My sincere hope is that this will be seen as the lowest point in American history. I hope there’s no more bottom to scrape. But I sadly concede that there very well may be more depths to plumb.
It would appear that trump, high as a kite on Dexamethasone. has decided he’s also a stable genius who knows all there is to know about that fancy ‘doctoring’ stuff. He’s been to “COVID school” he says, and now he’s the resident expert. So, against the advice and recommendation of any responsible, mentally competent, physician, he’s pulled rank, checked himself out, and scuttled back to the White House.
“Don’t be afraid of COVID. Don’t let it dominate you.” As though the over 211 thousand Americans that have died are … suckers and losers.
Most of the people who have fallen ill to the virus don’t have a presidential suite at Walter Reed Hospital, a dozen doctors monitoring their every breath, and access to THREE drugs the average citizens cannot access.
This feels like the moment just before Jim Jones administers the poisoned Kool-Aid to his cult following, as he bellows, “Don’t be scared! We’ve got the best medical equipment, the best medicine!”
No – they don’t. YOU DO, as the POTUS.
But they don’t. They don’t have camera crews following their helicopter to the hospital – they don’t even have a helicopter. If they’re lucky, and can afford it – and many can’t – they’re travelling by ambulance, alone and scared. They’re suffering in ICUs, praying they make the cut, priority-wise, so they get a chance to go on a ventilator, because they may be triaged, if younger, healthier people also need the machinery.
They’re hoping that the medical unit that they are in has available, and will let them use, ANY type of medicine to save them. Few will receive the experimental drugs you enjoyed, or the one that can only be released on ‘compassionate’ grounds. Only you got those drugs.
And, despite being highly infectious and a serious disease vector, you got to see people – even those that didn’t want to see you, because they have the sense not to want to contract your illness, like the Secret Service, who had to deal with your moronic decision to go for a joy ride. Or the makeup and hair people, along with the photographers, who had to be in your contagious presence, and most likely were told they could not wear masks while doing so.
The 211 thousand American citizens who died in hospitals, after days of pain and fear, didn’t get a joy ride, or to wave from a balcony. Instead, they had to say goodbye to their loved ones from behind a window, or by phone. And they didn’t even get a funeral, let alone a lying in state. Because sane people are aware of how dangerous this virus is, and someone who is compos mentis would not willingly subject anyone they cared about to such a fate.
They also didn’t get to go home to a mansion with servants and medical staff there to cater to their every whim – all while putting their own servile selves at risk of becoming ill themselves.
It’s the lowest point in American history, because an elected American president is acting like a tantruming toddler, who needs a car ride before he can take his nap. Who mocks those who wear masks and protective equipment as fear-ridden, and weaker than himself. Who believes that a few days in hospital as a patient, now qualifies him to be Physician-in-Chief to the entire nation. And who shows nothing but contempt and disdain for all of the Americans who have already suffered from, and died from, COVID-19.
And most importantly, who shows nothing but disdain for the oath he swore, to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” but who not only failed at that, but also apparently thinks that means the actual CITIZENS are on their own.
The president of the United States has less common sense, or respect for the nation, than any foreign enemy who wishes nothing but the worse for America.
Putin must be very proud of his puppet.
He’s a stooge. But sadly, he’s neither as funny, nor as relevant, as the other three.
“What does a Dictator do? A Dictator, why he makes love to beautiful women, drinks champagne, enjoys life, and never works. He makes speeches to the people, promising them plenty, gives them nothing, then takes everything. That’s a Dictator.”
From “You Nazty Spy” The Three Stooges, Oct 1940.
“I vanquished them! I am the winner! The world belongs to me!”
Man, it’s exhausting, living in 2020. If it ain’t the COVID, it’s the capricious and malicious capering of the Great Pumpkin/Dictator-in-Waiting, aka POTUS.
Worse still, if you’re trying to make any kind of sense of the madness that is our new normal, there’s no longer the ability to take a week or two to mull over what’s going on, what should be done, what has to be done, and what you’d like some time to decide should be done, before you realize that the decision has been taken out of your hands, and what’s done is done.
Could our responses to COVID, here, down south, and abroad, have been handled better? Most certainly. But you see, that’s the problem with ‘novel’ viruses – we’ve never dealt with them before. So we have to make up the rules as we go, and frankly, a lot of people aren’t very good with following rules. Or even recommendations.
Sure, logically, on one jejeune, immature level, I can understand why some have taken issue with the restrictions necessary to keep themselves and others safe from COVID infection. It’s just that it’s always so damn inconsistent. Every whine they evince about their loss of ‘freedom’ denies that a society must have some public health, safety, and behavioral rules in place for everyone to thrive. And the ranting and railings about how these masks are unable to stop viruses from entering or leaving, while simultaneously insisting that the masks stop oxygen from flowing through to the wearer, in effect describing a Schrodingers Mask, are more than familiar to any mother of a two-year old hell-bent on tantruming, and, again…
It’s just freakin’ exhausting.
At any given hour, and on most days, we can’t escape yet another ill-advised, probably unconstitutional, but inevitably cruel and vicious, new attack on minorities, delivered by tweet or to the accompaniment of a helicopter blade’s whirring. There’s never any time at all to formulate a well-constructed opinion or heavily researched remonstration to any of these precipitous, tangential attacks on the pillars of democracy, because before you can cross a t or dot an i – he’s unleased another volley.
So freakin’ exhausting. Seriously.
Last night I had the house to myself, and a dozen things I wanted to accomplish. Did I get those chores done, you ask? Why no, I did not. Because. who can sort books and repot plants when there are people very close to finishing the excavation of the foundations of democracy? When the ‘president’ of 331 million people, a proven liar who chose his own re-election odds over the health and safety of millions, presents a new potential, lifetime, Supreme Court judge, Any Phoney Ferret, probably primarily to ‘make the libs cry,” who could, within weeks of appointment, ruin the lives of tens of millions of citizens by yanking out the last few bits of their healthcare, as the nation struggles with a once in a century pandemic that has murdered over 205,000 Americans to date? And who will follow that up with striking down established law in order to remove women’s rights to control their own bodies, and hand that right back again to powerful males.
Shades of the HandMaids of Gideon. American women … get your money out of the country now, while you still can!
Nearly four years into his first (and hopefully only) term, trump, and most of his base, are being held in a ‘Potemkin Village,’ in which a great deal of reality, notably, anything that might be deemed undesirable, potentially damaging, or financially inconvenient, is hidden behind a gleaming, faux tanned façade. We learned today that the CIA (and possibly other intelligence agencies) have been keeping a lot of the truth about Russian incurrences into the intricacies of American politics on the downlow, for fear of angering the POTUS. And of course, the POTUS, in return, is keeping his own people uninformed on the true nature and fatally dangerous components of the COVID-19 virus. Among other goodies, I might add.
I dunno, I just don’t know. I’m aware that there are always divisions within entities, and that we can loosely expect every group to fall into one of three stances; pro, con, or able to be convinced that either the pro or the con is the right choice. But it’s like there’s a special kind of stupid going on within those who identify as right wing/conservatives, these days, and I don’t get it.
For years I argued with climate change deniers, until finally I stopped bashing my head against their walls of entitled privilege and willful ignorance. The current crop of COVID/mask deniers seems to me to tread the same path – even if we assume that the masks may not prevent all of the infectious viruses from entry, wouldn’t even minimal protection be better than none at all?
Today I heard a YouTube doctor – a doctor! – with quite a following, argue that America would probably have been better to follow the Swedish model of ‘herd immunity,’ rather than what it did. He felt that they had made a mistake in choosing to close down many businesses, thus damaging the economy and causing economic suffering to millions. As a youngish, healthy male, the doctor apparently had no problem throwing out his profession’s admonition to ‘first, do no harm,’ since following that model in America would, based on the Swedish model, kill off more than a million American citizens.
“Using the WHO (65%) and CDC (0.65%) figures, 213 million people in the U.S. would need to be infected to achieve herd immunity, leaving 1,385,800 Americans dead. Stress on the nation’s hospitals would also be tremendous.
“Sweden tried this ‘herd immunity’ approach and had many more deaths than their European peers per capita and hasn’t escaped the economic carnage they had hoped by this strategy,” tweeted Gregg Gonsalves, PhD, an epidemiologist at Yale School of Medicine.
“Herd immunity? Sweden model? Sweden had a higher death rate than Denmark, Norway, and Finland, AND its economy did worse. The only alternative to controlling the virus is more deaths and more economic devastation. Choose health,” tweeted Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, a former CDC director.” (MedpageToday, Sept 2020)
I’ve also always thought that there is something particularly distasteful and ugly about any country that is in favour of allowing their elderly and infirm to be sacrificed in a final service to the nation. Smells a little too much like Soylent Green.
People much cleverer than I have been discussing the merits of the judge, Oni Bony Parrot, trump has chosen to steal the next seat on the Supreme Court. I have my misgivings; I find it a little odd that someone who is in a cult that demands that women be subservient and obedient to their husbands and other males would be deemed capable of rendering a court verdict of her own; I would think that any judgment must, according to her religion, have been, of necessity, actually decided by her male keepers.
But everything about this pick shows a complete lack of respect, to the late and great RBG, to the Court, to the Founders, and to the others on the Court who claim to be merely the instruments of justice, charged with interpreting the Constitution and its laws.
“The Court is the highest tribunal in the Nation for all cases and controversies arising under the Constitution or the laws of the United States. As the final arbiter of the law, the Court is charged with ensuring the American people the promise of equal justice under law and, thereby, also functions as guardian and interpreter of the Constitution.”
My buddy Michael Scrivener posited that the question of whether Aunt Lydia should be seated on the Supreme Court can only be decided by one institution – itself. Let the Court decide if the theft of this seat, contrary to every lie spouted by Mitch McConnell or his disreputable minions is truly fair and just.
Pundit Glenn Kirshner contends that President Obama should have simply ignored McConnell’s protestations in 2016, and had Merrick Garland sworn in regardless. Who would he sue? The Court?
And this morning, not content with merely stealing Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat, the Republicans produced this advertisement, attempting to also steal her actual, well-earned nickname.
Each time we think the Republican party has fallen as low as it can go, they somehow manage to dig down another few feet.
As Andy Honey Carrot lisped through her acceptance speech yesterday, carefully underlining her respect for the other judges and the Court, it was impossible not to think that true respect – for the Court, for RBG, for the Founders, and for America – would have entailed requesting that her vetting and potential appointment be postponed until after the coming election, and pursuant to the final request of Judge Ginsburg, as well as in respecting the will of the people, through their lawful votes for whoever will be the next president.
But then again, we all knew from the first mention of her name that this choice was never about how able, ethical or respectable Ms Achy Conan the Barbarian was in terms of the Court, but rather, about her abject subservience to trump and his political will.
What can I say? I’m exhausted. Bring on the last of the plagues, and let’s just get right to the Rapture and the End of Days.
“There are decades when nothing happens, and weeks when decades happen.”
Ain’t it the truth! Hey, Hi! It’s me, back from what seems like the hiatus that lasted an eternity.
Not that I’m complaining… no siree! I have been BUSY, my darlings … busier than a <fill in your corny but slightly amusing blank here.> Hellzapoppin’, dontcha know, and we’re careening sans seatbelts to what I expect to be a fiery finish to the apogee of the annus horribilis known as 2020.
One might even go so far as to say 2020 is the annus horribilis of all anni horribiles.
About the only good thing I can say about this year so far is that it was a good year for coleus.
Oh, and another good thing – the world took a much needed, deep breath. COVID-19 forced so many of us to slow down, for possibly the first time in our busy, busy lives. Not just slow down; in some cases, things came to a screeching halt. With very little notice, the fabric of our lives, the government offices, the libraries, the restaurants I loved to frequent – began to shut down around us, without the slightest hint of if or when they’d ever re-open.
COVID put a spoke in the wheel that belonged to the organizers of my high school reunion event. Fifty years! Man, that’s a long time! And I never would have even heard about the celebrations (now postponed to next July) if the occasion had not been postponed. With extra time, and unexpected time on their hands, some of the planners set about contacting as many of the old grads as they could. And I was one of their finds.
As each new contact is added to the Facebook page, I find myself drifting back to the skinny, big eyed school girl I was then, staring dreamy eyed at the Roman profile of my first crush, Hugh, or walking home from school with Michael, who managed to con me out of my bus money every single day, so that he could satisfy his thirst for a family sized bottle of Coke. Gathering with Ann, Marianne and Donna to squeal over the new Monkees album. Getting ripped off, trying to buy pot for the first time, and being sold parsley in its place. Ah, those were the days.
So, I guess that’s two things good about this annus … the coleus, and the reunion. Sadly, the rest of this year has really sucked.
Hmm, let’s see .. did anything else interesting happen since we last chatted, on August 9th?
Oh. Right. We discovered a few rather nasty things about that trump guy. Like, that he’s not actually as dozy, folksy and down home as he’s been pretending, and that, in fact, he’s got some rather interesting ideas about the 1.3 million active duty military of whom he’s currently Commander in Chief, as well as those countless millions of volunteers and draftees thru the decades, who went forth and around the globe to protect America and others from the horrors of fascism and dictatorship.
We already knew that he ‘preferred people who didn’t get captured’ in wartime, but we didn’t yet know that he thought that those who chose to serve were suckers, and those that became injured, prisoners of war, or who died for the cause, were losers, until the recent release of his ex-lawyer, Michael Cohen’s, new tell-all book.
But I think what came as the deepest gut punch was the realization that the elected and nominal ‘leader of men’ is completely unable to understand the selflessness and patriotism of those that gave their lives in service to their country. For trump, everything is transactional. Even love of country.
“I don’t get it. What was in it for them?” Trump asked as he stood by the grave of General John Kelly’s son, killed in combat.
But even as we reeled in horror from the blatant entitlement of a creature who had himself medically deferred from serving, not once, but five times, there was another sucker punch waiting in the wings.
Veteran journalist Bob Woodward, half of the dynamic duo that brought down Nixon by exposing the Watergate scandal, released a new book detailing his late night, and uncensored chatty chats with the POTUS. And oh lordy, there were tapes.
Considering that trump is said not to drink alcohol, it’s hard to understand the ‘in vino veritas’ nature of his confidences. Was he bragging when he leaked top secret military information on future armaments to someone with no security clearance? Did he think that confessing his complicity in covering up Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman’s role in the torture and murder of Jamal Khashoggi, an American resident and journalist, would make him look like a strongman?
And most of all, did he care at all about the consequences of concealing exactly how deadly COVID-19 was, from the American people, whom he’d sworn an oath to defend?
The tapes confirm that trump knew that the virus was especially deadly in early February, even as he publicly told American citizens that there was nothing to worry about, and that the 15 official cases the U.S. currently had would soon be down to just a handful.
“It goes through the air. That’s always tougher than the touch. You don’t have to touch things. Right? But the air, you just breath the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.” Trump told Woodward.
In front of a South Carolina rally, just two days later, he told the crowd that the virus was just the Democrats’ ‘new hoax.”
On March 19, trump told Woodward that he “wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
Strange words indeed from the man who has whipped up the fears of Americans daily – even hourly – since coming down the escalator to announce his intent to run for president, to save Americans from the ‘carnage’ about to befall them due to immigrants, people of colour, transsexuals, bathrooms, suburbs, and Muslims.
In March, trump also confided to Woodward that some “startling facts” had just come out about the virus’ targets. “It’s not just old, older. Young people, too, plenty of young people.”
It’s been a long year, so remind me .. when exactly did trump begin exhorting the nation to re-open it’s doors, in order to save ‘his’ economy? Oh right.. that would have been before Easter – April 12th this year.
And when did he begin demanding that kids, whom he claimed where virtually immune to the virus, prepare to return to schools?
July 6, 2020: “SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!” he tweeted, and repeated again and again as the weeks went by, adding threats to withhold federal funds should the schools not obey his mandate.
Trump lied. People died. Trump lied to protect his ratings. He lied to get re-elected. He lied because he put his own needs above the needs of every single one of the 331 million Americans under his mantle. He lied, and he golfed, and he lied some more and golfed some more.
When confronted with his lies, trump began to spin like an intoxicated top. First, he insisted that his reticence to tell the people the extent of the virus was due to his reluctance to start a panic.
Imagine how very different the world would look today if, when the first bombs began to fall on London, Winston Churchill had told the people of England not to worry, because the Nazis would be gone by the spring. But that didn’t happen, because Churchill had faith in the British people. Trump did NOT have faith that the American people could cope with a pandemic.
Next, he tried to paint himself as some sort of cheerleader of the people. Let’s look back at Exhibit A, shall we? If you don’t trust your people enough to believe they could handle news of a pandemic .. just how ‘cheery’ are you? Time to turn in the pom poms, Missy.
And yet, even as over 6 million Americans have tested positive for the virus, with 4000 new infections and 1000 new deaths being tabulated every single day, with nearly 200,000 Americans tucked into body bags, and new estimates for year end rising to as high as 450,000, trump is still not telling his deluded base the truth, still mocking others for wearing masks and attempting to protect themselves from infection.
Despite the truth now being evident that children are not only carriers, but can themselves become ill and die, trump is not calling for the schools to be shut down, or ensuring public health standards are met, but instead, continues to pretend that all is well.
It’s as if he’s a starry-eyed seven-year-old at a Peter Pan pantomime matinee, still believing that if we all clap our hands, Tinkerbelle will come back to life, along with all those innocents he’s murdered through criminal negligence.
It’s mid September – just 50 plus days away from what will most assuredly be a memorable election on November 3rd.
For those who still wonder if he should be given the chance he’s requesting, to be re-elected so that he might, in effect, have a ‘do over’ … so that this time, he might actually accomplish one good thing for the American people NOT in the 1%, it must be remembered that his years in office have sent the economy into a tailspin, and millions to food banks and hostels; that he’s willfully and maliciously mismanaged the COVID-19 pandemic, while also attempting to bribe the Ukrainian Government into investigating a political rival, and begging China to help him in his quest for re-election. He’s supported white nationalist, white supremacist, racist causes while endorsing conspiracy theories about political opponents and minorities, withheld funds to states he believes have not shown enough gratitude to him, and kissed Kim Jung Un’s ass – possibly with tongue. And that he’s told over 20,000 verified lies.
He’s separated untold thousands of children from their parents, and confined them in cages, where they have shivered, alone, untended, and unmedicated, to the point where some have died. He’s already been impeached, although his Republican colleagues refused to actually throw him out of office, due to their fear of his tweets and threats.
He’s continued to work to overturn policies that might attempt to mitigate climate change, and fired or silenced climate scientists, even as the west burns, and the south floods. He sold out the Kurds to suck up to Erdogan, and ignored North Korea’s building of a nuclear arsenal. He assigned unqualified and incompetent minions to prime positions, and assigned them to tear down the foundations of American government. He has yet to confront Putin over allegations that Russia is paying Afghan militants bounties to murder U.S. troops.
He and his family have illegally used the White House grounds, personnel, and the military for partisan political events, for his own benefit, but paid for by taxpayer dollars. He’s used his presidential powers to enrich himself, his family, and his friends. He’s foisted unqualified judges upon the nation, which alone will ensure a continuation of his racist, bigoted, and misogynistic policies for decades to come.
And he’s left the country holding their breath in fear for what will happen in the days leading up to Election Night, and what will happen after that, regardless of who wins the presidential race. It is pretty much a given that he will claim fraud of some sort, and rally his motley crue of toothless, but heavily armed ‘militias’ to come to his defence.
The election, like the one in 2000, may very well end up decided in the Supreme Court, at which point we can only hope that Chief Justice John Roberts, with his swing vote, will have the power to either save American democracy, or not allow the nation to lapse into chaos and possibly Civil War.
So, yeah – good to be back in the saddle, fellow babies. Strap in. It’s gonna be a helluva ride ….
I blame reality TV because the flood of singing, dancing, housewifing and endurancing series that became ubiquitous during the early 2000s were the catalyst for too many narcissists to believe that their big fish in a small local pond anonymity was only an audition and a bunch of ‘likes and shares’ away from stardom. And that belief, that, in the past, would have been knocked out of them by cruel reality, has gone right to our collective heads.
I blame social media because it gave us a forum, a place where we could not only display our new found talents, but that also laid down a platform from which some of the worst ‘thinkers’ and ‘philosophers’ imaginable could find the like minded, and share their convoluted and wrong headed ‘theories.’
Having seen people who seem ‘just like us!’ achieve a little traction, if not actual fame, on the television, and on social media, many seized on the idea that this gives everyone not just the right, but the obligation, to get our own talents and ideas out there.
We really want to have our say on things. We insist, in fact, on others hearing our every opinion, on every subject, regardless of our relative knowledge or ignorance of a given subject. And we not only want you to hear what we think – we insist you agree. And we’ll hound you to the ends of the earth, if that’s what it takes, to pound our truth into your skull. (Just LIKE them .. maybe then they’ll go away.)
The belief that, despite lacking education, training, or experience, any of us is capable of being anyone from a Kardashian sibling to a POTUS – couldn’t have come at a more chaotic moment in time.
We are living in an exceptional period, when external pressures – a global pandemic, that brought about an economic freefall, that then coincided with an onslaught of videotaped police overstepping and brutality, which has drawn worldwide attention to systemic racism – has rocked the planet. It’s a powder keg.
There are some huge issues being discussed. The status quo, economic and social inequality, and the sense that injustice and poor governance were simply the way things are and would never change, has been challenged.
And that’s hard to get our head’s around, on some days, because in the bigger picture, life might feel off kilter, and like we’re living in BizarroWorld, but we don’t see all that much difference in our day to day circumstances. I adjust. You adjust. We all adjust, and the changes slowly become the new normal.
On my street, there’s little difference between this June and last. It’s not like every second house has someone who is ill or has died. Can’t remember the last time I’ve seen anyone walking up the street that wasn’t white. Most of the vehicles on my street are of current vintage, and the guy that comes around to root through the recycling bins for empties always finds a treasure trove, because people in this neighbourhood can afford to be generous with what they discard.
No one that we’ve spoken to, in this area, has lost anyone to COVID. They might know someone who had a winter flu/cold that just wouldn’t go away, but few know of anyone affected personally.
Contrast that with the people who work in the health care industry, who have had to face the ugly reality of illness and death by this virus. Those who are living in the belly of the beast reach out to us, on the television, on the radio, on social media, warning us of the horrors possible during our 2020 plague.
And since those two realities – one in which one is unaffected, and the other in which one is soaking in misery – are so very different, many just don’t know what to believe. How does the reality of millions infected, and that hundreds of thousands are dead, equate with the lack of concern we see in our every day lives?
This is a time when, instead of ‘sorry’ being the hardest word, actually saying ‘I don’t know’ has become anathema. And yet, it’s also a time when literally NO BODY, despite not knowing what is going to happen next, can stop talking about what they think might happen. We know that we would like our lives to go back to pre-COVID normalcy, we know that there are going to be some hard economic times ahead, and we really wish that police in Canada would stop mistreating and killing indigenous people, and that police in the US would stop torturing and murdering people of colour.
But not a single one of us – and that includes all of those people who have spent their lives studying disease, economics, politics and racial issues – knows for certain what tomorrow is going to look like.
Which still doesn’t stop many of us from weighing in on what we believe is happening, what we would personally like to happen, rather than admitting that we just don’t know what is happening.
There’s a meme going around on social media that suggests that everyone should just do whatever they want to do, and leave everyone else alone to do what ever those other people want to do. Which is the kind of thing that kids say before they’ve spent much time out in society and learned that there are rules and laws in every civilization that are put into place to protect us from well-meaning idiots.
Despite all of that, social and mass media are afloat in the uninformed spouting their theories on how best to tackle COVID, the economic crisis, racism, and what should be done in the event that we fall into either a second wave of COVID or another global Depression.
As America confronts it’s racial injustice and systemic racism, under a president that seems to revel in his own racism and bigotry, Canada has to look to its own self to see what can be done within our own country to root out the sins and crimes that allowed our nation to grow and thrive, often at the expense of our original people.
There’s never been a time when we’ve been more in need of generous, empathic, and wise leaders. Sadly, leaders of such calibre are rare.
But there sure are a lot of ‘experts’ on social media that think that they alone have all the answers. Say – isn’t that how trump got the POTUS gig? How’s that working out for you so far, kiddies?
Comedian Dave Chappelle released this short, heartbreaking commentary on American racism on Friday night. By Saturday afternoon it had been viewed over 13 million times. I may watch it 13 million more times.
Americans celebrated their Thanksgiving this past week. Many families endured long journeys, traveling across the country, to spend time with the people they love. The lucky ones gathered around tables that groaned with heaps of delicious, fresh, and sometimes even healthy, food.
Following in the tradition of the giving of thanks, families and friends joined hands and expressed their gratitude for those they love, for all that they have, and for all they hoped to amass during the capitalistic human centipede orgy known as Black Friday shopping.
For the fortunate, it was a warm, loving, pre-holiday feast. Some families went to bed feeling loved, with full bellies, and visions of the sugar plums they’d enjoy next month.
Other families – not so much. Beyond worrying about how to pay for that groaning board, they had to deal with the ‘difficult’ relative – the aunt, or uncle, or son or daughter or in-law who, instead of bringing a sweet potato and marshmallow pie, brought their anger, fear, and their disdain for the political party that the rest of the gathering espoused.
And that could be to either party. While I have my own bias, I’m well aware that a family that has an altar to trump is gonna have trouble with the family member who is a ‘never trumper’ – and vice versa. Think Archie Bunker, wrangling with son in law Michael Stivic, while Edith and Gloria tried to calm the troubled waters. Oh yes, it was ever thus. As then, so today, but oh my living lights and liver! It’s so much worse now.
Tell me, how’d we ever get this way.
Not everyone experiences these unpleasant interactions. Maybe you are blessed with a Hallmark card family that never disagrees. And many people use social media sparingly, as a place to connect with loved ones, and to enjoy funny gifs and Youtube videos. That’s a perfectly valid – probably the most sensible! – way to enjoy the internet. What I’m talking about here is those of us who compulsively follow the news, with a fetish for politics. That’s a whole other experience. For us ….
” These are the days of miracle and wonder. This is the long distance call. The way the camera follows us in slo-mo. The way we look to us all, oh yeah”
Paul Simon – The Boy in the Bubble
Maybe we can blame it on social media, on our ability to reach out and touch every other person on the planet who enthusiastically agrees with our theories and preferences, but the truth is, a huge segment of society has somehow devolved into something primal and tribal. It’s no longer a disagreement or a difference in opinion; it’s outright war against anyone who doesn’t toe exactly the same political lines we hold dear.
And no matter how ridiculous.
The level of insanity exhibited by the Mad King installed in the White House is only matched by his sycophantic court, who gladly traipse along behind him, carrying his water, and informing the people that his most insane pronouncements are only misunderstood by his subjects because the hoi polloi can never dream of attaining the level of ‘genius’ trump was born with. Sigh.
You know – the way North Koreans are taught from birth that their holy family in the Kim Dynasty are beyond human understanding, and must be worshipped as gods. Like that.
The sad truth is that the rules of modern civilized engagement have been fundamentally changed, and many people have decided that they prefer these new rules. Why tell the truth, when the president, all of his administration, and apparently almost all those of wealth and power, no longer feel the need to do so? What kind of sucker tells the truth and takes accountability for their misdeeds, when there’s dirty money to be made, and a seemingly infinite number of lawyers prepared to argue that your fake truth is just as valid as someone else’s declaration?
The people in charge are making it up as they go. Reality is now whatever the 1% say it is, and the rest of you better ‘get over it.’
75% of Americans don’t trust their government and politicians, while 64% don’t even trust each other. And the response from their governmental spokesperson?
“This is the way it works. Get over it.”
Nick Mulvaney, Acting White House Chief of Staff, October 17, 2019
And why bother being civil to each other, when accusations, personal sniping, and the flinging of links to sites that trumpet your truth, is the new way to communicate? The loudest voice seems to rule the day, as those with softer voices and gentle demeanours fall by the wayside. Even many of those that we may think of as friends and colleagues seem unable to stop themselves from snapping at our heels, unmoored from a frontal cortex that might stop their lips from voicing what might, in better times, have never been uttered, like so many stroke victims who have lost their verbal filters.
The atmosphere seems to favour the conceit that we are the most important and most knowledgeable person in the room, while simultaneously being the biggest, and most ignored victim, in history. Schrödinger’s Narcissist, demanding to be heard, no matter how inane and mundane our input may be. The shining lead in a reality show in which it truly is all about us, and the ‘little people’ are on their own.
The trouble is, when everyone’s the boss, when everyone is too important to be of help, things get really dicey when you actually need help yourself. And we’re all so short of time. When we want something, we want it now, and the not getting of something we want the minute we want it leads to tantrums and tears over stuff that we might have brushed away as no big deal, just a few years ago.
Maybe our narcissism and self-focus is a by-product of the things we cannot control or change. Spending our time on self-soothing leaves little time for thinking about how the rest of the world lives. While we complain about how hard it is to get rid of stuff so that we can buy more stuff, there are millions of Canadians and Americans who are homeless. In truth, the average person is just two or three pay cheques away from being in the same boat. Maybe even just one.
” Millions of middle-class Americans are just one missed paycheck away from poverty, with 4 of 10 considered “liquid-asset poor,” or without enough money socked away to cope with even a sudden disruption in income. “
Despite the lowest unemployment rate in decades and solid economic growth, many Americans are on thin financial ice, Prosperity Now found. Minority households are particularly lagging on key measures such as income and wealth, the study found. Across the board, more than 1 in 10 American households fell behind in their bills in the last year, a signal that many are struggling with rising costs and stagnant incomes. “ cbsnews.com
While blowhards rant about how ‘welfare queens’ pump out more mouths for taxpayers to feed, and claim with no evidence that the poor use their food stamps for steak and booze, the sad truth is that America can be a harsh and unforgiving place for those born to anything less than middle class. Many resent giving the poor and vulnerable ‘hand outs,’ but have no solutions as to how we should go about helping those less fortunate than themselves.
This epidemic of poverty and homelessness is not new; society was ever thus. What is so startling about today’s wave of needy citizens is the glaring contrast between the haves and the have nots.
Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, has 10 yachts, 12 private jets, 4 helicopters, a government job replete with perks and benefits, and pays no taxes. She also has 24/7 security, at a cost to the taxpayers of $20 million to date, because she ‘fears for her life’ due to some teacher-led protests.
At 10:30 a.m., this Black Friday, I walked along Yonge Street near Bloor, picking my way through the hands held out for change, while avoiding the prone bodies in sleeping bags that hugged the curb. Across the street, the glittering shops of Yorkville were swamped with fur coated shoppers proffering their black AmEx credit cards to take advantage of sales.
Toronto‘s libraries don’t talk about it much, but they are often the only place able to provide a safe haven for those with no homes, and nowhere to go during the day. On any given day, it’s not unusual to see a bundle buggy heaped high with all of a person’s worldly possessions parked in a library foyer or washroom. And while it may be tempting to sniff that you are opposed to paying for this with your tax dollars, the question then must be what you are prepared to do to help with the situation instead. And that takes a great deal more money, courage and empathy, than kicking in a few pennies per year in your taxes.
Looking beyond our cities and nations, people all around the globe are dying by the millions, from war and neglect. In Yemen, 85,000 children under the age of five have died from starvation, along with countless adult civilians. In Syria, the Kurdish people, who just a month ago were American allies, are being slaughtered as the Turkish militia go door to door in search of ex-fighters. Russia illegally annexed Crimea, and is at war with the Ukraine.
The nation of Bangladesh is frantically trying to bail out the waters that are threatening to sink this South Asian country, due to climate change. And it is not even an island nation. It’s population of over 163 million will soon need somewhere to live. Like the other countries facing imminent disaster, they will become climate refugees, searching for new homes, along with Comoros, Tonga, the Seychelles, Palau, Nauru, Kirbati, the Federated States of Micronesia, Tuvalu, and the Maldives.
Last week, koalas became functionally extinct, joining the more than nearly 500 species that have gone extinct in the last century due to continued human degradation and destruction of natural habitats.. Your grandchildren may never see a koala, polar bear, rhinoceros, lion or tiger other than in a picture book.
And yet .. and yet .. and yet ….
The wealthiest people on earth increased their combined personal fortunes by about $1 trillion dollars last year. The poorest person on ForbesRichest People List, at number 20, is Jack Ma, who has a personal net worth of over $41 billion dollars. Mr Ma, alone, if he wished, could end world hunger.
I know that it is difficult to cope mentally with all of these issues, of climate change, man’s inhumanity to man and animals, wars, populist politicians, societal division, a lack of civility and decency, inequality, and the disparity of income and the ill treatment of our most vulnerable that we see around us. How do you justify these things, when so many of these problems could potentially be ameliorated by the very people who compound the issues in their quest to amass and hoard more wealth than most of us can envision?
If you allowed yourself to really feel the despair of all of those who are afraid, hungry, cold, or in pain – how would you be able to get up every morning and go to school, or work? How do you keep the wheels of the world turning, if you are grieving for people you don’t know, and are unlikely to ever encounter?
I don’t see a lot of happy people these days, on the streets, in the stores, in their vehicles or on transit. I see a lot of angry people, a lot of frustrated faces, and people rushing to be somewhere that doesn’t seem like a place they want to be. I see beggars on the streets of a wealthy city.
“How can you tell me that you’re lonely? And say for you that the sun don’t shine.”
Ralph McTell, Streets of London
Maybe we need to re-examine how we engage with each other. These days I hear so many more raised voices, and so much less laughter. Maybe it’s time to encourage and reward civility and good humour, rather than making heroes and celebrities of those who delight in disrespecting and brutalizing their fellow human beings.
And with the holiday season nearly here, and the cold of winter encroaching, maybe we can all just take a minute to be truly grateful for what we have, and to help those in need. Not a single one of us can save the earth – but all of us together could make a start.
If anyone had said to me, even a couple of months ago, that in July of 2017 the President of the United States would suddenly decree, apropos of nothing, and via Twitter no less! to “please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military” … I’d have snorted like an outraged donkey.
What the lemon scented fart? If any further proof was needed that the POTUS is not only ignorant of the Constitution, civil rights and the year, his homophobic proclamation sealed the deal.
I get it. He’s 71, and possibly – no, make that probably – suffering from senile dementia and/or Alzheimer’s, and was never the hippest dude on the block even during his heyday, but this ridiculous knee-jerk revealed the ignorant, paranoid and prejudiced clod that somehow managed to fool enough of America to hit his Peter Principle pinnacle; the American President has reached the extreme tippity top limit of his competence, and is sliding into total incompetence and irrelevance, while clutching America’s nuclear codes like a paper fortune teller.
The news cycle went into overdrive after his tweet. Possible reasons for this cruel verdict included the reveal that a congressional fight over gender reassignment surgery, which threatened funding for his controversial wall with Mexico, was at least partly to blame. This despite studies that clearly showed that the highest possible cost estimates of hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery would range from $2.4 million to $8.4 million, (equivalent to two or three Trump weekend getaways to Mar A Lago.) Costs overall would represent an “exceedingly small proportion” of total health care.
The military spends much more on Viagra. The Department of Defence spends $49.3 billion each year on health care.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the President was concerned about the policy. “This is a very expensive and disruptive policy and, based on consultation that he’s had with his national security team, he came to the conclusion that is erodes military readiness and unit cohesion and made the decision based on that,” she said.
I’m gonna guess that consultation involved less of the security team and more of his little, green, G.I. Joe figurines.
Tarah Demant, Amnesty International USA’s director of Gender, Sexuality, and Identity program said Mr Trump’s decision violated the human rights of all transgender Americans, adding: “It lays bare the president’s prejudice and underlines the fact that creating policy based on bigotry is becoming a dangerous and cruel pattern for President Trump.”
In other words, his own prejudice about how he personally would feel about serving alongside transgender military personnel was to supersede the many surveys and studies done within the actual military community that concluded that letting transgender people serve openly would have a “minimal impact” on readiness and health care costs, largely because there are so few (between 1,320 and 6,630) in the military’s 1.3 million-member force. Awful big talk from the Bone Spur King.
Beyond any real or imaginary financial or morale implications, Trump’s words were a dog whistle to his base, those who agree with his fearful and intolerant ravings. Thankfully, there are less and less of them.
Without getting into all of the macho silliness and obvious fear of sexual inadequacy 45 has displayed throughout his life, you’d still think that he’d, by the age of seventy-one, at least be over his fear that the gay might get on him.
Because at the heart of it, an awful lot of people, especially older men like Trump, fear that their sexuality is a delicate thing. Masculinity, defined by male genitalia, is apparently so fragile that even a chance encounter with another male’s naughty bits will break it. Those kids in school who feared getting the gay cooties, who thought the queer might rub off on them if they even spoke to a transgendered kid, or who yelled out “fag” at anyone who broke fashion ranks with the ‘boys’ are more scared of their fragile grasp on their own sexuality than their victims are of their tormentors.
Even the word “homophobia” is a misnomer. A phobia is defined as an “irrational fear or hate,” something you might feel about heights, or spiders. If anything, the term would more appropriately be “homoism” since the range of negative attitudes and feelings towards those whose sexual taste differs from one’s own is more akin to words like racism, sexism, or ageism.
“(Homophobia) has been defined as contempt, prejudice, aversion, hatred or antipathy, may be based on irrational fear, and is often related to religious beliefs.” (wikipedia)
Those emotions are a lot more definitive and deep seated than any you’d bring to bear on that poor spider who just happened to wander into your shower.
No, this whole ridiculous and overt terror that some ostensibly macho men exhibit is their fear that contact of any kind with homosexuals or the transgendered might change their “All Boy” identity into one that is “not-normal“.
It’s also that they’re afraid that a man will hit on them the way they hit on women.
It’s so irrational that it even out-irrationalizes racism; a bigot may hate people of a different colour, but he’s really not too worried that he might wake up one morning and find his skin tone has changed to black. No, that would be silly!
But a homophobe does have a secret fear that they could wake up one fine morning and find that they suddenly crave the touch and scent and feel of someone who’s got all the same plumbing as they themselves are concealing in their boxers.
Several studies have linked homophobia to latent homosexual arousal. Maybe. After all, it’s not uncommon for those entering puberty to wonder about their own sex’s sexy bits, as well as the opposite’s. Most young people are worried that the acting out of their desires will disqualify them from fitting in with their peers. Closet homosexuals, therefore, have the most to fear; namely, that they’ll be found out, and socially ostracized.
It’s crazy and irrational, and that’s why civilized society had to take a stand, and let the grownups decide that the establishment of civil rights made it a federal crime to “by force or by threat of force, injure, intimidate, or interfere with anyone. ” And that means ALL people, regardless of race, color, religion, or national origin, and, since 1974, gender.
Which didn’t stop a small group of people, all puffed up with religious arrogance, from deciding that their own Holy Book‘s preachings gave them the right to ignore that legislation, and discriminate against legal same sex marriage.
“ By late 2014, same-sex marriage had become legal in states that contained more than 70% of the United States population. More than 70% of Americans lived in a jurisdiction where same-sex couples could legally marry. .. On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all state bans on same-sex marriage, legalized it in all fifty states, and required states to honor out-of-state same-sex marriage licenses” (wiki)
Those who morally disagreed with this decision pushed back. Some, putting the lie to that old saying, “If I knew you were coming, I’d have baked a cake,” refused to bake wedding cakes for gay marriages. So sue me, they said. And the newlyweds did …
“What makes people fear the gay and gay marriage? It’s because you’re giving these people equality. And that’s the biggest fear that people with power have: that you’ll get some too. … “I don’t want to be married. But if two people are crazy enough to be that in love with each other, damn, that’s a great thing. Give them a break. Life’s really short. … If you don’t want a gay marriage, then don’t have one.”
— Henry Rollins on Big Think”
Trump’s declaration of war upon those who protect their fellow citizens during times of both war and peace is unsavory, ill-advised, homophobic, and unconstitutional. It’s also very ill timed, since it was just last June 30, 2016, that then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that transgender people would be able to serve openly in the military in a memorandum directing the completion of such inclusion by June 30, 2017.
With the deadline approaching, current Defense Secretary James ‘Mad Dog” Mattis announced that he would be delaying the policy, writing: “After consulting with the service chiefs and secretaries, I have determined that it is necessary to defer the start of accessions for six months. … We will use this additional time to evaluate more carefully the impact of such accessions on readiness and lethality.”
Mattis and Trump seem unaware of the legally sticky wicket they’re facing with this strategy. An attempt to enforce a reinstated ban against transgender persons currently serving in the military would face steep legal challenges and precedent. Under well-settled law, the courts would almost certainly hold that soldiers who came out as openly transgender in reliance on the military’s own policy could not be subsequently penalized for doing so. Current transgender soldiers, who are relying not just on a policy of de facto tolerance, but on an official policy expressly permitting open service, could and would take legal action.
More importantly, and on a human level, the conversation about transgender military service should not revolve around numbers, or deeply held, albeit illegal, prejudices. Either America respects it’s values and citizens, or it does not. The current President of all Americans has drawn a hard line demonstrating that he stands with those who lack respect for the value and rights of LGBTQ American citizens.
And now, a musical interlude to clear your palate …
In the bad old days, the majority of LGBTQ people in the entertainment business strove to cover their sexual proclivities. But there were a few brave souls who dared to flaunt their fabulousness.
One bright light that graced Toronto‘s stages was Jackie Shane. Born in Nashville in 1940, he cut his teeth touring with musical house mother, ‘Queen of the Blues’, Marion James, eventually becoming part of the band, The Motley Crew, which was based in Toronto.
Jackie was a soul/R&B singer who frequently performed at the Sapphire Tavern. His appearance was androgynous; he often wore makeup, and sometimes an evening gown.
His flamboyant stage act, makeup and attire so threatened the media gatekeepers that even the CHUM radio station refused to interview him on-air, and only began playing his hit single, “Any Other Way,” after it had begun climbing the charts, finally peaking at the number two spot in Canada in 1962.
“Jackie Shane wasn’t bringing his act to Toronto so it could be better understood. Instead he was taking it out of context, to someplace where it seemed more alien and strange. Maybe he liked it better that way. By coming to Toronto he was escaping segregation and getting to perform to white people with presumably deeper pockets, who had never seen anything like him before. You could cross over in the States, but then you’d have to pull a Little Richard and turn your ‘freak’ show into a clown act, taking out the gay innuendo.” (Carl Wilson, music journalist)
Shane was the stuff of mystery and legend. Rumours swirled around him, including one that claimed Shane was cousin to Little Richard. Shane left Toronto in 1971, moving to Los Angeles, where Jackie turned down an offer to be part of the band Funkadelic.
After returning to Nashville after her mother’s death, Jackie lived as a woman. Shane had become a legend, and, like most legends, there were rumours of her death, including one claiming that she had been murdered in 1998.
She was gone – but not forgotten.
From Now Toronto‘s Michael Rancic, ” In 2010 the CBC produced a radio documentary about her life, and rare live footage of Shane was featured in Bruce McDonald’s three-part TV documentary, Yonge Street: Toronto Rock & Roll Stories, in 2011.
Noted music journalist Carl Wilson wrote his own extensive take on Shane’s enduring relevance for Hazlitt in 2013, placing Shane within a larger context of the history of queer and Black performers. The following year, Videofag hosted an exhibition for an animation by Sonya Reynolds and Lauren Hortie called Whatever Happened To Jackie Shane?
Her live album was nominated for the Polaris Heritage Prize in both 2015 and 2016, and earlier this year, The Globe And Mail published an article calling Shane a “lost transgender superstar,” and a volume of Toronto queer history, Any Other Way: How Toronto Got Queer, was published by Coach House and featured an essay by Steven Maynard.
“Archival record label Numero Group is releasing the first-ever artist-approved collection of soul singer Jackie Shane’s work.
Named after her most well-known single, Any Other Way is an extensive collection of all six of Shane’s 45s, highlights from the often bootlegged 1967 live set recorded at Toronto’s famed Sapphire Tavern, as well as three never-before-heard tracks.”