Saturday, 17 November 2018

Farenheit 11/9 - Mike vs The Trumpet

One of the interesting things that I noticed when I was looking up reviews of this movie on the Internet was how it flopped at the box office. In fact, I'm not really all that surprised, not so much that Michael Moore doesn't have his adoring fans, but rather the professional critics really don't see the world in the same way that Michael Moore does - it was never his intention to 'make money' out of this film, just as it was never his intention to win an Academy Award, which he did for Bowling for Columbine. Mind you, like a lot of these groups, it is all well and good when he challenges others, but when turns around and lays his criticism against us then we tend to get rather annoyed. In fact, he even mentions that Jared Kushner was a big fan of his movie Sicko, though I'm not entirely sure if he would be saying the same thing about this film.

I probably don't need to actually say anything about what this film is about, because it is probably quite obvious - Donald Trump. Well, not so much the Trumpet himself, though he does appear regularly throughout the film, but rather it is about the system that installed him as president. In fact, he takes aim quite squarely at the Democrats as well as the Republicans, particularly since there is also the suggestion that at times the Democrats don't even try to win, or when they do they are so indistinguishable from the Republicans that there is no point in voting for them, or even going out to vote. As the saying goes, it doesn't matter who you vote for, a politician gets elected.

Things are a little different here in Australia, namely because our voting system is quite different, which I'll get onto shortly, but the thing in the United States is that it isn't so much the people who go out and vote, but the people who simply do not care. Sure, there are arguments both for and against compulsory voting, namely that in a democracy it is your obligation to participate in the political process, while the opposite is also a valid point, and that is that in a democracy you should have the freedom to stay home and not vote. In fact, there is this other odd quirk in that elections always happen on a Tuesday, which makes me wonder how people are able to vote, and go to work. However, they do have postal voting in the United States as well, and I believe they also have absentee voting.

The Lucky Country

Well, I mentioned that I would say something about our system of voting, and that is that we have compulsory voting, and we also have what is known as preferential voting. Preferential voting is that you have to number all of the boxes on the voting slip and then cast your vote. Then, when the votes are counted each of the votes are tallied by who was number one on the ticket, and once all the votes have been counted then they keep only the two largest, and divide the remainder by their second, third, and forth preference (depending on how many people are on the ticket) until one candidate has more than 50% of the vote. This is actually a pretty good method of voting because not only are you getting two votes for the price of one, but you are never wasting your vote - if the person you put down as 1 is knocked out, then your other preferences are then counted (and it also means that you don't have to return for a runoff election). 

What this means is that while we do have two parties in our system, it means that these parties won't necessarily become entrenched, as we are currently seeing elsewhere. There have always been independents in the Australian parliament, but one of the reasons for this is because once an independent gets elected, then they can be very hard to remove, namely because the punters see that they aren't necessarily controlled by the party machine, and they also they tend to put a lot more effort into working with the electorate, and tend to build a lot of support from their constituents. Needless to say that the major parties really don't like them, namely because they don't have all that much control over them or the way that they vote.

Then there is the thing with compulsory voting - if we have to make the effort to get out of bed, walk down to the voting booth and cast our vote, then we are going to make sure that our vote counts. As it turns out, the number of informal votes is surprisingly low, though you always get that young person who really doesn't care and ends up drawing a penis on his ticket. Surprisingly though, we seem to be one of the very few countries who has such a system, though we certainly don't take it anywhere near as seriously as some countries where the participants will literally dress up in their best clothes to go and cast their vote.

Biting The Hand

I guess that is one of the major problems when it comes to politics, and that it is really, really expensive to get elected. We always hear of candidates funding themselves, or raising money through small supporter donations, but the thing is that sooner, or later, you are going to need more, and a lot of the low hanging fruit is basically gone. This means that when the big offers start to come in then it is just too tempting to say no, especially when your coffers are empty. The problem then arises that these people aren't giving you money for nothing - they want favours, and it is not always in the form of tax cuts (though they can be a huge bonus when they come through). 

Honestly, this is probably one of the biggest problems in politics, and that is the money. You need money to get elected, and you need money to keep on getting yourself elected. In fact, there was a movie, Brewster's Millions, where the protagonist had to spend a heap of money in a short amount of time, and not have anything to his name at the end. Well, he decided not so much to run for mayor, but to run a campaign where he encouraged people to basically vote for nobody. The thing is that if you don't get elected, then that is an awful lot of money down the drain.

Australia has an interesting system where you are paid money based on the number of votes you receive. Once you pass a threshold the more votes you get, the more money you receive. The idea is that you are reimbursed for any money that you spent on attempting to get yourself elected, but there are people out there who have turned that into a rather nice little money spinner for themselves. Yeah, we also have a register where any donations over a certain amount must be declared, and politicians aren't allowed to profit from the government either, in that you can't award contracts to companies that you own, or companies that you have financial interests.

A Party of Losers

This was one really interesting thing that Moore raised in the movie, and that is that it seems as if the Democrats want to lose, or that they are so used to losing that they simply don't even try anymore. Okay, we had the Obama campaign that got him elected on a message of hope and change, but despite the fact that I still quite like the guy, the reality is that none of this hope and change actually came about. In fact, during his presidency the police became even more militarised, we had the riots break out in Fergusson, and the drone war was expanded without end. Yet Obama's campaign was a well orchastrated campaign, even though as far as I'm concerned, the stock market crash of 2008 was what got him over the line (and he not only orchastrated the bailouts, but did nothing to actually punish the perpetrators of the crisis). 

The Democrats are an interesting party though, considering that originally they were the party of the slave states. In fact after the civil war there was no way that the Republicans were ever going to win an election in the south. Boy have times changed, and changed a lot because it seems as if there has been a monumental switch. Remember, the Republicans were the party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, the man who broke apart the corporate monopolies that dominated the country. Yet you could never imagine somebody of the callibre of those two men leading the Republicans to a presidential victory these days. What happened? Why is it that the party that courted the slave owners is now the party that courts the black vote, and is also the party that produced America's first black president?

I'd suggest FDR and LBJ. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the Democratic president during the Great Depression and World War II. Not only did he enact social reforms but during the war would come down heavily on any company that was suspected of profiteering from the war. Gee, it is a shame that these war profiteering clauses don't exist in contracts today, particularly since war is big business. As for Lyndon Baines Johnson, well he was the president that presided over the civil rights act. Wouldn't it have been interesting if there was bipartisan support for this bill, meaning that the bigots and racists would have been left out in the cold. Well, unfortunately that didn't happen because when it became clear that the Democrats had become the party of reconciliation and civil rights, our good friend Tricky Dick decided that it was high time to start courting the South. Yeah, the south have never forgotten the civil war, and being a coloured person in the South isn't a fun experience.

Yet there is also this thing about the Democrats being the progressive party. Well, I'm not entirely convinced about that. Obama was supposed to be one of the most progressive Presidents in recent memory, and it seems as if little in the way of progressive policies actually were enacted. The banks are still raking in millions of dollars in profits from people that don't have any money, the corporations still control Congress, and the Dakota Access Pipeline was still being built through Indian land. Sure, there are arguments that the Democrats are facing an uphill battle when it comes to corporate money and media attention, but honestly, with Trump's hatred of the media you would have thought that they would have rallied to the Democrats side? Well, these midterms certainly didn't bring about the blue wave that everybody was expecting, but then again that just may have been a good thing.

Hiding in Plain Site

Well, Michael Moore certainly made some insinuations in his film, insinuations that I am not going to repeat, namely because there is no hard evidence that what he was suggesting was what actually happened. Sure, Donald Trump may be sexist, and may be racist, that is clear enough from watching his rallies and things that he has said, but there is a line that one should be very, very careful not to cross. Sure, I'm not entirely sure Moore had crossed it, but he certainly came close.

Anyway, his suggestion was that one of the best ways to commit a criminal act is to actually do it so that everybody can see you doing it. Look, I'm not entirely sure if that is probably the best advice to give a would be criminal, but I think he does have a point. In many cases this has more to do with committing fraud, and treason, as is suggested, than simply being a street criminal. Remember, there is a big difference between street crime and corporate crime - street criminals inevitably get caught.

However, while there are a lot of allegations regarding his business dealings, and the suggestion that as a business man he was pretty bad, in fact so bad that there was a point that banks wouldn't lend to him, which meant that he allegedly had to go and get his finances from Russia. However, like many in the corporate world, finding out the truth can be really difficult indeed. You know, isolating debts in shell companies, and using bankruptcy laws to be able to get away without repaying your debts. In fact there is a suggestion that Trump is who he is because he never pays up. Actually, this is the case across the board, and one of the reasons why solicitors always take money up front - half the people that you are dealing with are most likely those who will never, ever cough up. I've known plenty of these types of people, and they certainly raise the ire of many around us. I guess that is why Jesus made the comment that when we lend out money to people, don't expect it back.

Let's talk about Russia? Is it actually treason for a head of state to seek to normalise relations with a country? Well, actually, I don't think it is, but that isn't the question, is it? I think the question arises more with the alleged interference in the 2016 election, before he was president. I suspect that if he was having meetings with the Russians, particularly where there were sanctions against the country, and  making arrangements to help him win the election, then the charges could well be there. The problem is that treason, and in fact any crime, simply do not exist as an open and shut case. Sure, we may suspect that things were going on, but we need to be able to prove that these things were going on, and that he was complicit in them, and that is where the problem lies. It appears that there have already been resignations in that regard, but the investigation is still ongoing, and I wouldn't be surprised if nothing actually comes from it. 

The Trumpet

Honestly, I'm starting to get sick of people referring to Donald Trump as an idiot. Honestly, if he was an idiot he would have not become president of the United States, particularly without connections or backers. According the Michael Moore, when he first made his announcement it was basically treated as a joke. In fact, he believes that it was a joke, if only to get back at CBS for paying him less than Gewn Steffani (something that I could quite easily believe). Well, it seemed to snowball from there, particularly since all of the news networks started running with it. They weren't running with it because they admired him, they did it because they thought the whole idea was ludicrious. Well, I guess you can't pay for coverage like that, which in reality he wasn't. 

Then let us look at how he completely decimated each and everyone of the Republican presidential hopefuls, hopefuls that had far more connections and far more experience than he had. Yet there is something that we completely forget about the Trumpet, and that is that he is able to make sure that he is the only person in the room that is heard. Sure, we may not consider it a polite conversation or civilised debate, but the reality is politeness and civilised debate are rules for losers, and strong men will break those rules. Honestly, it doesn't even matter whether they are caught out or not, because once people are thinking about it, it is very hard to stop them thinking about it.

Look, these Republican candidates were all seasoned veterans, yet they were literally steamrolled by Trump. In fact Trump simply did not pull any punches when he was destroying them. Consider Jeb Bush, whom he attacked over the Iraq War debacle. In a way that was a stain on the Bush family that they are not going to be able to remove. As for Trump, what about his stains, surely he has many of them. Well, that is what the genius of his method was, he kept on deflecting the attention away from himself towards his opponents, and those aspects of him that couldn't be deflected, he wallowed in it. Oh, and it wasn't just his Republican challengers, as we are well aware, he completely decimated Hillary as well, and the hack that her campaign office suffered certainly didn't help.

Anyway, let us consider his ability to be able to do and say things that many of us would feel incredibly uncomfortable saying in public. Take for example his racist and misogynistic rhetoric, such as referring to all Mexicans as rapists. Look, this is nothing new. In fact this has being going on in the United States, and other places, for ages. Under the civilised surface there is a seething racist against those who do not look like us with the belief that they are taking us for a ride and leaching off of our country. Honestly, it doesn't matter that the biggest leaches actually sit on Wall Street, and in the corporate offices - the complexity of the modern corporate society obfuscates that, and even then, these guys (and they usually are guys) provide us with the jobs. As for the minorities, well, they are out there to be seen, and they are even going as far as undercutting our wages by working for significantly less. Actually, that is a problem because honestly, nobody is going to hire an American to be a maid if they can hire a Mexican for a lot less - it is the basic laws of economics. In fact one American I knew told me that unless you hired illegals, you simply were not able to survive in the cut throat business world.

Yet this was in the lead up to the election, let us consider what he was doing after the election. Well, he immediately started claiming that he was the subject of voter fraud. Now that sounds odd - why would the guy who won the election be complaining about voter fraud. Well, once again that is one of those tricks where you start getting people to think about voter fraud. Okay, at first I thought it had something to do with him not being able to accept that he had lost the popular vote, but when we consider his nature, it actually isn't all that surprising that he was upset that he lost the popular vote. Surely a majority of Americans liked him, and would have voted for him. Well, I think it goes in deeper than that, but making the suggestion that there actually is voter fraud going on, and thus making it harder for minorities to be able to get out and vote, not that it is actually all that easy anyway, with it being on a Tuesday, and with voter registration, and some really strict voter id laws that literally remove whole groups from the roll.

But we are starting to see it come about now during these mid-terms. Allegations of voter fraud, especially where the vote is really tight. It seems as if they can attempt to swing the votes in their way, or even discount a heap of votes, then maybe, just maybe, they might be able to beat off the challenger. We are seeing this in Florida, and also in Arizona where there is a large number of postal votes. Oh, and not to forget that they make it much easier to vote in Republican areas than in democratic and minority communities.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts, and I probably could go on for a lot longer, except that I will probably end up just rabbiting on, However, will we expect Trump to win in 2020, well, it really comes down to the Democratic party and whether they have learnt their lesson from 2016. Also, it will come down to whether Trump will leave willingly, or continue along the voter fraud line. However, there is also the issue that Moore raised that he might not even be willing to call it quits after 2024, and may now be laying the foundation to extend his presidency beyond that or even postpone the 2020 election. If you don't think that is possible, well honestly, anything is possible. For instance, earlier there was an apparent alert about a missile heading towards Hawaii, only to find out that it was an mistake. Surely, surely, surely something might come about to give Trump the excuse to give himself emergency powers. The problem is that when it does happen we probably won't be in the right mind to really see what is going on and like the sheep that we are, give it to him.

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Farenheit 11/9 - Mike vs The Trumpet by David Alfred Sarkies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. This license only applies to the text and any image that is within the public domain. Any images or videos that are the subject of copyright are not covered by this license. Use of these images are for illustrative purposes only are are not intended to assert ownership. If you wish to use this work commercially please feel free to contact me

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