21-Gun Salute

Trumpie Wants a 21-Gun Salute, Which Gives Me an Idea

Because he was naturally the greatest president we’ve ever had, Donald Trump wants a 21-gun salute upon leaving the White House. I concur, with the following condition: Aim low and right on target. That way, we could kill two birds with one stone.

The Man Without a Country

The USS Constitution at Sea

As we suddenly find ourselves in the position of fending off sedition and insurrection by a mob of moronic yokels, I find myself in the position of wanting to make a modest proposal. I am irked that these clowns who stormed the Capitol on January 6 were waving the American flag and wearing red, white, and blue even as if they tried to overthrow the government in favor of a criminal president who is about to leave Washington under a cloud.

My proposal is this: There is an 1863 story by Edward Everett Hale called “The Man Without a Country.” It is about a stubborn criminal convicted of treason who is forced to spend the rest of his life aboard American ships on which no officer or crewman is allowed to mention anything about the United States. Perhaps Trump could be joined on such a ship with the would-be insurgents who have been convicted.

What with the global coronavirus epidemic, I am sure there are a lot of substandard passenger ships that could be used for ferrying such prisoners around the world without setting foot back on American soil. It would probably be cheaper than sending them to a Federal prison, and no effort need be made to have fancy food and cocktails or entertainment of any sort.

Hale’s story made an impression on me when I was young. I even remember having a Classic Comic Book based on it.

Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909)

This would a a fitting fate for adherents of QAnon, the “Proud Boys,” and other troublemakers who have forgotten what a good deal they had in living in a democracy—one which they intended to wantonly destroy.

Not a Revolution

The Start of the French Revolution in 1789: The Oath on the Tennis Court

Sorry for continuing in a political vein, but the events of the last week have infuriated and energized me. The bozos who invaded the Capitol last Wednesday were not on any mission to represent the voters of the United States. In fact, they were attempting to disenfranchise the majority of American voters who had decided they had enough of Donald Trump and his cheapjack presidential administration.

Trump made much of the fact that 74 million voters were behind him. He totally ignored the fact that 81 million voters were against him. During his entire presidency, Trump only cared for the people that supported him; all the others were nasty haters. He never tried to increase the number of his supporters. Instead, he kept going back to the states that supported him to hold massive rallies.

Has he ever held a rally in Los Angeles? No. He has few supporters here, and lots of enemies (including me).

I fear that Monday, January 20, will see a rather tense inauguration for the presidency of Joe Biden. I certainly hope that he is backed up by armed military units that will be prepared to fire on violent demonstrators, and not the Capitol Police. Trump’s supporters will do nothing for me; they will do nothing for California; they will do nothing for the majority of Americans who voted him out of office.

After 1789, the French Revolution became bloody; but it did get rid of a privileged aristocracy that was bleeding the nation and a clueless king that was as dumb as a post.

Did I say “clueless king”? Hmm, reminds me of Trump. Bring on the guillotine!

A Trump Prezidenchul Library?

The Massive Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA

No, there isn’t currently a Trump Presidential Library, nor are there any plans under way to build one. There is an interesting story on the subject in the December 30, 2020 issue of the Palm Beach Post. Some interesting points are raised:

“Everything about the Trump presidency has been unconventional,” said historian Robert Watson at Lynn University. “To the point where I’ve been joking with some friends that of mine that we are going to have to rewrite all the textbooks because he has violated everything we said, what every textbook said, was a truism of the office.”

And consider, too, that as of December 30, there was no march on Washington by violent tattooed Yahoos in a failed attempt to wreak vengeance on Congress.

And if there were such a presidential library, what would be in it? What kind of attention to document preservation was there by the drooling sycophants who held office during his administration? Would there be a whole wall of Tweets (call it the Covfefe Collection), and maybe copies of all the presidential proclamations which were promulgated but never put into action?

Martine and I have visited three presidential libraries: the Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan libraries in Southern California and the John F. Kennedy library in Boston. All made an honest attempt to portray the conditions that prevailed during their respective administrations. What kind of honesty could we expect in a Trump library? Maybe an exhibit on QAnon and the Proud Boys? Perhaps videos of Trump saying “You’re fired!” from his TV reality show?

Perhaps the end result of such a collection would ultimately be only horror and dismay.

How Do I Ignore an Insurrection?

Oh, Are They Still Fighting That War?

You know that, when the Confederate Battle Flag comes out of the mothballs, that nothing good is going to happen. I wonder what Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson would think of the tattooed monkeys and other deplorables that descended on the nation’s capital yesterday.

I know that I promised not to write political posts any more, but I would like to say a few words about the events of January 6 and why it was such a miserable failure.

Adolph Hitler was nobody’s idea of a capable leader, but he had one quality that the Trumpster lacked. He had more or less capable chiefs at his side that he stood with for the whole duration of his rule. I include Joseph Göbbels, Hermann Göring, Heinrich Himmler, Albert Speer, and Martin Bormann. Of course, Ernst Röhm of the SA didn’t last out the war, nor did Rudolf Hess—but for the most part, the Führer didn’t change his subordinates as often as he changed his underwear.

Hitler Did Know How to Hang On to “Good” People

Trump, on the other hand, couldn’t abide anyone for more than a few weeks. Then he would part company with them and make noises about never really knowing them that well. When he said that about Steve Bannon or his ex-attorney Michael Cohen, he thought it made him look good. Actually, it showed that he was an ingrate who couldn’t interact well with his subordinates. (Or that he didn’t choose them well to begin with.)

In a way, that’s good. If one has a malignant narcissist leading your country, you don’t want him to be all that effective. At least the Capitol Building is still standing, more or less.

Dostoyevsky Explains Trump’s Base

Proud Boys at Play

I have read Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Notes from the Underground several times over the last fifty years. At the same time, nothing has puzzled me so much in the last five years as the rise of Donald Trump and the persistence of the scraggly individuals that are referred to as his “base.” (An appropriate term, especially when used adjectivally.)

This time, on re-reading, something clicked. Dostoyevsky’s narrator was the archetypal Trumpite:

Merciful Heavens! but what do I care for the laws of nature and arithmetic, when, for some reason I dislike those laws and the fact that twice two makes four? Of course I cannot break through the wall by battering my head against it if I really have not the strength to knock it down, but I am not going to be reconciled to it simply because it is a stone wall and I have not the strength.

The Underground Man is a spiteful creature who enjoys sticking his tongue out. And who better to nominate as your enemy than the Coastal Elites, the “Libtards,” who have the nerve to ignore or flout you.

You will ask why did I worry myself with such antics: answer, because it was very dull to sit with one’s hands folded, and so one began cutting capers. That is really it. Observe yourselves more carefully, gentlemen, then you will understand that it is so. I invented adventures for myself and made up a life, so as at least to live in some way. How many times it has happened to me–well, for instance, to take offence simply on purpose, for nothing; and one knows oneself, of course, that one is offended at nothing; that one is putting it on, but yet one brings oneself at last to the point of being really offended

He talks of others erecting a kind of Crystal Palace based on mathematical certainties, such as two plus two making four.

[M[an everywhere and at all times, whoever he may be, has preferred to act as he chose and not in the least as his reason and advantage dictated. And one may choose what is contrary to one’s own interests, and sometimes one POSITIVELY OUGHT (that is my idea). One’s own free unfettered choice, one’s own caprice, however wild it may be, one’s own fancy worked up at times to frenzy–is that very “most advantageous advantage” which we have overlooked, which comes under no classification and against which all systems and theories are continually being shattered to atoms. And how do these wiseacres know that man wants a normal, a virtuous choice? What has made them conceive that man must want a rationally advantageous choice? What man wants is simply INDEPENDENT choice, whatever that independence may cost and wherever it may lead. And choice, of course, the devil only knows what choice.

Here it all is. Sit down and read Part I of Notes from the Underground, and you will begin to understand why sick, poor, ignorant people will fight the Affordable Care Act, Social Security, and college education. They had best be careful, because they can easily fall off the edge of the Flat Earth of their ideology and into the void.

Adieu to Politics

I Keep Saving Goodbye, But I Never Leave

I earnestly hope to stop writing about politics. I’ve said this before, but I kept being pulled in against my will. The fact of the matter is that I have nothing really to add to this stinking mess. My political opinions are too predictably anti-Republican, anti-Trump, anti-Conservative. Given that, I would rather just vote quietly in every election and keep my mouth shut.

No doubt, I will be severely tested the next time I am confronted with political infamy. And sad to say, the infamies are coming fast and furious.

There are several friends with whom I do not wish to discuss politics, even when they agree with me. It’s just that they get so caught up that our friendship becomes nothing but a political debate. My friends mean too much to me for me to imperil the friendship by something so dreadful as today’s political reality.

My fingers are crossed.

Nightmare in Quito

The Center of Quito, Ecuador

Roughly four years ago today, I had the worst night of my life. Curiously, I was on the last night of my vacation in Ecuador at the time. It was election night in the USA, and I made the mistake of tuning in on CNN for the voting coverage. Big mistake!

I could not believe my eyes that Trump was winning. Not that I liked Hillary Clinton, but I thought her opponent was—at best—a total buffoon. There I was at the Hotel Viejo Cuba in the relatively posh La Mariscal district, waking up every few minutes and compulsively turning on the television.

When I finally stumbled out of bed in the morning, I knew I had to get a cab to the airport—but I didn’t want to return to the United States! That night, I had lost faith in my fellow Americans. How could they do such a thing to themselves, acting against their own interests.

The Hotel Viejo Cuba in Quito

It is now 9:20 PM in Los Angeles, and I don’t have any idea how the final count will go. But I still distrust the American voter—even more, if that is possible. There are some Trump-voting states that I would never want to visit, such as West Virginia and North Dakota. And I feel somewhat queasy about some of the rural areas in California.

Whatever happens tonight, I am not the same person I was before the 2016 results came in.

Happy Halloween!

In this truly ghastly year of 2020, I sincerely wish all of you a happy—and safe—Halloween. It happens to be one of the more meaningful holidays on my own calendar. Unlike Memorial Day, the 4th of July, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, or even Christmas. I mean all of us are on a journey, and the holiday commemorates the destination of that journey, for all of us, even for “billionaires” like Trump.

It’s followed on November 1 by All Saints Day and on November 2 All Souls Day, known in Mexico as the Dia de los Muertos.

Mexican Folk Art with Skeleton

Although no kids have come Trick or Treating at my place for over thirty years, I’ve always liked Halloween. (Kids don’t like to climb stairs, even though I’m only on the second floor.)

A Movie for 2020

Vincent Price as Prince Prospero and Patrick Magee as Alfredo

As we approach Halloween, I propose a 1964 film by Roger Corman as the perfect paradigm for our year of coronavirus and Trump—namely, The Masque of the Red Death.

The story concerns a gathering of wealthy friends (let’s call them billionaires) of Prince Prospero at his castle while the Red Death plague rages through the land. It is my favorite Roger Corman film, with elegant color photography by Nicholas Roeg.

Unfortunately, the character of Vincent Price’s Prospero, nasty as he may be, is played by too interesting an actor to be a stand-in for Donald J. Trump—though he wealthy guests are perfect. One can imagine the My Pillow Guy and the founder of Goya Foods at this party.

You might also want to read the Edgar Allan Poe story from which the film is drawn. You can find it here.

Death Is Stalking the Land in Masque of the Red Death

In the end, Prince Prospero and all his guests come down with the Red Death, which they had so studiously tried to avoid. And curiously, the character is plays the personification of the deathly plague is, once again, Vincent Price.