Category Archives: Donald Trump

Hot Air: Enemies

I want to get this on the record as the United States marks a half million fatalities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

No, let me correct that. I need to get this on the record.

The number of American dead in the last year because of this illness is greater than all the soldiers and civilians killed when we as a nation turned against ourselves in the Civil War. The number of dead by the virus has exceeded that of the combined American fatalities of World War I, World War II, and Vietnam together.

The previous President of the United States of America criminally and morally abdicated his duty as the leader of this nation from the very onset of this health emergency. A true leader, one who thought a bit more about the welfare of his people and his country, would have said something on the order of the following as the novel coronavirus first made inroads on these shores:

We are facing an enemy. One that is as dangerous and fraught with peril as any hostile army we have ever encountered. We must come together now to conquer it.

We are a strong people, a determined people. We have faced crises and terrors time and again throughout our history. We will face this crisis and triumph.

We will sacrifice. We will suffer hardship and grief. But we will emerge united and well for having made the effort, a truly patriotic effort to eradicate the virus that has invaded our nation. We love our nation and that is why we will embark on this fight.

Join with me as I put on my mask. Join with me as I maintain recommended social distancing. Join with me as I stay indoors as much as possible. It won’t be easy. We won’t be terribly comfortable. We’ll feel hemmed in. Businesses will suffer. People will lose income. Our world will be changed.

We’ll do all these things, and we’ll do them now, because that is the best and quickest way for us to return to normal. And we will return to normal because — it bears repeating — we are a strong and determined people.

That’s what the previous President of the United States of American could have said in mid-March 2020, when the real impact of the pandemic was becoming known.

But no. Here’s the message the President of the United States of America imparted to the 335 million citizens of the nation at the time:

This virus is a hoax perpetrated by the Democrats and my other enemies to make me look bad.

That message completely ignored the danger to be faced by 335 million people. The president’s sole concern was himself. As it ever has been.

Two Scourges.

And so, a half million people are dead. The bells of the National Cathedral in Washington, DC today pealed 500 times in succession, one ring for each thousand Americans dead. Many experts say that 500,000 figure is short, that because of misdiagnosis and other factors, the real number may be closer to one million. As far as I’m concerned, half a million is plenty.

And, as far as I’m concerned, when that criminal, that immoral former President of the United States of America dies, this world will be a better place.

Hot Air: Rush to War

Rush Limbaugh is gone and that’s that. He became part of our collective consciousness about 30 years ago and that was far too long for such a verbal vandal to hold sway. And hold sway he did.

I had a friend named Terry for whom I worked back in the early- and mid-’90s. Terry idolized Rush. I spent a lot of time in Terry’s little red pickup truck as he blared WLS in Chicago carrying the man’s program in the afternoon. Every day. Every single goddamned day.

Terry and I argued like cat and dog back then. Seemingly every sentence out of Rush’s gaping face hole drove Terry to exclaim “YEEE-aaaah!” and me to scream, “You’re both fuckin’ deranged.”

Truth is, Terry and I dug the ongoing fight over Rush. Neither of us really saw him as the voice of a huge swath of the American population. To me, he was just an over-the-top, lonely voice broadcasting from some uncivilized backwoods to a few thousand equally lonely borderline sociopaths. To Terry, he was the courageous voice of righteousness whom the vast majority of Americans were ignoring.

We enjoyed our fighting over him because it seemed more a game than a cultural touchstone. Sadly for our country, that’s what Rush became. He was as important to the growth of the Tea Party, Trump, the border wall, climate change denial, misrepresenting Black Lives Matter, hatred of women, obsessive anti-Clintonism, and all the rest of the dog whistles and overt calls to idiocy he spewed for lo these many decades as any other living human being.

It can be argued he was one of the single most important people in the history of the country. As recently as last year, his radio program attracted a daily average audience of 15.5 million, a jaw-dropping number considering how much the overall radio audience has shrunk since the dawn of the internet. One of St. Ronald Reagan’s pet projects, tearing down the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, allowed radio stations all over the country to air Rush’s viewpoints without having to present opposing opinions. It was deregulation run amok and led to a dramatic growth spurt for Right Wing blowhards in all forms of media. Rush was the chief blowhard. He earned, it has been estimated, more than half a billion dollars yelling into his microphone over the years.

Melania Trump Hangs the Medal of Freedom on Rush.

A current friend of mine has said Rush became popular because he raised his middle finger to all those “politically correct” hall monitors who wanted to tell the rest of us what to do. My friend is right. Rush’s listeners detested college eggheads telling them what to think and say — as if some TA at the likes of Oberlin College held any sway over breakfast diner conversations in Topeka, Kansas. But Topekans and millions of others like them felt aggrieved, felt assaulted for chrissakes, that they had to feel guilty for calling Black people colored or woman bitches among their pals. Thanks to Rush, they were granted the imprimatur to substitute instead the N-bomb and the C-bomb.

They felt free at last. Much like a three-year-old pulling out his penis in front of the dinner guests.

More truth: Having lived in this college town, Bloomington, for a touch more than ten years now, I can attest that “political correctness” — or, as I prefer to characterize the phenomenon, orthodoxy v. heresy — is alive and well and, in fact, probably more insidious than ever. That said, Rush’s strategy of fighting it employing racism, nativism, misogyny, male idolatry, anti-intellectualism, and every other evocation of hatred and incuriousness in his sick arsenal is not so much refreshing as flat out evil. What we need is a voice that says “Fuck you, don’t condemn the whole of me because you disagree with a sliver of my perspective. I’m still in the fight with you.” Key words: “with you.”

But that brand of “good behavior” isn’t turning us into wholly self-centered, hateful, incurious, regressives. It’s just annoying and we can handle that. It was the reaction to “political correctness” that’s destroying us.

More than anything else, Rush led the charge to skew, perversely, the very nature of public discourse. Hand in hand with Newt Gingrich, aided by the former Speaker’s infamous Gingrich Memo, people who dissented from their orthodoxy no longer were opponents but satanic child molesters.

No wonder so many Dittoheads and Right Wingers armed themselves to the teeth and are itching for the coming civil war.

Tagged

Hot Air: The Real Identity Politics

Here it is almost three weeks to the day after the 2020 election and as The Loved One and I took our traditional Sunday drive through South Central Indiana we both were struck by how many people in these rural environs still are proudly displaying their Trump flags and yard signs. It brings to mind a meme I saw a couple of days ago that went something like this:

Okay, I voted for Biden, but I’m not going to keep a Biden sign up in my front yard for the next four years like a freakin’ idiot.

And, the truth is, many, many, many of those Trump signs we still see in the hinterlands have been there since 2016. A lot of them are faded and tattered from having weathered four goddamned frigid, windy winters and four sun-baked summers. Isn’t the whole idea of putting up yard signs and other candidate paraphernalia an attempt to persuade neighbors and passersby to vote for the person you think is best for the job? That argument needs only to be made every four years, not every day of every year from now until the end of time.

I guarantee you the vast majority of the Trump signs on display today will still be there the day Joe Biden gets sworn in as the 46th President of the United States as well as the day, November 5th, 2024, of the next presidential election, whether there’s a Trump running or not.

So, what’s the deal, what’s the argument these people are trying to make? My answer: They’re not making an argument at all; they’re making a statement. They’re telling the world who they are. These people now have a rock-solid, distinct identity. Before, they were just anonymous schlubs, mowing their lawns and reclining in front of the the TV to watch American Idol like every other schlub on the block or down the country road. They are somebody now because they’ve seen and attached themselves to an idol of their own, someone who talks like them and thinks like them and maybe even messes up like they would if only they had a billion dollars and didn’t have to give a shit about anybody else in the whole wide world. For all Donald Trump’s sins and peccadilloes, any and all of which should have precluded him years ago from any consideration as the leader of the last remaining superpower on Earth, for his ridiculous dyed combover, for his ballooning backside, for his contempt for the authority of experts, for his utter un-interest in books or reports or studies, for his proud ignorance of the needs and wants of anyone who’s not directly related to him, everything about him is exactly how tens of millions of people in America would see themselves if they suddenly woke up one morning with an unimaginably huge fortune and the keys to the White House in their pockets.

He is me. That’s what they’ve been saying when displaying Trump’s flags and signs every day for the last four or five years.

And there, finally, is the answer to the question, How can people still back Trump after all the shit he’s pulled? After he’s screwed up this nation’s relationships with its allies, after he’s dismantled the government’s environmental protection apparatus, after he’s rammed through tax cuts for hundred-millionaires, leaving the middle class to pick up a greater share of the burden of supporting America, after he’s defanged all the federal consumer and workplace protections he could find, after he insulted and demeaned handicapped people, fat people, brown people, foreign people, Muslim people, urbanites, immigrants, asylum seekers, women, veterans, prisoners of war, and everybody who, again, was not Donald J. Trump or anybody related to him?

The answer is they still back him because he is their avatar, their icon, their god, for chrissakes. Throughout human history, people have created gods in their own image, created them to validate who they were, to tell everyone else who and what they were. They still do it today. And their new god is Donald J. Trump. He is me.

That’s why you can’t argue a Trumpist away from the outgoing president. You’re asking them to deny who they are. You’re asking them to admit the identity they’ve assumed is warped. Nobody wants to lose their identity.

To tens of millions of Americans, He will always be me.

Hot Air: Torture & Tyranny, Happy Monday!

Two things, today. First:

Stuck

Back when I was a kid, I’d heard of Sérgio Mendes and Basil ’66. It was a small combo featuring a pair of female singers that produced a few bossa nova/jazz/funk singles and some LPs that the kind of self-identified sophisticates who read Playboy had on their hi-fi’s.

I didn’t pay much attention to the group because I was too busy listening to the Beatles and the Stones and even the Turtles. Or, I should say, especially the Turtles.

The Turtles, the Coolest Geeks Around.

Over the ensuing decades, my musical tastes have broadened and I’ve become extremely partial to the Brazilian sounds of samba and its stepchild, bossa nova. I delve regularly into the recordings of Joāo Gilberto, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Walter Wanderley, Elis Regina, Gilberto Gil, and Gal Costa, among many others.

So, the other night, I was surfing through YouTube looking for new songs and came upon something called “Pretty World” by Sérgio Mendes and Brasil ’66. Hmm, I thought, let’s give it a spin. I did and the thing turned out to be the biggest earworm I’ve experienced in years.

It’s the most insipid tune imaginable, in terms of lyrics, melody, and arrangement. Here’s a sampling of the words:

Why don’t we take a little piece of summer sky,

Hang it on a tree.

For that’s the way to start to make a pretty world,

For you and me.

And for the sun we’ll take a lemon bright balloon, You can hold the string.

Oh, can’t you see that little world of ours will be,

The prettiest thing.

I want to scream!

Later, the two female singers harmonize that in this prettiest of worlds, “Nothing must be made but breakfast and love.”

I want to break things!

There’s a little one-measure keyboard bridge, repeated twice, that’s about as musically vapid and inane as the tinny canned calliope in a carnival merry-go-round.

I’ve got to control myself!

Turns out Sérgio Mendes and Brasil ’66 churned out a kind of Disney-version of South American music. It’s sort of like the real thing but, all in all, it’s not really. That’s no sin. All I have to do is not listen to it — and I haven’t.

That is, I haven’t clicked the play button on my laptop. But the damned song has been playing over and over and over and over and over in my head for the last week! It’s insane, I tell you.

Get out! Get out! Get out!

Earworms are torture. It’s no wonder the US Army used blaring music to drive Manuel Noriega out of his compound back in January, 1990. Apparently George Orwell never thought of it, preferring his character O’Brien to torture Winston Smith to the point of madness via a face-cage containing a rat rather than, say, playing for poor Smith over and over and over again something like “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (with Anyone Else but Me).”

I believe I’ll survive this bout of psychosis. “Pretty World,” one day, hopefully soon — very soon, dear god please! — will be forgotten. But, honestly, what a bizarre thing it is for us to flagellate ourselves so.

At least nine noted researchers and psychologists have studied and written about earworms, Oliver Sacks among them. There’s even a formal medical term for the phenomenon: Involuntary Musical Imagery, or INMI. Some 98 percent of people experience earworms. A study sponsored by the American Psychological Association actually found that the most common earworm among those polled was Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” I’ve never heard the song, thank goodness.

One group of scientists suggested in a paper doing anagrams or Sudoku puzzles can break the cycle or even reduce the occurrence of earworms. Another group actually advises sufferers to chew gum.

I’ll try anything.

Second:

Baby Steps

All great advances come incrementally. The electric lightbulb wasn’t invented without the discovery and understanding of electricity, the means to generate electric power, the ability to create a vacuum inside the glass bulb, the resilience and brilliance of a charged tungsten filament, etc. The automobile depended on the discovery and refinement of petroleum, the interworking design of pistons, rods and the camshaft, the transfer of torque energy though the drive shaft to the wheels, etc. That is, is if you consider the age of the automobile an advancement. As the planet warms and species die off and the weather becomes a horror show, we really have to reconsider whether it was all worth it for every-damned-body to have an SUV so they can go four blocks to the Kroger for fifty-five pounds of steaks and ground beef, which itself is destroying millions of acres of rainforest and arable land that might otherwise produce a healthy grain or two.

Whatever. Countless seemingly insignificant inventions and developments precede any great achievement. Nothing happens like magic, like a miracle, popping into existence so suddenly, so unexpectedly that people gasp in shock. Yeah, they may gasp in awe at, say, the Apollo 11 Lunar Module landing on the Moon in July, 1969, but no one was surprised because humankind had been toying with rockets for warfare and fun for the previous half century.

Robert Goddard and the First Liquid-Fueled Rocket, 1914.

Same goes for horrible happenings. Hitler didn’t climb out from a cave. Wars don’t start in the snap of a finger. And, of course, climate catastrophe has been racing toward a climax ever since the first internal combustion engine was built.

This year, today, the President of the United States is refusing to acknowledge that he lost the general election, both by popular vote and in the Electoral College. He’s tweeting and pouting and raging and suing everybody in sight. His federal administrator in charge of presidential transition is refusing to get to work. He’s moaning about voter fraud without producing any evidence. He’s shrieking about some huge, vague conspiracy involving the Democratic Party and the mainstream media and everybody else up to and including the Mexicans, BLM advocates, and Tom Hanks.

His gambit is not going to work. He will vacate the White House at noon, January 20th. We’ll say, Hurrah, democracy works!

But Li’l Duce, as he has in countless ways since he won the presidency on a technicality in 2016, has moved the bar, lowered the standard, muddied the waters. Pick a metaphor; it doesn’t matter. What does is the next guy who comes along and thinks himself greater than the nation, greater than the very idea of democracy itself, will stand on Pres. Gag’s shoulders and bring us even closer to authoritarianism, to tyranny than the outgoing president. He may very well push us over the edge.

So, yeah, cheer nine and a half weeks from today when Joe Biden swears out the oath. But don’t think we’re home free. The term of the disgraceful 45th President of the United States very well may be merely an incremental step toward a glum and alarming development.

Hot Air: It’s People, Not Dirt

Longtime Bloomington city council member Susan Sandberg has found a terrific image illustrating where people live in this holy land and why all those dumb maps that show Democratic voters segregated in tiny little enclaves here and there while Republican voters are spread over enormous tracts of land are, basically, full of shit.

Republicans often refer to those latter-mentioned maps to make the logically insupportable point that these tiny ghettoes of Dems somehow have connived their way into sharing power with the vast coast-to-coast swathes of GOP-ers and Trumpists. And, honestly, those maps do look alarmingly unbalanced. Let’s watch as the map Susan found transforms from a land representation to a population one:

 

Truth is, thanks to the Electoral College and the Republicans’ extremely effective efforts at gerrymandering and voter suppression, that party has garnered power far beyond its numbers. To wit: Democrats have won the popular vote in seven of the last eight United States presidential elections. If this were a true one-person, one-vote democratic republic, there’d have been a democratic president for 24 of the last 28 years. And, truth be told, the one prez race the Republicans actually won was the reelection of the incumbent in 2004. People, remember, tend not to like to throw leaders out unless there are dramatic or extenuating circumstances. Plus, we were still involved in two wars at the time, another reason voters wanted to stay the course. Had Al Gore been declared winner thanks to the popular vote in ’00, he’d have been the incumbent next time around and he’d have been the wartime C-in-C. (Of course, if Gore were the boss at that time, the Afghanistan war would have been wrapped to one extent or another without having been left undone by the Iraq war, a strictly Republican gambit.)

Not only that, if one totals all the votes earned by Senate and House candidates, the Dem vote far outnumbers the Republican even though the GOP has run Congress in part and wholly for the last ten years. Democratic candidates for the US Senate, for instance, in 2016 outpolled their Republican rivals by 53.8-42.4 percent, yet the Republicans held a firm grip on that chamber. That same year, Democratic candidates for the House bested their Republican counterparts, nationally, by 49.1-48.0 yet, somehow, the Republicans retained control of the House after that election.

Truth is, this is a Democratic nation.

Then again, throwing a bucket of ice water on this argument is the fact that some 70 million people have voted for Li’l Duce in this year’s election. That’s about 49 percent of the participating populace.

Here’s the biggest truth I’ll share herein: when it comes to President Gag and his fans, I’m baffled.

 

Hot Air: Our Two Faces

The 2020 presidential election is still up in the air as I type this.

Old Joe Biden is about 3 million actual votes ahead of Li’l Duce and leads the incumbent by a 248-214 Electoral College count.

From The Guardian at 4:20 PM EST, Wednesday, November 4, 2020.

Nevertheless, it’s nearly 24 hours after many polls closed and we still don’t know who’ll be taking the oath of office next January. A candidate needs 270 EC votes to win. The actual vote count is relatively irrelevant, something we have to remedy but won’t until a Republican wins the popular vote but loses the EC. Then we’ll see some action.

Anyway, President Gag already has amassed 4 million more votes than he did four years ago. This despite everything he’s done during his term in office: withdrawing from the Paris Accords; quitting the Iran-nuclear pact; dismantling many, if not most, federal agencies; trying to throttle the Postal Service; calling for a return to the darkest days of the nuclear arms race; voiding or annulling hundreds of environmental protections. The insults. The bizarre behavior. The obsessive tweeting. The pussy grabbing. The mocking of the handicapped reporter. The utter lack of respect for John McCain’s prisoner of war experience and the Muslim family’s tragic loss of a US soldier. The comical, if it wasn’t so awful, mishandling of the coronavirus crisis.

Some 67.7 million people at this hour have iterated that they want him as their leader, him as the symbol of America, him to steer the course of this holy land.

Perhaps Old Joe is on his way to victory. The Democrats will keep the House and just may take control of the Senate (although I wouldn’t bet on it).  Even so, more people went for P. Gag than did in 2016.

All this proves one thing: we are a divided nation, almost irreparably so. There are two Americas right now. One that says, beaming proudly, when they cast their gaze upon Li’l Duce, “There goes my leader.” The other, discouraged and fretful, says, “There goes my country.”

Hot Air: A New Perspective

Our long national nightmare may be over and done with after the polls close tomorrow. National? Hell, it’s been a planetary nightmare, for pity’s sake!

Then again, let me tweak the above statement a bit. Tomorrow may signal the beginning of the end of the nightmare, something I’ve been warning about for months. My pal Jeff Isaac cites this piece, making the same point in the conservative-lite website The Bulwark.

The point is even if Li’l Duce gets his well-deserved ass-whipping tomorrow, he’ll still be in office for another 89 days, plenty of time for him to dismantle our democratic republic even more than he has already.

So, to torture the analogy further, for the next two and a half months we may be trying to rouse ourselves out of the the troubled sleep we’ve been in since 2016 even as the gremlins and ogres and monsters and swarms of rats and bees, the falling from an airplane, the drowning in the backyard pool, the being caught naked outdoors, the looming high school semester final you’re not prepared for — all the beastly terrors that torment us as we repose in the arms of Morpheus — continue to flood our half-awake imaginations.

But, beginnings are good. Throwing President Gag’s sorry carcass out of the White House tomorrow at the polls will only be a start but, of course, a journey of a thousand miles…, yadda, yadda, yadda.

I realize I’m about to stun into catatonia the loyal followers of this global communications colossus but the hellish Trump regime just may have done something good for us. Not good in the sense of, say, ending world hunger or curing one or another of the cancers but, like the journey that begins with a first step, even the slightest good is a net positive.

Here’s the good thing: the presidency of one Donald John Trump has put politics in perspective for those of us who reside, metaphorically, on my side of the fence. See, when I first came to this bizarre state back in 2009, the Democrats, the liberals, the progressives and everybody else to the left of Dan Quayle (Hah! Bet you hadn’t thought of that name in decades.) viewed the relatively innocuous likes of Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels as the second coming of Joseph Stalin. Then, when Mitt Romney, Barack Obama’s white clone, challenged the incumbent president in 2012, we all gasped in horror that he’d take a page from Pol Pot and turn America into a westernized Killing Field. I’m exaggerating, natch, but not by as much as you might think.

Brethren?

We ran around like chickens sans tetes, worrying about the hell in a hand basket we were surely falling into under the malignant watch of Daniels or the putative reign of Romney. And what of John McCain, who ran the first broadside against Obama in 2008? He was close enough to his opponent on the political spectrum to flash him a subtle wink yet, in our petrified eyes, a win by him would surely have turned this holy land into a tyranny, or at least into another c. 1960s Alabama.

It must be conceded, though, that McCain selected as his running mate an unprepared, incurious, anti-intellectual dingbat of a half-term Alaska governor — and a wannabe beauty queen and aspiring small potatoes TV talking head at that. Sarah Palin was the Republican Party’s failed experiment in creating a franken-candidate, although they did learn from their mistake, bringing us to their successful model, our current president.

And herein lies the aforementioned good thing. Now we know what happens when the American electorate elects on a whim the worst possible person to take the reins of government. We get a vengeful, impulsive, ignorant, corrupt, pathological liar who appeals to all the worst instincts in humanity.

This, my friends, is what we should have been living in terror of for the last 25-50 years. The likes of Mitch Daniels and Mitt Romney were merely guys whose philosophy of governing were different than ours. Yet we shrieked and moaned about them as if they were sexual predators, tinpot dictator wannabes, and Constitutional vandals. Sickos. Terrorists in business suits. Family dynasty progenitors. All of which, BTW, we wound up getting in one package, known unaffectionately herein as Li’l Duce.

My guess is as P. Gag goes down in flames tomorrow, his party (if they have any sense about them at this point, which is a consideration after all) will commence to mend their ways and revert to something resembling a norm.

And, should that occur, mirabile dictu, we won’t have to live in panic at the prospect of every single Republican coming down the pipe. I say this even though I am deeply committed never, ever to vote for one so long as the party refuses to back the ERA, continues to appeal to white supremacists, pretends climate catastrophe hasn’t begun yet, and fights tooth and claw against universal, single-payer health care.

From now on, it is to be profoundly hoped, we won’t view all Republicans as a Stalin, even if their current top dog fancies himself a Putin.

Brothers.

Hot Air: Show’s Over

I’ve been so petrified by the rise and rule of Li’l Duce, fearing a hostile takeover of the US by him and his family, that the only logical outcome of his arrival on the scene escaped me. His people are getting tired of his act. They want to change the channel.

He’s never been anything but a cheap TV star, the 2010s version of Milton Berle. The TV audience ate him up and snickered in everybody else’s faces when he did the most outlandish things. But even his base is falling asleep in front of the TV (that is, except for the radical militia terrorists and the dyed-in-the-wool racists — they’re with him until the end of time). More people tuned in to Biden’s snooze-fest than Trump’s burlesque show. That’s just one piece of evidence bolstering my argument. Another is the long, long, long, long, long long, long lines at polling places across America.

Nobody in my lifetime has driven more people to the polls than President Gag. I’d like to kick them all in their asses for voting for him in the first place in ’16, or opting to sit that election out, but let’s bygones be bygones. We’re seeing a national cancellation of the show.

Hot Air: Loads Of It

The Illusion

I hate like hell to admit it, but John Steinbeck was right:

The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 10.28.34 AM

Honesty, Honestly

Has it occurred to you that this Obama administration, now well into its eighth year, has been shockingly free of venal scandal? I mean, I can’t think of a single Obama White House functionary who’s been brought up on charges of swiping from the public trough or peddling his or her influence for personal gain.

Usually, presidential administrations in their second terms are wracked by accusations, investigations, and indictments of major and minor officials who’ve fattened their wallets thanks to their positions of power.

Not now, though. Not in this presidency.

Obama seems a decent human being. Perhaps his leadership imperative, communicated to all hirees from the get-go, was Do no wrong. It can’t be just dumb luck can it?

And, believe me, if there were even a hint of malfeasance, the vultures  who control the House and Senate as well as those in talk media and the blogosphere would have been on it like flies on dog droppings.

Phew, That Could Have Been Terrorizing!

Here’s something I just don’t understand. Perhaps you can explain it to me.

Yesterday, a mentally-broken man went on a knife rampage in Taunton, Mass., killing two and injuring four others before an off-duty sheriff’s deputy shot him to death. The man apparently went on the random spree after ramming his car into a truck outside a home in Taunton. He then entered the home and stabbed an 80-year-old woman to death and seriously injured the her daughter. He went out on the street, jumped back in his car, and wound up at a nearby mall. There, he attacked several other people, killing one before the deputy stopped him.

A horrible story, indeed. But, somehow, authorities wished to console us in our confusion and worry over the incident. Taunton police made certain to tell reporters the attacks were not related to “terrorism.”

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t make me feel any better about the whole affair.

Was the aim of such an announcement to comfort us that no swarthy foreigners were responsible for the death and carnage, but simply a misguided poor soul from this holy land?

And if these attacks are not “terrorism,” what are they? Merely lack of impulse control on the part of a fellow citizen — who, thank god, happens not to be dark or unbearably different. That’s better?

Hillary’s Handiwork?

Have you seen that social media meme aimed at Bernie-ites purportedly showing them how to make home-made glow sticks but in reality is actually a recipe for a mini-bomb?

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 7.43.19 AM

No one knows where this ugly little “joke” came from but I guaran-goddamn-tee at least some Bernie true believers are convinced it was the handiwork of operatives from Hillary’s campaign. Hell, there’s gotta be some in this holy land who are certain Hillary herself posted the freakin’ thing!

The Stark Truth

The Loved One and I watched All the King’s Men last night, the 1949 movie based on Robert Penn Warren‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about Willie Stark, a populist demagogue who rises to power from the dirt furrows of farm country. Stark becomes wildly adored, with wits and wags wondering if he’s a messiah or a tyrant. The movie based on the book won the Academy Award for Best Picture just four years after Warren won his Pulitzer.

Willie Stark is nothing like Donald Trump but the whole idolatry thing, the “outsider” challenging the powers-that-be, the snake-oil salesman promising a new way of running things, is at the core of Trump’s appeal.

Smart guys used to fear a new Huey Long (upon whom, it is said, Willie Stark was based) coming along, galvanizing the poor and the disenfranchised by telling them what a lousy deal they’re getting and how the big boys are laughing their way to the bank on the backs of the common clay.

It’s tempting to say ATKM is a harbinger of the 2016 presidential race wherein populist demagogue Donald Trump roars to the Republican nomination despite all the analyses of the experts who pooh-poohed his quest. But it’s not. Trump most certainly is not a man who came from dirt furrows and challenged the powers that be. He was a trust fund baby who inherited tens of millions of dollars from his slippery daddy-o and has always been one of the powers that be.

Sure, many of those going gaga over Trump are poor but many, many more are reasonably comfortable, at least in relation to the rest of the world. A Trump rally is not populated by modern day analogs to the subjects of, say, Dorothea Lange’s Depression-era photos.

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Lange’s “Migrant Mother” (1936)

Trump’s fanboys and -girls, in fact, look awfully well fed and clearly have had a good night’s sleep in warm, comfy beds. King-sized, most likely.

They see themselves as unduly screwed, which is bizarre. And Trump keeps telling them they are, which is only the first of his bald-faced lies, of which he’s trafficked in an alarming many.

Guys like the fictional Willie Stark and the real Huey Long had an extremely limited appeal, touching the hearts only of those self-aware enough to accept that they were dirt-poor hicks — “Just like me!” Stark roared. Today, nobody wants to admit they’re a dirt poor hick. Screwed, yeah. Dirt poor, no. Let’s go to Faulkner again, who hit it square:

[The American poor] see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.

And not only the Murrican poor see themselves that way. Even the well-fed and cozy comfy feel they’re only one lucky break away from sharing caviar and Moët et Chandon w/ the likes of Donald Trump or the Kardashians. These days, they desperately believe, those lucky breaks are being denied them which is a far worse injustice than mass starvation in Bangladesh or the kidnapping, raping, and killing of schoolgirls by Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Only a borderline sociopathic liar like Trump could feed and reinforce in people this line of bushwa. Nothing Trump says is based on any set of acts or reality, which sets up his ultimate untrue punchlines. Murricans have been waiting breathlessly for an uber-rich man to come along and lie to them. Rich men, too many in this holy land deeply believe, are special, a higher form of life, nearly messianic.

Their words are scripture, their bank accounts proof of their divinity.

Naw, America never needed to worry about a fascist demagogue coming along and appealing to the poor. The real danger was the incendiary who spoke to the temporarily embarrassed millionaires.

May 11th Birthdays

Laskarina Bouboulina — Known as the heroine of Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire, she commanded the rebel Greek fleet and, later, became an admiral in the Russian navy.

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Chang and Eng Bunker — The most famous Siamese (now, more acceptably, conjoined) twins. Both married (two separate women) and had, between them, 21 children.

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Harriet Quimby — The first women to be awarded a pilot’s license in the United States and the first female to aviate across the English Channel. She also was a Hollywood screenwriter, penning scripts for seven films directed by D.W. Griffith.

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Irving Berlin — Born Israel Isidore Baline, he wrote gazillions of standards now in the great American songbook including “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “God Bless America,” “White Christmas,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” and countless others.

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Martha Graham — Perhaps the most revered American dancer in history, she conjured the “Graham Technique,” a method of modern dance style and teaching that revolutionized the art form.

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Salvadore Dali — Painter and art world personality.

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Richard Feynman — Nobel Prize winning physicist, iconoclast, bongo player, and author of, among others, Six Easy Pieces. One of my favorite humans ever.

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Mort Sahl — Humorist who specialized in political and social issues, he used a newspaper as a prop onstage, opening it up and commenting on stories within. Steve Allen called him “the only real political philosopher we have in modern comedy.”

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Louis Farrakhan — Controversial leader of the Nation of Islam, an American organization dedicated to the uplift of Black Muslim young men. Farrakhan also has spouted anti-semitic and anti-gay lines. Many in the American Black Muslim community believe he was involved in the plot to assassinate Malcolm X.

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Martha Quinn — One of the original five VJs on MTV.

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And, finally, Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, died on this day in 2001.

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Hot Air: Sunday Sundries

History In The Making

I don’t know why this hasn’t occurred to me before but, no matter what, the Dems this summer will nominate either the first woman or first Jew as a major party candidate for president.

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Either Way

The Republicans, meanwhile, are going with the guy who calls women “fat pigs” and who has the support of KKK-types who believe the nation — and the world — are run by a secret cabal of Jews.

Yeah, there’s no diff. between the parties. Nah.

I’m surprised nobody’s making a big splash about this. It speaks well of the party, no? Then again, nobody wants to speak well of the party — either party — these days. Too bad.

Of course, the parties have nobody to blame but themselves.

Private Benjamins

Let’s just all agree right here and now that privatization is a dirty word, okay?

Case in point: The city of Seattle has hired a private firm at $240 and hour to tear down, sweep up, and otherwise trash homeless encampments. Yep. Hat tip to my old Ever-So-Secret Order of the Lampreys pal (and leader thereof) Kenneth Morrison for the tip.

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So, the city many of us view as the nation’s model of progressive goody-goodness would rather spend its dough thusly than on, say, maybe simply providing shelter for the poor souls who can’t afford a home.

Nah. That’d be government overreach, wouldn’t it?

Getting To Know Me

I’ve just come to the conclusion that I’m driven not to be driven. I suppose that’s why I never got a college degree or won the Pulitzer Prize.

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Nah, That’s Okay. I Don’t Need One. Thanks Anyway.

Yeah, sure, that’s it.

Getting Better All The Time

Another landmark in my recovery process. Yesterday afternoon I yelled at another driver for the first time in months. I was thrilled; my voice was strong and my tongue sharp.

The background. It’s been my experience that scads of left-turners in this sprawling megalopolis are loath to pulling out into an intersection on the green light while waiting for oncoming traffic to pass. This leads, often, to just one car making the left turn, which is criminal.

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So, yesterday I was intending to make the left turn onto Covenanter off southbound College Mall Drive to get to the Kroger Theme Park. The black Infiniti in front of me was going to make the left as well and, just as we hit the red light, it turned green. Fine, right? I’d make this light, right behind him.

Only he would not pull into the intersection. I gesticulated dramatically, hoping he’d catch my drift in his rear view mirror but, alas, he wouldn’t bite. But, I figured, I could tail him closely when he did make the turn at least after the light would turn yellow.

The light did turn yellow and he wouldn’t budge! So neither of us made the turn. I bellowed: “Fer chrissakes! Get out there you numbskull! Make the goddamned turn! Jesus Christ in heaven!”

Again, he wouldn’t bite. No glance in the mirror. No satisfying flash of the middle digit in response. No nothing. He must have had the windows rolled up. The jerk.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the satisfaction of reaming him verbally even if he couldn’t hear it.

Slowly but surely, I’m getting back into the swing of things. Wahoo!

Okay, Mother’s Day

Here are Ma and Daddy-o in 1945 with the old man home on a surprise leave. He looks like a kid in a candy store and she’s got that dewy-eyed look straight out of a romance novel.

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BTW: Daddy-o returned to his base to help the Allies win the war by scrubbing garbage cans and making sure his bed was properly made.

Priorities

Hey, we’re not the only country that’s tackling terribly important social problems (from Atlas Obscura):

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