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Tit For Tat in Post-Insurrection America

I spent some time reading about DC Police Officer Michael Fanone, who is currently being feted and fried by the hype machine, most recently with an article in Newsweek Magazine which, I have to admit, I was surprised to find still doddering along, continuing to enrich the lives of those trapped in the waiting rooms of doctors, dentists, and tire stores across America.

More notable, at least to me, than the predictable hero-making redemption story are the reactions I’ve seen to this article on social media–a lot of well-earned sympathy and respect for Fanone’s obvious bravery and sacrifice spiced with resentment for the hook of the story: Fanone voted for Trump, is deeply conservative, and yet, this happened to him! Oh, dear. I’m sorry, of course, but I can’t really navigate my way to the point where we’re surprised that a howling, baying, hopped-up-on-hate mob of violent traitors, gleeful seditionists, and other assorted enemies of the state–many of them literally waving the flag of a defeated, foreign enemy (The Confederacy stopped being American the moment they seceded)–decided to attack the very heart of our (not their) nation, was not scrupulously selective in venting their pent up anger. Of course Fanone was set upon. He was in the way of the mob, and whatever catharsis they sought for their imaginary grievances.

What surprises me more is the vitriolic counter-hate directed at Fanone and other victims, simply because they voted “the wrong way.” A substantial minority embrace the “he voted for Trump, he deserved everything he got. I contend that he did not deserve any of it. It is both churlish and petty to break what happened down to a matter of good versus evil.

Nobody has more contempt for Trump and all things Trump related than I do, but a lot of the soft-minded yahoos who supported him did so after decades of targeted Republican conditioning–they’re dupes, rubes, and ignorant vessels saturated with programmed hate and lies. In a way, (and here’s where I get myself in trouble) they are just as much victims as anyone else–their obtuse fears and resentments twisted into a tapestry of, well, fear and resentment by the cynical right.

Of course, I respect them like I respect the average German citizens of the Nazi era, which is to say not at all. Ignorance is not an excuse. In a democracy, it is incumbent upon us all to remain informed and to question authority. As much as it irks me, we need to draw a line of distinction between the slow-witted and deeply misguided souls who, for whatever reasons–fear, mostly; fear of loss, fear of insignificance, fear of the other and the unknown– chose to vote for a vile candidate, and those who used Trumps sociopathic, self-serving, and utterly reprehensible rhetoric as an excuse to indulge in their own bitter, destructive, and base impulses.

I’ll be the first to admit that I like to see idiots pay the price for their bad behavior, but it happens far too infrequently. Watching the pillow guy fall apart, strand by strand, is satisfying theater. So, too Rudolph Giuliani diddling his little stubby in a hotel room with an actress he thought was jail-bait. It is natural for those of us who commit to following the mores of a functional society to see those who do not pay for it. I’ll admit this shameful thing: it disappoints me that more Covid deniers haven’t become deathly ill, but that’s my own petty failing, and not something a healthy person should live in, if that person wishes to remain sane. I’m not saying that we need to treat MAGA Terrorists like prodigal children, but we’ll keep getting them if we don’t recognize that it is something more ominous than their feeble-minded gullibility at work here

Ultimately, less time needs to be spent condemning the foolish voters and more dedicated to pushing the Justice Department and Courts for the most severe penalties, the very highest fines, possible. This Fanone fellow voted poorly, but he didn’t wage war against America. Let’s focus of those who did, and those who put them up to it.

(As always, this is a one-off draft. Typos and other confusions reflect a hurried soul and a harried mind. Figure it out.)

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Blame Trump? Blame Me.

I’m a big fan of the WordPress community and the creativity this outlet and the people here wring out of me–quickly written, spontaneously conceived and sloppily edited. There’s something about wise-assed rants I don’t bother to edit or even proofread that is liberating. I mean what I say, except when it is clear that I don’t, but saying it here is like whooping on a roller coaster.

Where the hell have I been, then, during a historical time of political insanity? Earlier explanations of my hit or miss–mostly miss, to be honest–have blamed the time taken to generate salable content, but the more I introspect the more I realize that I’ve allowed that fucker, Trump, to bully me out of here. I’m a political junkie. As self destructive as the habit is, I can’t help follow the news, processing every outrage. Too many of my days begin with perusing the news, wondering what the bastard has done now, and delving into the stories of the day despite the corrosive cumulative effect on my soul.

I’ve been telling myself its’ a willful thing, not wanting to slog through politics, but the truth is that I’ve been using my sagging mood as an excuse. I’ve not only stopped fighting (here, at least) but allowed the discouragement to avoid recreational creativity and cathartic bitching and moaning at the very moment I not only need it most, but which is more heavily laden with potential inspiration than any time in my adult life.

So that’s on me. I need to do better. Call me out on it if I don’t.

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Don’t Count On Impeachments Before They’re Hatched.

The Interwebs are crackling with excitement over the possibility that finally, after an interminably frustrating 4 months in office (who thought he’d even last this long?) something might possibly stick to the, er, gold plated Teflon-coated skin of our embarrassment-in-chief. The word “impeachment,” along with “Russia,” and “Traitor” is trending, and Trump apologists are hunkered down and hiding, at least for the immediate future–Charlie Rose reports that no less than 20 Republican politicians have declined interview invitations. Twenty. This could be unprecedented, begging the question: have twenty politicians ever refused to talk on the same day before?

I remain unimpressed. I just watched a video on CNN of Paul Ryan, jabbering about how we know nothing yet, that he has to gather evidence, especially given the lengths that people have gone to in order to undermine The President. He wants to convey objectivity without breaking loyalty, and I suppose if I was a Trump supporter I’d appreciate his effort, but I’m well past the point where I give the President the benefit of a doubt. Trump has been managing his presidency like a performance art parody of a multi-cam comedy about a bungling President and his goofy staff. Think: dystopian photo-negative reimagining of that old Michael J. Fox television classic, Spin City. (Richard Kind character equated to Sean “Spicey” Spicer is perfection.) It would be hilarious, if only this was a real TV show, not the wealthiest, most powerful nation in the history of mankind.

Trump has lied on top of lies, generally refusing to recant on even the most obvious untruths. He lies for no great reason, with a conviction that suggests a pathological pattern of behavior, and he lies on grand stages about serious events. He lashes out at enemies, provokes allies, and slanders strangers, often as a calculated distraction from his own gaffes and outrages, but sometimes just for sport. Despite this behavior he is defended by those in his adopted party (most of his life, Trump voted Democrat, undoubtedly as a networking advantage in heavily Democratic New York City) not as dishonest and repugnant, but as a colorful maverick.

It is going to take a hell of a lot more than a little treason and a lot of bold lies to even consider articles of impeachment, must less dislodging this should-be Pariah from the White House. Fox News is pretty much calling fired FBI directed James Comey a liar, and the Teabaggers are circling the wagons, wrapped up in sticking it to “the man” in spite of the fact that few presidents have embodied the concept of “the man” more ably that pussy-grabbing, deal-breaking, bankruptcy-making Donald Trump.

The regressive core of the Republican party has refused to condemn Trump for childish and destructive conduct for plenty of reasons. Plenty of cowards fear him–not him exactly, although his impulsive vindictiveness certainly keeps some on edge. Rather, they fear the angry, desperate mob Trump whipped up with his phony promises and hollow nationalism, and which he still wields like a cudgel. Others are content to let him ride roughshod as long as he tears down and dismantles every component of government he can get his tiny little hands on. Some people just want to watch the world burn. Others sit back and watch Trump do it for them, like a wind-up monkey. They don’t care about international relations, or the welfare of the people, or anything outside of their ideological contempt for all things regulatory or administrative. And finally, you have the two types of opportunists. There is the Paul Ryan model, who believe in nothing beyond personal advancement. Remember how Ryan and his ilk loathed Trump until he won the primary, at which point they loved him? Beside them are the practical cowards, like Vice President Mike Pence, men and women who are smart and competent enough to see Trump for what he really is, but who are more than willing to ally with him if it means politically leveraging advantage for their own, narrow pet causes. For Pence, it is tearing down the boundary between Church and State, a particularly onerous trade shared by most evangelical theocratists, faith-healers, closeted hypocrites and snake-oil sellers of the Christian entertainment industry.,all of whom look blindly past Trumps gutter-crawl through marriage after marriage, his greed and idolatry, his coveting and his gluttony. I can’t say that Trump has murdered, but he seems to have the rest of the commandments and motal sins checked off like a movie serial killers “to do” list. And the christian activists couldn’t care less.

Of course, in order to actually impeach Trump, we would need to see enough Republicans willing to put the welfare of the nation and it’s people–including all the lazy poor and devious immigrants (or children of immigrants)–above whatever stake they have in the Trump administration, knowing that by convicting they will at the same time be admitting to their own culpability in enabling their President and his banana republic management of the nation. And even then, in the unlikely event that the house impeaches, and the senate does not acquit, we end up with Pence as President, with Ryan skulking in the shadows, at which point we’re forced to consider: what is preferable, an idiot child-king or a polished politician, when the overwhelming platform won’t change all that much. In many ways, Trump’s arrogant incompetence is a check and balance, revealing what might, under a more capable politician, have been hidden in shadows while at the same time stirring up a storm of angry resistance. I want Trump gone as much or more than the next guy, but I’m awfully wary of what comes next.

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On Third Party Candidates

vermin-supremeOne day and counting. In thirty-six anxiety-soaked hours we are likely to have an idea of who will be the next President of the United States of America and, quite possibly, an indication of whether the “Great American Experiment” has failed. It is not an exaggeration to consider that the viability of long-term, large-scale representative democracy faces a symbolic referendum when the polls open tomorrow morning. Really.

Full disclosure: while Hillary Clinton wasn’t my original candidate of choice, I’ve come to respect her for her dogged perseverance in the face of ludicrous assaults — most notably the Benghazi embassy attack (blamed for security lapses following years of repeated funding reductions dictated by Republicans) and even more absurd email server hyperbole (in which her actions were perfectly legal and in keeping with historic precedents set by preceding republican administrations) –and, from her opponent and his allies, an unceasing hurricane of foaming-mouthed lies and invective. Through it all she stuck to her points, refused to sink to the barbaric tones being vomited from the other side, and maintained her dignity. She is a solid, if not particularly exciting candidate, and I mean her no disrespect when I say that I would vote for just about anyone standing against the craven demagogue the Republicans shat out as their choice this time around.

What I won’t be doing is voting for a third party candidate, nor can I respect the naive idealists determined to write in Bernie Sanders, or the clenched-jaws anti-system warriors getting ready to darken the oval next to Jill (Who?) Stein, that Libertarian guy, the other libertarian guy, or anyone from any hopped-up semi-serious party with an ax to grind and an interview to give — not even New Hampshire’s Vermin Supreme who, despite his considerable list of eccentricities, would still make a far superior President than would the Republicans’ resident Oompaloompa.

I just can’t help but look down my nose at the hubris of candidates, and their supporters, who materialize from the deep ether every four years as candidates for “third” (or fourth, fifth, sixth…) parties, but not because I’m satisfied with the very, very limited menu we’re given.

The idea of an outsider candidate, and the daydream of tearing down American political orthodoxy and building anew in the shadow of its ruins, is enticing, even intoxicating. Given the success of Bernie Sanders’ campaign, and its progressive influence on Clinton’s centrist core, I know I’m not alone. Sanders was, of course, the ideal candidate — a morally clean, long-tenured independent with a track record of walking the walk and a willingness to brandish big ideas. It may take another 20 years before we see someone possessing anything close to his tangibles — and therein lies the problem.

That person is surely not Jill Stein or Gary Roberts any more than it has been Ross Perot or the boob from Sunday morning television — what was his name? Pat Buchanan. Or Jerry Brown, or Ralph Nader, who despite being the best of the bunch, fell far short of what was needed to grind out a viable candidacy. Some of these people may have made perfectly adequate leaders, but the problem isn’t really them. They’re guilty by association. Who walks into an office and expects to be considered as a contender for any job with no experience and no background?

Some (mostly young) friends still chide me about “making a stand” and “sending a message” about the two-party system, and tell me that the stakes are always going to be high, and that at some point we need to accept short term losses — and the disastrous administrations that follow — as inevitable examples of losing battles but winning wars.

My grandfather would have called that a cockamamie idea. To me, it is just misguided, ignorant bullshit. Not only does that philosophy overlook the long-ranging tumult that would follow a Trump presidency — the likelihood of three (3!) far-right supreme court justice appointments alone would generate waves of regressive, authoritarian influence thirty years into the future, the repeal of Roe v. Wade, the adoption of climate change denial as a federal policy, the dissolution of military and trade alliances and alienation from those allies, increased economic stratification, and — though it is seldom talked about — the chilling revocation of first amendment free speech rights, the very cornerstone of our nation. Not only are these things — and the many other frightening changes that will quickly go into place — not worth the dissolution of the two-party precedent in American politics, they are changes from which a society never recovers. Indeed, we are facing the prospect of Trump’s “America Is Not Great” mantra as self-fulfilling prophecy.

None of this means that we do not desperately need louder and more varied opposition. I’m skeptical of multi-party governments in general, given the necessity of building political alliances and coalitions — a process that is somewhat approximated by the state elections and nominating conventions — but clearly we will benefit, particularly on the left, from more influence going to viable outliers, much in the way that the Republicans have their Teabaggers and their Evangelicals. Still, it is arrogant for advocates of these factions to demand a seat at the big table “just because.”

Voters will start taking third parties seriously when they begin to take the process seriously. That means no candidacies that are “sending a message.” When I see a viable candidate, with a history of vigorous civic engagement from the ground up, I’ll listen. In the mean time, I demand more work earning this legitimacy and viability. That means serving on local and regional commissions and boards as volunteers, running for and winning local elections right down to the level of school boards and town councils, mayors and commissioners — while identifying themselves and proponents of their ideologies. That is how the parties can be built, by legitimizing them in the community’s perceptions while building candidates who rise into state houses, leaderships, then congress, then the Senate, governorships, and on. Throwing out a didactic intellectual every 4 years to keep up the status quo really isn’t striving for much more than meeting the lowest requirements for parties to remain on the ballots — which is good for those working for a party, but gives nothing to the folks who support it.

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Trump Draws Me Out of My Groundhog Hole

I’m sticking my head out of my rabbit hole…or, to be more regionally themed, let’s call it a Groundhog Hole, in honor of my neighbor to the north, the venerable Punxsy Phil?  I didn’t go into the hole to hibernate, rodent-style, but to focus on the oh so slowly progressing final draft of the part-time novel. My slothlike pace notwithstanding, the novel is going well enough, though somewhat hindered by age: I fall asleep more easily and more often, rendering the old caffeine-fueled process of long-hour writing binges impossible. I’ll be fifty years old in a few weeks, and I seem to be fucking immune to caffeine, which is grim. Many of you who stop by here are writers of some sort or another; you must understand?

The Groundhog Hole. If you’ve never been to Gobbler’s Knob, where Phil makes his annual prognostication, here’s the scene. The Hole is not a hole at all, but a sort of hutch that Phil is taken to from his nice warm full time home at the local library. It is usually bitterly cold and dark, and the hutch is surrounded by thousands of mostly drunk and/or stoned revelers and fanatics and the proverbial shit-tonne of media. Phil is shoved in the back door of the hutch and prodded in the ass until he lurches into the glare of dozens of film crews and hundreds of flash bulbs. Sometimes he freezes in place–like that groundhog you hit with your Buick last spring–or tries to lunge to one side or another. That means an early spring. A late and bitter winter is predicted when he recoils back into the hutch, horrified by the spectacle outside.

That’s pretty much what I’m facing, poking my head out of my own Groundhog Hole–horror. And not like any old horror; we’re talking  Heart of Darkness horror.

I maintained a pretty good attitude about the USA’s political mess for the longest time, and resolved to double down on the novel specifically because I didn’t want to get caught up in the whole thing. It took me a while to get over Bernie Sanders’ loss, and during that time I determined to sit back and revel at the comedy of it all, and from that perspective, Bilious Billionaire Donald Trump has not disappointed. From a primary that so many of us quickly identified as a metaphorical clown car, the 2016 election has exploded into a full-scale circus.

Well, it hasn’t been funny for a while. When my wife and I sat down to watch the third and final debate last night I did so with a distinctly queasy stomach. Trump isn’t the first politician to elicit a distinctly negative physical response. Gingrich and Cheney come to mind, but the smugly pseudo-intellectual serial philanderer and the robotic hate-bucket pale in comparison to the utterly hideous Trump. I look at him and I want to vomit. Then I want to beat him into submission.

I  hate bullies and I hate dumb people who lie to my face when we both know they’re lying. I hate spoiled, entitled pricks; and I hate people whose sheer awfulness compels me to feel that feeling–hate. Growing up, my mom always took me to task for using that word–hate–loosely. “Now that’s an awfully strong word,” was her line. Did I really hate this person or that person?

Sorry mom, I hate Trump. I’d like to beat his stained, flaccid face to pulp–and not in the least because I know that I could. And I can’t help but wonder if that makes me the bully?

The impulse disturbs me. Is the violent disdain I feel for Trump what bullies feel when they’re seeking a vulnerable target, picking a victim to cut out of the herd?  I imagine pummeling the man, his scrawny country-club limbs flapping like something between duck wings and tyrannosaurus arms, and I know it’s ugly, but the smug arrogance, the classification and ensuing dismissal of entire broad swaths of my fellow Americans, begs for it. Maybe the thing about Trump is that he plays so much like he’s a tough guy, when he’s really just another prissy, pasty rich guy. Who disagrees? Who wouldn’t want to knuckle-wipe that smug, entitled smirk from his face?

Fortunately, I have no access to Trump, no chance of being close enough to him that he couldn’t run away and, even if I did, I have something he could never understand: impulse control. (Take note, Secret Service)  Of course, should he happen to hear about my daydream beatdown and seek to call my bluff, I’d be more than happy to oblige.

And, finally–and even more importantly–the one element of a prototypical bullying scenario is missing from the electoral dynamic. A bully seeks a weak victim, and thus far Trump has come up empty. Secretary Clinton, an imperfect candidate on her best day, has proven more than capable of standing up for not only herself but for the countless demographic groups Trump despises. Thus far she has delivered repeated metaphorical beatings of her own–reminding me of the viral video in which the snotty little kid is mercilessly hounding a big, gentle boy right up to the point where the soft kid picks the douchey little kid up and body slams him.

In case you missed it, Trump is the douchey little kid, and just like that punk, when he staggers back to his feet he’s crying like a baby.

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Rick Santorum Explores New Presidential Run

In honor of Rick Santorum’s potential run (yet again) for the White House, I offer my very favorite cut and paste tribute to the spasmodically homophobic zealot.  If this isn’t the best headline, maybe ever….

Seminal Santorum

Rick Santorum. If you know me, or read this blog often, you know I’m not a fan, and I haven’t been since well before he slithered onto the national stage after his vicious and duplicitous campaign against Harris Wofford for a senate seat twenty years ago.  It was an ugly, negative campaign–beyond negative, it was brutal and desperately misleading, and it paid off.  The upright, distinguished Wofford, whose achievements dated back to the Kennedy administration and included the establishment of the Peace Corps, refused to play tit for tat, sticking to his vow to campaign on the issues and refusing to shrink to the level of Santorum’s shrill and angry personal attacks.  When Santorum ultimately won, his campaign staff scheduled a celebration the day after the election–in the lobby of the office building where Wofford’s campaign headquarters was located, forcing the Wofford’s staff to walk through catcalls and taunts in order to go home that afternoon.  It was outrageous, and it’s not anecdotal–I was there in the Federated Tower in downtown Pittsburgh that November afternoon in 1994.  I’ve despised the guy–not only for his politics, but for his angry, hysterical persona.  When he compared homosexuality to bestiality I wasn’t surprised, nor was I surprised when a reporter discovered that after his election Santorum moved his entire family to suburban Virginia, hiding the fact from the school district where he’d lived in Pennsylvania so they would keep paying cyber school tuition for his children.  Yep, this was the same Santorum who worked himself up to a lather denigrating single mothers who received benefits, and who desperately wanted to cut off social security benefits to folks under the age of 70, conning the system.  Nobody familiar with him was surprised.

I was thrilled to learn he’d be running again–he’s unelectable, of course, and his backers support him primarily as a tool through which the debates for the republican primary may be swayed to the right–because he’s a car crash waiting to happen every time he steps in front of a microphone, a stereotype of of thew swarmy, insincere politician conning his core constituency (white, racist, homophobic, teabagger christians) by playing to their fears and hatreds. If you’ve ever seen the brilliant political satire “Bob Roberts,” you’ll recognize a lot of Santorum as a living, breathing example of the disingenuous, cynical, power-mad con-man/politician whose willingness to crawl in the darkest, dankest mud and slime and shit in order to grab a taste of power.

More later.  (I have to go spend the day shopping for prom gowns.  Really.)

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“Don’t Go There, Guvna’!” Bobby Jindal & Mythical Euro-Sharia

I missed the whole “No-Go Zone” brouhaha of Fox News and Bobby Jindal in real time, having more important things to do like chase my wife around the house, russell-brand-indian-katy-perry-birthdaywhooping like a b-movie indian and accompany her on a quick lark of a trip down to Pittsburgh, an hour to the south, and back, for gourmet popcorn (I’m not kidding–add “standing in line for 25 minutes to pay $22 on popcorn” to the list of First World Problems), a bunch of Trader Joe deliciousness, and the best freaking shawarma and kibbeh EVER at Basha21 on Murray Ave.  I moaned like a sexed up reverend while I ate food cooked up by the owners, right in front of us, and vowed to give ’em a plug.  (This is it. This is the plug: eat some.  Fly into the city if you must, or take the train–just have some.

Anyway, I can’t leave the internet alone for more than an hour and it gets itself in trouble, this time by some asshat on Fox News, an “expert” who raised a great stink in assuring that there were large swaths of France and England which are essentially “No Go Zones” for anyone who isn’t Muslim, places where even local government and law enforcement fear to go, where Sharia law is imposed.  If that sounds like a April Fools story, you’re not alone. It turns out it was exactly that, and Fox News reluctantly walked back the story and apologized.

what? me worry?
what? me worry?

Not so Louisiana governor and republican presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal, a once-rising star in the GOP who, despite the earliness in the race, is already struggling for relevance in a post-Obama election where only one thing is certain: there ain’t no way right wing America is going to put another brown-skinned guy in charge, even if he was the second coming of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy himself.  I’ve got a better chance to be President than he does so, naturally, when confronted by journalists the dude doubles down.  Fox retracted, but not him.  It’s beautiful.

I posted this link on my personal facebook page. And couldn’t resist a little jibe:

I said, “For all you head-in-the-sand dirty rotten truth-deniers laughing at Fox News and Bobby Jindal this morning: “No-Go Zones” are absolute truth. We even have them in my small Appalachian university town. Of course, ours are enforced by Presbyterians, but…. #‎comedyisntthisfunny‬

I immediately got this response from a conservative friend: A Pilipino women (sic) from my church will no longer travel back to the Philippines to visit her family because of the large Muslim population and the threat Catholics feel from radical Muslims. There may be no such thing as no go zones but there are areas around the world where the radical Muslim population is high and Christians will not go unless they want to risk death.

No good joke goes unpunished, it seems, so I was compelled to a retort about which I ended up feeling proud:

Plenty of dark corners in the third world–including some in Louisiana. But Jindal wasn’t talking about Nigeria or the The Philippines, The idea that people hate and fight over religious constructs is hands down the most absurd element of humanity–and the reality that cynical politicians like Jindal all over the world, regardless of creed, employ fear and hatred as tools to galvanize support is the most disgraceful. One might even call it sinful. Yet that’s what this is all about: all this Caliphate and Sharia nonsense has been stirred up by leaders over there, in an effort to maintain and expand their influence, and we in the west respond with bluster and bombs, playing right into their hands. The people doing the actual fighting on both sides believe they’re being noble, but they’ve been sold a rotten bill of goods. It’s telling when someone like Jindal, caught in his misstatement, refuses to admit it when even Fox has issued a retraction, but that too is a political strategem: tell a lie long and loud enough and it becomes like the truth.

There’s little left for the rest of us to do but laugh. Like Elvis (not that Elvis, the other one) said, “I used to be disgusted, now I just try to be amused”

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The State of the Union is COLD

Mrs. Junk and I watched President Obama deliver yet another State of the Union address last night, though I did so with mixed emotions due to the President’s inconsiderate preemption of one of the three hours of television I most enjoy each week–Person of Interest. I’m interested in politics and have very strong opinions that do not easily fit either the liberal or conservative labels, but in the end I’m much more excited about the latest adventures of Howard Finch, The Man In The Suit, Ms. Shaw, Root, and the gang than I am about the combination of boasting and wishful thinking that invariably fills this annual festival of Beltway Make-Believe.  I mean, Finch and The Man In The Suit routinely get the job done in less than an hour–at the most, they would need one of those sweeps-season 3-part arcs to get this country back on it’s feet.  Obama and that Ship of Fools we call Congress can’t manage a damn thing.

Perhaps, if the President walked out to the podium, nodded to the cameras, and said something like, “The state of the Union is better, but it still sucks, and not a little bit either.”  That would get my attention.

But this isn’t a tantrum about politics–we all know the score: nothing gets done until the last minute, until the conservatives resist long enough to satisfy their corporate leash-holders and quench the demands of the dwindling, but still influential, righteous ecclesiastics–or, more specifically, the cynical operators who manipulate the legitimate spiritual beliefs of generally good religious people in a sledgehammer of division and distraction.  That’s the function of conservatives in our political system–to fight tooth and nail against forward momentum of any sort, to resist any disruption of the status quo and, finally, to be dragged–always kicking and screaming–into the future as if any movement at all could be their very last, and the very last for our blessed, holy nation.

Liberals, of course, come with their own particularly annoying tendencies–wussy thin-skinned hypersensitivity, arrogance, a glowering disdain for tradition, blind reliance on government as an engine for social change, wildly unrealistic idealism and the will to impose that idealism by force–for our own good, if necessary–and the list goes on.  As I most closely identify with the left, my criticisms against that side are both more numerous and more nuanced.  I look at politics like looking at a bunch of children who’ve made a mess of things–some I just dismiss as “bad,” but the ones I know, the ones who are mine, are “disappointing”–they’re not just guilty of breaking the rules, they’ve broken my heart a little.

I’m tired of caring about the whole wagon train–we know the drill: angry Indians, soulless bandits, desperate river-crossings, betrayal at the hands of a trusted compatriot, disease, a snowstorm just before sudden and teh sacrifice of a hero leads to unexpected survival and a happy ever after.  The sad thing is, one of these days the bandits are going to kill that hero in the early going–or maybe s/he’ll drown in the river–and the hole damned adventure takes a turn towards Donner Party country.  That’s my worry about the good ol’ USA–one of these days, there will be no hero to save us in the final moments of the movie.