World on Fire

My college-aged son suggested I could increase interest in my paper mache and my blog by creating Donald Trump. After all, he said, “Donald would be easy; an orange face, small hands with pointing finger, classic blue suit, red tie and golden cotton candy hair.” He added, “Everything Trump attracts attention.” I agreed because deep in some dark part of me I harbor a strange, horrifying fascination with the man.

My Donald  has been featured on this blog in an article, Trumpster Perfect for the Dumpster. For those of you who haven’t read that blog (probably most of you based on  the low number of views), my paper sculpture of Donald is fabricated on a toilet paper roll, stands about 6 inches high on a 2 inch gold platform with the slogan “Trump, Make America Great Again, is pasted across the bottom.” Donald didn’t draw the number of blog views my son and I expected when he was posted, possibly because I emphasize I am a Blue Girl in a Red State in my writing. I even drive a car with a novelty license plate, Blue Girl. My readers may not like everything Trump as my son and I projected or may have better impulse control than I do about voyeuristically checking in to see what tweet he has sapped off at three a.m. this day.20160823_164603

Once Donald was created and unappreciated online, I came up with the idea to burn him and film it in a YouTube video, after all he is only paper, flour and salt. Donald should burst into flames easily. My seventeen-year-old daughter absolutely forbid me from going forward with this project.  She told me I had no idea how vitriolic Trump supporters would be. My humor at burning the paper mache, would be lost in the flames of his supporters who might track us down and firebomb our house.  The paper mache Donald bonfire was nixed.

One of my friends suggested a house party of “Nasty Women” after the election where we could burn paper Donald assuming Hillary won.  Since Hillary didn’t win, I am left with disposing of Donald in a peaceful manner.  I thought of donating him to the Youth Ranch. But my husband suggested that should my paper sculpture capture an audience (highly dubious but one can always hope), Donald might have some future historical value. I personally doubt that given the low quality of the product, after all Donald’s hair is made from my sheltie’s fur died bright yellow.  For now, I have moved the Donald out of my husband’s office where he was on prominent display to an upstairs closet where all of us can peacefully co-exist (hopefully the country can too for the next four years).

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Donald in our closet, hoping for peaceful coexistence

I am extremely disappointed by the violence in Portland instigated by Clinton supporters. The irony of Democrats objecting to Trump’s election through violent protest should not be lost on anyone.  Much of the campaign banter circulated around Trump’s encouragement of his supporters to outrageous acts.  Clintonites are participating in the very activities that we feared would erupt from Trump supporters if Hillary Clinton was elected President.  I have also heard that Trump supporters have seen Trump’s election as a license to bully refugees and non-white Americans.  This is also unacceptable.

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Saturday protests in Portland led to someone  being shot.

My spiritual foundation and fundamental belief in America’s system of rule of law requires that I give President-elect Trump and his team a chance to govern now that he has been chosen as our President.  I plan to approach his presidency cautiously with an “open mind” but I also plan on being courageously out-spoken when I see injustice and incivility. Our country protects the right to free speech. Nonviolent civil disobedience has led to great change in our nation, just look at Rosa Park’s refusal to move to the back of the bus. But I also know, our current political climate requires us to be thoughtful about how we express our political opinions.  We are not in the sixties where burning effigies and American flags was frowned on but seen as symbols of  protected free speech.  One did not have to worry about personal safety when expressing themselves non-violently i.e. my daughter’s concern that our house might be fire bombed if I  chose to post burning paper Donald. Unfortunately, in 2016, we find ourselves in a world that is constantly fired up and always on the verge of bursting into angry flames.

 

A Lexicon of Trumpisms

The Trump Lexicon keeps evolving as President Trump moves forward implementing his agenda.  To see the latest Trumpisms go to: pinkpoliticsllc.com

Our words have the power to destroy and the power to build up (Proverbs 12:6). 

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I volunteer to tutor refugees. These individuals have escaped unspeakable horrors and are  learning English. Working alongside these kind, hard-working adults has taught me how blessed we are to live in America.  Mr. Trump has created his own language to describe America, Trumpism. Mr. Trump’s own description of Trumpism: “I know words, I have the best words but there is no better word than “stupid”. Words most frequently used by Mr. Trump: win, stupid, weak, loser, moron, politically correctness, smart, tough, dangerous, bad, lightweight, amazing, huge, tremendous, terrific, zero, out of control, classy.

Listeners know when we hear Mr. Trump that his terminology is slightly off but those of us who grew up in the U.S. intuitively understand what he is saying. I challenge you to think about what you would think if you and your family had just escaped extreme violence half way across the world for sanctuary in the United States and you heard Mr. Trump describe America.  Below is a short list of Trumpisms.  There is no attempt to capture all of his misused words or to provide citations.  Rather, I want to capture the essence of his language.

Trumpism: Words made up by Mr. Donald Trump in his run for President of United States in 2016.  Mr. Trump has a vast, original lexicon which creates sweeping indictments and vicious mental pictures using just a couple of words or phrases. Some of his words are spoken; others have been tweeted in the wee hours of the morning.  Trumpism could also be considered Mr. Trump’s political platform.  Trumpism pushes nativism (foreigners are suspect) and populism (giving power to the people rather than political elites).  Through twitter and his speeches, Mr. Trump has created a mish-mash of images of America as a dark, dangerous place in deep economic decline.  Mr. Trump’s America needs saving.  His slogan is “Make America Great Again” as if returning to the past is a positive. His primary policy proposals are deporting illegal immigrants, tightening and/or stopping future immigration of certain groups particularly Muslims,  emphasizing  that foreign individuals living in America commit the majority of violent crimes particularly  rape and robbery while taking away American jobs.  Trumpism’s primary focus is that Muslim refugees are terrorist infidels, illegal Mexicans are criminals and global trade has crippled America.

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Trumpism, can be defined as both a political philosophy based on fear, nativism, populism, and a contortion of the English language against women, minorities, and anyone who disagrees with Trump

 

The Wall: Mr. Trump’s proposal to have Mexico pay for a wall dividing Mexico and the United States with the intention of stopping  Mexicans from illegally entering the U.S. Mr. Trump estimates the wall will cost $5 billion dollars. He promises the entire cost will be paid for by the Mexican Government. The Mexican President has refused to pay for the wall in a tweet.  Tweeting seems to be the primary form of policy development in this election year. Mr. Trump sees the wall as a beautiful thing with a door right in the middle for legal Mexicans to be welcomed to America.

Bad Hombre: Uncomplimentary reference to undocumented Mexicans living in America.  Hombre is Spanish for man. Trump used the reference to reinforce his vision of increasing hordes of criminals illegally crossing the Mexican border.  In fact, the Pew Research Center documents that the number of illegal Mexicans coming into the U.S. has stabilized in recent years and declined by about 1 million since 2007.  About 2/3 of all illegal immigrants have lived in the U.S. for a decade or more.  About half of immigrants coming into the U.S. are women.  There are 5000 children in foster care whose parents have been detained or deported by U.S. immigration authorities.  This figure is estimated to rise to 15,000 children over the next five years because of tightening immigration policies.  These women and children have not been part of any policy discussion during this presidential season.

Nasty Woman: Mr. Trump’s description of Mrs. Clinton at the 3rd and final debate.  He uttered it to interrupt Mrs. Clinton presentation on Social Security.  His intent was appeal to the old boys club where powerful women are seen as unpleasant and pushy and frequently described in private as “bitches”. In this case, Mr. Trump’s effort to belittle women led to a social media backlash from women who saw Trump’s remark as sexist rather than as descriptive of Mrs. Clinton’s temperament. As a young professional woman in the seventies, I can attest that smart, ambitious women were not described in positive terms by their male coworkers.  I am proud to be a Nasty Woman.

Miss Piggy: a revered children’s puppet on Sesame Street. Miss Piggy is a large female Pink Pig who dresses in extravagant outfits and frequently wears a crown.  Most American’s know Miss Piggy. Mr. Trump referred to Miss Universe 1996, Alicia Machado, as Miss Piggy when she gained weight after winning the Miss Universe title.  Using Miss Piggy as a descriptor is a classic example of Mr. Trump’s skill at choosing short phrases to create a lasting image.

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Alicia Machado, Miss Universe 1996. Mr. Trump labeled her Miss Piggy and Miss Housekeeping

Miss Housekeeping: Another term, coined by Mr. Trump, to describe Ms. Machado, who represented Venezuela in the Miss Universe Pageant. This image is premised on Latino women largely serving in housekeeping positions in the U.S.  This nickname can be seen as a sexist slur against Latino women and as slamming hard work done by many Americans who are surviving on pay below a living wage.  Nationally, unauthorized workers compose 23% of all domestic workers.

Locker Room Banter: Mr. Trump’s justification of the conversation he was having with Billy Bush prior to an appearance on Access Hollywood in 2005.  In the recorded encounter, Mr. Trump used extremely vulgar terms to describe women and what he would do to them. When the tape was released, Mr. Trump defended the conversation as the kind of talk that routinely goes own in all male places such as locker rooms.  My husband played college basketball and when I asked him about it, he responded that young guys might not use the best language but this is an example of a 60 year old man (at the time) who could be expected to have outgrown the titillation of talking dirty. Billy Bush was relieved of his position on Good Morning America for his role both in the conversation and for not bringing the tape to light sooner.

Bigly:  Frequently used by Mr. Trump to describe an idea or policy which is large in scope.  Bigly is an adverb and Mr. Trump has used it correctly.   On questioning, Mr. Trump’s staff clarified that Mr. Trump is not saying “bigly”.  He is instead saying, “Big League.”  Here is an example from an actual speech: Donald Trump has said, “Iran is taking over Iraq and they’re taking it over bigly.”  According to staff this is incorrect reporting. Instead, Mr. Trump said, “Iran is taking over Iraq and they’re taking it over Big League.”  I personally think bigly is easier to understand in the contexts he uses it.  Either term gives us the idea, that this is something big.

Extreme Vetting: Mr. Trump’s proposal to conduct ideological screening of new arrivals from countries with a history of terror (specific countries are unspecified).  Mr. Trump had previously said he would ban all Muslims from coming into the country.  This proposal would allow in some individuals.  However, all individuals from countries harboring terrorists would be banned from the U.S. until this new screening test was designed and in place.  The U.S. already has extremely rigorous screening approaches in place sometimes taking many years.  In addition, it is difficult to assess an individual’s most innermost beliefs and private opinions.  In a country that values free speech, this proposal may be difficult or impossible to implement.  Finally, individuals from other countries are less likely to engage in violence than native born Americans.

Yuuuge: Mr. Trump’s unique way of saying huge.

Braggadocios: A braggart who boasts so much about themselves that they become annoying to their audience.  The term was commonly used in the 19th century.  The word is so seldom used in the 21st century, braggadocios is not considered part of our common vocabulary.  Mr. Trump, who usually says he does not want to seem braggadocios, has breathed life back into this word.

Birther Movement: People who question of the legitimacy of President Obama’s birth certificate.  Starting in 2011, Mr. Trump persistently demanded to see President Obama’s birth certificate to demonstrate that Obama was born in the United States as required by the U.S. Constitution.  Recently, Mr. Trump has said he believes Mr. Trump was born in the United States.

Speaking Mexican: Reference to Jeb Bush in a tweet.  Mr. Trump means that Mr. Bush is fluent in Spanish, something Mr. Trump obviously is not.

Taking the Shackles Off: A twitter comment on Mr. Trump’s revised strategic campaign breaking free from the traditional Republic platform and policy.  Trump’s new approach was the result of some Republicans disavowing their support of Trump in the wake of NBC sex tape. This announcement was followed by a stream of tweets filled with rage and resentment towards traditional politicians.

Rigged Elections: As political polls have begun indicating that Mr. Trump might lose, Trump has become more strident in his claims that the media and the Democratic machine are rigging the election.  Mr. Trump has said he would accept the election results if he won.  However, when questioned during the third debate, he refused to confirm that he would accept the results.   The charge of rigged elections is at the very heart of the U.S. democracy where for centuries Americans have cast their votes and lived with the results.  Mr. Trump’s charge also suggests he is not familiar with the structure  of U.S. elections.  Elections (even for national candidates such as Congress and the President) are under the control of the states. Forty-seven of the fifty states and the Puerto Rico have  a Secretary of State position. The primary duty of this individual is to serve as the chief election officer for the state.  In the three states without a Secretary of State, the responsibility for elections falls to the Lieutenant Governor.  Given the diffuse structure of elections in the U.S. it would be difficult to rig the outcome nationally.  As we know from the 2000 Bush/Gore Presidential election, the role of the Secretary of State in a close election can be very important. Former Vice President Gore received about 540,000 more popular votes than Bush across the nation.   In Gore’s presidential run, the Florida Secretary of State, Republican Katherine Harris certified that Bush had won the popular vote in Florida.  Her decision was confirmed by the United States Supreme Court on a 5 to 4 decision preventing a recount of key precincts in Florida.  Former Vice President Gore honored the decision and has been largely invisible on the national stage since.

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Gloria Steinman appeared live in Boise, October 17, 2016

Gloria Steinman told a sold out crowd in Boise on October 17, 2016  that the right to vote is what makes America great. People have fought hard and lost lives for each of us to have the equal opportunity to weigh in on America’s future. The America of 2016 is far more expansive and inclusive than our forefathers envisioned. We are a nation where each of us can vote regardless of race, religion or gender.

 

The refugees I work with fled totalitarian and military reigns with the hope of becoming Americans and gaining the right to vote. Hidden in Trump’s mangled phrases is the clear threat to equal opportunity. Isolationism doesn’t create greatness but it does breed fear.  I am yuugely hoping that Americans in bigly numbers will not pick a braggadocios birther, who engages regularly in unseemly locker room banter demeaning women, for their next president.

 

Sarah Palin Dishes Out a Uniquely American Word Salad

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Sarah Palin, an Idaho Celebrity

Sarah Palin and potatoes both emanate from Idaho. Yes, it is true! While Sarah is identified with Alaska; she was born in a small northern Idaho town, Sandpoint, population 7,000 people.  Shortly after her birth, the Palin family moved to Alaska, her main home stomping grounds. However, Ms. Palin did return briefly to Idaho for college when she attended Northern Idaho Community College and eventually graduated from the University of Idaho with a communication degree. She is ranked as the most famous University of Idaho Alumnus on Ranker.Com right above former U.S. Senator Larry Craig.  For those of you who don’t follow Idaho politics, Craig is best known across America for defending a potential homosexual pickup in a men’s restroom by “Having a Wide Stance!”  As you can see from this very short list, the University of Idaho is desperate for celebrities.

I am fascinated by Ms. Palin.  As the 2008 Republican Party nominee for Vice President, alongside Arizona Senator John McCain, Sarah’s selection to the Republican ticket created a series of firsts including first Alaskan and first woman to be on a Republican national ticket.  She is also the first former beauty queen to be on a national ticket, having placed first in Miss Wasilla Pageant playing the flute for talent and subsequently coming in third in the Miss Alaska Pageant.  We know from the 2008 Presidential campaign, Ms. Palin is a lightning rod for controversy. Even when competing in beauty pageants, hullabaloo is not far from Sarah’s side. She reportedly won  the Miss Congeniality award in the Miss Wasilla contest, but this is disputed by another contestant and former classmate of Palin’s.    Apparently,  the oxymoron, “the contested Miss Congeniality”  is not surprising when Ms. Palin is in the mix.

As a Palin watcher, I have learned over the years that Sarah has many versions of reality, none of them easy to dispute because most of us have such a hard time understanding what she is trying to say. Sarah’s star rose again last week  (January 19, 2016) when she endorsed Donald Trump for President on the campaign trail.

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January 2016, Palin and Trump on campaign trail, 2016

If you watch the endorsement, you’ll see Sarah sporting a dazzling Dolly Partonesque, spiky sequin sweater, shouting out a strange rambling of disconnected thoughts on how to make America great again.  The New York Daily News described her word salad, almost unintelligible rant,  as “gaffe prone”.

Sarah has become a national icon of the Tea Party largely because of her tendency to transform complex public policy into  a string of  zeitgeist slogans with pithy punch lines such as, “Mr. President, the only thing that stops a bad guy with a nuke is a good guy with a nuke.” (March 8, 2014).  This trait has made her easy fodder for comedians.  Some of the best political humor, I have ever watched was Tina Fey’s comedic sketches of Sarah on Saturday Night Live (SNL) during the 2008 presidential campaign.  Sarah once again provided the inspiration for a Tina Fey reprisal of the Trump endorsement  on SNL, January 23, 2106.  The New York Times described the skit as “brilliant parody!”  Dressed in the same black and silver spiked sweater as Palin, Fey ended  her sketch with the zinger,  Sarah had endorsed Trump as a quid pro quo for a Trump cabinet appointment, “I belong in a cabinet! Because I’m full of spice and got a great rack.”

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Saturday Night Live, Fey and Hammond as Palin and Trump, 2016

 

While many view Palin’s wacky speech patterns consisting of slogans, rhymes and new words as a sign of ignorance or inability to use the English language correctly, I believe history may prove she is one of the great malapropoists of our time. A malapropism is the misuse of a word through the confusion with another word which sounds similar, sometimes resulting in ridiculous speak.  An  everyday example of malapropism  is “the numbers don’t jive” when the correct wording is the” numbers don’t jibe”  In the first “ jive” means lively dancing and so the statement would only be correct if we were watching Sesame Street and colorful, performing numbers were being  used to teach children to count.  In the second example, “jibe” means the numbers are not in agreement and if you are an accounting major and have this problem, you may be in danger of flunking the test.

The most brilliant example of Sarah’s use of malapropisms is the word “refudiate”.   Until Sarah Palin arrived on the scene, this word did not exist (Even today, my spell checker thinks it is still not a word). The word is a mixture of “refute” and “repudiate”.  When one refutes something, they prove something is in error or false.  When one repudiates something, they deny any connection to something such as a family member.  Sarah started using the word “refudiate” in 2010 in a TV interview, challenging President Obama to “refudiate” the NAACP’s charge that the Tea Party had racist elements (NPR, August 6, 2010). She also tweeted the word, asking peaceful Muslims to “refudiate” violent Muslim acts. The word became the salvo of conservatives who argued that refudiate shows a commitment to refute the liberal agenda while repudiating (defeating) liberals at the polls.  In the midst of a raging pundits controversy about whether this was an example of Sarah’s failure to grasp the English language or her ability to be clever like a fox, Sarah complimented herself by tweeting; “English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!” In November 2010, the New Oxford American Dictionary  (NOAD) agreed with her by listing “refudiate” as the 2010 new word of the year.   The NOAD editors wrote in a release: “From a strictly lexical interpretation of the different contexts in which Palin has used ‘refudiate,’ we have concluded that neither ‘refute’ nor ‘repudiate’ seems consistently precise, and that ‘refudiate’ more or less stands on its own, suggesting a general sense of ‘reject.’”

During the Trump endorsement, Sarah once again treated us to a variety of malapropisms. She referred to members of Emily’s List, the pro-choice, Democratic women political action committee, as a “cackle of rads”. Cackle replacing either gaggle or cabal, I’m not sure which and rads replacing radical. The image of cackling, radical women similar to a group of old crones is not a pleasant one. In three words, Sarah managed to slap progressive women down with a spiteful imagine and appear as if she wasn’t even aware of her rhetoric.

My favorite word from Sarah’s Trump endorsement was “squirmish”. This word is an adaptation of “squirm” to wiggle because of discomfort and “skirmish” to brief fight sometimes part of a larger battle.    But I was left perplexed and disturbed that Ms. Palin, a leader on the national stage, would described the Syrian conflict, resulting in more than 330,000 causalities and uprooting more than four million people as a squirmish. To quote Ms. Palin, “,And you quit footin’ the bill for these, nations who are oil-rich, we’re paying for, some of their squirmishes, that have been goin’ on, for centuries. Where they’re fightin’ each other and yellin’ Allah Akbar, callin’ jihad on each other’s heads forever and ever. Like I said before, let ‘em duke it out, and let Allah sort it out!

I think a better use of the term squirmish is as a descriptive noun for the 2016 Republican Presidential Race. All of the candidates are making me squirm (uncomfortable and wanting to break free) with their personal attacks on each other and the media, trivializing of complex issues and hate messages directed at Muslims and refugees. So far the primary season can be viewed as a series of skirmishes (small contests) leading up to the great battle, the Republican National Convention. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to have “squirmish” used to describe this year’s Presidential race in future U.S. Government text books. But right now I would like to refudiate all of the Republican Presidential candidates.