What is it about the prospect of wearing a mask that turns sentient adults into rambunctious two-year-olds, eager to abandon reason and follow the King of Chaos, the new Pied Piper, over the cliff?
Millions follow his lead. Irony abounds.
Because the Chaos King and those close to him are tested daily, he seems to feel safe in his little White House bubble and feels no responsibility to ensure that others are protected when, maskless, he and his minions venture out. Yet recently, he observed that “a person can test negative day after day and then all of a sudden they have the virus” or words to that effect. He was baffled, even amazed. "Is it magic?" he seemed to ask. "How does that happen?"
The irony doesn’t end there. Unmasked, he insists on holding rallies for his shrinking band of boosters who, following his lead, show up bare-faced and ready to spew out droplets with every cheer. They’re the very voters he’s courting, the ones who, with good health and lives extending into November, are most likely to go to the polls and cast their ballots in his direction. But now, they’re risking their lives. And for what? To hear a raspy, rambling recital of the same incoherence they’ve heard for three long years? Would wearing a mask interfere with that? And, if so, why would they care? They know what he’s going to say. There’ll be no nuance there.
Apparently, the King of Chaos believes wearing a mask is for sissies … sort of like wearing a seatbelt or taking vitamins or looking both ways before you cross the street. He doesn’t see it as an undemanding way for all of us to protect each other, nor does he see that he should participate. It's "white privilege" run amuck.
Of course, protecting others has never been a big thing for him. … Think kids in cages … black men and women murdered at the hands of police … white women groped by the hands of the CK himself. And now, foolish backers called to risk it all to soothe the King of Chaos.
His fearful party--what's left of it--refuses to stand up to him. On the national level we are leaderless in the most tumultuous time in several generations. VOTE November 3rd!
I’m more than ready to return to the “good old days” when I thought nothing of meeting friends for lunch at our favorite eatery or playing pickleball at the local courts or running to the market for a few items in the middle of the day. However, I find myself mysteriously apprehensive about the prospect of resuming what we’ve come to call normal life.
It isn’t the “normal life” as described above that gives me pause. It’s what has passed for normal life on the political scene.
“Never let a crisis go to waste,” we’ve been told at various junctures. If ever there was a time to heed this, it is now. My apprehension grows out of a concern that we’ll allow this, the quintessential crisis of our time, to eventually “resolve” without addressing the deep flaws it has made so glaringly apparent. Such things as …
And those don’t even begin to cover the immense challenges of climate change which threatens to make the planet uninhabitable and the need for upgraded, new and improved infrastructure in the areas of mass transit, broadband, highways, and schools. The list goes on.
A year ago, we (I, anyway) couldn’t have imagined a scenario like the one we’re living through. The fact that we have a disorganized, uneducated leader exacerbates the situation, but this would have been difficult in any event. We’ve ignored for years all the early warning signs that we must address the many challenges we face. Now we have a global pandemic that has lit up our flaws like a klieg light. The emperor truly has no clothes and we have truly ignored the rot in Washington that has left many among us behind in so many ways. If this doesn’t get our attention and produce action to address deep and abiding injustice, I don’t know what will.
Every day for the past few days, Andrew Cuomo, governor of the besieged state of New York, has been conducting a master class in the art of leadership in a crisis. The man who most desperately needs such instruction, unfortunately, doesn’t attend. He’s too busy conducting sessions of the “how not to do it” variety in the White House. I imagine most of you have seen at least snippets of the latter, but you may have missed Gov. Cuomo. If so, click here to see a sample.
The difference between the two is striking—in tone, content, and delivery. Cuomo sits at a table, aides seated at a safe distance on either side. Trump stands at a podium, aides crowded shoulder to shoulder behind him. Those visuals alone tell you a lot about the level of respect each gives his assistants in these perilous times.
Cuomo speaks calmly, with assurance, looking at the reporters, gesturing on occasion. He’s informative and articulate. He uses no notes, but prepared highlights of his main points appear on a screen as he speaks. He exudes genuine concern and believes in what he’s saying. He understands the human condition and shares personal stories. Discussing families in distress, he talks about his experience when his daughter was in isolation and says three-word sentences can make a difference: “I love you. I miss you. I need you.”
He inspires confidence, even as he announces a new level of restriction for the residents of his state. Sensitive to words, he calls his plan New York State on PAUSE: Policies that Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone. “Shelter in Place” scares people, he points out; it’s associated in many people’s minds with active shooter situations or nuclear attacks.
He tells people not to blame anyone county officials, mayors or others of that ilk for the heightened restrictions. “I accept full responsibility,” he declares. When the crisis is over, he wants to be able to say he did everything he could to save lives.
In a word, Gov. Cuomo is presidential.
Our president, quite frankly, is not. He doesn’t take responsibility. He doesn’t inspire confidence. He came late to the game and can’t catch up. He sees everything through the prism of his own self-interest. He insults reporters.
My family—siblings, offspring, and nieces and nephews—are scattered about the country. Like all families at times like this, we worry about each other. One of my sons lives in the heart of Manhattan. I’m glad Gov. Cuomo is the guy in charge in that state.
Grace Under Pressure Meets Attack Dog ________________________________________________________________
There’s no positive way to spin this. Whether the allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of Brett Kavanaugh are true or false or—as I suspect—a combination of the two, he is unsuited for a seat on the Supreme Court of the land.
He lacks the requisite character and temperament as demonstrated in his rude, out-of-control performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday. And in an interaction with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), 12 years a senator, Kavanaugh gave a textbook example of sexist attitude and behavior when, offended by her persistence in asking whether he had ever passed out while drinking, he flustered into this dialogue:
Kavanaugh: It’s—you’re asking about, you know, blackout. I don’t know. Have you?
Klobuchar (reining in her shock at this juvenile impertinence): Could you answer the question, Judge? I just—so you—that’s not happened. Is that your answer?
Kavanaugh: Yeah, and I’m curious if you have.
This is the guy the Republicans want to sit as a final arbiter on issues that will affect us all.
Contrast that with the grace-under-pressure performance of Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who had nothing to gain, didn’t want to be there, and described herself as “terrified” as she began reading her statement to the committee.
Some will say, of course, that Kavanaugh’s behavior stemmed from anger at what he regarded as unjust accusations. You can believe the last two words of the previous sentence if you want to. But if you do, wouldn't you have preferred to see a calm, reasoned, responsive, believable denial? Instead of that, we had evasion and dissembling, much like we saw in his earlier appearance, but overlaid with anger as he was now, obviously, in extremis. Methinks he doth protest too much.
Others will say he was just doing Donald Trump’s bidding, that in fact it was a performance ordered up by that purveyor of blusterous prevarication and carried out to placate the puppet master. If so, that's just as disqualifying. It reveals lack of independence, no backbone, disregard of truth, and a dysfunctional conscience.
If Kavanaugh is appointed to the Supreme Court, both the court—and he—will be forever tarnished. Already sullied by rulings that are politically tainted (Bush v. Gore, for instance) and strain credulity (Citizens United, for instance), the Court will be seen as the professional home of two accused sexual predators, Clarence Thomas having faced allegations at the time of his confirmation in 1991. It’s time to end the drama and the trauma and find a more credible candidate.
Donald Trump descended to a new low a couple of days ago with a speech that once again revealed his insecurities, his disregard for facts, his indifference to human dignity (both ours and his own), and his remarkable disdain for the mental acuity and reasoning powers of those of us who live in something resembling the real world. His voice becomes increasingly raspy as he scrapes away at the common decency we instill in even our youngest children and expect from adults, no matter their station.
On Tuesday night (Aug.22), as millions watched him speak in Phoenix, his raspiness (yes, Trump), pointing to the back of the room, bleated out, “Look back there, the live red lights. They’re turning those suckers off fast out there. They’re turning those lights off fast. Like CNN. CNN does not want its falling viewership to watch what I’m saying tonight, I can tell you.” Translation: CNN is turning off the cameras sent to televise this circus.
Really? Really? He wants us to believe the cameras have been turned off? Does he not know his incoherent blather is being sent to us from those very cameras at that very instant? Talk about a divorce from reality!
Prevarication, incoherence, self-absorption (who else spends large chunks of a speech quoting, very selectively, himself?), and insults are Trump hallmarks. The only speeches with anything approaching the level of articulation we’ve seen in previous presidents are those scripted by White House staff—and Trump delivers those with all the enthusiasm of a prisoner on his last long walk to meet his maker.
Clearly he craves the campaign, the crowds, the chaos. (Who are all those people anyway?)
Just as clearly, he couldn’t be less interested in governing. Apparently he ran for office on a lark and still doesn't realize that playtime is over.
(If you have some time on your hands and want to read the complete rant verbatim, click here.)
A couple of years ago, I had my granddaughter all to myself while her parents were at work. We live on opposite sides of the country so this was a special day. While she was in the bathroom, I turned on the TV to get a news update, and Madi returned just in time to hear it: shots fired in a high school in the state of Washington.
“Another school shooting,” she said, shaking her wise little four-year-old head. She knew it was bad news, but the resignation with which she spoke told me that, in her world, it was also sadly unremarkable.
Children assume that the world as they see it in their earliest years is normal. Imagine. If you were four—or five, or six—and your earliest memories of a president were of Donald Trump. What would you think? About him? About government? About the country? About grown-ups?
For awhile, it seemed Trump and many other Republicans were determined to drag us back to the 1950’s, a time when we gave lip service to equality while we practiced precious little of it. That’s bad enough, but if Trump’s behavior is any indication, he aspires to take us even farther back than that—to a prehistoric time when civility and civil discourse were perhaps a gleam in some dreamer’s eye. But here's a telling update from the The National Geographic about the Neanderthals:
“As modern humans were first migrating out of Africa more than 60,000 years ago, Neanderthals were still alive and well in Europe and Asia. It seems that our ancestors met, leaving a small genetic trace of these ancient relatives in our DNA.”
Elsewhere we're told this DNA affects us in various ways, ranging from skin and hair quality to mental health and susceptibility to various diseases. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?
Following Barack Obama, one of the most articulate, intelligent leaders in our country's history, Trump makes a mockery of the office of the president and turns the White House into a circus tent. The contrast couldn't be more stark.
I’d like to think we’re strong enough to right the ship after Donald is deposed, whenever and however that occurs. Meanwhile, the danger is that not only our kids, but we ourselves will come to accept this White House spectacle as “normal.” We can't let that happen.
Vigilance, people, vigilance!
Thoughts for Our Time
“Conservatism discards Prescription, shrinks from Principle, disavows Progress; having rejected all respect for antiquity, it offers no redress for the present, and makes no preparation for the future.”