To the Barricades?

Vladimir Putin: A Man’s Man?

We have been enemies with Russia for a century now. What happens sometimes during these long sieges of enmity, we lose sight of who we are and who the Russians are. We have gone from the benign presidency of Obama to what looks to us like a would-be Tsar, the narcissistic Trumpf. Russia, in the meantime, traveled a much longer route: From Communism where there was some attempt to help the common people, to the kleptocracy under Yeltsin, to the quasi-dictatorship of Vladimir Putin, former KGB Chieftain. And this Putin had the nerve to try to influence our election!

There is no doubt that Russia under Putin is an amalgam of discipline and targeted cruelty. Enemies of Putin, such as  journalist Anna Politkovskaya, were ruthlessly murdered; and friends of Putin shared in the billionaires’ bounty of their leader. Do we want Russia to become a democracy like ours? Like ours under Trumpf?

According to Russian novelist Mikhail Shishkin:

To call people to the barricades in Russia is beautiful, but senseless…. We lived through all this already in the early ’90s. All revolutions take place in the same way—the best people rise up to fight for honor and dignity, and they die. On their corpses, thieves and bandits come to power, and everything comes full circle. The same thing happened during the Orange Revolution in Kiev. The same thing is happening right before our eyes in the Arab world. Apparently, in Russia a new generation has grown up who want to experience the barricades. All right. They will experience them. And they will be disappointed.

There is, to my mind, very little difference between Trumpf and Putin—except the difference in the two cultures. Trumpf would do the same things as Putin if he could. There still seem to be checks and balances in the United States, but for how long?

 

 

The Scorpion and the Frog, Circa 2017

There’s a Lesson Here for Voters

The story goes back to Aesop. A frog sitting by the riverbank is approached by a scorpion, who asks him to ferry him across. The frog hesitates: “But you’ll sting me and I’ll die.” The scorpion asks, “Where is the reason in that? If I stung you, we’d both die.” Being a reasonable creature, the frog agrees and lets the scorpion hop on. In the middle of the river, the frog feels a horrible pain as he is injected with the scorpion venom. As he feels his body shutting down, he asks: “Why did you do this thing? Now we’ll both die.” I don’t know if scorpions can shrug, but let us say this one can. His last words are: “I can’t help it: It’s my nature.”

Or you can hear Orson Welles tell the same tale in his film Mister Arkadin (1955):

Now what’s the moral of this story insofar as you and I are concerned? Let’s say the scorpion has a shock of bright orange hair. He’s been around for a long time, so we have some notion of how he behaves. Knowing that, why have we allowed that scorpion on our backs?

 

Why I’m Not in Politics

Would I Be an Enlightened Ruler? Mebbe Not

Many years ago, a very cute young woman of my acquaintance thought I would make a good president. I looked at her, laughed, and said that I would probably be seen as another Caligula or Heliogabalus. Just look at some highlights of my first hundred days:

  • The following conservative pundits would suddenly be found dead: Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, the hosts of the “Fox & Friends” television show, Steve Bannon, and Bill O’Reilly.
  • Certain functionaries of the present administration would have their tongues removed, including Kellyanne Conway, Steve Miller, all of the Trumpfs, and Betsy De Vos. In addition, the head Trumpf would be physiologically unable to use Twitter once this thumbs were removed and hammered into his ears.
  • Selected weasels in Congress would be too crippled to show up for duty, most especially Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan.
  • Anyone associated with the so-called “Alt-Right” would be considered guilty of treason and treated accordingly. Rope is cheap.

In certain conservative circles, I would be seen as the bloodiest ruler in American history. So, perhaps you all would think better of me if I were a most reasonable and non-violent member of the opposition.

Power has a way of changing people—and not always for the best.

Look! Over There!

Our President Controls the News Cycle by a Policy of Multiplying Distractions

Mr. Trumpf is not as smart as he pretends, but he is a master when it comes to controlling the media. Each week of his presidency is rife with outrages, one following hard upon the heels of the one before it. The ultimate effect is to keep him one step ahead of the high sheriffs who are gathering information to sink him.

According to RawStory.Com, Jake Tapper  describes how Trumpf adroitly moves the spotlight from one infamy to the next:

Tapper explained that the White House has very obviously attempted to “ramp up” efforts to “turn the spotlight away from questions about itself and investigations into possible collusion with Russia or possible obstruction of justice and the firing of FBI Director James Comey.”

The Trump White House is now employing a Pee Wee Herman “I’m rubber and you’re glue” defense for accusations of Russia collusion.

Instead, they’ve tried to “highlight matters pertaining to the previous president” and Hillary Clinton. In his Friday morning tweet, Trump claimed that the costly investigations against him were over and proved no evidence of collusion. He now is demanding a similar Russia investigation into Clinton.

Under these circumstances, when is it really possible to wind down an investigation when new evidence is constantly being discovered? The man in the Oval Office knows well how bored the public is with investigations that seem to go on forever. Ken Starr proved that during Clinton’s second term.

This is a very typical maneuver made by real estate magnates. Feel free to commit infamies, but always deflect blame and open new instances of infamy that make it impossible to pin you down.

The obvious solution is to break the investigations down into smaller segments and deal with them separately. At that point, when there are multiple investigations, the news for the perpetrator is always bad.

NOTE: The photo above is not actually authentic. It has been Photoshopped to make our president look bad. Which is only appropriate, I think.

Frisbeetarianism

When Your Beliefs Are Not Open to Change

George Carlin defines Frisbeetarianism as the belief that, when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck there. But there is a version of Frisbeetarianism that affects us while we are still alive. All too many of us treat our values as fixed in place, impervious to all attempts to change them. Are facts contrary to your values? Well, then, adhere to “alternative facts,” or, as I call them, lies.

I remember years ago going to a coffee shop in Cambria, California, for lunch. At the next table were a couple of ranchers discussing how Rush Limbaugh was such a God-fearing man. Did these ranchers care to know that their beloved Rushbo goes to the Dominican Republic loaded with Viagra to have his way with loose women? Or that he has had problems of addiction to Oxycontin, the so-called “Hillbilly Heroin” that is an opioid? And that’s only the beginning.

These men would be offended if I brought up any of these points. Why? Because they conflict with their beliefs and values.

We all have beliefs that affect our behavior. That’s why I get my news from CNN and NBC rather than Breitbart. Oh, occasionally I look at Breitbart.Com, though it fails to move me in any positive way. But I have changed my political affiliation lately to Independent, because the last several elections have soured me on the Democrats, thus changing voting behavior that goes back to the election of 1968. I also look warily at Progressives of the “Brie and Chablis” variety that populate West Los Angeles.

The point is that my beliefs are still in flux. What used to be a wide paved road has become for me a pitted dirt path that can lead me into making horrendous and immoral decisions. I consider myself a person who is still evolving.

And by no means do I wish to sail onto the roof and get stuck there.

Poems that Shock and Awe

Harold Pinter in a Photo by Eamonn McCann

It was during the Presidency of George W. Bush, who at the time was putting together the so-called “Coalition of the Willing” to combat the evil Saddam Hussein. Playwright and poet Harold Pinter had given a speech at a “No War on Iraq” Liaison meeting in Parliament. He ended his speech indicating that we all add “a clear obligation, which is to resist.” The following two poems were written by Pinter with that spirit in mind:

God Bless America

Here they go again,
The Yanks in their armoured parade
Chanting their ballads of joy
As they gallop across the big world
Praising America’s God.

The gutters are clogged with the dead
The ones who couldn’t join in
The others refusing to sing
The ones who are losing their voice
The ones who’ve forgotten the tune.

The riders have whips which cut.
Your head rolls onto the sand
Your head is a pool in he dirt
Your head is a stain in the dust
Your eyes have gone out and your nose
Sniffs only the pong of the dead
And all the dead air is alive
With the smell of America’s God.

Democracy

There’s no escape.
The big pricks are out.
They’ll fuck everything in sight.
Watch your back.

It’s always interesting to see oneself as the villain of the piece. But then, of course, we put ourselves all too willingly in that role. It didn’t take long before the “Coalition of the Willing” was down to us all by our lonesomes.

 

How to Stop Those Tweets

Girls, Are You Wearing Stiletto Heels?

I figure if we can get a troupe of Mexican dancers to render the Trumpf’s tiny hands inoperable by dancing on them with their stiletto heels, the people of the United States would breathe a sigh of relief. Never before has a president’s unedited prejudices gone straight from his putative brain out to the world at large without any editing.  Things have come to such a pass that I think it were best of Twitter were put out of business.

It’s not just covfefe that worries me: Trumpf and Kim Jong-Un of the DPRK are waging a constantly escalating war of threats that could take us to the brink of nuclear war. I am worried less about what Kim could do to us than what China and Russia would do if we attacked North Korea. Even now, we are sending bombers in international airspace just east of the Korean peninsula.

Our president is so out of control that no one can rein him in. Even Kelly and his other generals are helpless when Trumpf is alone at night with one hand on his cell phone and the other on the launch button.

So let’s get the Mexican dancers out there. It would be most appropriate.