Rage against Rumpcare

Important note: The photographer is away in Utah, hiking through landscapes, reading worthy novels and eating chocolate. She did not choose the photographs here. Instead, I found them all in the crazy mixed-up files of Tracy J. Johnston. Reprinted without approval. Photos probably need tweaking to bring out maximum whatever. Thank you for your patience.

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I heard Paul Ryan say something that (I say “heard”, although it very well could be “read”.  I saw/heard/read it on television or radio or Twitter or Facebook or email, in links or soundbites or something. Media is fungible now, so that data might have come from a Facebook link to a news program taped for television that I saw on my phone, or an email link to a photograph found on Instagram posted in response to a tweet — I mean, really, who can remember? I try to curate my data by reliability, but I still get fooled. So, anyway, Paul Ryan — I think I need to start the sentence again).

I heard Paul Ryan say, “we will end the nightmare of Obamacare.” I thought: In what sense is Obamacare a nightmare? Ten million people got healthcare coverage who did not have it before. Ten million! And maybe 24 million will lose health insurance under Ryan + Trump care — Rumpcare. Twenty-four million! And Obamacare is a nightmare because costs are going up? Well, hell, everything is going up. Maybe cut-throat capitalism has not come to Niggardly Patriarch, Wisconsin, but everywhere else prices are rising. Maybe what you mean is that employers will save money because Rumpcare doesn’t require them to provide health care.  Is that the real reason, bucko? You are SLIME. You want to thrust some hastily created liver sandwich of a health care plan into the mouths of consumers because it fits with  your loony demonstrably untrue economic philosophy. Do you understand that you are creating DEAD PEOPLE? You are MURDERING VETERANS. You are telling the parents of special needs kids to FUCK OFF. Well, you FUCK OFF, you soulless TWIT. I’d like to set fire to a bag of shit right by YOUR FRONT DOOR AND —

Rage is a useless emotion. It may be an appropriate emotion, but it scrambles your brain. It is so intense that it makes you feel like you’re doing something. And you’re not. This whole Trump/Ryan/Bannon thing is a complicated problem with no apparent solution. So get it out of your system and move on. Be calm. Don’t rant. Destroying paradigms is the best revenge.

We have been stupid. Kellyanne Conway kneels on a White House couch, and the leftist Internet goes crazy. Because why? Dunno. Professional women take their shoes off frequently, and hooray. I blame the shoes, and the catastrophic harm done to women’s feet. And, like, does this have anything to do with the new criminalization of Muslims, or the forming of ICE into a paramilitary unit, or the sanctioned pollution of our rivers?

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And what about Neil Gorsuch, the presumptive Supreme Court justice? He’s not crazy and probably competent. That’s the best we’re going to get from this administration. “Not crazy and probably competent” is a low bar, but it’s one we’re stuck with. Anyone Donald Trump nominates is going to be toxic; we have to decide between levels of toxicity. This guy is fine. The Trump administration has issued 100 loathsome orders; go attack one of those. Do you know what Ben Carson is doing? (So far, nothing, but he’s entirely disconnected from reality, so pay attention.)

Also, and I say this with sadness: Satire is a trap. I love satire; I’ve even been known to write satire. But it somehow makes you feel like you’ve won. You have said that the emperor has no clothes.  Alas, the emperor stopped claiming he was wearing clothes months ago. Satire feeds on stupidity and hypocrisy, and the Trump administration is a superfund site of stupidity and hypocrisy.

We do irony so well. Alas, the country is not so enamored of irony. What its citizens want are solutions, and they haven’t gotten them for a very long time. They’re poor. Their lives suck. The people making fun of them are, by and large, richer than they are.  Oops, we appear to be on the wrong side of class warfare! It’s hard to get up and say, “but I give money to Doctors Without Borders!” and expect that to make the deplorables perk up.

We can be clever — strike that, we are clever — but it always seems like the job is finished when you tweet (or say, or whatever — media is fungible) something devastating. There, killed that dragon! But sadly, no. Dragon still there. See, here’s something else I’m sure of: Satire is one of the shapes fear takes. It’s a soothing practice, like meditation except angrier.  What we need are non-ironic smarts. What we need is intellectual courage.

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I think there’s a prism that liberals have, a particular way of understanding the world. We tend to look at social issues in a fact-based way. Let’s collect the data; let’s massage the data. We believe in progress, solutions, outreach, partnership. But how about someone who is unlike us?

What if someone looks at social issues in a revenge-based way?

I think that’s what the Democratic Party is facing. It talked about inclusion, but it didn’t include anyone who wasn’t already included. The party (and the candidate) talked in worthy buzz-phrases like “a nation of immigrants” or “a woman’s right to choose” or  “embrace diversity.” I believe in all those things, but I am not the target audience. Presumably, the campaign is designed to sway people who are not voting for you to vote for you. That’s the whole point. If campaign rallies are just going to be self-congratulatory hug-a-thons, there ain’t gonna be a lot of people under that alleged big tent.

Yes, yes, Hillary won the popular vote by 3 million — although she didn’t win the election, which was her job. But that’s not the scandal. The scandal is that over 62 million people voted for Donald Trump. I suspect a lot of people who voted for him knew he’d be a terrible president, but boy would he piss off the people who made fun of them.

This election should have been a slam dunk. Obama in 2008 won Ohio and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and North Carolina, running against a war hero. Hillary ran against a brainless crazy person, and she failed to win any of those states. She spent a whole lot of time saying bad things about Donald Trump, apparently unaware that stirred up an enormous amount of resentment. Trump was improbably running as the plucky underdog. She made fun of  Trump. A lot. (Don’t think so? Check this out.) Probably not a good idea, however much he deserved it.

So do not tell me the Democratic Party is fine because Hillary won the popular vote. It’s not fine. The people who identify themselves as Democrats are not fine. We’re LOSING. We can applaud ourselves for fighting whatever good fight we fought this week, but we’re still

losing.

I would very much like to stop doing that. The Democrats seem to be impotent. There was a big Women’s March; the party should have had a presence. Hell, it should have organized it. Ditto the Day Without Immigrants. But no, the major work of the #Resistance is being done by motivated citizens outside the party framework. And those folks will need  a candidate, because we need humans to stand for office and figure out how to start

winning.

The old ideas are good. Justice, compassion, generosity, peace, science — I can get behind those.  Love instead of fear? Rah rah rah. But our messaging sucks. You know that liberal media y’all have been hearing about? They don’t seem to know much about actual communication with actual humans. People who have not bought into this consensus (indeed, people who feel that they have not even been invited to play) need a new vocabulary, a new way of framing these familiar ideals in a way that doesn’t stink of bureaucratic euphemisms. The demagogic blandishments of the other side are so strong that some of Trump’s strongest supporters are the people who will be screwed by Rumpcare.  How can this be? Doesn’t the Constitution assume that self interest will be a reliable motive? But no. Racism is of course part of the problem, but racism is only cured by a change of geography and a few generations of time.

So our job is to get the non-racists to discern where their self interest lies. If Grandma died of liver cancer because of the pathogens in her drinking water — maybe that could be the clinching argument. Worth a shot, anyway.

We need brainpower. We need to get inside of personal Ideatrons and brainstorm our way to a better tomorrow. Should we be all stealthy and work on state legislature races? Should we find a candidate for president who is not tied to the old Democratic Party? How will we talk about our ideas in a way that doesn’t make people feel stupid for even having questions? Showing up and marching is excellent, and I urge you to do it. But thinking new smart things is also good.

You know what the box looks like. Think outside it.

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Unauthorized photographs taken by Tracy Johnston

Useful facts ‘n’ stuff: Michelle Mizera

I actually do know that “media” is the plural of “medium,” and that the verbs attached to “media” should treat it as a plural noun. On the other hand, those rules come from Latin, and I am writing in English. My ear thinks that “media” in English is sometimes plural and sometimes singular, an idea that drives copy editors crazy. But English frequently outpaces its rules, and I love to watch it gambol.

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41 thoughts on “Rage against Rumpcare

  1. Even more enraging, Trump’s proposed budget completely defunds Meals on Wheels. I mean, huh, old shut-ins who might otherwise starve, screw ’em, you know? It has been pointed out online that the cost to the federal government of Trump’s trips to Mar-el-Lago SO FAR would completely fund Meals on Wheels. SMDH.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Meals on Wheels program gets only 3 – 4% of their budget from the government. The rest of their funds come from corporate and private funds. Just FYI. Still horrific in the scheme of things but let’s be clear about facts.

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  2. So, I probably screwed up by flipping off Trump on the television while on the elliptical at the gym yesterday. I couldn’t help myself. Armed with your words, I’ll try to figure out something smarter and a little more effective. Also, something that doesn’t make people think I’m crazy. Thanks as always to a well-written piece.

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  3. I just love your thoughts, insights, inspiration, direction for us. Everything!I will approach my verbal and post contributions as well as everything elsewith your approach.Thank you.Heidi   Heidi Mueller   Real Estate Broker   415-722-2076   heidi@sfrelo.com   CABRE: 00974036  My Blog

    From: Jon Carroll Prose To: heidi@sfrelo.com Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2017 11:50 AM Subject: [New post] Rage against Rumpcare #yiv5403822418 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv5403822418 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv5403822418 a.yiv5403822418primaryactionlink:link, #yiv5403822418 a.yiv5403822418primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv5403822418 a.yiv5403822418primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv5403822418 a.yiv5403822418primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv5403822418 WordPress.com | joncarrollprose posted: “Important note: The photographer is away in Utah, hiking through landscapes, reading worthy novels and eating chocolate. She did not choose the photographs here. Instead, I found them all in the crazy mixed-up files of Tracy J. Johnston. Reprinted without” | |

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  4. There was an old nostrum that white folks in the North loved blacks as a group, but hated them as individuals, and that Southern white folks loved blacks as individuals but hated them as a group. This parallels the idea of liberals presented here. We liberals love having these wonderful ideas of how people should think and act, but God forbid we should actually attempt to engage “those people”.
    This was why people voted for “him”. He spoke directly to them. Those who were angry at being ignored for so long are happy now, since what they wanted most was for things to get completely fucked up, and that’s what’s happening.
    Those truly in need who voted for him were suckered by the same old xenophobic, racist bullshit.

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  5. Ah, the JC I most love – smashing through all the BS to get the nugget of truth. I worked a lot of years in advertising. The key thing I learned was that no one will listen or pay attention unless you make a connection with them in some form, shape, or manner. And your entire communication must fit in with their view of the world. Emotional connections are the strongest. There is no way to to accomplish that without an empathetic understanding you can only get by listening, listening, and listening some more.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jon, I think this is the best rant and anti rant I have read or said….so glad you are you….and that we are we…We Rise!

      Like

  6. O my yes, Jon. I hopped off the Toxic Trump Train for a bit, hung up my political cartooning and it sure feels fookin great. He’ll still be roiling in those rancid orange juices but jayzus, this fresh air sure feels goot! Toot toot!

    Like

  7. Well, Jon, you are correct.

    But before I continue, a little aside: we all know everything costs more than it did even just a week ago but, according to our Government and the Social Security Administration, it would seem that: “The cost of everything is going up except the cost of living.” Grrr!

    Now, “our” position vis a vis “Reality” is simple – it is Obvious! Good, Moral, Kind, Considerate, Coöperative, etc., etc., etc.

    I am at a loss to even attempt to address supporters of The Trumpet.

    Like Ryan, they establish their basic premises out the gate with a “Whoa there Bigg Fella” comment like “… the nightmare of Obamacare.”

    Their basic assumptions are wrong, wrong, wrong, but they are making a secondary point and you must choose to address their secondary point or their basic premise and any attempt to regain control of the discussion is doomed to fail.

    It adds way to much complexity and intellectual agility to the discussion.

    “They” believe what we call Lies and “They” call objective truth “Fake News.”

    Where do we start?

    How do we begin?

    It would seem coal miners miss the days when anyone could get Black Lung for free just by showing up and dang that clean water in the creek! It used to be full of mine waste and thanks to Our Guy it will be again! Hallelujah!

    Years ago (an anecdote) a friend and his lady were staying with me. She said “Come to bed now or you can sleep in the truck!” (The truch was full of garbage.)

    He was strong and independent, sticking up for his rights so he didn’t go to bed “now.”

    I said to him: “Congratulations, Billy! You won. You get to sleep in the garbage!”

    We have folks who have been told that they should prefer to die in the street that be forced to buy insurance.

    They have been told a lot of other things we know (evidence, science, studies, all that crap) to be untrue but that don’t matter.

    “Job-killing,” “Trickle-down,” “Tax cuts,” all have a nice faith-based ring but that ring is hollow.

    That stuff didn’t kill no jobs.

    Nothin’ trickles down but piss.

    You never paid no taxes anyway ’cause you don’t make enough, but rich folks do!

    Just go out to “The Heartland” where it seems there ain’t no Heart.

    Turn on the radio and see how long your kind, generous spirit will last without NPR.

    You listen to Republican talk radio all day long and you’ll be convinced “Obama is a Muslim.”

    I don’t think changing all those minds is as easy as we might hope, Democratic Party makeover or not.

    I remember a story about an old guy trying to get a mule to do something.

    Another guy said: “Whoa, you gotta talk to him nice.”

    Then he hit it with a 2×4

    First guy said: “I thought you said talk nice?”

    “Yeah, but you gotta get its attention first.”

    I fear all we can do is rant.

    It is tough to get folks to stop, turn around and walk back, away from what they’ve been told is the light.

    We have to get their attention first and that part ain’t easy.

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  8. I’m not so sure that Gorsuch is the best we can get. What if all the talk about Russia is proven to amount to something, or a combination of some of the other crazy things which have been happening somehow comes to a head in a particularly damning way, and our president is actually impeached? I realize Trump is not likely to compromise under any ordinary situations, but it’s not impossible that extraordinary events will change that. I’m not sure whether that is thinking outside the box or not, but it’s certainly an attempt to do so, and confirming Gorsuch will be a highly mixed “blessing,” so to speak.

    On Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 11:50 AM, Jon Carroll Prose wrote:

    > joncarrollprose posted: “Important note: The photographer is away in Utah, > hiking through landscapes, reading worthy novels and eating chocolate. She > did not choose the photographs here. Instead, I found them all in the crazy > mixed-up files of Tracy J. Johnston. Reprinted without” >

    Like

    1. If that series of extraordinary events were to come about, and Trump then removed from office, Pence would step into the President’s shoes — a truly hard-core, fundamentalist Christian conservative, who would for all practical purposes be an American Ayatollah Khomeini. If you think Gorsuch is bad, wait’ll you see the judicial nominees President Pence would put forth…

      Like

  9. 242,480,000 people in the United States are over 18. Turnout for the election was about 135 million.
    That leaves 107 million up for grabs. That”s plenty of potential for someone with good ideas.

    Like

  10. Hello Jon,

    A worthy rant; very enjoyable. I very much agree with your comments about Dems/liberals not being in touch with all those folks who voted Trump in.

    As to “Rumpcare”: I propose that we try to get the term “Republicare” into the discussion. This would have the effect tying the effects of the proposed AHCA to all Republicans. This may positively affect the 2018 election (from a lefty perspective).

    All best,

    Patrick Mason

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  11. Dude — While you say you supported and voted for Hillary, your merciless year-after- year rants against her are well remembered. You influenced others, and you played a part (albeit small) in the election of Trump. Apologize or shut the fuck up.

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    1. No one should need to apologize for voting or not voting for Hillary. No one should need to apologize for criticizing a candidate if they believe there are problems with that candidate. Criticizing Hillary Clinton is not what got Trump elected. That’s what primaries are for, that’s what campaigning is about, that’s what a democracy should be about.

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  12. OK. Dragging-their-ass Democrats, and satire and rants aside, tens of thousands of people, many who never took part in any political action in their entire lives, are now taking direct, nationwide action against .Rump-Trump policies through the ACLU’s People Power and indivisible.com movements. Act! And act NOW!

    Like

  13. John Carroll, this is the best article you’ve written since you left the Chron. I know, I know! That’s just my opinion. But I am telling you, you are on it! So glad to see you rocking it again!
    Your super long time pal, Candace.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Throughout 2016, retired linguistics professor George Lakoff had warned Dems that their language was not resonating with alienated and independent voters, and that they were underestimating Trump. He insists that the Dems have to learn the science of how people actually learn and are persuaded.

    http://www.salon.com/2017/01/15/dont-think-of-a-rampaging-elephant-linguist-george-lakoff-explains-how-the-democrats-helped-elect-trump/

    The Democrats won’t win until their leadership develops spine, and learns how to speak to people with passion and clarity (and yes, slogans that capture peoples’ hopes). Sanders could do that, Clinton could not quite get there.

    Now, she also lost close races in swing states where there have been determined efforts at voter suppression since at least 2010, and the over $100 million the Republicans have spent on investigations over the last 25-plus years to destroy she and Bill’s reputations paid dividends, as well. Then Comey came along, for reasons that are still unclear.

    So there is much to do, the Dems can still win, but they need to bring their “A” game to elections, forget their cozy relationships with the military-industrial-Wall Street complex, and realize sweet reason is not enough.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Isaac: ” Has anybody read that
      nazis are going to march in New Jersey, you know? I
      read this in the newspaper, we should go down there, get
      some guys together, you know, get some bricks and
      baseball bats and really explain things to them.”

      [Man]: “There was this devastating satirical piece on that on the op-ed
      page of the Times. It is devastating.”

      Isaac: “Well, well, a satirical piece in the Times is one thing, but
      bricks and baseball bats really gets right to the
      point.”

      [Woman]: “Oh, but really biting satire is always better than physical
      force.”

      Isaac: “No, physical force is always better with nazis. Cos
      it’s hard to satirize a guy with shiny boots.”

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m late to the party and off topic as well, sorry. (Although let’s just say I’m not as optimistic as you are that there is any magic message democrats could craft that could turn the tide until Trump supporters feel good and ready to direct their anger more productively, for reasons entirely unpredictable from our current vantage point, but whatever. Your posts are always thought-provoking and entertaining and I always appreciate them).

    Instead something totally different caught my eye: the “mixed up files” of your talented wife. You were probably just being descriptive, but I couldn’t help hoping it was somehow an allusion to the children’s book by E. L. Konisberg, The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, which I read a bazillion years ago. OK, that’s a long shot. But I loved her books and remembering them made me happy, and even though it now seems entirely improbable that the “mixed up files” phrase came from there, it was a cheerful thought that somehow you were familiar with her work too and that the title had somehow remain lodged in your memory.

    Anyway, so happy to see your column survives, have always been a big fan and never understood why you and your writing weren’t Famouser. So many writers of lesser talents got so much more exposure. Harumph.

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  16. “I suspect a lot of people who voted for him knew he’d be a terrible president, but boy would he piss off the people who made fun of them.”

    I think that’s the crux of the matter — Trump supporters felt ignored and forgotten by the rest of us, and even when the media deigned to turn its eye upon them, it was often just a brief, patronizing glance. The “flyover people” didn’t really matter, because it was those big stacks of electoral votes on both coasts that would send Trump back to “The Apprentice” for good. And so — their fires of resentment and rage stoked by so many years of propaganda from Fox “News,” Rush Limbaugh, and the other purveyors of Hate Radio — the forgotten people struck back with a vengeance.

    In retrospect, it seems clear that Bernie — drawing from the same dark waters of economic discontent — would have run a much stronger race against Trump, but Hillary was the Annointed One of the Democratic establishment right from the get-go. And really, who among us thought Trump could ever survive the primaries, much less become the nominee? We all enjoyed watching him take down Cruz, Rubio, Bush, and the rest of that dismal GOP lineup, but what we didn’t understand is that Trump was building up some serious political momentum — and once a prairie fire gets going, it’s hard to stop.

    This was a collective failure in which we all share some blame, but we have to remember that it didn’t happen overnight — those forces of resentment and rage had been building for a long time — and it won’t go away anytime soon. So Jon is right — going apeshit over silly things like Conway’s kneeling on a couch and chasing after every stupid Trump tweet like a brainless dog retrieving the same ball over and over again only distracts from the reality of what’s happening, and in so doing, dilutes what power we still have.

    That power is precious, and not to be squandered — rather, it should be focused where and when it can do the most good. And where is that? I don’t claim to know — I’m just another non-politician still scratching his head over the inconceivable absurdity of having such an ignorant, impulsive, thin-skinned buffoon in the Oval Office. But I agree with Jon that it’s time we stopped getting hysterical every stupid click-bait tap-dance Conway and Spicer perform each week, and start thinking about how to more effectively communicate with some portion of those Trump supporters. As the reality of Rumpcare and the draconian Ryan budget hits home, a lot of those people will experience buyer’s remorse and begin to have second thoughts about Trump and the GOP… and that will be the time to reach out and let them know what we have in common.

    Easy to say, hard to do — but I think we’ll have to find a way.

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  17. I think the point about the kneel-on-the-couch thing was that a bunch of African-Americans were in the office for some ceremonial do and people felt she was disrespecting them. Probably not her intent, but it looked bad.

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  18. Longtime fan of yours….will you tell me where your grand daughter rode horses? My Oakland grand daughter is 5 and I would love to introduce her to horses….thanks, Robin

    On Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 11:50 AM, Jon Carroll Prose wrote:

    > joncarrollprose posted: “Important note: The photographer is away in Utah, > hiking through landscapes, reading worthy novels and eating chocolate. She > did not choose the photographs here. Instead, I found them all in the crazy > mixed-up files of Tracy J. Johnston. Reprinted without” >

    Like

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