They have to make a conscious decision that the abuse stops with them or it simply won’t.

Most of us are nowhere close to that point yet. This is new and bizarre; we’ve been dropped into the madhouse and can’t tell where to focus our attention. It explains why so many of our journalists and other professionals are staring ahead wide-eyed, mouths agape, making delusional claims like “this might lead to totalitarianism” when a totalitarian is already in control, when reporters are being arrested for doing their jobs and protests outlawed in the wake of idiotic, distracting tweets and abject falsifications of reality.

It’s important for everyone in a position of influence, from every level of our government to the whole of our press, our institutions of education, social services, our courts and our legal professionals to understand something unequivocally. Our president is an abusive madman, a narcissist with no capacity to change, no ounce of empathy, no motivation beyond his own aggrandizement.

Showing him photographs to contradict his delusional claims is pointless. Narcissists cannot be “managed” or “influenced.” In my experience, there are only a few ways to deal with a narcissist, none easy or comfortable.

The first is a war of attrition, the arsenal merciless, consistent insult. The insults do not have to be exotic, vulgar or vindictive; speaking about reality, consistently and in a sustained effort, is enough. You’re not very well liked. Most people abhor you. They disagree with your values. They think you’re uncivilized, deranged, mentally ill and unable to grasp reality. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Do it in shifts, like an oiled hockey team crashing the net. He makes a false statement, so you dismiss it, call it a lie and immediately set about ridiculing it in every possible channel, making certain he sees it.

A narcissist will try to exhaust you until you give in, until putting up with whatever the narcissist is doing becomes easier than listening to his assault on reality, or hearing the insults. It’s exhausting, obviously, to tell the narcissist, “No. The tablecloth is white, not yellow,” every time you deal with him. But that is what we must expect. When the president speaks, he is fabricating a delusion in an effort to exhaust our imaginations and mental capacities. He wants to shell-shock us into submission.

Trump will not stop lying. In fact, he’s going to need to lie more as his administration unravels, as people begin abandoning him. He will not respond to reason or rational conversation, and he will continue sending his representatives to meet the press and lie that they intend to tell the truth, one second after they lie.

This seems counterproductive, even masochistic. A narcissist does not lie merely because he can or because it provides him attention (narcissistic supply). A narcissist’s lie gives him power over others’ imagination and feelings. The lies become the parameters of the discussion—we argue over the delusion instead of weighing the reality—and anything the narcissist doesn’t like he’ll claim has been invented by his victims. The technique renders reason useless and obliterates the basic agreements among the educated; you cannot argue with someone who makes up numbers, contradicts himself constantly or tells you your information is fake, what you’ve witnessed is false.

This latter point is most important. An abuser will beat you up or molest you but then accuse you of imagining it. He’ll accuse you of being unfair, of trying to make him look bad when you show everyone your bloody nose. What’s true is what he says; he is the center, the ultimate reference point. Everything, including reality, is subject to his power.

Attacks on a narcissist, in the short term, only increase his bluster. Eventually, however, the embarrassment of enabling him becomes a liability. At that point, exile becomes an option, but it requires a critical mass of enablers to stand up and say they’ve had enough.

The press cannot in good faith come to press conferences and ask Trump’s secretary, “What lies have you for us today? What bullshit of yours should we share?” However, our legislative branch can, and rather quickly, exile Trump to someplace outside the White House. Currently, Congress is Trump’s greatest enabler, far worse than the press, and getting worse as this horror show blusters on.

What will it finally take for our leaders to say they’ve had enough? Well…the usual thing. Massive opposition from an intrepid, inexhaustible, furious (but also clever) populace.

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Last week in American discourse (1)

Here are some points I’ve either read or heard made over the course of the past days by my fellow citizens. These have been edited for clarity, respectability and brevity.

In Social Media

1.) Facebook in no way influenced the election because you’re a liberal and you don’t understand how algorithms work.

2.) Sure, Donald settled for $25 million, but Hillary killed people prepared to testify about Benghazi.

3.) Democrats don’t even know how to count because Donald Trump went back on his promises.

4.) You really do need to show more tolerance towards people who want Jews and Homosexuals gassed. Those people believe they are the descendants of the sun.

5.) If Hillary Clinton were as strong as Vladimir Putin, she would have kept all the Crimeans out, which is the only reason Putin went in.

6.) Donald Trump can’t win. Even if he changes his positions, still the liberals don’t like him.

7.) The only reason I voted for Trump is because he’s against the H-1B visa. I got laid off because of that, and I’m an accountant.

8.) Not everybody thinks its Nazi to support white people. And just because you salute with your right hand doesn’t mean you buy into everything that’s Nazi.

9.)  Obama gave Ellen DeGeneres a civilian award even though she never fought on a battlefield or took a wound. So now it’s just a lesbian award? I’m going to pretend I’m a lesbian so that I could get one.

10.) I know people from Pennsylvania and Wisconsin who understand their jobs aren’t coming back. So they voted their conscience.

In Overheard Conversation

1.) No, I’m really really really not a racist. I just think it’s time for white people to have another chance.

2.) It’s actually wrong to vote unless they put somebody in office.

3.) Illinois went blue mostly because nobody voted.

4.) You know those protesters got paid off because most of them went to Starbucks or Whole Foods right afterwards, and there’s no way any of them have jobs.

5.) I was there waiting in traffic for those protesters to get out and I could tell you it was way more annoying than watching the Cubs win the World Series.

6.) Now the millennials are going to learn what it means to have to look for a job just like regular people.

7.) If you supported immigrants, you would really want them to go back to their home countries where they would be safe.

8.) Can somebody explain to me why Michael Jordan deserves to get a Medal of Freedom? What did he do to deserve it?

9.) It shouldn’t be wrong for the president to own hotels. If you think about it, it saves  money on business trips.

10.) The only way you’re going to get more people out to vote is if you give them a good reason to do it.

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Photo of Lollipop from Wikipedia

 

 

 


So, this is what America didn’t want?

Yeah, Americans. Take a look at what we’ve done. This shit show has only started. While most of us argue about the value of safety pins and the Hamilton story, there’s a real set of kickers on the table. I’ll try to summarize for those too exhausted to keep count:

We have a president-elect who lost the popular vote, at today’s * count, by around 1.7 million votes, a number sure to rise with ballots still being counted.

It’s now clear there was at least one conversation between the Trump team and the Russian government before the election, something the Russian government has admitted while Trump denies.

Since at least August, there has been evidence of minority voter purges in key battleground states (including Michigan), made public by Rolling Stone magazine, investigated by journalist Greg Palast, who continues the story of a dubious system called Crosscheck.

Since Trump’s election, we’ve seen celebrations by Nazis, their rhetoric normalized by CNN, all in the wake of a Nazi sympathizer’s hire as Trump’s strategist. CNN apologized for their anti-Semitic chyron but not for the following Nov. 15th homepage—Is bombing the s*** out of ISIS a strategy?—a rhetorical question which predicts even greater idiocy in our national discourse:

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The president-elect has now changed positions on several of his most important campaign promises, including his brain-on-fire pledge to lock up Clinton. As expected, besides making money and inflating his grandiosity, he has no principles or positions, as throughout his campaign he consistently claimed one thing only to contradict it, lying right in reporters’ faces. Without any irony or self-awareness, he has reportedly undressed big media execs in an off-the-record meeting, a pathological liar accusing everyone in the room of dishonesty.

In desperate acts, people on social media are sending around slacktivism requests, some of them bogus, others misplaced.

As that buzz crackled, Trump claimed that the President could not have a conflict of interest. This after he and his daughter met with Shinzō Abe, after he met with Indian business partners, after foreign diplomats have claimed they’ll curry his favor by staying in his DC hotels.

Baltic States, are you listening? You want protection from Russia? Hand over a few high rise hotels to Trump. I’m sure the city of Vilnius could blackmail the Radisson Blu Lietuva Hotel to hand their tower over.

Curiously, he ran on a platform of idiot-wind populism, on racism and psychopathy, demonizing and demeaning everyone in his path, but it turns out a general can talk him out of using torture during a straightforward meeting. It turns out he’s against wind farms  when they interfere with his golf course but not when they guarantee “crystal clear water.”

We’re learning nothing about him we didn’t already know. He’s an unstable, constantly shifting point, a compulsive liar, a narcissist, a concoctor of realities. Most Americans didn’t want him. But now the entire world has him, a man who’ll “disavow” American Nazis while hanging on to a chief strategist who had this to say about the difference between skinheads and American Nazis…er…the Alt-Right:

There are many things that separate the alternative right from old-school racist skinheads (to whom they are often idiotically compared), but one thing stands out above all else: intelligence. Skinheads, by and large, are low-information, low-IQ thugs driven by the thrill of violence and tribal hatred. The alternative right are a much smarter group of people — which perhaps suggests why the Left hates them so much. They’re dangerously bright.

Good thing this isn’t what most of us wanted.

*Update: On November 23rd, the margin had surpassed 2 million votes.


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The tweet of a narcissist 

Donald Trump’s first tweet following his electoral victory reveals textbook narcissism and fascistic tendency:

“Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!”

This babble reveals a lot of what we should expect from him as president. It uses techniques familiar to anyone who has ever lived with, been ruled by or has otherwise ended up under the power of a narcissist.

The first technique is a slithery bastardization of terms. “Very open”. Forget for a moment if some portal or speech can be the opposite, very closed; think instead about what most people assume when they hear the word “open”. Few should think “openly bigoted,” and he probably doesn’t want us to. Yet that’s what his campaign and election put out in the open about the electorate: we are either bigots ourselves or don’t mind one as our leader. But don’t split that hair…follow this logic:

Openness = good. Trump = Open. Therefore, Trump = good.

The second technique is to deny the sincerity of an opponent’s feelings and views. These aren’t actual protesters; they’re professionals, which means they’re getting paid. It begs questions: by whom and how much? But you should not worry about that. Instead, realize the people who stand up against Trump don’t *really* harbor these contrary feelings and ideas but only *seem* to be expressing them. These planted mercenaries are in it for a few bucks.

Obviously, the only thing that drives a person to action is profit. That’s why Trump does what he does, it’s why you voted for Trump, and it’s why these people are pretending to protest.

The third technique is to deny the opponent’s capacity to think individually. If not for “the media”, these people would have stayed home knowing “open and good Trump” is their president. Any opposition to a narcissist is an idea born outside the opposer. If you could think for yourself, you’d see that the narcissist is open and good, but you cannot see that because you have been poisoned. You’re incapable and subordinate to Trump, your superior.

The fourth is a demand for pity. Pay attention to Trump’s mistreatments and slights and the people calling Trump names, accusing him of wrongs. Fairness would be an acceptance of him wholesale, just as he is.

The fifth technique available here is exaggeration. Trump’s favorite word is “very”. To say something’s open or unfair is not enough. Everything’s *very* something.

Obviously, we should expect the assault on the rights to assembly and a free press to continue. At this point, Trump’s definition of “the media” has been clear: members of “the media” are those who openly oppose Trump in any capacity. If they could be trusted, they would have predicted what he and his followers knew all along, which was that he would win. If they were wrong about Trump and his followers once, they will always be wrong, very wrong, while he will be right, very right.

So, be very right. Don’t be very wrong.

This is life with a narcissist. Their danger is not that they can’t solve problems or build things. The danger of a narcissist is that they have no empathy, and they see as part of the problem groups and individuals who oppose them. Threats abound at every turn, and much of their energy is spent neutralizing or eliminating those threats, often by isolating, disenfranchising or demonizing people. Skilled narcissists start conflicts among their opponents and watch them distract and neutralize each other.

The other danger is that a narcissist needs a posse to be able to pull off what stunt he has in mind. He needs enablers. When that groups wakes up to his disastrous and destructive methods and acts, complicit in the damage, they deny everything and might blame the victims.

The simplest example occurs in families that enable child abuse.

If the victim finds the courage to come out and say “I’ve been tortured”, most people in that abusive system will retreat, deny the child’s torture, even defend the abuser. That defense mechanism makes it possible to live with the realization that they aided the torture of a child. They’ll do perverted things, like invite the victim to sit at the same Thanksgiving table with his abuser. The victim’s presence sure would comfort them all, help them feel that everything’s okay now, everyone forgiven, despite no one admitting a thing.

The entire world now faces a geopolitical game of high stakes played by charlatans and manipulators Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

In terms of political strategy, Trump’s tweet reveals rhetorical techniques hardly different from Putin’s treatment of something like the Ukrainian protests that eventually became the Maidan and led first to the ousting of Yanukovich, then the annexation of Crimea and the invasion of East Ukraine (one Russia still denies is happening at all).

The parallels between Trump and Putin essentially add up to a pair of rails. Putin routinely tells Russians that Ukraine does not really exist, that it’s not really a country or a culture. Their protests are not actual protests but staged shows orchestrated by America, who’s just paying protesters (this despite the fact that the socio-political, cultural and economic conflicts between Russia and its neighbors have a history several centuries older than the United States). If Ukrainians wanted to be democratic, they would allow democratic and good Russia to do what it wanted to them. Instead, they want to join with the Europeans, and “everyone knows” Europeans are bad gay hedonists while Russians are the good true saviors of the world.

So, America, you might have been hoping for a steel mill to reappear or to punish Hillary. Maybe seeing people deported will make you feel empowered. The sooner we wake up to the institutional failures that led to the election of a narcissist, the more likely we are to get out of this with some horrible rhetoric and tweets that threaten the Bill of Rights as our only fouls.


The election numbers

Donald Trump (this is the first time I have ever written his name in a public forum, besides using it as a tag) performed in the following way:

He won 9/10 of Republican voters.

He won more than 4/5 of Evangelical Christians. (These are people who (claim to) believe that you should treat your neighbor as you would like to be treated, that selflessness is an expression of Godliness and that the meek shall inherit the earth.)

Donald also took 37% of “young voters”.

The one that has me deeply confused is not in the video linked below. It’s women voters:

Donald earned 42% of the women’s vote.  To quote from the CBS article I’m using for these data (emphasis mine): “Trump beat Clinton by 53 percent to 41 percent among men while Clinton won among women by 54 percent to 42 percent. Four years ago, President Obama won 45 percent of men’s votes and Mitt Romney won 44 percent of women’s votes.”

So…that 2% difference? It’s baffling but sobering.

http://www.cbsnews.com/common/video/cbsnews_video.swf