Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Stupids Step Out

Do you know the Harry Allard series of children's books including, notably, "The Stupids Step Out?" in which, as I recall, the Stupid family goes on holiday with their cat, Fido, driving and their dog, Kitty, perched on Fido's head? Very stupid. Good illustrations. Pretty funny.

In Haaretz**, Chemi Shalev depicts the election of Donald Trump as a sort of continuation, in real-time electoral terms, of the Stupid saga: as in the Stupids Drive To the Polls.

Shalev lists the reasons we all, ad yawningly, adduce for Trump: "Hillary Clinton was a bad candidate with tons of excess baggage; Barack Obama ignored white middle class America; coastal liberal elites lost touch with America’s heartland; the media ignored white men’s rage; the Obama coalition didn’t show up at the polls etc. . . . 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Celebrity Apprentice

I can't stand thinking about this. And can't tear my eyes away. . .

Now Trump, once again, is a creature of his raging twitter feeds, where he can lash out in short bursts, as he pleases, a la campaign mode. No one there to teleprompt him, to say, speak slowly now Donald, don't scare them, save the scary for tweets. Twitter gives voice to his madness. And who, now that he is president, has the authority, to take twitter away from him? 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Mandate for Perversity

Rather brilliant piece of writing by Phillip Lopate  in which he tries to digest the disastrous election. Those of us who like, self-importantly in my view, to thrash ourselves for being elitist and therefore cut off from the righteous rage and discontent of the uneducated will take no comfort from it. Lopate sees the Trump victory coming from other sources than our failure to connect, not that his analysis provides much in the way of relief. But it does, by way of Mikhail Bakhtin and Fyodor Dostoevsky, bring the conversation to a deeper level than the current obsession about class v. identity politics has managed to do. As Lopate describes it, a vote for Trump was a vote for perversity, and therein lay its power.

Saturday, November 26, 2016


Oligarchy is the government of oligarchs, kleptokracy the government of thieves. We get these words from the ancient Greeks, who knew how to classify political systems. It's nice to be reminded of a less used but totally apropos Greek word — kakistocracy, meaning  rule by the worst possible people.

Starting with Trump himself and moving on down the line — from Bannon (alt-right) to Giuliani (alt-war) to Carson (alt-duh-where am I & how did I get here?) to Michael Flynn (alt-kill_all_Muslims) —  this administration is shaping up as a kakistocracy for the record books.

I hope we survive the rule of the retrograde, misguided, just plain ignorant, and just plain evil.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Sex Sexism Sex

In neither case was it a power play -- neither male team had power over the female teams --  and in neither case direct harassment.

It was vulgar and sexist, and in my view ugly and wrong, but I'm not sure why these nonthreatening, if vulgar, private,  communications, are actionable.

Not looking to argue -- who me? -- but for some clarity, if any.

Are sexist comments -- comments focused on sexual attributes -- to be actionable? What if it turns out the respective female teams had their own private commentaries going?

If you doubt that's possible you're not living in the twenty-first century.

But if it were the case, should proof be found, should the female teams be suspended, too?

And how about sex itself, all sex, not only sexist sex, whatever that means: should it be abolished too?

I said I'm not looking for an argument -- who me? -- but suspect I am inviting one. Still, I'm still willing to stand down, be reoriented, if I get any kind of clarification.

From where I sit right now, it seems like a question of social media and its evocative but porous potential as much as it does a question of sexual conduct.


I'm From Massachusetts

and, in particular, from Cambridge:

Nearly 75 percent of all registered voters in Cambridge cast their ballots in this year's election. . .

Despite a shocking upset on the national level, Republican candidate Donald Trump's campaign was a bust here in Cambridge, pulling in just 3,262, or 6.39 percent, of the votes. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton earned 44,835, or 87.79 percent, of Cambridge's votes.

Cambridge residents contributed $1,670,514 to the two major party candidates for president with 98.8 percent of those donations going to Clinton.

Clinton's campaign garnered $1,650,903 in donations from 1,570 Cambridge residents from Jan. 1, 2015, through Sept. 30, 2016.

Only 23 Cambridge residents contributed to the campaign of Republican nominee Donald J. Trump. For every one Cantabrigian who donated to Trump's campaign, nearly 69 contributed to Clinton's.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Trigger Warning: Depressing Thought ahead

What if it isn't Hillary's fault
And neither Johnson's nor Stein's
(though I do not excuse them)

What if it had nothing to do
with the DNC squeezing Bernie
(much as it did) 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Why Trump, why did he win?

Here's a hint from a piece in today's NY Times, purportedly not at all about the election, purportedly about something else entirely.

It says that, "something like 70 percent of Americans can’t identify the Constitution as the supreme law of the land."


In addition, "Ten percent of COLLEGE GRADUATES [my caps] think that Judge Judy is a Supreme Court justice."

College grads, imagine.

I know we're going to tear ourselves up about the machinations of the DNC, how it woulda been different if it had been Bernie etc. — which I don't believe, in the least —  but I want to take time out to point at rock bottom ignorance and stupidity. They're not the same — ignorance and stupidity — but related, and college degrees are obviously no cure.

Trump brayed that he liked, no, loved, the uneducated. It's more that he liked, no, loved and battened on ignorance and stupidity.

They loved him.

In a piece for the Washington Post, Garrison Keillor wrote: "Raw ego and proud illiteracy have won out, and a severely learning-disabled man with a real character problem will be president."

And: "Resentment is no excuse for bald-faced stupidity."

Thank you, Keillor, for not being afraid to bring in the requisite word — stupidity.

Keillor writes the Trump voters will find that the disasters they will bring onto this country will  “fall more heavily on them than anyone else.”

Started already.

Rudy Giuliani may well be the next attorney general of the United States. I find that hysterical and demonic. Have all the angels of hell been released upon us? Do they all resemble The Joker?

You think Giuliani thinks black lives matter? Or any lives? Giuliani is the capo de tutti
 cappi of pure cop power. You want someone to head an American SS? He's got the resume.

It seems that Chris Christie, best known for shutting down the George Washington Bridge during rush hour in order to get back at a New Jersey mayor who didn't like him, may be Secretary of Transportation. No, that's but a howler, a joke — until proven otherwise.

All jokes are possible now. It's bad joke time.

It's Joker time.

Go, go go to Canada. You'll find we can't get in on refugee status.

Go, go go to England, in which case you'll find they are stupid, too. Brexit innit. Maybe we caught it from them.

Why Trump

Why did Trump win?

Here's a hint from a piece in today's NY Times, purportedly not at all about the election, purportedly about something else entirely.

It says that, "something like 70 percent of Americans can’t identify the Constitution as the supreme law of the land." 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


This election — so many don't like what it's done to the United States. I'll go further and say I don't like a lot of what's it done to me. It's made me harsh, aggressive, excessively judgmental. It's made me find allies, people of like mind, and has also done the opposite, challenging or breaking complex connections to some who are or were real friends before.

Before what?

When, and if, this is over, and the specter of Donald Trump hopefully dissipates like a nightmare, an episode, say, of "American Horror Story," I hope to grow more kind and to fixate on politics and its polarities less.

Politics brings the urge for certainty out in us, — how can it not, so much being at stake for so many.

I find myself referring to Bertolt Brecht's great poem, "To Posterity." The situation he refers to is much more dire than ours. Donald Trump, asinine, sickening pretender that he is, is not yet remotely on the same page with Brecht's fiend, Adolf Hitler.

Yet Brecht's words have relevance:

For we knew only too well:
Even the hatred of squalor
Makes the brow grow stern.
Even anger against injustice
Makes the voice grow harsh. Alas, we
Who wished to lay the foundations of kindness
Could not ourselves be kind.

But you, when at last it comes to pass
That man can help his fellow man,
Do no judge us
Too harshly.