Here is a short voluntary assignment for readers projecting their imaginations (and perhaps more) into the future of our United States.

First, however, we have to deal with the uncertainty and doubt about sources.   The administration has done a spectacular job of helping voters in the US come to disbelieve the press, or at the very least to doubt at least 50 percent of what is reported.  Levels of suspicion and anger at reading or hearing what the press alleges from day to day have never been higher.

Even more skepticism exists when sources have been earlier caught in acts of what can only be called political sabotage.

This is why we put our caveats up front.

Earlier this week, booting Secretary of State Tillerson from the Trump bandwagon and THEN announcing a replacement in the person of Mike Pompeo caused bells to ring in our memory.  On a hunch and a fragment of remembered data from the past, we hit Wikipedia (we know, we know!) just to check basic information.

THAT, folks, is your assignment.  For God’s sakes, do the same.  Discount maybe fifty percent of the information under the heading of Mike Pompeo but read each paragraph.

Our futures lie there, open and unveiled, bald, bare, and brazen.

Continue reading “PLAYMATES”



The annual television audience for the Academy Awards Ceremony this week fell by nearly twenty percent.  The NYTimes opined that was because there was so much else on television to watch that the audience had fragmented and would probably never again be gigantic, tense, engaged.  In effect, cable drama had overtaken real-life drama.

Week by week the American voting audience shies away from emotional, economic, defense-department worry.  The sorts of events and scandals that once might have made a difference to men and women on both sides of the aisle now seem light-weight, other-worldly, unimportant.  The announcement of a putative meeting between the leader of North Korea and our own Big Daddy did not electrify the nation.

The reason: we’ve seen this movie before, as people like to say. Twice, in fact, North Korea has made overtures and hints and promises, only to in the end walk away and resume its bellicose posture and antipathy.  What they’ve done is buy time and manage to use it superlatively, growing from a famine-ridden hard-edged dictatorship to a famine-ravaged, unforgiving, and eventual nuclear threat not only to its own region but to a large part of the world.

Like the burgeoning cable news networks that ensnare millions of viewers around the world day-by-day, modern life is offering more than can be consumed thoughtfully and acted upon.  And with the introduction in the past ten or fifteen years to the customs and mores of foreign countries, we viewers have become more blase about the strange habits and intellectual menus at which we stare mindlessly.

We are today absolutely used to, and, alas, unphased by terrible events on our tiny screens: endless wars and strafing, deaths of four year olds from barrel bombing, kidnapping by terrorists and the consequent training for war or the sex trade.  We do manage – barely – to repeat the endless refrains that have come to mean so much and so little to us all:  ”Our Thoughts and Prayers go out to…”  In effect every day we slap on yellow decals to automobile fenders and trees, displaying our run-of-the-mill patriotism.  We never forget to thank the men and women who do battle for us around the world.

And we know that violence in every part of the nation is no longer seen as rare or unusual.”Today’s school shooting is brought to you by the wonderful folks at…”

But what we really care about is our one-third of an acre, alternately blooming or under water, the quality of our drinking water and air, the possibility of actually earning enough money to feed, clothe, dress our children.

We HAVE seen this movie before, since perhaps the 1980s.   When we became (under Clinton) “exceptional” we also became selfish, immoral, untutored.  Dumb.  Self-obsessed.  The questions that for 240 years had earlier occupied our republic no longer mattered.   We became inured to corruption and a game that was rigged.  We hunkered down to protect ourselves and our families.  Right and wrong became relative.

To be led now by an immoral, dishonest, egoistic relative of other autocrats around the world in a short year and a half has become the norm.

Continue reading “NEARLY 20% OFF”


And is there any point in writing about America’s foremost health problem?


Millions of young people are, in the following few weeks, going to learn that they don’t matter to their representatives, senators, grandparents, friends, international support groups.  All those bright and still alive young citizens of Florida – the articulate, the angry, the righteous – are going to find that regardless of their own good feelings and drive and determination, the game is rigged. Grown-ups have their eyes on their own pocket books and investments.  The “president” could care less about life and safety and security.

It seems to us that this week marks the nadir of the USA after World War II.  To the often asked question throughout the nation – where are we? – there is no absolute answer.  We don’t know. Congress doesn’t know.  Wall Street doesn’t know.  The ”president” lives in his own world, and the devil take the hindmost.

There is such confusion in the country that over the past five days millions of citizens have bought gasoline, imported a few staple food items, closed their doors, idly wondered about their futures.  The Academy Awards mean more to us than our own safety and progress and security.   McMaster? Kushner? Hicks? Sessions? Putin?

All those political characters who look seriously into the camera to admit that they, too, own guns but only for target practice – the same who fervently believe in the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution – for the purposes only of protecting themselves against foreign powers – are also dues paying members of the NRA who, in thanks for their allegiances, return to these well-meaning, honest, straight-forward politicos more money than they bring in.

Gun manufacturers pay for the legislative support of our representatives, who in turn accept millions of dollars in campaign contributions against the better angels of belief, light, and love.  The process is entirely circular and in no way attached to the growth of the economy, safety of our schools, industries, and foreign adventures.

We’ve had three “major” bestsellers on the NYTimes’ list these past weeks: Michael Wolff, David Cay Johnston, and David Frum.  All are retreads.  Wolff is salacious; Johnston’s a compilation of known facts, and only Frum is angry enough to make suggestions for improvement.  Johnston fell from the list in two weeks. Wolff reigns supreme for his details.  Frum chugs along at the bottom, speaking hotly and angrily and getting nowhere.

In fact, no one in the entire countryside understands where we are going, who’s leading.

The confusion grows minute by minute, and even the “president’s” followers are sitting silently in their corners, half afraid to ask questions or raise a hand.

“And there is no health in us.”

Continue reading “FINALLY. GUNS.”


…is what the White House would become.   After the undoubted first annual marching by of weaponry and fighting personnel, why would Trump stop at only one parade in a lifetime when it makes him feel so good, elevates him into the ether of the immortals?

Admittedly we’re going off the rails a little this morning.  That’s because last night we couldn’t shut off the interior mechanism that provokes nightmares and bad dreams.  If (A) were to be true, why wouldn’t (B) follow? And then (c)?

We are not rabble-rousers or conspiracy theorists.  But once you imagine a progression of disasters such as Trump is producing, you can’t stop.  Your next question is always, “And then what…?”  Where else could Dear One’s feverish brain light for only a second, just barely long enough to ignite a tiny hardly noticeable (at first) brush fire that can grow overnight into the second of California’s largest wild-fires?

One or two items have to be included in our vision of this guy.  (1) He is cheap (2) He cheats.  (3) He’s the master at bait-and-switch.  (4) He has no system of self-control that would tell him enough is enough (for a while, anyway) and controlling however slight the warnings would be is not a job that his staff can do, or his family, or the Congress of the United States.  He has not surrounded himself with brave men and women.    Neither have many legitimate experts in any field been allowed to cross his threshold.  He has no real friends.  He would sacrifice his family without thinking twice.

To be the most powerful creature on earth – “believe me!” – is not a second-rate idea.

Worse, beyond almost anything else, Dear One is not dumb.

Using his putative and endless verbal support “for the troops,” “for the first responders,” for “the heroes,” “for the veterans,” he has managed to corral the consciences of his base to the degree that anyone who disagrees even in the most miniscule fashion with his sixth-grade hero worship automatically becomes an enemy of the people.

So, in this imagined scenario, what IS Dear One’s next step?   To elevate the police and the Armed Services – not by paying them better or training them more efficiently, but by bestowing titles on them that separate them from the rest of us.  Titles, not money.  Titles, and POWER.  To shine a spot-light on “America’s greatest” isolates them in our minds as people of consequence, perhaps worthier than we imagined, definitely people of whom to be aware, and to keep in our rear-view mirrors at all times lest something WE do seems to THEM out of line.

This is not a plan that could unite the US of A.  Rather it biforcates the nation once more, separating those in favor from dungeons.  It would bring suspicion on anyone even minimally praised since – rather than real reward or status – Trump would be blessing these citizens with the ability to help control a nation he feels does not love him adequately.  These new office-holders will be given police powers (and equipment) to make certain that we ALL line up as Dear One wants, or else.

The numbers of these new “civilian adjuncts” need not be large. One, say, per county, or township.  One is enough for others there to notice immediately that this man or woman is eating better than they are, has more gasoline, is freer to travel.  Maybe even is receiving  other favors from Dear One.  (Not personally, you understand;  Dear One has more and more disappeared behind the reinforced walls of Mar-a-Lago.  We see him only on television and then, sometimes, we can’t believe who really Dear One is.  Sure we have posters and murals and huge photographs, but where is the real Dear One?  Could he have a series of body doubles?)

Or is this part of the new Order to Uphold Law and Order, a desire for which the country as a whole yearns.   This is why, this promise having been made, we won’t be hearing cries of outrage and unfairness.  Maybe he CAN pull it off, make daily life smoother and safer and fairer for us all.

Another angle on this current nightmare is that neither the general population nor members of Congress are actually used to doing battle with anyone.  Well, that’s not quite true. Some groups do battle against real or imagined enemies at all times, in all media, on every field.  As for Congress, it has grown puffy with privilege so that it no longer even imagines standing up for anything resembling democracy lest it interfere with its own take-home.   They’re struggling just to keep their heads a fraction of an inch taller than Dear One’s newly recognized peace-keepers.

This is all, in our mind, incremental progress towards totalitarianism.   As befits baby Donald, his steps are small, stumbling, and cautious.   Hardly believing in his good fortune to be president, he hesitates to act too swiftly or too radically.  After all, he has to keep his eye on 2020.

By which time, if our scenario is not imaginary, there will be worse hell to pay.  Tomorrow we’ll try to present more of Dear One’s machinations towards immortality.


For readers who cannot believe the Cinemascope presentation above, let us refer them to: It Can’t Happen Here, written by Sinclair Lewis in 1935, as well as a more modern warning from Timothy Snyder at Yale in his On Tyranny.


Tuesday night this week we learned – although at the time it seemed to us this might just be a “trial balloon” – that Dear One wanted to put on a parade of the nation’s weaponry in D.C..

We held our fire, waiting for confirmation from other sources.  We got that.

Here’s the picture.  Billions of dollars in tanks, aircraft, launchers, general weaponry paraded past Dear One who takes the salutes of the military below him.

And here’s the trap. Anyone who objects to this demonstration of power will be outed as unpatriotic.  Just as the Democrats who did not leap to their feet throughout the State of the Union speech have been tweeted as un-American.

This is more than a matter of finance.  Such a parade would waste millions of dollars to make one man feel as important, as fearsome, and as world-dominating, as Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, and “little rocket man.”

It’s not enough, should this heavenly display of might actually be planned and take place, that even more money would be needed to repair the thoroughfares and avenues of the District chewed mercilessly by tanks and other heavier than usual rolling stock.

Now, being honest, a grand pass-through such as this would certainly be crowd-pleasing.   Even we admit to being thrilled by the prospect of seeing the strength of the US on display, something over which we are not too sophisticated to marvel.   It would be, in other people’ words, “awesome.”  It would be a reminder that the US can, and has, emerged victorious from dozens of international conflicts, still Number One in terms of prowess and guts.

There is one major snag, however.   Not the fear or embarrassment of being called unpatriotic by a man to whom those words come easily and without thought.  Not the impact on a tightened budget, or the dismay of the leaders of our armed forces who have far, far better things to do with their time, troops, and materiel.

The snag is simple.   Dear One on the reviewing stand – no doubt with other members of his family, some of his cabinet, and invited friends – being saluted (and returning the gesture) from the ruined pavements – in effect receiving the fealty of the thousands of men and women in uniform who pass by.  Giving every impression that our nation stands not before this clown but rather with him in his off-the-wall impromptu national and international agenda.

It would be the greatest moment in Dear One’s life.

And the lowest in ours.

We already know how much he admires and wants to emulate earlier dictators (and those who exist still today) and tinpot strongmen.   He criticizes neither Russia, nor the Philippines, nor the Saudis, nor the Burmese.   To be considered the equal of these generation-killing machines is clearly one of Dear One’s goals.

What matters here is not the event, but the visual evidence that the US has become –not  a banana republic – but instead an international menace unhinged from traditional diplomacy and the niceties of cooperative allies – favored by millions of Americans who neither know nor care what our international image projects, led (and approved) by our own population.

This is adoration on a heavenly scale.

Not that any of this is deserved. It is only desired by Dear One himself to be categorized in the pantheon of gods whose brightness is too brilliant to be looked upon, whose wishes emanate at the speed of lightning bolts, whose dependability is not to be questioned.  Dear One becomes not only the most beloved of American presidents, but also the most infallible.

We’d be happy to say that this idea is one of Dear One’s last.

We cannot.

Is this something you want?


Remember, ‘way back in 2016, after Dear One actually “won” an election, the Republicans in Congress decided this might not be the disaster they had imagined.  After all, Trump knew nothing, was nothing, learned nothing, and was generally out of control.

This was a Republican ideal.  Someone too dumb to argue.  All Congress has to do was slip him a piece of paper and he would sign it.  God, they could forge the nation into whatever shape they wanted!  Their goals could actually be realized.  They could stay in power forever with a “leader” who was a pushover, who was likely to rubber stamp anything he didn’t understand for fear of exposing his ignorance.

Two problems soon swam into view. (1) The Republicans themselves couldn’t decide on what they wanted to do, and when they did, they couldn’t unify around whatever the idea was – not to mention the personalities behind the proposals.  (2) Trump wasn’t THAT dumb!

In fact, within weeks, the Republicans came to fear the new president.  He had an attitude, he had made promises he was going to keep – an idea so far removed from the history of the recent Republican party it was as though he was speaking in another language.    True, his cabinet was fashioned from computerland; he knew very few of his appointees personally, and he seemed to assume that whomever was recommended would do whatever he, Trump, wanted.   After all, he had put them where they were.  They owed him.  He was King.

If it took him a little while to understand that he really was president, it took Congress a little while to understand that if it didn’t do whatever was demanded, its members could be primaried (a), scolded on Twitter (b), or have their lives made so miserable they wanted out nearly as much as they wanted in (c).  In record time, many House members decided to “retire.”  Senators had already begun to jump ship.  Various departments of the country’s understucture were denuded of once dedicated men, women, ideas, and action.

Of course this didn’t trouble Mr. Trump for a moment.  He believed that he could do whatever needed doing, department by department.  He needed no assistance, just flunkies.  He got them.

Continue reading “STAMP ACT”