Meghan Markle Tops Donald Trump

An estimated 29 million Americans tuned in early Saturday morning to watch Meghan Markle marry Prince Harry. That’s about 5 million more than in England itself, and about six million more Americans than who watched Will and Kate Middleton marry seven years ago.

Why did so many more viewers tune in to this wedding versus the last? Are there more televisions now than there were then? Is it that we love Harry more than Will; because we’re all fans of Suits, the show on which Markle starred; or is it because Meghan’s biracial and her entry into the British royal family is a watershed historical moment?

Sure, all of that makes sense, but it seems to me that so many Americans are enthusiastic about Meghan Markle becoming the Duchess of Sussex because we like seeing a polished and seemingly empathetic American representing us on the international stage. With the buffoon president’s steady stream of racist, hateful rhetoric, general dishonesty and pungent nastiness sullying our national name, it’s nice to have an American standing with/for dignity and grace —and not just an American, but a biracial woman whose path — and the once-stodgy royal family’s embrace of — is the emotional and sociopolitical opposite of all President Trump represents.

Meghan Markle is the face of America’s future; Donald Trump and his reactionary racism are its past.

(PS: I was going to have a photo of Trump next to fresh-faced Markle for juxtaposition purposes, but it just didn’t feel right having his ugly mug next to such beauty.)

Donald Trump is the Definition of “Trump” (Old French)

While we’re on the subject of the English language, let’s talk about “Trump.”

When used as a verb, U.S. president Donald Trump’s surname is most often interpreted as “to surpass” or “to beat,” a terminology familiar from card games. Such usage  was popularized in the 1580s, when Middle English reigned, and which traces its origins to around the 1520s, when “to trump” was first used as “to triumph.” But this is not the first “ to trump,” and while Donald Trump undoubtedly prefers this dominant definition, the first, which is worse, is far more fitting — and French!

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Trump’s Formulaic Endorsements

Have you noticed that all of Donald Trump’s political endorsements are more or less the same? They always include the same phrase: “He” – it’s almost always a he – “is a fighter who will be tough on Crime and the Border, fight hard for our Second Amendment and loves our Military and our Vets. He has my full and complete Endorsement!”

The above was from his endorsement of Texas Congressman Pete Sessions. Here’s Trumpet’s endorsement of Danny Tarkanian: “[He] of Nevada is a great friend who supports the Trump Agenda. He is Strong on Crime, the Border and our under siege 2nd Amendment. Danny Loves our Military and our Vets. He has my total and complete Endorsement!”

And this: “Congressman Keith Rothfus continues to do a great job for the people of Pennsylvania. Keith is strong on Crime, the Border, and our Second Amendment. Loves our Military and our Vets. He has my total Endorsement!”

The examples go on – and they’re always the same: crime and border; second amendment; military and vets.

Clearly these endorsement’s aren’t from the heart; that space is too full of his own self-interest.

Found in the LOC: 1970 Cartoon Looks, Sounds Like Trump

Illustrator Robert Osborn couldn’t have known in the early 1970s that Donald Trump would become president. At that point Trump was busy dodging Vietnam.

It’s therefore pretty incredible that today, hours after the New York Times published an op-ed from a Trump staffer claiming to be standing between our deranged president and chaos, I searched “incompetent” on Library of Congress’ website and found, first thing, this 1970-1973 Osborn drawing entitled “The Incompetent Carried by the Underlings.”

There’s no indication the titular incompetent is the President of the United States, but I couldn’t not make the connection, especially after reading this description: “A large, erect, Frankenstein-like creature stand[ing] with arms folded, carried by an army of small men who act as his feet.”

The resemblance is uncanny.

Here’s a detail. I would download a better quality image, but the file is only available at the actual LOC:

Fun with Words: Trump and Obstruction

This semi-regular feature, Fun with Words (aka Etymological Adventures), has previously explored the linguistic roots of collusion, a word with which we’re all familiar due to – well, you know: Donald Trump and his constellation of cronies’ shady dealings. Today we’ll briefly explore another once-rarish term that Trump’s thrust into our everyday usage, collusion’s cousin by association: obstruction.

Born from the Latin word, obstructionem, itself the offspring of Ob, Latin for “in front of,” and the verb strurer, for “to pile or build,” the term “obstruction” emerged in English around the 1530s, and translated literally into “building up” or “creating a barrier” – a barrier like a wall, which, as we all know, real estate mogul Trump wants to make literal at the Mexican border.

In the meantime, Trump’s busying himself building a rhetorical wall against justice, a barrier built through lies and coercion, through acts like intervening in the Michael Flynn case; firing James Comey over his refusal to intervene in said case; drafting a faux narrative for Donald Trump Jr. to regurgitate vis a vis his meeting with Russians; Trump’s recent politicized demands that the DOJ investigate the FBI; and let’s not forget the barriers created by Trump’s unsubtle attacks on people involved in these investigations, not least of all against Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whom Trump has tried to influence by warning him not to nose around his personal finances…. All of this and more builds up a wall of lies and obfuscation that is the very definition of obstruction.

Perhaps one day truth, justice and karma will tear down that wall, burying Trump in a mess of his own making.

(For more Fun with Words, click here!)

CNN Ribs Trump in New ‘Facts First’ Ad: VIDEO

Donald Trump applies the phrase “fake news” to any story or outlet with which he disagrees, but he’s particularly fond of using “fake news” to slam his least favorite cable news source, CNN.

Now CNN’s using these attacks as the lynchpin in its new “facts first” ad campaign. Their approach is far more subtle than Trump’s – that man has never been subtle – but hopefully more effective.

Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP.

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Putin Wants You to Respect Trump

Brutish, undiplomatic President Trump’s something of a pariah among international leaders. Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras once referred to the former reality show host’s agenda as “evil,” while an unnamed European chief reportedly Trump to Mussolini — that’s what Joe Biden heard. But Trumpy does have at least one fan on the world stage: Vladimir Putin.

The Russian president yesterday decried all the anti-Trump rhetoric in the States, claiming opponents’ disapproval is “disrespect.” From the horse’s mouth: “Inside the country, disrespect is shown for him. This is a regrettable negative component of the US political system… One can argue but one can’t show disrespect, even not for him personally but for those people who voted for him.”

He went on,”Mr. Trump was elected by the American people. And at least for this reason, it is necessary to show respect for him, even if you do not agree with some of his positions.” Spoken like a true dictator.

A wily tactician, Putin’s probably buttering up Trump ahead of some policy request, because Putin, like the rest of us, know that the key to Trump’s heart is through his ego.

Trump Appointee Warns Team Trump on Ethics

Well, David J. Apol’s most likely toast in the Trump Administration.

Recently appointed by Donald Trump as acting head of Office of Government Ethics, Apol yesterday released a memo to all department heads to act ethically, a move that comes after a number of Trump Cabinet officials have come under fire for abusing their offices and wasting millions of taxpayer money on frivolous personal travel.

Former Health and Human Services chief Tom Price resigned two weeks ago for just that reason, and it appears Apol’s hoping to prevent similar scenarios from playing out in the future.

“I am deeply concerned that the actions of some in Government leadership have harmed perceptions about the importance of ethics and what conduct is, and is not, permissible,” Apol wrote in the letter, released yesterday. He adds, “The citizens we serve deserve to have confidence in the integrity of their Government.” He also gave Trump and his band of millionaire cabinet officials a reminder of how to act ethically, i.e.” “Demonstrate personal ethical behavior by modeling a ‘Should I do it’ mentality (versus a ‘Can I do it?’ mentality)” and “promote a safe culture for reporting misconduct.”

We know Donald Trump doesn’t appreciate being undercut by his underlings — though he’s more than willing to undercut them — so my bet is that Apol will be getting the ol’ James Comey treatment sooner, rather than later.

Vicious.

“Vicious” is being used voraciously this week. Donald Trump and his allies are using the word to describe the investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, while Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyer Michael R. Bromrich and others are describing Trump’s attacks on Ford in the same way.

Though we most often associate “vicious” with wild animals, it comes from the Latin lexeme “vitiosus”, meaning “depraved” or “wicked.” In essence, both Trump and his nemeses are calling the other wicked, a reality that cuts to the wick of the problem of bitter, seemingly intractable partisanship that’s blanketed America: it’s a fight for the very soul of Americas, a fight for the very definition of  right and wrong in America. It really should be no contest, but, alas, too many people have been beguiled by the Trumpeteer.

American Bigotry: 1832, 2018

Just a note, in case you’re interested: On this date in 1832, virulently racist President Andrew Jackson named Elbert Herring the first commissioner of the recently reorganized Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Freshly incorporated into the War Department, this newly emboldened agency soon enacted, at Jackson’s specific request, the forced removal of thousands of Native Americans from their rightful land, leading to the Trail of Tears. This wasn’t the first time Indians would be kicked off their land, nor would it be the last, but it was the largest such event of its kind, and the most brutal: an estimated 2,500-6,000 died as they were shoved west and involuntarily settled on reservations.

On a related note: Donald Trump cites Jackson as an inspiration. Could Jackson’s anti-Indian attitudes be inspiring the current president’s use of ICE to round up and detain Mexican immigrants, even those who are already naturalized citizens?