File Under “The More Things Change”: Weird Sh*t

Yesterday, President Trump gave what was generously described as a “bizarre” one-minute press briefing in which he refused to answer any question from the press.

The hastily-called event was his first since the election and one of the few times he has appeared in public since then, preferring to conduct the majority of his temper-tantrum via tweet. He congratulated himself (aka “everybody”) on the fact that the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached 30,000 (a “sacred number”) and seeming to take credit for recent positive developments on the Covid vaccine front. He then turned and walked away.

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A Divide As Wide As the Clear Blue Sky

Once it began to sink in on election night that the anticipated Great Blue Wave was not going to come and wash away the insanity that has gripped this land, the sad-but-obvious conclusion that I was forced to confront is this: We are a deeply divided nation.

Some 78 million Americans saw what has been happening to and in our country over the past four years and were motivated to wait in hours-long lines in northern cold and southern heat in the midst of a pandemic to rid our nation of Donald J. Trump. At the exact same time, nearly 73 million Americans braved those same conditions because they saw what has been happening to and in our country over the past four years and concluded that what America needed most was four more years of it.

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Ghosting the Orange Menace

Yesterday someone made the totally obvious yet utterly profound observation that Trump never wanted to be The President. What they meant was that he didn’t have any interest in leading our nation or in governing in the true sense of the word. Most people seek the highest office because they have a profound desire to serve the public, or out of a sense that they are uniquely qualified to lead the country at a pivotal time in our history, or because they want to move the country in a certain direction. But Trump had no such desire. He has never had a political philosophy or any meaningful agenda beyond Make America Great Again, which isn’t so much a presidential agenda as it is an advertising slogan, one about as meaningful as “Where’s the Beef?” What Trump wanted was to be the most talked-about person on the planet. And for the last four years, that’s exactly what he’s been.

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Memorial Day: Reflections on Sacrifice

Today is Memorial Day.

Today we honor and mourn the more than one million Americans who died while serving in the US armed forces. Today we pause to reflect on them and their service. They remind us that sometimes the welfare of our nation requires sacrifice. Sometimes, it requires the ultimate sacrifice.

It’s a fact that as members of a society we are sometimes called on to make sacrifices for the good of our fellow citizens. And doing so is noble noble and patriotic. That’s the reason for this holiday; that’s the reason for the parades and the flag waving. And that’s the reason that (under normal circumstances) we have this day off from work: to allow us to pause and reflect on the sacrifices made by others on our behalf.

Because that’s the American way. And not only during times of war, but always. Surely so: after every national tragedy or natural disaster, we’re fed hours of news footage of Americans pitching in and helping one another: filling sandbags, making donations, digging out, coming together.

And now, millions of Americans across the country are being asked to make a similar sacrifice to protect and defend their fellow citizens. We are being asked to stay home. To forego the BBQ or a day at the beach. And an extreme sacrifice: to wear a piece of cloth over our nose and mouth when we go out in public.

It’s hard to fathom the audacity of a society that would ask so much of its citizens.

Indeed, in an upending of everything we’ve been taught about what is required of us as Americans, we are now being told that in being asked to wear a mask out of concern for our neighbors, our rights are being irretrievably infringed upon. Can one think of anything more infringing than a face mask? Certainly not being asked to button on a uniform, strap on a weapon, and fight and die in a foreign land.

Remember when Americans believed that with rights come responsibilities? That Freedom isn’t Free? How did the Republican party (and for sure, this pre-dates the Trump Republican party) manage to make such a mockery of the concept of shared sacrifice? of caring for our neighbors and putting others ahead of ourselves? When did thinking about the welfare of our fellow Americans become such an infringement on our God-given rights? When did looking out for others become so un-patriotic?

On this day of reflection, I’m reflecting on what seems to be a new era of selfishness that I see growing in this country. It’s a sad day indeed.

File Under “Dishonesty”: Presidential Love

Last week we learned that world leaders all think that Donald Trump is doing a great job handling this pandemic. “I spoke with Angela Merkel today, I spoke with Prime Minister Abe of Japan; I spoke with many of the leaders over the last four or five days. And so many of them, almost all of them — I would say all of them, not everyone would want to admit it — but they all view us as the world leader, and they’re following us.” That was a bit of a surprise to a lot of people, including the world leaders themselves. Because they don’t actually think that.

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File Under “Hypocrisy”: Guns Are Scary

On Wednesday, the Michigan state legislature cancelled sessions until next week. Why? Because guns are scary. Specifically, guns wielded by angry protesters. And that’s exactly what showed up at Michigan’s capitol building on Thursday. Dozens of conservative protesters descended on the state capitol to protest the governor’s stay-at-home order.

Not surprisingly, the majority of Michigan’s legislators didn’t want to be in the way of the protesters who were exercising their freedoms. Another word for in “the way” is “crosshairs.”

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File Under “Innuendo”: Obamagate

This week we learned that Barack Obama committed many crimes. Which crimes? Obvious crimes. Disgraceful crimes. Crimes that shouldn’t be allowed to happen again. So many crimes, in fact, and of such great magnitude that they deserve their own designation: Obamagate. And that’s how you know they happened. And that they were bad. Because they don’t just put -gate onto anything.

Insinuator-in-Chief
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File Under “Dishonesty”: the Game Plan

On Monday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell informed America that the reason the Trump administration’s response to the current health “situation” has been so dismal is not actually due to any fault of the Trump administration. Rather it is the fault of the Obama administration for failing to adequately prepare them for it. “[C]learly the Obama administration did not leave to this administration any kind of game plan for something like this,” McConnell said.

This is a pretty big whopper, even by current whopper standards.

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File Under “Hypocrisy”: No Test For You!

On Sunday, Donald Trump said “our country has to go back to being our country again. . . We have to go back to work.”

He also said, “You have people who are not going to stand for this and I understand that very well.” By which he meant “If you kill someone who is trying to keep you from your job, preventing you from eating at Old Country Buffet, or forcing you to wear a face mask, I will call you a very fine person and may even pay your legal bills.”

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Whistling In the Wind

Last week’s news was filled with reports that Trump was told back in January of the potential spread of the new coronavirus in the US and that millions of lives would be in peril unless he took immediate action to keep Americans home. Which, of course, he didn’t. Instead, he downplayed the threat and told us that everything was under control. Which, of course, it wasn’t. Unbelievably, in March when he finally admitted that this was serious stuff, he seemed “baffled” (according to his associates) by how events had played out. He said “no one could have predicted” such an epidemic. Which, of course, plenty of people did. These news reports were accompanied by logical, factual, unassailable evidence in the form of emails, memos, and quotes from administration officials as well as analysis of the results of his failure to act.

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