Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Corona Jottings: Intermittent Speculations(#21)

What has Trump wrought? But I have spoke With one that saw him die; who did report That very frankly he confessed his treasons, Implor'd your Highness' pardon, and set forth A deep repentance. Nothing in his life Became him like the leaving it. There is no character in Shakespeare that mimics The Donald. He doesn’t have the brains of Iago, the language of anyone who struts upon the stage. And he, of course, is more than a clown. The bard didn’t do, it seems, malignant clowns. (But our modern popular culture seems to love them.) So, the lines from Macbeth don’t exactly fit Trump, though there is a kernel of pertinence there. Nothing in his presidency became him like the leaving of it. Two weeks earlier the mob invaded the Capitol on his behalf, the whole crew wearing disparate costumes, some military, some madcap, some bad-taste-middle-class – sporting feed caps embossed with Make (& Keep) America Great Again, many with patriotic-themed knitted stocking caps, all the usual winter dunce wear – befitting a hodgepodge of various Shakespeare characters tossed about in a Cuisinart. Another white-tribe mob in full fury. An appropriate capstone indeed. After the Capitol riot a silence fell on the presidency, since Trump was deprived of, banned from, Twitter, his primary public voice. The voice he used in private, typing away with his short stubby digits, surrounded by fast food wrappers, whatever leavings that get picked up by White House servants. Trump, himself, during the second candidate debate in 2016, described a guy – an unwitting prophesy on The Donald’s part – “sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds,” as a likely candidate interfering with the election, other than the Russians. The beginning turned into the end. His other, secondary, voice, after Twitter, was that of important personage on the way to the helicopter, disclaiming to the sad minions of the press shouting questions. All this silence was, is, as they say, deafening. Some technically imposed, some self-imposed, Trump revealed what was below the surface during his reign. That he had no public voice to serve him at length. Speeches needed to be written for him. The only form he could manage on his own was rally speak and he never desisted from rallies during his entire presidency. So his post Twitter silence echoes on. Curiously, the only protocol of former presidents he has followed is this after-departure silence. The Democrats can’t let go, though, giving him the benefit of a second impeachment, another first he can brag about. The Republicans still advertise themselves as the worst people in the world and the GOP will never recover, unless, of course, they win both houses of Congress in 2022 and run the government once again. Everything is moving as fast as the Covid virus, except for the immunizing of citizens. It is impossible to remember The Donald’s initial victory without contemplating Hillary’s loss. What a price to pay for her defeat. My problem remains with all the folk who normally would have voted for the Democrat, but couldn’t bring themselves to pull the lever for Hillary. The gamut ran from hatred to boredom, from outrage to ennui. All those ersatz nonvoters had their reasons. So too the ludicrous Third Party candidates. Yes, there were reasons. But all those semi-informed individuals should have had some knowledge of who The Donald was. We all have paid a terrible price for their delicate feelings. Their Hillary-that-bitch disdain. Again, the shock this time around was how popular a complete imbecile can become. Trump has no redeeming social value, but nearly half the country voted for him in 2020. The country has become use to occasional nitwits being elected to the House, but now they are more lethal than ignorant. And though the Biden/Harris administration is barely two weeks old, the Trump virus still spreads, reinfecting those who, one thought, might back off a bit. No no no. There’s no undoing, it seems, the Republicans’ disastrous pact with the Devil. Mitch McConnell still acts as if he is the majority leader and “Chuck” Schumer can’t seem to fully displace him. Democrats fight each other with more relish than they confront the Republican opposition. The same old same old. There is something dispiriting about all the photographs showing Biden sitting at the desk, mask less, and Harris standing in the corner wearing hers, as if she is at his beck and call, the usual lady in waiting. The new administration is in the position of going from too little to too much. But all the antagonisms remain the same. Trump silenced – no Twitter no Trump – is the only thing that seems to be permanently positive. Trump truly was the president without any clothes. But television couldn’t point that out since they had made him a star. A star to whatever percentage of the deluded had watched – and enjoyed – The Apprentice. The profitable media couldn’t and didn’t want to admit that the people had elected a complete idiot President. The last couple of months of his reign some of the press did curtail their self imposed ignorance, meaning they began to point out the depths of his know-nothing-ism. Though the I-Won mantra continued to be aired day after day, hour after hour on most every platform. It is still likely that without the plague year The Donald would have been reelected. That’s another appalling truth this country doesn’t like, or want, to face.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Corona Jottings: Intermittent Speculations(#20)

Well, it’s come to this. American Carnage. In the Capitol. The swarm of humanity, often seen in sci-fi horror films, breaching the walls. What was surprising was the ease of the take over, the small resistance of the building’s protectors. It stank of planning, cooperation, either foreordained, or incompetence on display. With the Trump Administration it’s likely to be a mixture of both. The Donald, to the last minute, continues his “reality” show with aplomb, staging, at public cost, a competing spectacle to the certification of the Electoral College vote, reaping what he has been sowing since the election, that he won in a landslide, his unending delusional cry. Trump summons the hordes and then retreats to the White House after sending them to plunder and preen. As ancient as this mob looked, it was as up-to-date as it could be. Half of marauders seemed to be holding pikes and other medieval accouterments, the other half brandishing Smartphones, recording their ne’er do welling, later giving testimonies of their felonious accomplishments. Though I doubt all their intelligence quotients, they all did seem to have an adolescent pride in boasting about what they pulled off, wanting to broadcast as soon as possible. To certify their victory. Because, now, a day before the Biden/Harris inauguration, Washington is an armed camp, on lock-down, a demonstration of Trump’s prediction and curse, American Carnage. Trump, himself, claims to be on the verge of a formal military sendoff to applaud his last free flight to Mar-a-Lago, his property that resembles any number of South-of-the-Border dictators' idea of a good time. I, for one, never watched The Apprentice. According to reference sources, it premiered in 2004, with Trump the star, and he “helmed” (as the nitwits say) it for fourteen years. Never saw it. I have seen clips, once Trump emerged as the front runner for the Republican nomination. I first wrote about The Donald as a candidate in March of 2016. I wasn’t friendly: “Now that Trump’s pictorial similarities to Il Duce have been widely noticed, The Donald, our own Herr Mousse-olini, has his followers doing stiff-arm Sieg Heil pledges. It is a little much.” This, along with other criticisms, appeared in the columns I did on the campaign for the Huffington Post, and are now reprinted in my book, Politics and the American Language, which was published without fanfare, given the circumstances afoot, Covid, etc., in March of 2020. Trump himself was no mystery in 2016, nor now, though he turned out to be worse than even I thought he could be. He outdid himself, thanks to his despicable enablers of the GOP. And now we await the predicted example of the autocrat, followed by the certified citizen Melania, his Evita (though seemingly one without any discernable talent), hopping on Air Force One to (almost) leave the country, clinging to a Southern-most margin. Again, Trump leaves Biden/Harris with a paradoxical symbolic setting to start their term, one fit only for television, displaying a military takeover, arranged by The Donald’s demented disciples. And middle-Americans were once worried about Hippies! The new right-wing Hippies of 2021 trashed the Capitol. The lumpen in the U.S. share a number of similarities. I should know, because I was one in my prolonged youth, especially in hairstyles and wardrobe. Merriam-Webster gives an interesting definition of lumpen: “of or relating to dispossessed and uprooted individuals cut off from the economic and social class with which they might normally be identified.” It’s almost philosophical. They’re strivers of a sort. But it’s their sense of dislocation, being untethered, that allows them to flock to an authoritarian (and rich) leader. Trump might be a bogus millionaire, but he struts the look. The Donald is a guy who wants to be first. It’s an impulse. The first monk to burn himself to death in Viet Nam, the first sniper to kill over a dozen from a high tower in Texas. Anything to be the first. What passes for Trump’s intelligence is reactive: to do the opposite of what everyone else has done. To be new. A president boasting continuously that he won the election by hu-u-u-ge amounts, that somehow it was stolen from him, to promote the untruth endlessly. I go back and forth about whether he actually believes this, or that he has just swallowed enough of his own kool aid to be convinced. It’s been a terrible four years, the last one visited with a Biblical plague to top off the Trump reign. And, for all I know, there’s enough deluded – the dispossessed and uprooted – no-nothings to presage another season, fit only for TV, of the rolling apocalypse that has been the Trump years. Ready for a Restoration? Imagine the Republican ticket for 2024. It could be worse. A Trump with brains.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Corona Jottings: Intermittent Speculations (#19)

The rats are abandoning the sinking ship of state. It’s a long list, so I won’t begin to record them, but newspapers will print their names. As dolts say, the list is long. Well, I’ll mention one of the worst, good old Lindsey Graham, the changeling from South Carolina, who is such a collection of unpleasantness I won’t catalog that either. Mitch McConnell took it upon himself to lecture the Senate at how un-American Hawley/Cruz’s play was and his wife, the Transportation Secretary, that marriage of many conveniences, resigned in lofty and last minute umbrage at the unsightliness of it all (the riffraff marauding in the Capitol, that is.) Those who are surprised at the invasion by the lumpen of the seat of government are either naive, uniformed, or hapless co-conspirators, expressing surprise, that is, at the violent denouement of the Trump Administration, its first act at least, as it approaches its final flame out. Ah, all that broken glass. It looked like Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, or in any number of Wisconsin towns, after the right-wing vandals started smashing windows. There’s still time and worse can happen, but the attack on the U.S. Capitol should come as no surprise. What was surprising was the mixed reaction of a minority of the participants as they found themselves wandering around the various sacrosanct chambers, the stunned expressions on their faces. From the multiple video sources, digital phones, in-place cameras, a viewer could see an approximation of awe on some, or, at least, wonder, something approaching amazement, not necessarily feelings that have often overtaken them. I presume those were people who don’t frequent many monumental buildings of government. That was the strangest reaction, but those poses quickly faded, and others took over, the kid-in-the-candy-store look, especially from the dozen, or so, who were milling about in the Senate chamber in various patriotic costumes. I’ve been saying Trump the Terrible is terrible from the start and those who thought he was the rabid dog that could be tamed, the useful idiot who could be used, are now quickly backtracking – Republican office holders, especially. A bit late in the game. As the sprite Lindsey offered, quoted by the Boston Globe, “it breaks my heart that my friend, a president of consequence, would allow yesterday to happen.” Ah, yes, a president of consequence. There are all sorts of consequences here. Lindsey’s heart, I take it, is, or has been, often broken. We still have a dirty dozen of days left wherein more Trump chaos can be generated. The odious GOP Senators, the too long serving and disliked Cruz and the new-be Hawley, need be shunned, but will their voters do so? Even I find it hard to believe that nearly 150 House Republican representatives would vote in the affirmative for the hogwash they were being sold about the Pennsylvania election. Among them was my “representative”, Wacky Jackie Walorski, the Trump sycophant, who knows little and repeats it often. Thanks to the usual tortured gerrymandering in Indiana she keeps her seat. Now that the Hawley/Cruz fiasco is being denounced by some Republicans, the GOP House representatives who went along should be forever branded as seditious lunatics, or worse, but, of course, they won’t be. The only illuminating surprise in the last few days has been the Democrat Senate sweep in Georgia, Georgia on my mind. I thought maybe one seat (swapping out the skinny appointed gal for a guy) was possible, but to win both races. Hallelujah! Trump was a laughingstock when he ran and won the presidency. Now the United States is a laughingstock. Even though some Republicans see what their dark bargain has brought us all, it will not be a rehabilitating tonic. It’s been well known for decades that we get the president we deserve and Trump has been no different. The Donald was not so much an aberration as a culmination. I don’t know what kind of rabbit Biden/Harris can pull out of their hat, but, thanks again to Georgia, they have at least, best, 24 months to wow us.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Corona Jottings: Intermittent Speculations (#18)

When I think of old people – now that I have become one – I recall as a youth the various literary puzzles I was presented with in grammar school. They all pointed out that one goes from being a child all the way to the end of one’s life becoming, once again, a child. Shakespeare, Grimm’s fairy tales, literature throughout the ages, many things point to this paradox. As the year tumbles to its end, it’s clear how politics has aged us all and how those, in positions of power, are in the main terribly old, on both sides of the aisle, capping this ignominious year. Death from Covid (like the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Supreme Court) kills off a lot of old folks, with a sprinkle of the young, the middle-aged, here and there. Mitch McConnell, The Donald, the new president-elect, Joe Biden, are all very long in the tooth. Stephen Breyer is the oldest member of the Court at 82, followed by Clarence Thomas at 72. But it has been the method of modern presidents to pick younger justices-to-be, so as to lengthen their stay and influence. RBG, of course, was the oldest, 87, till replaced by the youngest, ACB, 48. Who is likely to be president in 2025? Someone middle age? Or aged? I guess we’ll see. Now we’re in the last gasp of gerontology. Two things, I suppose, have forced these musings. The end of the year and the end of the hideous Trump administration, which, of course, may not yet have done its worst. New Year’s is always represented by an infant with a sash (2021!) and the departing year a unisex crone with a cane. Out with the old, in with the new. Well, with Biden/Harris we have a two-fer. The old and the new, combined. It’s not yet known whether the Senate will flip, but there’s not a lot of confidence expressed on the airways by those in the know, the Democrats, that is. Trump, of course, never disappoints. His kind of intelligence, if he has any, is reflective, meaning he does the opposite of what people with sense want. And, given his history, he has some proof of such behavior’s efficacy. Never concede. Say you won over and over for weeks on end. Some generous portion of the public will believe it if said often enough, broadcast by one and all, over media, in every form. If an individual says such things to his or her small circle of friends s/he will be a candidate for a rest home, or worse. But have the means to say it to everyone, day in and day out, and it becomes something else. Not madness, but food for thought. What’s clear, shown over and over the last four years, is that the responsible folks never wanted to admit how bad things have become, admitting to having a semi-lunatic, or, rather semi-literate know-nothing, as president. Republicans, orchestrated by Mitch McConnell, could do their dark work and it would be worth the embarrassment, especially if the culture had reached the point where the populace no longer could be embarrassed. Speaking of old saws, as I was in the first paragraph, another comes to mind: The Emperor’s New Clothes, by Hans Christian Andersen, producing a slogan which devolved to the emperor without clothes. There never was a universal chorus of disapprobation for The Donald, only, especially early on, scattershot shouts of the fabled child’s insight: No clothes! No clothes! Republicans had too much to lose. Trump knew he just had to reprise his role on The Apprentice. Often, that task turned out to be too difficult. The Legislative Branch continues to be an embarrassment. The two GOP Georgia Senate candidates, Senators Loeffler and Perdue, are poster children advertising the many representatives of no redeeming social value in the Congress. Given their lack of virtue in any area, except economic, they could be a cat and a dog, merely symbolic Republicans to fill their respective seats. Could they have drudged up more shocking examples of the species, corruptable nobodies filling space? And then there is the new Senator from Missouri, Josh Hawley. Hawley and I share a past. We went to the same high school in Kansas City, MO, though decades apart, an all-boys prep school run by the Jesuits. (Hawley's two winning races were against women, not an insignificant fact.) I got a good education there in the early 60s. Its campus is on the state line, moving there the year I graduated, so across the street is Kansas. I don’t think Hawley and I would have been friends. I presume he had friends there, but I’m not sure. Hawley understands the virtue of propinquity. He clerked for John Roberts. He mimicked, in a strange way, Barack Obama’s career: as a youth Hawley won an attorney general race in Missouri – which, as usual, was in the midst of governmental scandals all around – served only a year and then ran for the Senate. He realized that it is easier to win in chaos rather than calm and he faced an 11 person primary, but, like Trump, he survived the clown show. (See above remark about women opponents. Note Trump's opponent the year he won.) Biden, too, survived the Democrat primary, but Hawley had it easier. Like the Catholics Trump has appointed to the Supreme Court, Hawley clings to the faith’s hottest margins. Well, Biden is a Catholic. Catholics everywhere these days. Now, of course, Hawley has volunteered to get as much publicity as possible, posing as a Trump toady, to object during the Electoral College Senate vote count. See Josh run. Obama jumped quickly from one election to another, the Senate to the Presidency. All of this just points to the fact that we aren’t leaving the politics-as-asylum show any time soon. And Trump, for whatever terrible reasons, has abandoned Mar-a-Lago today to return to the White House, forgoing the gaudy New Year’s eve party held there. Happy New Year, though the new year won’t actually start till January 20th.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Corona Jottings: Intermittent Speculations (#17)

Well, who expected anything different? The cliche, Hope Springs Eternal, proves itself again. From the time The Donald came down his escalator, he has been a buffoon, just what he always has been, a huckster dying for attention. One still wonders about the singularity of his elevation to President. I have been writing about this phenomenon – the accidental presidency – for many years, how chance plays such a disproportionate role in our modern (all I’m claiming) history. I don’t want to go through a litany, but let’s start with LBJ. Lee Harvey Oswald, the president maker. Need I say more? I could, but let’s carry on. But Trump descending from a Trump Tower escalator, as a metaphor, has no bottom. Down, down, down we go, went. I don’t know if debased comes from the de-basement, the cellar, but it appears there is no basement to be found with Trump. How he began is how he ends – though, given that there are more than 30 days left, we most likely haven’t gone as low as we can go. I recall the beginning of his reign, when there was some faint hope expressed that the presidency would “elevate” his conduct. Ha, ha, ha. One end of Trump the builder is Trump the wrecking ball. Out with the old, in with the new, the new being chaos and destruction. Trying to discern his appeal, I did notice his narrow version of populism. There’s always a bit of attraction in that. And never appearing to be smarter than his audience. That accounts for a large share of his horde of followers. And being so dumb that the powers-that-be in the GOP, ensconced in DC, thought, for the most part correctly, that they could do pretty much what the party leaders wanted. Even the cable media giants are worried these days about the boring Biden/Harris administration to come. The Donald did manage to create a new outrage a day, which fit with the times, given the 24 hour, short attention-span public of watchers. Though I never watched Trump’s “The Apprentice,” I occasionally land on some prime time network television show these days and find myself appalled anew. And the so-called intelligent shows, what few still exist (has anyone noticed the steep decline of “60 Minutes”?) have abandoned all hope and become weird versions of “Dateline,” often hosted by NBC’s prime television’s news anchor, cheery Lester Holt. PBS, I suppose, still tries, but, really? So we have to resort to the growing thirst for documentaries, which show up here and there, series often, rather than one-shots, for information, but here, too, entertainment values dominate. But back to Trump. Again, by just being morbidly contrary, he manages to rack up more firsts. The first sitting president of the new era, to damn democracy and libel elections, chanting daily, often hourly, how the whole system, the one the country has used for centuries, is a sham and a fraud. You would think that would upset a few people. But the citizens who seem most upset are Trump’s legions, agreeing with him. The Republican establishment thinks all his blandishments are just fine. They are patient parents to the worst of children, thinking he will outgrow, or become exhausted, and eventually abandon his tantrum. January 20th? Television will still succumb to The Donald’s catnip and, after he exits, it will feature him and his scurrilous antics for the sake of eyeballs and ratings in the parallel universe he already occupies (and helped create), contrasting it with whatever the Biden/Harris administration can mount as competition. Given the demon Mitch McConnell, that won’t be much, I’m afraid. We haven’t left crazy time and, I suppose, once again, it’s because of technology over sense, and the lowering of all standards over time. Along with the lowering, is the paradoxical rise in “liberals” censorious control of culture, where, in the last decade or so, neo-neologisms have prospered. Not invented words, but older language that has been newly dressed up. Two examples: “curated” and “cancel”, the new C words. When I began to hear fellow academics use the word curated, or curate, I took an interest in the sociology involved. It was “privileging” the role, not of the creator, but of the already created, those who notice or claim value, not the progenitors. I thought that dangerous. It seemed to be an abandonment, but also an elevation. The cancel culture followed. Those who choose can also not choose, but cancel. I’ve always been a fan of choosing between good and bad, but this was something different, a corporatization of judgment. Why do I mention, or go on, this tangent? Oh, I suppose it has to do with why Trump won, when so many educated people didn’t vote, or didn’t vote for Hillary, voting instead for the ridiculous third- and fourth-party candidates, or, because of the dispatched Bernie, might have cast their lot with the rube Trump as a protest vote. Trump didn’t so much win the 2016 election as it was forfeited by those who should have known better. We have all gone through a terrible four years, topped off with a Pandemic (without which Trump might actually, probably, have won reelection). And now he, dare I say legitimately, has about half of the country’s voters on his side. And absent a post-Xmas Miracle of Georgia the next four years loom ominously. Trouble ahead.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Corona Jottings: Intermittent Speculations (#16)

Given what Amy Coney Barrett’s first case to garner attention turned out to be, one could think there was Divine intervention. It was one of those instant – in terms of the court’s usual mode – decisions responding to someone’s idea of a crisis, such as, how quickly can we make George W. president? – or, in this case, how many of the faithful, mainly Catholics and Jews, can we cram into a church or synagogue or temple, during a pandemic? It seems always to be an End of Days event. Since the Supreme Court itself is all Catholics and Jews (though Neil Gorsuch, the snob, became an “Episcopalian” when he reached early adulthood) it seemed like a family affair. Even Gorsuch’s decision, letting the-more-the-merrier attend, drips with his classic hoity-toity disdain: “...but it is always fine to pick up another bottle of wine, shop for a new bike, or spend the afternoon exploring your distal points and meridians....” Bret Stephens, in the Times, loved it. He would. The Chief Justice threw up his hands and joined the “liberals”, wishing it, the case itself being terribly premature, would just go away. Public health be damned. Anyway, I wonder what Justice Gorsuch would have said about the not-Kool Aid, but cheaper flavored sweetener, suicide-by-religion in Jonestown, Guyana. More the merrier, doubtless. Amy Coney Barrett did her duty to the Lord and fulfilled His Wish for putting her on the Court. She was the deciding vote. If the congregants want to dare potential death, let them. Again, I might seem obsessed with the makeup of the Court, all Catholics and Jews. I’ve been writing about it for years. I just find it peculiar that actual Protestants have so fallen in disfavor. This comes about since ardently religious Protestants tend to be zealots, perhaps not as extreme as ACB, but out there, evangelical-wise. Think of famous Protestants and you get the idea. Who knows? Will President-elect Biden appoint a protestant, if he gets a chance? (I’m talking about you, Clarence. Don’t you have better things to do?) Biden, of course, is our second Catholic President-to-be. Given the early evidence of Biden’s appointments, perhaps we’ll get a non-western religionist. Something a bit more exotic for the America First crowd, a stab at stepping free of ecumenicism. We’ll see. We have less than 50 days to go of the bottom-of-the-barrel presidency of Donald Trump. Some doubt that, but not me. I can’t imagine – whatever my powers in this regard – anyone worse. Yesterday’s news was the reported likelihood of a Trump 2024 run, to be announced on the same day as Biden is sworn in, another ratings bonanza for someone. Trump’s imagination equals or surpasses his IQ: just do the opposite of what the smart people do. He is the unsightly reflection of the sightly. The Mr. Hyde to the Dr. Jekyll. One of my many objections to the man is that I, like many, never saw his “hit” TV program the years it ran. I wasn’t part of his demographic, the mob that makes up the bulk of his voters. It wasn’t a matter of politics, it was a matter of stupid. I avoid stupid. The new developing conventional wisdom is that Biden will be too old to run again in 2024. Maybe. And it does create a sour foreboding that will lurk over the White House for three years, given that The Donald will be the age Biden is now when Biden assumes the office, the Presidency. God save us all.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Corona Jottings: Intermittent Speculations (#15)

Back in the old days, when I was a weekly columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times (2000-2005), I would often write a Thanksgiving or Christmas column, when my 700 word protestations ran on the appropriate day. This blog won’t run on Thanksgiving itself, but close. In some demented gesture to see all that has changed, I will reprint part of a Xmas day column, one that did run on the day itself, before I was detached from the Sun-Times, being one of many harbinger sacrifices that marked so much of journalism during the still on-going era of cutbacks: 12/25/01 My family (because of my wife's abundant frequent flyer miles) had planned to spend last Christmas in Israel, experience Christmas eve in Bethlehem, but the second intifada began and we canceled. Maybe next year, we thought. Well, not this year, either. Nor likely the next, or the next. The terrorism recession came early to Israel; last Christmas Bethlehem's hotels were empty. This year one of them is burnt and gutted, the Paradise Hotel, which is on a road leading to Manger Square in front of the Church of the Nativity, built over the stable where, legend has it, Christ was born. When the Paradise burned in October during a firefight between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen, I found the photograph I had taken of it, when, in '97, we had visited Bethlehem, under control of the Palestinian Authority since the '93 Oslo accords. Israel's cities were relatively calm then, though it is wrong to ever call Bethlehem's close neighbor, Jerusalem, "calm". Peaceful is less wrong, but still not correct. Quiet, perhaps. Jerusalem strikes many as one of the most exciting cities in the world. It is, though it pays a high price for its excitement. There is a tension there that is always pulsing, either below the surface, or above. And it is most especially intense in the Old City, since it is kept walled up there. Not quite twenty years ago, that. What has changed you may ask? My marital status for one. Be that as it may, Benjamin Netanyahu was spoken of back then, at least in my first visit to Jerusalem, as a crook, more or less, around the Clinton administration era. Out of office, to most everyone’s great relief. My how times have changed. Israelis aren’t known to forgive and forget, but Netanyahu seems to be the exception. Of course, back then, Donald Trump was the longest shot to become President of the United States. So long, very few – a handful only – ever gave it a thought. But Reagan had smoothed the way for a second TV huckster to become the top dog. Though redundant on my part, I have pointed out the Jekyll and Hyde aspect of this evolution before. No need for the gentleman when you have the beast at the ready. Times change. Netanyahu not so much. Why am I swimming in the past?, I ask myself. Because The Donald has been so spectacularly odious these past days that I resist chronicling his doings. And, again, because I am suffering the realization that none of this is over. No water colors for Trump, no books to write a la Obama, no grandchildren to dote on as per Hillary, and God Knows What Bill Clinton is actually doing now. Trump still insists on sticking his mug into our daily lives. Lord, he’ll be President for nearly two more months. What outrages are ahead? And the media, the television image-driven side, will help, I’m sure, keep him alive on the variety of screens, large and small. Ratings uber alles. The thirst for disruption has not abated for Trump’s disciples. He is his own version of a Pandemic. And I’m not at all sure Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will institute an Operation Warp Speed to eradicate this particular virus. Happy Thanksgiving.