The Trump Presidency Ends in Calamity

I remember reading a prediction that the Trump presidency will end in calamity last winter. The author was Richard Nixon’s Watergate lawyer John Dean, an ominous prophet if there ever was one.

Seven months later, I have to agree. Trump’s presidency cannot end with the election of another president. It’s just unimaginable to me. He either passes away in office, successfully overthrows the government, gets impeached, or resigns.

Most of these scenarios will be the result of a calamity. And regardless, you have to look at the continuing series of Trump scandals and mistakes as an unmitigated self-imposed disaster.

Trump is a madman. The body of evidence out there is impressive, much more since I last wrote about this six months ago. Any argument that President Trump would be different than candidate Trump has been completely smashed. He is the racist, lying egotistical despot we thought he was.

Unfortunately, we cannot escape this Administration. Trump continues to destroy the moral fiber of the United States before our eyes, and in the process, is decimating the country’s global standing with trade partners and enemies alike.

No reasonable argument can prevent him from teeing off if he is threatened or angered. That’s what makes me certain that he cannot end his presidency in the conventional manner.

End Game Scenario 1: Passes Away

What if Trump becomes so angry that he turns as red as a lobster and literally implodes, having a fatal heart attack or a stroke of some sort. In fact, it would have to occur while he is holding his smartphone, Twitter app open in mid-tweet.

Would this scenario really surprise you? It would not shock me to get a news alert about Trump suffering a fatal cardiac event. Sooner or later all of that KFC comes back to haunt you. The president does not look like a healthy man.

End Game Scenario 2: Coup

This seemed very likely when Trump first took office. He speaks like a fascist authoritarian and the Republicans continue to enable this Administration’s brutish approach. But as time passed this year, Trump weakened his position through outbursts. Now a coup d’ état seems less possible.

It would take military support to successfully overthrow the government. While Trump has several generals in his cabinet, they are Americans first. In fact, I feel encouraged by the military’s willingness to defy the President and chart its own path, such as denouncing the Charlottesville white supremacist protest and protecting transgender rights.

Still, one cannot help but feel that Trump has done his best to weaken and destroy the American Democracy. Through authoritarian edicts, nonstop attacks on the free press, and attempts to reward Russia for helping his campaign, Trump’s actions show a total disrespect for democratic norms.

The silver lining of the Trump Administration will be more checks and balances in our Democracy to protect the government from future unhinged presidents. The whole episode certainly makes me respect parliamentarian forms of government a lot more, just saying.

End Game Scenario 3: Impeachment

When will the GOP find its values? The party of Lincoln has almost completed its transformation into the party of Voldemort. The Republicans in power are hesitant to undermine their still un-passed legislative agenda. Charlottesville responses demonstrate that Republican leaders would rather hedge their words instead of acting on principles. This well remain true until the GOP base stops supporting Trump.

Perhaps Bannon’s “war” will create enough strife to rip the Republican rug from underneath Trump’s feet, but I sincerely doubt it. Would Robert Mueller’s investigation produce the reason for Trumpers to abandon their demagogue? It’s questionable. We don’t know how bad Mueller’s report will be. One thing is certain, it’s going to take a long time.

Impeachment is a political process. What Breitbart’s new focus on establishment Republicans and Mueller’s report are more likely to do is inspire more bi-partisan rebukes of Trump in the form of legislation that limits his powers.

One possible scenario: Trump’s base will abandon him if he engages in a war that costs tens of thousands of American lives. When our soldiers die abroad without reason, angst comes home to roost. Vietnam and most recently with the Iraq wars have proven this to be true.

Such a war is highly likely, as demonstrated by Trump’s insane bombastic game of chicken with North Korean despot Kim Jong-un. I could also see Trump starting a war for a different reason. War is a very common way to divert the American public’s attention.

When you are under investigation for obstructing justice and colluding with the Russians, and public criticism mounts for draconian reactionary social policies, well, yes, diversions look good. If there is one thing Trump loves, it’s a good red herring to throw at the public.

So yeah, impeachment. It could happen.

End Game Scenario 4: Resignation

Of all the possible endings to the Trump Administration, this is most likely. Trump quits before he is completely shamed. We have seen this over and over again. Whether it was disbanding his business councils this past week, yielding to Russian sanctions from Congress, or settling the ugly Trump University civil action lawsuit, Trump folds the cards when the writing is on the wall.

When his base abandons him, impeachment seems inevitable, or yes, the Trump business lines start tanking thanks to negative brand impact, that’s when Trump resigns. The bad news: Things have to devolve much further, to the point that Trump can no longer stand it.

He’ll manufacture some reason to quit, and declare his time in the White House a success. Most of us will hurl mud at him on Twitter for his final bogus presidential moment, but a collective sigh of relief will be heard across America.

President Pence will finish the term. America will remember what it’s like to work with a civil conservative (and all of the right wing policies he brings) as opposed to a demented tyrant. Trump’s story will live on in infamy for most, but as a hero to some (poor misguided souls).

I could be wrong, but any of those four scenarios seems much more likely than a normal four or eight year term presidency. After all, there is nothing normal about President Trump.

What do you think?

All of these photos were taken at Trump protests in Washington, DC over the past eight months.

Are Science Fiction Fears About Technology Reasonable?

Science fiction offers strange futuristic views of technology. Some are positive, but most lean towards dystopia. Are technological fears portrayed in science fiction reasonable?

As a species, humans adapt technologies blindly with the hope of achieving promised benefits. We rarely consider societal impact. This is a huge issue, in my opinion. Technology itself doesn’t destroy or evolve societies, rather human use of advanced tools is the culprit.

Some science fiction books like Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 waver between utopian and dystopian views. Science fiction offers us the opportunity to debate whether or not we will destroy ourselves with technology.

Is such dialogue pure fear of change? Or do they remind that we always forget the lessons of the past?

In the case of robotics, the decades old dialogue started by Isaac Asimov’s robot novels has been greatly beneficial. We have been actively trying to build artificial intelligence that will become useful to society while not becoming malevolent a la The Terminator.

But we are not always so forward thinking. Applied to the Internet we do all sorts of neat things like give ourselves access to incredible amounts of information and publishing tools. Then we do things like strip away privacy and quantify human worth and status using tools like Empire Avenue and PeerIndex.

In my book Exodus, Book One of The Fundamentalists I began with a post-apocalyptic world decimated by a biotechnology terror, a direct result of weaponized viruses. This narrative device allowed me to create a world where people avoided technology and religion for centuries, in favor of an agrarian utopia. Throughout the trilogy I debate whether we as a species can use spiritual ideas and technology tools peacefully.

I have to tell you that by the end of the trilogy, technology makes a big come back as a means of defense against fundamentalism. Humans end up using both to create power structures to benefit themselves and dominate other people. And in other cases, people use these very different tools to help each other.

Because that’s who we are, at least right now. I really believe that a portion of the population will always fall to primitive negative actions, and others will rise above. The combination creates volatility.

Why do I have this view? Human beings are complicated, and create conflict. While some people are altruistic or generally good in design, we are all to some extent self-motivated. War itself is something that is a result of modern agricultural and political structures, say researchers. Even when we are not at war, we compete with each other, on an individual basis and with other nations to create the most prosperity and status.

Anyone who thinks the United States is not competing with China from a technological perspective is crazy. How many private incidents of cyberwarfare occur without our knowledge? It’s not like the Pentagon or major companies want to admit how often they are getting attacked.

Furthering blind adoption of tools, technology has proven to be a huge economic driver. Consider the way we encourage technological development in Silicon Valley and beyond? IPOs and acquisitions drive the the tech sector.

Just last month we saw Google purchase Nest for an astounding amount to empower the Internet of Things. Society will certainly reap the economic benefits of data. But are individuals and communities ready for a coming wave of metric-based vanity that determines their place in society?

So you see, I really do think the human application of technology is a worthwhile discussion. Without foresight, it can become quite destructive. What do you think?

Featured image by Mark Beemink. A version of this post ran originally on to read, or not to read.

Get Your Writing Groove on with #NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month, or #NaNoWriMo, began last Friday. NaNoWriMo is an annual exercise where writers perform a mental marathon and write at least 50,000 words in a 30 day period. I decided to participate to help get The War to Persevere: Book 2 of the Fundamentalists underway.

First of all, let me just say that I think writing a novel in a month is a crazy idea. A fun noteworthy achievement for sure, but still a bit intense. Yet thousands do it every year! Amazing!

For me, #NaNoWriMo would take an incredible amount of preparation in advance of the actual writing to succeed, specifically outlines, research, character development, etc,. In fact, I don’t have an expectation of finishing. That’s in spite of having much of the book already sketched out and portions drafted.

The issue is quality. While I think this may be great for drafting, I wouldn’t consider anything I write in 30 days to be publishable. For example, with consulting and fatherhood, I tend to only write 500-1000 words a day. By its very definition, that would leave me short of the 50,000 word minimum.

But, others are faster and work more diligently than me, and may have more time to write. That’s a cool thing. In fact, some decent novels have been written in six weeks or less.

Instead, I am using the exercise and group momentum to get me back into writing shape. Here are some of the things I expect #NaNaWriMo will help me accomplish:

1) Everyday Writing: This is an essential part of writing a book. I really believe you can’t get it done unless you discipline yourself for a long writing marathon. For, given my business duties, I have to accept 500 words a day… So long as I actually write every day.

2) Expose Weaknesses: Until the draft is written, you can’t see where the holes are.So, in particular, I will be looking to expose missing gaps in the narrative, as well as where I need to strenghten the characters. It’s also an opportunity to take feedback from Exodus, and better myself with my sophomore novel.

3) Research Needed: Another core component of this phase will be identifiying areas that need research to make sure the manuscript is technically sound. War will feature quite a bit of steam technology so that means I have to beef up my knowledge of arms and engines. My intent is to draft, then go back and correct or rewrite chapters for accuracy’s sake.

Perhaps the best part of #NaNoWriMo is all of the dialogue from authors. There has been quite a bit of chatter in the Google+ Writer’s Discussion Group. Of course, the #NaNoWriMo site has tons of support forums. And finally, several friends have dialogued about it. This is a cool thing to work through with them.

What do you think of #NaNoWriMo?

Instapocalypse and the Permission War

instagram
Image by tres.jolie

How’s your Instagram account treating you now? Feel better now that Instagram restored some of its original terms of service, and recommitted to observing permission marketing norms with photos?

It seems like every four or five months we experience some outrageous Internet drama where tech and marketing bloggers declare the death of a brand.

Instagram, Chick-fil-a, Netflix, Walmart, etc. have all been condemned for some egregious act of anti-socialness. And then of course, the brands don’t die, and in most cases correct the wrong, recover, and prosper. In the case of Netflix, they are making more money than ever before.

Yet the “Instapocalypse” was different. Like other faux deaths, the network’s daily user losses seem to be negligible, but Instagram conceded promptly to its users, and retracted its intellectual terms that harnessed users’ photos for commercial purposes.

Instagram users won a larger mobile battle in the Permission Marketing War.

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