Note: This is the second installment of The Toilet Zone, a commentary series on the Trump presidency.
“Lies are usually attempts to make everything simpler—for the liar—than it really is, or ought to be.” — Adrienne Rich
This is not how I prefer to spend my time: reading and monitoring the daily news and social media, compulsively watching cable network talking heads, and blogging about our 45th President, his family, the Republicans, the cabinet, and the white-men-in-suits minions. I’ve created this series to inoculate myself, The Toilet Zone, a virtual letting-go device, a way to flush or cleanse my brain of the toxic waste and shit storm created by the diverter, distorter, and misleader of the United States, Donald J. Trump.
The past couple of months has been a time when I’ve felt like a stranger in a strange land —yes, the science fiction reference to Robert Heinlein’s novel of the same name was intentional. It’s as if I don’t speak the language of this new country that I’m living in, that I’m an alien of sorts, unfamiliar with the culture, and the nuances of the spoken language. I hear the words, yet when I attempt to process them, the words and their speakers’ actions often don’t match.
I need a decoder ring, a popular toy from the 1930’s and 40’s, to help me translate encryptions, ciphers, and secret codes. It’s no longer just the president speaking in tongues (yes, I’m mixing metaphors), it’s his press secretary, Sean Spicer, adviser, Kellyanne Conway, and recently, Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and many others.
How we interpret and translate what we hear depends on whether we support the Trump presidency, it’s values (or, lack of them), and roadmap to Make America Great Again, or not. A byproduct of this crooked communication is different audiences use the words and messages they hear to reinforce their core beliefs. A note and caution to the reader: This essay employs many metaphors and references to fairy tales and science fiction, because I feel like I’m living in an altered reality.
Some days, I feel like Alice in Wonderland reading Lewis Carroll’s poem, Jabberwocky, from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Alice responds, “It seems very pretty,” she said when she had finished it, “but it’s rather hard to understand!” (You see she didn’t like to confess, even to herself, that she couldn’t make it out at all.) “Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas—only I don’t exactly know what they are! However, somebody killed something: that’s clear, at any rate.”
In this contemporary story the something being killed is our democracy and representative government.
Truth and Lies
When Time magazine chooses for its cover story, Is Truth Dead?, an analysis of President’s Trump first days in office, and focuses on his lies, gaslighting, unfounded and unproven accusations, diversion tactics, and Tweet pronouncements, rather than his policy achievements, it’s clear, “we’re in not in Kansas anymore.” Trump is out of his depth as a leader, and some even speculate, he may be out of his mind. Others believe he is as cunning and dangerous as the fox in the henhouse.
Trump has the lowest approval rating of any president in his first days in office. He’s broken many of his campaign promises from who would pay for the wall at our border in Mexico, his promise to protect women, LGBTQ people, and make America safe, by only deporting criminal illegal immigrants and terrorists and not working families with children born in this country as citizens. He’s deceived the unemployed, and the coal miners, and most concerning, he’s making enemies of our allies, and allies of our enemies.
What he once described as easy — creating affordable healthcare coverage for all Americans and their families, promising comprehensive benefits at a lower cost — is now complicated. He first blamed the Democrats for the failure of the Republicans to repeal and replace ACA, then invited them to work together across party lines, soon he threatened and assigned blame to the House Freedom Caucus, and finally concluded that he hoped ACA would first implode then explode to show how the Democrats and Obama failed. Oh, My!
Now that the Senate is beginning its hearings, and the FBI is investigating Trump, his family, advisers, and cabinet members for “cooperation” with the Russians (quotes are intentional, yes, in this case a euphemism for collusion and maybe in the end, treason), each day we learn more about how our election may have been hijacked by thousands of Russian operatives and hackers and our national security, and privacy of both our government and individuals have been compromised.
Now Trump and his minions are attempting to use their diversionary tools of Tweets, smoke screens, and false accusations to target Obama, Clintons, Podesta, and the Democratic Party (again!). Their blame game and assertion that the FBI and Congress are investigating the wrong people is laughable.
We only need to watch and listen to Trump, Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway, and now Devin Nunes, and our internal, gut-check lie detectors are sounding off. If only the childhood Mattel game, Lie Detector, was a real tool, we could confirm our suspicions by giving the suspects the test. Metaphors, memories, and childhood storybook fables, seem to stream easily into my consciousness during these dazed and confused times.
Yes, like the science fantasy television program of the past, the Twilight Zone, I employ my metaphor, The Toilet Zone, to rid myself of the lies, deception, and distortions of this presidency — the toxic waste of the daily news cycles, social media trollers, press conference spin rooms (just one degree removed from Saturday Night Live skits) and Trump’s Tweets and campaign events — which begs the question, “When is he going to quit campaigning?”
We all need a good cleanse. Flush. I feel better now.
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