WRONG, WRONG, WRONG,AND LATE

A couple of weeks ago we wrote:  “One of the worst weeks experienced by the entire world is ending.  We don’t have a lot of hope for the one beginning Sunday/Monday…And yet, and yet… We’ve asked several friends on an ad hoc basis their emotional reactions to what seems to be spinning around the globe.  Have they succumbed, become wary of getting out of bed in the morning?   Astonishingly, no.

“There is a reason as we watch news broadcasts from Mexico, that our hearts are in our mouths, our eyes tearful, our emotions totally engaged.  It’s one thing to know that America has a record of success, of overcoming obstacles, of fixing things.  It’s something else to know that Mexico has almost none of the infrastructure (even though our own is in deep disrepair) or facilities, or equipment to overcome and survive.  What Mexico has in spades is belief, love, determination, kindness.

“Of course with Dear One excoriating that entire nation for sins for mission and commission, some might feel justified in minimizing sympathy.   But seeing our southern neighbor as humans struggling against a Nature that for centuries has targeted it for destruction fighting back with human chains   of men and women digging, supplying , searching and rescuing reminds us of how incredibly fortunate we in this country have been.

“We believe, as we watch scenes in Puerto, Florida, Texas, that Mother Nature has met her match on these shores.  We are convinced that our government will be able to save, salvage and rebuild.  It has in the past and, God willing, will in the future.  This confidence allows us to send sympathy along with equipment, water and food. And our hearts.”

Misperception Number One.

Continue reading “WRONG, WRONG, WRONG,AND LATE”

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HIGHWAY REST STOP

As Americans, we are often told how short our attention span is.

Accept or deny it, sometimes we do need to get off the speedway.  This is as good a time as any.

Dear One seems to be resting between spasms of energy.  This is a great relief to us all.

True enough we still have Russia, and Junior, Jared and Ivanka, Ukraine, Belarus, sub-saharan African famine,  Asia’s Dear Leader flexing, Mitch and Paul, Chuck and Nancy, Harvey and Irma, Myanmar’s ethnic cleansing, football, Hillary and Comey, Ken Burns, and Sunday’s Emmys.

But Congress hasn’t remounted since its vacation.   The Market, for unknown reasons, is holding.  And today’s terrorists in London seem not ready for primetime.

Big breath.

Some things, however, are still with us.    Here’s one: ADVERTISING.

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DOJ’S THOUGHT POLICE

 

DOJ’s THOUGHT POLICE

 

In another frightening sign that people who run the government in D.C. have no idea what is in the Constitution, Jeff Sessions’ “thought police” arrested a woman who, in January, at Sessions’ Senate confirmation hearing, laughed at a statement made by someone else.

Senator Richard Shelby (R., Alabama) made a lugubrious speech extolling the virtues of Attorney General nominee Sessions, propounding that Sessions had “an extensive record of treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented.”

Despite herself, Desiree Fairooz, an attendant at the hearing, laughed out loud.

Over-eager and unrehearsed capitol police therefore quickly had Ms. Fairooz on her feet and hustled her from the hearing room.   Later, they charged her with disorderly, disruptive conduct and obstructing conduct and passage on U.S. Capitol grounds.

This, for laughing at a comment someone else made.  To say Ms. Fairooz disagreed with Senator Shelby’s characterization of his old pal and crony Sessions is understatement.

Worse, Ms. Fairooz was later convicted by a jury.

This particular scenario is precisely the kind of event wherein chicken-shit observers did nothing to aid Ms. Fairooz, and hundreds ignored the scene altogether, allowing her to be carted off for involuntarily exercising her First Amendment rights…i.e., free speech.

Apparently it’s o.k. to criticize Sessions but not to laugh at him.

Ms. Fairooz’ conviction was reversed three times but Justice pushed and a new trial will be held.

Yes, it’s entertaining copy but also Yes, what was done to her was entirely unconstitutional and a dangerous step towards totalitarianism.

This is truly Orwellian.  Ms. Fairooz did not speak (until she was being forced to leave the room).  She merely couldn’t withstand the shock to her sense of humor.  She herself made no denigrating statement about Sessions.  She was simply, and humanly, reacting to the statement of Senator Shelby.  In effect, she was arrested for thinking something someone else said was funny.

Keeping in mind that Sessions is now the chief policeman in the Trump administration, charged with maintaining law and order, we think he needs some lessons in exactly what his duties are, and quickly.

Or else.

Or else we are already over the line between democracy and fascism.

What can we do?  Keep our eyes and ears open for other instances of this kind of disciplinarian behavior by agents of the U.S. government who have no understanding of what freedom of speech entails.  If and when other incidents occur, it is our duty to yell like hell, set up defense funds, sue the Justice Department (although that as a ploy may no longer be possible.)

If Mr. Sessions’ thin-skinned ego cannot allow criticism without prison, we’re all in trouble.

Free speech means exactly what it says. No post-truth.  No truthiness.

“Post-truth equals pre-fascism.”

Stay tuned.  Please.  For all our sakes.

EYE ON THE PRIZE

 

A strange phenomenon has occurred.  As Harvey poured down on Texas, people began to wonder when Mr. Trump would arrive for his photo ops.  Actually, it seemed to many more or less natural that the President, as all others of late, should make a condolence appearance.   He wasn’t expected to really do anything but show the flag.

The remarkable idea that Trump could even be considered in a long line of presidents doing this kind of drop-in duty was staggering. Had he somehow –when no one was looking – learned something?  Did we finally, actually, really have a President?  What could be more normal?

It wasn’t empathy, exactly, that he had learned about.  It was instead yet another role he played, keeping his Kingdom calm while all along continuing to move successfully forward on his Kingship quest.  The flight of Air Force One was simply another bit of stage-managing to keep the country from thinking about his real agenda: becoming – quietly and cleverly – KING.   This is not easy insofar as his attachments to Russia are under constant investigation.

There is a tiny, 126 page book we want to recommend.  ON TYRANNY, by Timothy Snyder.  Snyder is an historian at Yale who has wide and deep experience of Eastern Europe, the rise and fall of both democracies and totalitarian regimes. He writes simply and eloquently, not asking more of his readers’ lives than they could be expected rightfully to contribute.  And he has the great ability to ponder the past and learn from it, experience the present and learn from that, and foresee the future and learn from that!  Better, the text is small enough to slip into your back pocket for reading and rereading throughout the day.

Enough Americans of all political persuasions are concerned with the future, the present, and Mr. Trump to have made ON TYRANNY a best-seller over the summer, yours for only $7.99 at your local bookstore, at something less via Amazon.

And the book’s timing is perfection, for those who have all along seen through the machinations of the Donald, and especially for those who are beginning to slide off the decks of his freshly painted but already dented warship.

Subtitled “Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century,” Snyder explains, warns, and forearms how easy and even reasonable the drift towards fascism is.  Or could be.

The most trenchant of his parables is Chapter 6: “Be Wary of Paramilitaries.”

Continue reading “EYE ON THE PRIZE”

THE ONLY THING….

…that could possibly make Americans feel better about the bully in the Oval Office would be if he broke down on national television, mid-rally, and pleaded, ”Stop me before I kill again.”

Yesterday’s announcement that former sheriff Joe Arpaio was receiving a presidential pardon for consistently abusing the civil rights of Hispanics in and around Phoenix made us physically ill.   Our reaction was instantaneous.   We didn’t have to ponder.  Here was (for us) the final proof that Dear Leader had no intention of actually ever learning how to become a dear leader.  That what he wanted to do more than anything else was upend American values, America’s reputation, America’s legitimate pride in building, maintaining, and honoring a republic that has stood for 240 years as a beacon for billions of men and women who suffer under different punitive political systems.

To be sure, his supporters and others who stand on the sidelines watching this man carve goodness from the sides of our heretofore high-flying bald eagle, knew who and for what they were voting.   Our guess is that even the most rabid of Trump supporters were as stunned as we were by his embrace of an unrepentant felon who gave the finger to our system of law and order, or, if you will, American justice.

That the announcement was made mid-catastrophe for putative cover from the press and the people was only another sign that to the president, he among others is above the law.

It begins to seem that the current White House staff – rather than trying to alleviate problems at home and abroad – is diligently reading, searching, and finding only those executive orders, enacted statues and Constitutional clauses wherein both the president and the vice-president are exempt from the duties, obligations and behaviors demanded for other elected officials

What puzzles us most is that this man has not suffered, anything.   Had he in his career been badly treated or abused would at least give him a motive for destroying the world’s greatest democracy.  That his every “gut” feeling is divisive, biased, and destructive is something even psychologists cannot parse.

That he is a racist now is undeniable.

“We” did this to ourselves.  The shame is our own.   The Democrats are irrelevant and powerless just as the rest of us are.

There HAS to be a remedy for such cynicism, greed, and moral cowardice.

 

 

EGGHEAD

 

Dear Leader’s eight minute introduction to the topic at hand – what do we do about Afghanistan – was convoluted, unnecessary, and full of misapprehensions, purposely.

It was yet another opportunity for Mr. Trump to show us all what a swell fella he is by once more adjusting his script to cover the possibility that he really was sorrowful and adult and concerned about what happened between neo-nazis and “the good people” of Charlottesville.

Irony is not Dear Leader’s strong suit.   After reacting honestly (for him) to the events on UVA’s campus, and having taken at least four further shots at trying to sound wise and sorrowful at the same time,  Trump stopped sticking his thumb in the air, stood on his little flat feet, read from the teleprompter very well indeed – having lowered the tone of his voice to one approximating  that of a grown-up – and presented the nation with the kinds of soothing sounds it should have heard days before, as president of all the people.

It was enough to convince Paul Ryan, seconds later on CNN, that Mr. Trump was really really trying to do a good job.  (Ryan was able to excuse Trumpian remarks by suggesting that the president had “messed up.”  Oh, yes?)

What did we learn about Dear One’s plans for Afghanistan?

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PRESIDENT PIGPEN

All right, enough!  Finally!

We’ve read how mysteriously people who come into contact with Donald J. Trump leave his presence somehow diminished, dirtier than they were, rougher, more silent, more fearful.  Everyone to whom he extends his hand, and who takes it, is weakened, lessened, sullied by his oh-so-well-practiced grip.

Sometimes he needn’t even speak for this transfiguration to occur.

But Saturday last, the 12th of August,2017, Trump reached what – God, we hope! – even for him is the bottom rung.

Charlottesville, Virginia, a bucolic, quiet, heretofore peaceful college town of intellect and beauty may as well have become Caracas.   Under the guise of protesting the removal of a statue commemorating a Civil War general, the alt-right (read that as you will…not everyone in that camp is a bonafied Nazi) demonstrated to us all that the lid is off, that people are no longer interested in being or even seeming to be civilized politically.

Taking their cue from our Dear Leader, the right has rallied to words, images, actions that earlier might have been tamped down for the sake of a well-functioning democracy.  For hundreds of years a beat has been pulsing below what at surface seems well-meaning if unacknowledged prejudice.  Our Dear Leader has lifted the lid.  Not necessarily because he believes in divisive statements, but to make certain those people who voted for him feel free do to do so again, only the second time without shame.

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