Only 7 Years Ago? Seems Like Yesterday

Trump tower escalator. Photo credit by AP Images

It is hard to imagine, but it has been 7 years since a fateful trip down an escalator brought Trumpism into our national vocabulary. Now we will see if this political era was an aberration, or whether there will be an ongoing phenomena of selfish nationalism as a defining political belief. So many things have changed in the intervening years. For one thing, money was nearly free for much of the Trump era as interest rates hovered near zero. This nation and the world suffered from the most extensive viral infection we have seen in a century – though many people still do not think there was any unusual disease around them.

In many ways, the response to COVID provides an answer that Trumpism is not an aberration. If Trumpism is defined as a distrust of all forms governmental, along with a belief that our nation is better off going it alone and forgoing all international alliances, then no, Trumpism is not an aberration. An entire wing of the Republicans has always stood for isolationism, and a propensity toward conspiracy theories. As I grew up, it seemed those beliefs got segregated within self-contained enclaves, like the John Birch Society. We were able to laugh at those who believed in the imminent threat water fluoridation posed. But the Republicans writ large were able to subjugate this tendency since the existential threat of international communism seemed to be the primary motivation for foreign policy.

Once the communist threat imploded, the glue holding the Republican coalition loosened. Combined with downward economic mobility afflicting much of the nation’s interior, we emerged into a world where a significant portion of the population became convinced nothing good would ever come to them if the elites remained in charge. The wisdom of Donald Trump (gad – it hurts to write that phrase) was to reach out, if only in a superficial way, to that segment of the population and toss them a life preserver. That so many reached out for that life preserver, even when it was revealed to be covered with the slime of self-interest, carried Donald Trump to an improbable victory.

Once in office, he tried ineffectually to turn the levers of power to his advantage. Much to his chagrin, he found it was not possible to turn the ship of state, even in a single four-year term. He mistook this resistance to change to an entity he called the deep state. But he was able to establish his mark upon many of the governmental organizations, especially those with a conservative bent. Still, he found it impossible to totally restructure those portions of government with a liberal bias, and thus minimal change occurred in the groups who used science to govern their actions. Fortunately for us, the corruption and incompetence of Donald Trump enabled the deep state to survive a single term.

But if you view Donald Trump as someone who rode the currents to victory in spite of himself, the second generation of Trumpism offers hope to those who believe in the ultimate objectives of Trump. They come with the experience of running large organizations, and have survived the skirmishes politics throw up. Governors of Texas and Florida are well-positioned to ride the waves of anti-government sentiment still crashing on our shores. They are backed by legions of followers who self-segregate into media pools where only their own perspective is allowed. Nowhere was that more evident than in the decision of Fox News to not only ignore the prime time January 6 hearing, but in the secondary decision that organization made to forego any commercial revenue in the hopes of keeping fingers from switching inputs to other channels, where the hearing was playing.

So where we stand is at a precipice. It is still possible to convince a portion of this nation of the evil represented in the Republican position, while at the same time it is possible to evoke emotional support for those same positions in another segment of the population. But that is a key point. Only 20 million people watched the first January 6 hearing, and while those involved in television believed this was a huge crowd (it rivaled the audience for Sunday Night Football!), I myself was underwhelmed by an audience of 6% of the population of this nation who had enough interest to tune in for two hours. You must realize it will be the 94% who didn’t watch this coverage who will determine the outcome.

Those who will decide the course of this nation are not the people invested in politics. The ones who will decide are those who cannot see beyond their current economic conditions and view their vote as the only tool they have to right the wrongs they see in their own lives. You can try to convince them to vote in favor of principles, but high and mighty thoughts will be swallowed by the economic waves battering the shore. Many folks cannot see beyond those waves, and to persuade them of the impending death of democracy should they choose the party of autocrats is hopeless. What we must do is figure out a way to make more noise than the opposition. I am convinced it is necessary to yell, since it seems only cacophony can be heard over the drone of the trumpets. There’s a reason Twitter has such a small character limit to its posts – the national attention span can’t handle longer thoughts.

What this nation needs is not a better COVID vaccine. We need a vaccine against the idiocy and idolatry of Trumpism.

A Nation’s Selective Hearing

AP Photo -John Minchillo

We are at the dawning of the January 6 Committee public hearings. As one who lived through the Watergate hearings, I offer a little perspective. First, the hearings will reveal all of the ways in which our ex-President was complicit in attempting to overthrow the results of the 2020 election, which was a fair election and one he lost significantly in the popular vote. Second, it will lay to rest all of the pseudo claims about “legitimate political discourse” being an explanation for the storming of the Bastille which we saw the Trump supporters attempt.

Third, it will reveal we can believe our eyes, which for the most part were transfixed on the television as we watched the mob battle play out on that afternoon. It was not only as bad as we thought, it was worse. Plans were laid out weeks and even months in advance hoping for some way to circumvent the results of the election.

And fourth, our segregated media habits will result in no change in our contradictory beliefs, where a significant fraction of our population steadfastly refuses to accept the evidence of their eyes and ears. Instead, they will rely upon the soothing words of the Fox pundits as they decry the hearings as an attempt to cast aspersions on the perfect behavior of the last President.

Let me be perfectly clear here. The most recent President was someone who never accepted that he was the guardian of our constitutional system of government. Instead, he viewed the whole process as a way of enriching himself, his family, and his assorted cronies. Those around Trump either benefited financially (see Jared Kushner with his new wealth fund and its $2 billion “investment” from the Saudi’s), or politically, via the opportunity to serve as Senatorial nominees even though their terms in the administration were riddled with corruption and self-dealing. I remember the Cone of Silence that Mel Brooks Scott Pruitt had built to keep his discussions private. Now he nears admission to the Senate from the poor excuse for a state in Oklahoma.

The ex-President lost because many, many people rejected his attempt at instituting a dynastic regency. He did pick up more votes than his 2016 surprise success, but the opposition picked up millions and millions more. It was intended to be a personal repudiation of Donald Trump. Except, of course, he refused to acknowledge his failure. Here is a man (and I use that term advisedly) who managed to fail upwards in all of his endeavors. He mistook family money for self-worth, and he epitomized failure in American business, instead of the immense success his PR toadies insisted he represented.

Nowhere is there a clearer demarcation of the American populace than in the feelings surrounding our last President. Those who believe the gold-plated fantasy of Trump as business kingpin, still insist he performed admirably in office. Those who saw through the charlatan realize how fortunate we have been to emerge from the four years of incompetence and grifting this nation was subjected to.  

Now we still are under the man’s domination, as one of the two electoral parties of this nation cannot shake his influence. What is really scary is the rise of those who evoke Trumpism as their modus operandi, but with more competence. I remember Ron Desantis’s introduction to the nation, as his political advertisement ran showing him teaching his toddler how to build the Mexican wall with blocks. Unfortunately, since his election as Florida governor, he has shown how granting him power has unleashed his inner tyrant, with evil intent oozing out of every executive order he issues. At least with Trump we knew his staff did not understand how to wield the levers of power effectively. With Desantis, that is not the case. He is truly scary and a threat to all who revere the style of government we have inherited.

The worst part of the past administration is the complete lack of shamelessness, and lack of a sense of humor. It is impossible to get any member of the past administration to show shame, or a sense that they are subject to the rules governing all citizens. Witness Peter Navarro’s reaction to his arrest. And these idiots never seem to recognize that a substantial portion of the nation is laughing at them, not laughing with them. How you can come up with so many people who failed at basic humanity is beyond me. But that is the legacy of the prior administration, and we can only hope the upcoming hearings reveal the criminal faults with enough clarity that it at least possible to embolden those in charge of the justice systems, so we may finally see the Donald subject to a foreign concept – accountability.

Exceptional? I Think Not!

Once upon a time, there was a country that was exceptional. It was exceptional in all things, according to its politicians. And thus there could be no discussion of any way in which it did not achieve exceptional status, either in the past or in the present. To do so would be signing your own death warrant as a politician.

At one time, the statement was true. Immense common sacrifice made the contribution of this nation possible in the early 1940’s, allowing it to emerge from the second world war with its production capacity intact, and its people supercharged through education as they returned to this nation after their overseas tours of duty. But in the decades following this common experience, more and more of the people came to expect fealty from other nations as our due, since we were so exceptional once.

So now we find it impossible to demand common sacrifice. Indeed, we abhor the concept of sacrifice, and expect all our desires to be fulfilled in real time with no delays, and at the lowest cost possible. So now, when confronted by nature and the vagaries of the natural world, we expect scientists to have the final answer to the pandemic as soon as it emerges. Once the scientists admit doubt, or change their story based upon new learnings, the scientists become an object of scorn and ridicule. Why listen to them when we have our politicians telling us we don’t need to sacrifice in order to defeat a measly virus.

Of course, all of the supply chains constructed over decades which required continuous operation of each piece integrated with its downstream steps, became disrupted once any piece of the chain failed to deliver its cargo in a timely manner. Thus we found ourselves facing shortages, and increase in prices. But that would imply sacrifice! We cannot have that! We want it, and we want it now. In many ways, we are behaving like our cats who have no concept of patience. Here is the cat haiku:

Feed me, feed me now.

Feed me, feed me, feed me now.

Why are you so slow?

So we blame the current generation of politicians in charge, forgetting how abysmal the previous generation was. Since we now face shortages, heads must roll. Indeed, we must put the previous party back in power, and forget about the disastrous administration of the past. We must be an exceptional people, since we retain no memory of the past.

And now it is a necessity to prevent the youth of today from having any chance to learn about mistakes of the past. No, the only need is to call up the mythology of John Wayne to learn about the settling of the west. And of course, since we elected our first non-Caucasian president, we no longer have to deal with the sins of racism. All that is past. Never mind that the political and economic structures of this nation still reflect the infection of racism coursing through our bloodstreams.

Of course, we smile as we witness the fulfillment of our desires coming to pass. All concepts of sexual equality go by the wayside as we ponder a future without any opportunity for abortion. And we smile as we see the logical completion of the effort to liberate guns as yet another young man finds his fulfillment in using his newly acquired weapons of war to take the lives of so many innocent children.

Exceptional! We cling to our exceptional status even though the world has passed us by in so many ways. We are repelled by someone not of this nation, trying to get one of the members of the US Senate to even admit we might not be exceptional in the light of the most recent school shootings. To think that anyone could conceive of the idea we in this nation are not exceptional causes our politicians to blame it all on liberal bias. Thus we decry the violence while refusing to attack any of the causes, since, you know, no solution proposed would stop all gun violence. We must insist that the pursuit of perfection negates any possibility of incremental improvement, since this would imply someone must sacrifice.

So we wallow in an imagined period of time where we were great. The imagery evoked by this slogan bring us back to the white picket fences of US suburbia, where the women knew their place, all minorities were placid and pleased with their shards of prosperity, and our nation was feared by all evil doers in the world. To imply that the world has moved beyond the shallowness of that dream is to call into question the authority our would-be leaders call upon, as they try once more to rule us all.

Clinging to the shattered remnants of the ship of prosperity, we refuse the idea of life preservers. Insisting we are more moral since we tie health care to a certain class of employment, instead of acknowledging basic health care is a human right. Reliant upon yet another poorly decided lawsuit (Heller), we refuse to adopt any legislation placing limits on weapon procurement, since someone would need to sacrifice by having their rights infringed. Allowing our primary entitlement programs to run out of money, since any solution will result in some sort of sacrifice. All of this in the name of retaining our exceptionalism, except that more and more, we can see the holes growing in our sails, threatening our ability to navigate the shoals of the sea of life. But I predict, even when our ship of state is sinking, there will be those who will cry loudly, has anyone sunk in such an exceptional manner?

Epitaph

Cover of In The Court Of The Crimson King. Art by Barry Godber

Confusion will be my epitaph. These words, written by Peter Sinfield, and found on King Crimson’s first album, perfectly sums up 21st Century life. All we had believed in the past is now wiped away as society changes around us.

Women being able to govern their own bodies? Sorry, that is now obsolete. It is necessary for the State to coerce women to have children with no options for surgical solutions. See, it is all about saving the life of the unborn. Of course, coming up with solutions to enable         women to combine a working life with a family life is beyond the capacity of any politician, so undoubtedly the result of restrictive abortion laws will be more child abuse, more child poverty, and an increase in those who violate the law coming down the pike in about 16 years.

Confusion will be my epitaph. I believed it impossible for politicians to repudiate their own words caught on tape. That was before the current generation of politicians found it possible to disown their own statements of the recent past. Same holds for commentators on cable news shows who preen to the camera with unparalleled ability to regurgitate positions completely in opposition to what they said a few days or weeks ago. All in order to chase elusive voters or viewers, depending on which profession they practice. In all of these cases, their disdain for the public is palpable, since they believe only their current utterances represent their beliefs. Anything they said in the past is no longer germane, or even rational, and they definitely should not be held responsible for any past comments. And if anyone took their words seriously, and acted on them? Well, the politicians and commentators didn’t actually pull the trigger, so linking their words, and the actions of others is not fair.

I had a faith that the increased ties of commerce would assist in consigning international war to the trash heap of history. That faith was shattered with the invasion of Ukraine. So we are now to believe only in the force of arms which enables those with power to impose their will through the miracle of explosives. We may marvel in the ability of the people of a country to resist overwhelming odds, in order to retain their freedom. Maybe too many of us who marvel, no longer have beliefs we would die for. And no, wearing a surgical mask is not tyranny. An invading army consisting of soldiers who have no compunction against killing civilians is true tyranny.

 Confusion will be my epitaph. I did not hear the words spoken that deemed hatred of others as a Christian virtue. I was not prepared for a society where racism was considered a virtue, fully consistent with Christian principles. I was not prepared for a society where celebrity is worshiped as the only value worth celebrating, and those who have obtained celebrity are incapable of doing bad things, since, after all, they are celebrities. I was not prepared for a society where all values are deemed relative, and only the end matters, especially when it benefits me. I was not prepared for leaders who embodied the worst human attributes, and were proud of those pitiful attributes.

I believed advances in science would always be valued. I had forgotten how bitter the struggles were in the past for new scientific truths to be accepted if they challenged the status quo. I see echoes of Copernicus and Galileo in current issues around global warming, and humanity’s role in altering our planet. I realize now how difficult it is to convince others of facts they cannot verify through their own experience.

Confusion will be my epitaph. When the original Soviet Union fell, I believed mankind had dodged an enormous threat by removing the danger of nuclear conflict. I was not ready for the rise of an autocrat, who could threaten the use of what was considered unthinkable. I now realize that even if we escape this round of conflict without nuclear detonation, it is inconceivable we will emerge from the scourge of nationalism without some exchange of nuclear weaponry. Certainly the political discourse heard in many countries leads me to believe this exchange will happen sooner, not later.

I can go on, raising other issues where the promises of a brighter future now seem dimmed by the intransigence of the human race. But I want to leave the last words to Peter Sinfield, who penned them back in 1969:

Confusion will be my epitaph
As I crawl, a cracked and broken path
If we make it, we can all sit back and laugh
But I fear tomorrow I’ll be crying
Yes, I fear tomorrow I’ll be crying

No Easy Answers

My church is home to Manna Meal. This is a ministry in Charleston WV which has provided 2 meals a day (breakfast and lunch) for nearly 50 years to anyone who comes by. As you may expect, this service has always been controversial, since many respectable people feel uncomfortable when confronted with those who inhabit the underside of society.

Lately, though, it has become an acute problem. With the pandemic, human need has increased. At the same time, the city of Charleston cleared out the encampments of the homeless, responding to complaints from landowners about property damage. As a result, the church grounds have become an alternate site for camping out for homeless people. A dispute between individuals led to a fire which destroyed a small building used as a clothing distribution site. Now we have a metal fence surrounding the space where the building used to stand, and the homeless have set up their tents along the periphery of the fence.

One other issue with the pandemic has been the elimination of serving meals in a common room. Instead, Styrofoam containers enclose the take-out meals, and litter outside of the church has become a more significant problem. That’s one reason why the existence of this service has come to the forefront of the concerns of the parish. People are scared of encountering the larger crowd of homeless people around the rear entrance to the church, and are tired of the seemingly intractable litter problem.

Is there an easy solution to these problems? No, as with all social problems, the causes are many. The Manna Meal service is trying to decentralize its meals by the purchase of a food truck in order to reduce the stress at the church. Funding for this food truck is being provided as part of the fund dispersal from the pandemic relief funding from the Federal Government. But another potential preventive measure, building a tiny home development for the unhoused, is currently in civic limbo, falling victim to NIMBY concerns. If it is ever approved and built, it will surely become obvious that the supply of housing will be insufficient to take care of the demand. When you draw your supply of the underclass from those who are unable to sustain themselves in the market economy world, you will always find more need than society can provide for.

The social programs of our church are one main reason we became members (that, and the magnificent organ sustaining our music program). Yet even I, a long-time liberal, can see the current situation is unsustainable. I can see why there are NIMBY concerns, but we are currently the epicenter of the problem. All we can do is pray that we do find a solution, one that reduces the demand we see daily while improving the lot of those who currently camp out on the grounds of St. John’s Episcopal church, Charleston WV.

What It Takes To Get That R

The Scene: Local office of the Republican Party in Useless County, WV

The Players: Secretary of the local party Hugh Jim Becile; Applicant Seeking Office E. Ger Beaver

Secretary: So you’d like to run under our party label, right? Which position are you seeking?

Applicant: I want to run to be the dogcatcher for Big Ugly West Virginia.

Secretary: Is that so? Well, there are a few questions I have for you before we can allow you to share our label. You ready to hear them?

Applicant: Sure. I’m willing to do anything within reason.

Secretary: Ok. First, are you now or have you ever been associated with the Communist Party.

Applicant:  Of course not. Boy, I hope the rest of the questions are as easy.

Secretary: Do you believe that the Presidential Election was stolen in 2020? Do you pledge fealty to Donald Trump’s position?

Applicant: Uhm, I’m not sure. Didn’t Trump win this state by about 40%?

Secretary: We’re not going to get very far if you reject the core principles of the Republican Party. Let me ask you again, do you believe the Presidential election of 2020 was stolen?

Applicant: Sure, I guess so. If you say so, it must have been.

Secretary: Good. We can proceed with the rest of the questions. Do you think the inflation we are currently seeing is solely the responsibility of Joe Biden?

Applicant: Yeah, I can see that. Put me down as yes.

Secretary: Correct answer. Now, do you agree that LGBT is bad, and anyone who supports any aspect of LGBT is just another groomer preparing our precious children to violate their covenant with God by choosing to become homosexual?

Applicant: Now wait a minute. I’ve got a nephew who you could tell way back when he was 4 he was going to want to be a girl. Do you mean I have to denounce him or her to get your approval?

Secretary: Yes, that is exactly what I mean. Someone must have put that idea in that little boy’s head and turned him away from God way back then.

Applicant: Boy, I don’t know about that. Seems to me he was always that way. But if I have to in order to get approval, then yes, I agree.

Secretary: I’m not so sure I like your attitude. We’ve got a lot of folks who don’t hesitate at all in order to get our sign-off. Let’s see if you can show me how much you really believe in Republican principles now.

Applicant: Ok, go ahead and ask the rest of your questions.

Secretary: Do you agree that the media is attacking God-fearing Republicans like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, and Madison Cawthorn, and because of that bias, they should be banned from covering any Republican events?

Applicant: I’m not sure I even know all of those folks. Are they Republicans?

Secretary: I’m losing patience with you. Of course they are Republicans, they are the up and coming stars of the Republicans in the years to come. You can’t bear our flag if you don’t recognize our leaders.

Applicant:  Oh, yeah, sure. I’ve heard of them. Yeah, those media folks are real meddlers. Keep ‘em out.

Secretary: Almost done. Do you believe that Donald Trump was divinely selected to be our leader, and anything he has done in the past doesn’t matter, because he only has our best interests at heart?

Applicant: Well, he doesn’t fit in with some of the folks I learned about in church. Seems to me he has a lot to be forgiven for. But yeah, I do agree with you.

Secretary: Great. It gives me great pleasure to give you the endorsement of our Republican party to run for, uh, which office was it again?

Applicant:  Dogcatcher of Big Ugly.

Secretary:  Yes, our endorsement for this office. You can have it as soon as you write us a check for $2500 so we know you are serious.

Applicant:  I ain’t got any money. I wanted to be elected dogcatcher so I could get a pay check.

Secretary: So let me understand, you refuse to donate to the Republican party? I’m sorry, this discussion is over. Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

Applicant: I wonder if there still is a Democrat party in this county so I can get on a ballot. I need a job.

Let’s Focus on Important Things

We are alone. Alone among the vastness of space. You may believe we are divinely ordained to be the only sentient species in our galaxy, and the entire known universe came into being just a few thousand years ago. I myself do not believe that, yet I do profess a belief in the organizing entity responsible for the act of creation. But there is no doubt we have not seen positive proof of other species letting us know of their existence through electronic signals. That should be humbling to us on Earth, and lead us to a greater admiration of our uniqueness and an appreciation for our commonality, rather than our differences.

Yet once more, we seem to find commonality with the hordes of different colored ants you can find on occasion battling to the death on sidewalks and in our grass lawns. Long ago when I was walking home from school, I saw one such battle between red and black ants. The combatants were flowing across the sidewalk, each ant playing a part in a war they neither started nor had any opinion about. All they knew was of the necessity of their battle. Knowing what I do now about the mental processing capabilities of ants, I assume they were driven to battle by chemical signals, and there was no conscious thought about why they were engaging in this mortal combat.

Humans have once more shown they are no more than ants, seeking to dominate other territories. Only now we have tools to make the horrors of war omnipresent and impersonal. The days when the horrors of warfare were only visited upon the participants in the battle are long past. Now you can launch precision guided munitions, and lately we’ve seen those weapons used against train depots, apartment flats, and nuclear power plants. So we end up creating generations of ants who will want to battle against each other as time goes on.

We still fight for territory, although we are bound upon a globe which limits our absolute powers. Somehow we are convinced that our differences are greater than our similarities. Who knows if we will grow past our beliefs that no one other than true citizens are able to participate in our piece of the world. All I know is the possibility of a single day bringing our civilization to a close has re-emerged. It has been nice not having to worry directly about nuclear exchanges, although as the years have gone by, it is clear that we as a species will have to deal with this existential menace. For we as a species have not grown past our foolish desires to use these weapons as we feel our options grow more and more limited. And since these weapons have proliferated over time and across nations, it is only a matter of time until such weaponry is used by a non-state actor as a tool to accomplish a goal that is abhorrent to those who believe in the sanctity of life.

When I was young, it was the heyday of space exploration. We as a species were able to place our marker upon another celestial object. Looking back, it seems the accomplishment was more an opportunity to display the superiority of one nation state over another instead of an effort to expand the bounds of our species. For nearly 50 years, we have rested upon our laurels on celestial exploration. Only recently have we developed a sub-species of humanity with the means and desire to resume human exploration of the cosmos. Vast egos of individuals have combined with the vast fortunes brought about through globalization to create a new era of exploration in space. Yet even if we are successful in placing our marker on Mars, we still are barely extending our little toes beyond the Earth. Only when we can envision exploration beyond our solar system will we begin to place our imprint on the galaxy.

All of this will come to naught if we are unable to rise above the ants and eliminate our species innate drive to conquer other ants and take their things. The Drake equation describes the number of intelligent species in our galaxy which are detectable by our species. During my lifetime we have made great strides in establishing bounds on some of the variables in that equation, like the number of stars with planets, and soon we will have estimates on the number of planets that show marks of life (an atmosphere with oxygen). Yet the one variable in the Drake equation we can only slowly work on is the last one, the length of time a civilization is able to send signals into space where it can be detected by other civilizations. We have only our own example to extrapolate from, and the nearly 100 years we’ve transmitted electronic signals from our surface is dwarfed by the age of the universe. Small wonder we’ve not discovered other civilizations, and also it is no surprise we’ve hungered as a species for confirmation we are not alone in the universe.

Many of our species do not care about such questions. They are content to be bound by their belief system into worrying only about their own nation’s or religion’s status. I myself hope we can actually detect another signal coming to us during my lifetime, and such a discovery can serve as a unifying occasion for our species. Before we end our time as one of those who are sending signals out into the vast cosmos we inhabit.       

A Glimpse Inside His Skull

Poor widdle Donald. No one understands him. All he sees is hatred out there. That’s why he has to reinforce his ego through regular injections of rallies. Even those, though, are somehow failing to satisfy the black hole of an ego. Not even the false accolade of being the person who brought Osama Bin Laden to justice could make him feel better. No, we need to schedule another rally in North Carolina.

Let us peek into the inside of his damaged mind to discern his thoughts.

No one can understand how math works. Why can’t they see that 74 million votes is so much more than 81 million? Why, 74 million is so much more than the 63 million who voted for me back in 2016. If I got 11 million more than before when I won, it was impossible for Sleepy Joe to beat me in a fair fight. Yet there are still folks who are not convinced of the massive, massive fraud that took place in 2020. What more do we need to show people? They actually believe other media? What idiots they are.

They call me a liar. The wicked technology companies actually kicked me off after my perfect calls on January 6. No, you can’t see those logs. They are important for national security. But trust me, they were all perfect calls. Well, I’ll show them. I’ll come up with my own social media company. You say it’s been up since February? I’ll bet all of those who have bought into this are just waiting for my words of wisdom. I do have words of wisdom. They show how it is possible to self-deceive so completely that I actually believe what I say. Believe me, that takes some doing when the entire rest of the world is so deceived. Except for those who watch me when I’m on TV. And there are so many ways I can express myself nowadays. I really limited myself when I used that Twitter thing. One thing I have to remember, though. Never book another interview on NPR. Just wait till I’ve gone through my next coronation. NPR will find themselves so far out from public funding it’ll make their head spin. Imagine the audacity of trying to ask me real questions. Better I stay where I can direct the talk.

Just wait till my power shows itself. All those candidates I endorsed, marching to victory in their primary races. Of course, that’s the only race that matters. No way the loser Democrats can compare with my wonderful record, best President ever. I’ve got to check with those folks in South Dakota, see whether they have enough room for my glorious face up there. But why fool around with those other losers. There’s a blank slate up there in Yosemite, you know, that blank canvas made of granite? How much better it’ll look when it is filled with my glorious face. I deserve my own place, not sharing one with others.

South Dakota. They’ve got a pretty good governor up there. Sooner or later I’ll need to think about who I want up there with me when I’m coronated again. Don’t know, it may even be possible to get a larger crowd than my first coronation. I’ll have to look up that Spicer fellow, he may be able to convince those stupid media folks. Have you ever seen such hatred? They don’t believe me when I say I am the greatest. What did Cassius Clay have that I don’t have? They all loved him. Why can’t they show me that same love? I oughta send Mike Tyson out to bite off their ears. Then they might believe me.

Don’t you love hearing Herschel talking about his grades? I haven’t heard so much talk about grades since I was talking about all of my academic awards in college. What? You want to see them. Nope, can’t release them. Matter of national security, after all. Those grades are still under audit and I’ve been told (I have the best advisors – I always do what they tell me once I’ve let them know what’s right) to not ever release anything under audit.

But everything is unfair. They won’t even say anything good about my hole-in-one. I know the best places to play golf. So good to get out there in the sunlight and drive my cart the length of my golf drives. No one can drive it as good as me. So much better for me to golf than for that loser to ride a bike. Who’s he trying to impress, anyway? I just bet that they’ve got the double out there riding the bike, while Sleepy Joe is taking another nap. Look at me. You never hear me talk about taking naps. I’m the one who knows what’s coming next. You want to know what Putin will do next? You’d better hope I’m back there and am the one talking to Putin. See, he just doesn’t respect Sleepy Joe. Putin would never have tried to invade Ukraine if I was in charge. I know just the way to talk to those guys. Look at Kim Jong Un. Firing those huge missiles up in the air. He never did that when I was talking to him. And he wrote such lovely letters to me. Of course I wanted to take them with me. Wouldn’t you?

No, I’ll still be around. Since I’m back on my old diet, I’ll be around for a long time to come. You’ve got a lot to look forward to.

A Delight of Daffodils

Front bank

Spring appeared spontaneously in March. We went from total winter inertness into a delight of daffodils almost instantly. Plus the bonus of flowering trees and Lenten Rose in full display. Even the brief interruption of 8” of snow a couple of weeks ago couldn’t stop the procession of the seasons.

Our daffodils represent 30 years of living in the same house. I’ve managed to spread the daffodils not only to all niches of our yard, but pass the bounty on to many others in the Charleston area, and establish outposts in Ohio, Richmond Virginia, and near Ft. Worth Texas. It is easy to be generous when you only have to dig up the bulbs that are crowding the surface and replace the lot with a few of those I’ve extracted. Now is the time – the 3 or 4 weeks in the spring – when all of the past work shines in its glory. Soon will come the jonquils as the last blooms of the spring, with multiple flower heads making up for the lower numbers of bulbs.

Daffodils below fence in back

Then all that will be left are the green leaves of the flowers. If you merely leave these in place, until June when they tend to blend with the dirt after they’ve fertilized the bulbs below, you will be guaranteed of flowers next spring. And for us, the added benefit is that the deer will not touch them. They dislike both the daffodils and the Lenten Rose, so we’ve cultivated both of these species to colonize our slopes and shaded flower beds.

Cherry tree in front yard

With my knee now functional, I should have much less of a problem in getting down on the ground to weed the flower beds, and dig up those bulbs whose heads poke up above the ground. I’m looking forward to that, since for the last few years it has been a struggle any time I sank down to the level of the flowers. If I could only find flowers that bloomed later in the year that deer wouldn’t treat as their buffet, I’d be happy. We try lantana every year, and sometimes it does not get munched, but it is not immune to the deer predation. Plus it gets expensive to buy lantana by the flat. So far we also have found lavender that deer don’t like, so we’re going to try some more of it. Plants like coneflower have not done well for us.

At least I am only worried about the marauding deer disrupting our flower beds. I am grateful that I don’t have to worry about tanks and armored personnel carriers and the boots of the enemy tromping around. I feel for the people of Ukraine, who will find this year’s spring to be a hollow reminder of what should be instead of what is.

Forget-Me-Not

I really feel sorry for the memory impaired. Especially those of the Republican ilk who are having such a hard time remembering the way DJT sucked up to Putin during his campaign and presidency. This includes DJT himself, since he is confident that no one was harder on Russia than he was. Somehow the painful memories of the aftermath of the Helsinki conference, where DJT couldn’t think of any reason why Russia would have interfered with our election process, have disappeared totally from the frontal lobes of this ex-President.

But he’s not the only one suffering from near total amnesia. Let’s tale the examples of our local legislative representatives in West Virginia, who are bound and determined to continue to relive the mistakes of the past by cutting taxes on the wealthy while piling on costs to those who live on the margins. Can you imagine the cheek of those people who have lost their jobs, being upset because the 26 weeks of unemployment they used to rely upon now becomes 12-weeks maximum unless the state is suffering high unemployment? Fortunately, this bill was moved to the inactive status on the penultimate day of the legislative session. But the priorities of our legislative Republican supermajority was made clear, we have too many people who want to mooch off of the state, and I have no doubt this bill will resurface in upcoming special sessions, or no later than next year’s session. How these Republicans have forgotten the trauma our state and nation suffered at the beginning of the pandemic, when a switch was turned off and employment took an immediate nose dive.

Our legislators at the Congressional level also seem to suffer from acute amnesia. Maybe this is really a contagious disease, with carriers like Jim Jordan, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, and Madison Cawthorn being vectors of forgetfulness. Of these, Jim Jordan is the most practiced, since he has forgotten everything that happened when he was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State from 1987 to 1995. He would have been shocked, shocked to learn of inappropriate behavior taking place under his watch. Since he’s had so long to practice his lying, it was a bit disconcerting to see his recent performance when he couldn’t recall having called DJT, or when he called him, or anything about his phone logs of 1/6/2021. His stuttering and obvious discomfort at having to answer the questions were unworthy of someone who has practiced the art of prevarication for such a long time.

Ah, but we’re forgetting the large group of Republicans who have forgotten their purpose upon being elected to Congress. I had always thought it was necessary to make a good-faith effort to propose legislative solutions to problems of the nation. Foolish me. I didn’t realize the real purpose of being elected to Congress was to completely gum up the works if our tribe does not hold a majority. That way we can depend upon a unified party in Congress to work seamlessly towards a common goal, like the Republicans did when they replaced the Affordable Care Act with their own much improved version of health care. What? You mean they were ready to throw out the Affordable Care Act without having legislation lined up to replace it? And they were stymied by the actions of a single Senator who had his Roman emperor moment by extending his thumb down disapproval?

Right now, the Democrats are no different than the Republicans, in that they have allowed the actions of two Senators to hold up a legislative agenda. At least the Democrats have an agenda, instead of the Republicans who failed to put forth a platform in the 2020 election. It’s “whatever he’ll have, that’s what I want.” He, of course, being DJT. The subjugation of an entire party to the whims of an individual who has never known the common good stands as one of the most abysmal failures in governance since the inception of this nation.

So we are left to suffer. Nay, not suffer in silence, since we still have the freedom to speak out about our beliefs and feelings in this nation. At least we are not like Russia, where standing in a public place with a blank piece of poster board can get you trundled into the 21st century Russian version of a paddy wagon, likely your first stop on the way to a gulag. We can and should celebrate the rights we still have, before the wanna be autocrats decide to remove the uncomfortable nature of dissent from our nation’s shores.