Columnist Dennis Helmus: Painful fall of the American empire

  • President Donald Trump points before boarding Air Force One at Morristown Municipal Airport, in Morristown, N.J., Sunday, en route to Washington from Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.  AP FILE PHOTO

Published: 7/9/2018 8:15:06 PM

The truth will set us free? Melania Trump was a foreign-born alien until she received her so-called “genius” green card and wore a jacket that read “I really don’t care, do u?” on her trip to visit a children’s shelter on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. Michelle Obama was a respected attorney who tells folks to “go high when they go low.”

Monica Lewinsky was a smart intern graduating from the London School of Economics while Stormy Daniels is a porn “actress” winning the 2004 Best New Starlet Award from Adult Video News.

Chelsea Clinton works on global initiatives in public health and policy. Ivanka Trump peddled expensively cheap bling worthy of the QVC channel. Jared Kushner’s tower drowns in debt hoping for a lifeline from Qatar.

Presidents paid their debts while the current one cheated average working people out of paychecks, declaring repeat bankruptcies and unpaid invoices. Rudy Giuliani can’t be bothered with the facts prompting Vanity Fair to write the headline: “Trump Assures Reporters He’ll Make Giuliani a Better Liar.”

Kellyanne Conway reiterates daily her boss is truthful, but husband George Conway said in the Wall Street Journal, “Trump should worry that Americans will stop believing anything he says.”

Presidents had competent, informed and skillful press secretaries while he has sycophant Sarah Huckabee Sanders who, as bootlickers are wont to do, dutifully dispenses nonsensical statements only a speaking-in-tongues person could fathom.

Maureen Dowd wrote that Michelle Wolf was right at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner about the press: “He couldn’t sell steaks or vodka or water or college or ties or Eric, but he has helped you. If you’re going to profit off of Trump, you should at least give him some money, because he doesn’t have any.”

As Nicholas Kristof wrote, “the biggest Trump scandals are not what he says but what he does …devastating the lives of the poor and vulnerable and systematically undermining American institutions and norms that underlie democratic government: courts, law enforcement, journalism, the intelligence community, truth.”

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warns that democracy is threatened by a “crisis of ethics and integrity” in his Virginia Military Institute commencement address and “if our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.”

A Nazi quote attributed to Goebbels and Hitler (and recently posted on an Andover High School student’s yearbook caption) reads “make the lie big, keep it simple, keep saying it and eventually they will believe it.”

Steve Schmidt, the veteran GOP strategist who worked in the George W. Bush White House and ran John McCain’s campaign for president, said in the Daily Beast, “The American people are fed a daily diet of nonsense-talk and lies in the form of what is effectively state media on Fox News and nobody should underestimate the threat posed by a political party where conservatism is now defined by absolute obedience to a leader with autocratic tendencies who fetishizes dictators and autocrats all over the world.

“Republican members of Congress are cowed and fearful of Trump and they have abrogated their oaths to defend the Constitution of the United States from Trump’s attacks on the rule of law; on objective truth; his defilement of important institutions; his sundering of the American people; his betrayals of the Atlantic alliance; his racism; and his cruelty. The party has become profoundly corrupt, both financially in the form of men like Scott Pruitt and Jared (Kushner) and Ivanka (Trump), but also intellectually rotten and corrupt.”

Presidents used to have press conferences with the actual real news press. This one has rallies with himself as the minister of propaganda. The naked truth shows the emperor has no clothes. Yet, a 40 percent approval rating exists, the so-called base of rich people and the disenfranchised both believing their fortunes will increase under this president — of course the former is true, and the latter is not.

“God Bless America” as he fiddles while she burns and the “have-nots” fall farther from the American dream believing a narcissistic real low-IQ bully represents their lottery number. They are not “deplorables” — they just want to be one  of the “haves.” Of course, voting for raising the minimum wage, paid medical and family leave, and Medicare for all would be a way —coal jobs aren’t coming back.

The fall of the American empire is painful but hopefully will be better for the world. But with China as the likely replacement — a country that has adopted the worst of capitalism and communism while simultaneously wedded to the handmaiden of corruption and graft — God help us all. North Korea and Pakistan still have nuclear weapons.

Perhaps the extinction of most humans to preserve the planet and its nonhuman inhabitants is the only humane solution. Koko the gorilla died last month — you know she spoke sign language, and when meeting Mr. Rogers signed “I love you.” Perhaps a return to the planet of the apes is the only hope for civilization.

In the meantime, one last thing: Pray RBG and the rest of the justices who are not ideologues live another healthy three years at least — or we as a democracy are truly doomed to be left in the dust heap of history.

Dennis Helmus, of Northampton, was a founding commissioner and vice chairman of the Northampton Human Rights Commission.

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