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.