Friday, March 31, 2017

All my favorite sitcom characters were Trump voters

One of the many ways I can tell I'm getting old is that I would rather watch reruns of old television sitcoms than watch a new show.  I've never seen an episode of "West Wing," never watched "Parks and Recreation," and have no intention of seeing "The Young Pope."  I would list other examples here, but I don't know any of the titles.  Instead, I watch reruns of "The Andy Griffith Show" on the Sundance network.  That's on Thursdays.  On Fridays I watch reruns of "The Bob Newhart Show."  Wednesday means "MASH."  Since I have committed all those shows to memory, I can watch without having to pay attention.  That's one of the other signs of old age.  It is increasingly difficult to pay attention.

Yesterday, I watched the episode of Andy Griffith where Opie and his young friends get into Robin Hood and his Merry Men.  In the course of their play, they run into a derelict old bum living in a cardboard shanty outside of town.  The guy is a good story teller and he feeds Opie's desire to be the best Robin Hood he can be.  At the bum's urging, Opie and his gang run to their homes and abscond with left over fried chicken, maybe a ham or two, and one of Aunt Bea's prized apple pies.

Andy and Barney quickly jump on the Mayberry crime wave and discover, after one of those father-son things between Andy and Opie, that the kids are enabling the old bum.

Andy, being the wise father we have all come to love even though if he had been a registered voter back in November, he would have most assuredly voted for Trump, goes out to the old guy's cardboard camp with the kids and confronts him.  He assures him that he could get a job doing road work, or night watchman work, or security guard work and start off on the road to financial solvency and redemption.  The old guy wants no part of it and runs off, leaving his cardboard mess and a couple of partially consumed hams behind.  Opie and the rest of the gang are shocked and disillusioned, but wiser.  They have learned the important lesson that you have to earn your own way in the world and the people who don't are lazy liars and cheats.

I was probably 12 when I first saw that episode and I took the lesson to heart.  Watching the same propaganda at 68, on the other hand, was infuriating.  I started thinking of all the other shows of that era that used the lazy bum trope.  Beaver had a few run-ins with the homeless, all of whom were lazy and shiftless.  Ward came to the rescue just like Andy and exposed those bums and their hypocrisy.  Jim Anderson on "Father Knows Best" certainly ran his share of bums out of town.  Uncle Charley taught Fred McMurray's three sons about the value of self-sufficiency.

I loved those shows when I was a kid.  I still do.  But the message behind those shows is nothing more than right wing propaganda.  No wonder Ronald Reagan won an election by making us all outraged at "Welfare Queens."  No wonder that part of being a "compassionate conservative" for George W. Bush was giving tax breaks to the wealthy so their largesse might trickle down to the undeserving poor.  No wonder Mitt Romney excoriated the "takers" in a speech to his base of billionaires.  And no wonder pseudo-compassionate people like Paul Ryan want to eliminate anything that smells of income redistribution in an effort to help the poor develop the skills they need to not be dependent on the rest of us.  What a guy.

In one of the most horrible conversations of my life, I was talking to a couple of dear friends who were outraged at the idea of helping the homeless because they knew that a large number of the homeless were making more than 50 grand a year and didn't have to pay taxes!  God!  If that's true, being homeless pays more than being an Uber driver.  I asked them how I can tell, when I drive past a group of homeless gathered around a Sterno can and leaning against their shopping carts on the corner of Lawrence and Park Avenue, which ones are making the big bucks so I can be sure not to give them any money.  They didn't have an answer.  Neither does "The Andy Griffith Show."

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Capitalization Rules

Intersectionality is a term I've been running into quite often lately.  It was first coined in the mid-80's by women's rights advocates to suggest one couldn't look at the issue of women's rights just by looking at the historical oppression of women.  There were other factors at play like racism, homophobia, xenophobia, etc.  Makes sense.

Back in the 80's, intersectionality was just another lower case word tossed around in the discussion.  But lately, according to thinkers like Andrew Sullivan and Paul Krugman, it has turned into a capitalized word with all the characteristics of a religion, asserting that all the different forms oppression takes in a society--racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, religious bigotry (There are plenty more.)--intersect.  They do not function independently, but interrelate and feed off each other.

This continues to make sense, but as the belief has become a proper noun, it has become bastardized. That's the way it works with religions.  The word catholic (small case) simply means comprehensive, or universal scope, including or concerning all mankind.  The Catholic (upper case) religion has come to mean something else entirely.  I have Catholic relatives who regularly send me racist and xenophobic attachments explaining how all Muslims are evil.  There are devoted Catholics at the Y who spend every Sunday morning shedding tears for the poor and gathering donations to help orphans from Syria, but spend the rest of the week decrying dangerous immigrants and welfare queens, calling for a wall, desperately fending off the very real fear that pretty soon their country and their religion, a religion that regularly hangs paintings of a blond-haired, blue-eyed Jesus on sanctuary walls, will be overrun by people of color whose babies won't look like the rest of the congregation.

The capitalized version of Intersectionality acts the same way.  For instance, Intersectionalists are at work at The Whitney in New York where Dana Schutz's "Open Casket" has been hung.  It depicts Emmett Till in a casket, evocative of the famous photograph of same.  However, Schutz is white and the Intersectionalists are demanding the painting be taken down because, given the history of white oppression of black people, a white artist has no right to depict anything from the black experience, and certainly doesn't have the right to make money from such a depiction.

Intersectionalism was at work at Middlebury College in Vermont when protestors shouted down Charles Murray, who was there to talk about his new book, because back in the 70's he co-authored "The Bell Curve," an unfortunate work that included a chapter explaining with lots of charts and numbers that one of the reasons blacks don't do as well as whites is because  black IQs tended to be lower.  The findings in that chapter were absurd and thoroughly debunked, but Murray's fall from grace, his stupid assessment of black intelligence, was enough to permanently exclude him and his ideas from any other discussion.  He was persona non grata at Middlebury and was shamefully shouted down.

Whenever an idea, no matter how harmless and self-evident, gets capitalized, starts attracting followers, starts alienating the non-followers, it begins to take itself too seriously and ends up doing damage.  The basic underlying universal acceptance in the word catholic becomes an unyielding standard by which to judge anyone who is not Catholic.  There is a natural tendency to think you and your group have a handle on things people not in your group don't.  There is a tendency to think you know all the answers to all the important moral and ethical questions.

This is particularly dangerous on a college campus.  Let's face it, if there is anyplace on earth where folks believe they have all the right answers, it is a college campus.  Smugness is a defining characteristic of a college kid.  Those kids at Middlebury were armed with the knowledge and certainties they gained in the classroom.  They knew how politically correct people ought to behave.  They knew what politically correct people ought to believe, and like college kids all over the country, they made noise and demanded change whenever a new belief, a new piece of knowledge threatened their certainties.  It is an easy call.  Intersectionality says that anyone who transgresses in any of those areas of oppression at any time, automatically and irrevocably disqualifies himself from any discussion on any college campus.

This, of course, transitions to the political realm where Democrats and Republicans are capitalized true believers.  A small case democrat is simply an individual who adheres to the "principle of social equality and respect for the individual within a community."  An upper case Democrat is an entirely different animal where the respect for the indidual and the community get eroded by loyalty to a party whose main goal is, has to be, getting reelected, maintaining power (or trying to get it back).  The small case word republic simply refers to a group of people working as equals and holding the supreme power in a political order.  It sounds a lot like a democracy, but stick a capital letter at the front and it becomes a party that demands loyalty just like the Democratic party and looks askance at anyone who doesn't belong, who doesn't toe the party line.  In any event, Democrats and Republicans take no prisoners.

Those students at Middlebury take no prisoners.  The outraged folks at The Whitney take no prisoners.  Donald Trump.  Paul Ryan.  Mitch McConnell.  Bill O'Reilly.  Sean Hannity.  Rush Limbaugh.  Bill Maher.  Nancy Pelosi. Chuck Shumer.  Hillary Clinton.  Bill Clinton.  All these people are upper case partisans and none of them take prisoners.

And it is all because of capitalization.  Intersectionalists from both sides of the political spectrum are armed with a whole list of capitalized words--Patriotism, Duty, Faith, Charity, Humanism, Originalism--they use at will to describe all sorts of feelings, attitudes, shoulds, and shouldn'ts.  With all those buzz words and speaking points at their disposal, they don't have to think.  All they have to do is point a finger.


Monday, March 20, 2017

I just heard her say "Client Retention"!

Katherine is becoming a businessperson!  Pretty soon, she'll be using expressions like "thinking outside the box" and "running it up the flagpole."  Just the other day I heard her use the term "client retention."  It's getting serious.  She has a name--Starkeycards--a logo, business cards with the logo affixed, three clients, and orders to fill.  She spent a couple of days filling out all the forms and jumping through all the hoops required to be a small business.  (Side note:  The forms and regulations and hoops didn't seem particularly onerous from my viewpoint.  If that's the kind of government intervention that would make a potential small business guy give up, maybe he has no business in business to begin with.) Starkeycards has its own checking account with its own checkbook.

Her cards are unique and place specific.  There is a Jenny Lake Lodge card set and another set just about Jackson Hole.  Katherine has done another set for Vallarta Eats and still another of scenes in the  Puerto Vallarta area.  Vallarta Eats is going to give the cards as gifts to clients.  Client retention is also the reason The AXS Group is buying a bunch of cards set in Denver and focusing on AXS clients.

She has a major HP printer that is spitting these things out, but if the orders increase, she will have to shop out the printing.

Mostly, she is being creative in a totally new way and the sense of accomplishment just wafts out of her all the time, especially when she comes up from the printer to show off a new card, or a completed set.

When her sales burgeon and Starkeycards becomes equivalent in clout to Hallmark, I'm sure I will be happy with the fact that my wife is involved in business.  Until then, I worry about things.  Will there be calls she has to take over the table at Mizuna?  Will she start wearing (shudder) power scarves?  Will she get a subscription to Forbes?  Will she still read fiction, or just buy an annotated copy of "Who Moved the Cheese?"

Notice how I throw those expressions and attitudes around.  Jack, a FoxNews conservative down at the Y, once said to me, "You just don't know anything about business, do you?"  Au contraire.  I've got my business terms down pat.  It's all about reducing friction, right?



 

Monday, February 20, 2017

It doesn't make sense. But there it is, heads again.

When I was five years old, I was at my grandmother's house watching Friday Night Fights when the most unbearable pain of my young life shot down my legs and I started screaming.  It was an acute attack of rheumatic fever that sent me to the emergency room and ruined the bout between Gene Fullmer and Sugar Ray Robinson.  I spent the next year in a bed overlooking the yard between my grandmother's Victorian and my parents' little Lustron home next door.

Some sixty years later, Katherine and I were walking back from breakfast at Estelle's in San Pedro when I dislocated the big toe on my left foot.  San Pedro on Ambergris Caye in Belize is the kind of a place where if you are wearing a shirt and shoes you are overdressed, so I was barefoot on the beach and stubbed my toe on a piece of concrete jutting out from a place it had no business being.  I think I made it through the rest of our stay in San Pedro without letting my toe put too much of a damper on things, but my left foot up until that moment was my best body part and I was bummed.  Now it is permanently marred by my displaced toe (If you look carefully, you will notice that my formerly straight and symmetrical great toe now slants at a slight angle to the left.).

In the six decades between those two incidents, nothing of consequence has gone wrong with me.  Oh, there was the time I bloodied my nose falling down on the trail to Lake Solitude, but other than having a bulbous nose for the duration of our vacation, it wasn't particularly traumatic.

All those people carping about the cost of health insurance should take note.  I have been paying big bucks for more than forty years and I've never been able to cash in, so to speak.  But am I mad?  Never.  Just bemused.

Maybe that is why I look at every new ache and pain, every new symptom, as a harbinger of something awful.  I'm due.

I was going to write a list of symptoms here to illustrate my point, but other than a back that has periodically ached for as long as I can remember and lots of urgent calls to the bathroom, I can't think of anything.

I take that back.  I can thing of one thing.  I'm sixty-eight.

I remember my mother at the same age telling me that besides it being harder to get up off the floor, sixty-eight felt a lot like sixteen.  She still had all the insecurities and hopes and dreams and fears she had when she was a teenager.  My mom could be wise like that and she was exactly right.  I try to project the distinguished older gentleman look, but basically I'm still the same screwed-up kid I was when I was in high school.

It has just been in the last year that I have begun to notice certain physical changes that tell me I'm not sixteen anymore.  Mowing the yard has become more difficult and I can see how I might want to hire some neighbor kid to do the job years (I hope) from now.  I can't hold my liquor as well as I used to.  It takes my muscles longer to recover.  For instance, if I work out on a different machine, or a different weight bench with different angles, I can't move the next day.  I find myself dosing off in front of the television at night (SOMETIMES IN THE AFTERNOON!).  That's something I vowed I would never do.  In fact, I remember telling one of my kids to shoot me if he/she ever saw that happening.

I haven't felt a similar lessening of mental skills.  I'll keep you posted as the degeneration advances.  However, I do have to admit that there are numerous times when I go off on an errand and pull up to the stop light on Wadsworth that I find myself forgetting where I'm headed.  Should I turn left, or right?  Maybe a U-turn?  But that confusion quickly passes and I remember my destination.  I know that happens to everyone and at all ages, but the thing that bothers me is I am more panic-stricken by it than I used to be, wondering if this might be the first sign of my inevitable decline.

I know this sounds silly (another sign?), but it seems like something bad should happen.  It's like at the beginning of "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead."  They're flipping a coin that keeps coming up heads dozens of times in a row.

It just doesn't make sense.  But there it is, heads again.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Fake News and other craziness

The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction is contemplating filing a lawsuit against Colorado senator Ray Scott.  Scott, a Republican, tweeted that the Sentinel had published a fake news story about a bill that would change the state's public records law.

Jay Seaton, the editor of the Grand Junction paper, said Scott's tweet was libelous and that "goes to the heart of what we do."

Scott told The Washington Post that he stands by his tweet (Don't you love that expression?  "Stands by his tweet."  The world has come to statements like that.)  Here is Scott's quote that is still making the hair on the back of my neck stand up:  "We all have our own definition of fake news.  What one finds when one looks closely at the issue, is that it's a subjective, eye of the beholder thing."

In other words, in the new world order of Trumpkins, it is our subjective opinions that determine if something is real news, or fake.  Even more chilling is the opinion of John A. Francis, a visiting scholar in residence at CU Law and an expert in First Amendment law.  "The court would look at how the term is perceived by readers.  It's become such a generic epithet that it tends to be seen as a statement of opinion. . . .Fake news has become kind of a description of opinion and disagreement, more than a specific allegation of falsehood."

Jesus Christ!  This is the scariest thing I've come across since the election.

I mentioned yesterday that I caught part of Trump's presser and quickly came to the conclusion that the man is delusional and no one with a mind could possibly see anything other than the danger he poses to the country and the world.  The thing is that about 65% of the country, according to polls, react to Trump's ravings the same way I do.  But 35% of the country went away from that presser convinced that their hero, the guy who is going to make America great again, killed it and put all those dishonest people (anyone who dares find fault with anything Trumpian) in their place.

This would be kind of funny if there were enough Republicans in Washington who were willing to put country before party.  Unfortunately, there aren't.  I think the country, maybe the world, is going to come to an end before anyone develops the backbone to start an impeachment.

________________________________

On a different note, I want to praise the Post editorial writers for their strong anti-Trump stance.  In today's editorial about Jeanette Vizguerra's sanctuary at the First Unitarian Society, there was this awesome statement:  "Presented with the known facts at hand, we ask what would be the point of deporting Vizguerra?  What would the United States of America gain from such a cruel, though legal, action?  Would enforcement be worth the harm done to three innocent American children?"

Would it indeed?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

2/16/17

-Puzder withdrew his name from consideration for labor secretary ostensibly because he employed illegals in his home and didn't pay taxes on their wages.  Of course, another reason might be the accusations of spousal abuse his former wife told Oprah about.  I find it the height of something or other that the same man who wants to have "extreme" vetting (whatever that means) for immigrants doesn't bother to vet his cabinet appointments.  Could this be another example of incompetence in the White House?

-In the interest of being fair and balanced, I will have to say I approve of the defense secretary's insistence that other big NATO countries cough up 2% of their GDP just the way the US does.  Seems fair.

-I think BeBe and Putin and the leader of the Republican party are going to start having monthly sleepovers.  They just seem to have such a good time congratulating each other.  In the spirit of this bromance, Trump has suggested that he might back off on the Two State solution in Palestine.  I think he and Netanyahu are the only two people in the world who think a One State solution would be possible.  Trump said he would be in favor of any agreement both sides liked.  Oh really!  Spoken like a true diplomat.  Why hasn't anybody else ever thought of getting an agreement that both sides liked?

-Finally, I watched a little bit of the presser this morning while I was cleaning the kitchen floor.  He said that one reason his transition might appear rough is that he inherited a mess from Obama.  On the contrary, he inherited a country with low unemployment, a strong stock market, and respect from the world community.  It has taken the leader of the Republican party four weeks to erode the world's respect; there will be more erosion to follow.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

2/15/17

-The Flynn resignation is a harbinger of things to come.  Spicer will be next.  Then Conway.  The folks at Breitbart will always be able to find someone other than the leader of the Republican party to throw under the bus.

The thing that is so disturbing about Flynn is the reason for his resignation.  He resigned (read: got fired) because he got caught in a lie, not because he was wrong to violate the Logan Act and approach Russia (of all countries) and talk about lessening sanctions imposed by a sitting administration.  Listen to parts of Trump's tweet storm last night reacting to the NY Times story exposing other Trumpians illegally contacting Russia.

"This Russian connection non-sense is merely at attempt to cover up the many mistakes made in Clinton's losing campaign."  And this:  "Information is being illegally given to the failing NY Times and Washington Post by the NSA and FBI.  Just like in Russia."

And of course there has been a flurry of non-denial denials from Republicans of all descriptions.  It seems that the only characteristic common to Washington Republicans is a lack of backbone.  Paul Ryan doesn't think we need an investigation.  Rand Paul, in an uncharacteristic moment of truth, said that it would be stupid for Republicans to investigate fellow Republicans.  Chafettz, head of House Oversight, has clearly shown no interest in pursuing this issue.

There is a possibility that Republicans colluded with Russia behind the country's back.  I know hypotheticals are bad, but in this case they are unavoidable.  If there was a similar discovery about Clinton staffers (had she won the Presidency), coupled with a national security meeting complete with iPhone flashlights and hovering aids at an unsecured table in a public dining room, she would have been impeached the following day.  Furthermore, she would have been impeached the following day even if both houses of Congress were Democratic.

You have to give the Republican party a little credit here.  Their leader's inability to tell fact from fiction, combined with Republican spinelessness already alluded to here, has created a world where no one can be sure of anything anymore.  Our country has become unmoored and the leader of the Republican party is standing at the helm with no clue what to do next.

-In response to all this, guess what Russia did?  They deployed a cruise missile.  Putin had repeatedly attempted exactly the same deployment while Obama was in the White House.  Obama out maneuvered him and it never happened.  Now, while reassured by his apparent unfettered contact with the administration, Putin finally gets to deploy his weapon.  He knows Trump will probably end up applauding the move as tough and decisive.

-Here is some good news for the leader of the Republicans.  After years of wrangling with China, all of the Chinese products illegally using Trump's brand to insure popularity, will now have to give Trump the rights to the products.  This sounds like China trying to curry favor with the new administration (read: treason).  Among the products that will now carry Trump's name legally are toilets (great toilets) and condoms.  Seems fitting.

-It is interesting that the White House is still not open for tours.  I guess they don't want to subject innocent citizens to complete chaos.

-Finally, here is Hannity's tweeted question  of the day:  "Do you think the left is trying to destroy the Trump presidency.?"

Sean, get a grip.  Trump needs no help in destroying his presidency.  He is doing a bang up job of it all by himself.  Sad