Politics postsFriday October 06, 2017
I remember a baseball game I went to with my father when I was in about first grade. It was just the two of us, I believe, and we were in our seats, and the game was about to begin. But first a song. After it was over, he looked at me with an air of wonderment and pride. “Where did you learn that?” he asked. “School,” I shrugged. “Huh. I didn't know you knew that.” On one level, I didn't think much of it; on another, I felt pride in the pride he felt in me. So much so that I remember the scene to this day.
I've had a mixed relationship with the “Star-Spangled Banner” ever since. How many times have I sung it? Too many. I get bored now. At the same time, I remember taking umbrage when friends in college suggested that it might not be the best song for our National Anthem, since it: 1) was hard to sing, and 2) ended with a question we never answer. Oh say, does that star-bangled banner yet wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave? We never find out. Shouldn't we all sing “Yesssss!” at the end? For closure's sake? But not getting closure, keeping it open-ended, feels very American to me now. In the American experiment, nothing is guaranteed.
Particularly these days.
So how many more weekends will the “Banner” be an issue? And let's face it: It's an issue now not because Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee two or so years ago to quietly protest law enforcement shooting and killing unarmed black men. It's an issue because our megalomaniac president opened his piehole during an Alabama rally two weeks ago and fed the crowd red (state) meat:
That's a total disrespect of our heritage. That's a total disrespect of everything that we stand for. ... Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you'd say, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He's fired!”
What precipitated this outburst? Nothing. The protests, which were few, hadn't really been in the news or in our consciousnesses. Trump made it all about him. As he does. The result? The number of on-field or locker-room protests zoomed from about 10 to 250. Question: If you're a Trump supporter, and you don't want players kneeling or sitting or remaining in the locker room during the National Anthem, has your man made things better or worse?
I'm surprised more fans haven't started taking a knee. That's what I want to do now, particularly after Trump doubled down last weekend:
Very important that NFL players STAND tomorrow, and always, for the playing of our National Anthem. Respect our Flag and our Country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2017
Remember how he wanted FBI Director James Comey to swear loyalty to him? That's what it feels like he's doing with our song. He's not only making the issue about him, he's making the song, and the flag, about him. It's part of his authoritarian instincts. Deep down, he probably suspects it's the only way he'll get any respect.
#Takeaknee, everyone. Take a fucking knee.
I see the photographs of young people with blood-stained legs, hunched over, and running toward hoped-for safety, and they remind me of photos of recent terror attacks that we've seen in Europe—at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England earlier this year, or during the November 2015 Paris attacks. The culprits there were Muslim extremists. Our terrorism is internal.
This time it was Las Vegas, a country music concert on the strip, where, from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino, another white American man, Stephen Paddock, 64, a retiree who supposedly loved country music and gambling, holed up with 42 rifles and then began raining down terror, killing 59 (as of this writing) and wounding hundreds, before taking his own life. In the days to come we'll sort out why. If there is a why. I doubt it.
Immediately, from the GOP, we got the usual. “Wrong time to talk about gun control.” “We shouldn't politicize the issue.”
Of course, not talking about it is politicizing it, too, probably more so. It's a political calculation. Talking about it now puts the GOP and NRA at a political disadvantage, which they don't want, so they stifle the debate with these comments. And the Dems let them.
But there's something wrong and it needs fixing. You know who didn't want to talk airline safety after 9/11? Terrorists.
I came across this today. It's by Brian Bilston. I like the lack of rhyme, the thud, the dullness, of each fourth line.
Golfing While Puerto Rico Drowns
People are dying in Puerto Rico, relief is not being coordinated effectively, and our president is going golfing. Yesterday he said the effort was difficult because Puerto Rico was surrounded by water. “Big water,” he clarified. There was also this:
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz on Friday urged Trump to ramp up the federal assistance, ripping acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke for referring to the government's response as a “good news story.”
“Damnit, this is not a good news story,” Cruz said. “This is a people-are-dying story.”
This morning, Trump did what he always does. He attacked. He talked about Cruz's poor leadership. He said the people there “want everything to be done for them.” Once again, his actions, his words, seem beyond the pale. But I guess I don't know where the pale is for many Americans anymore. To me, Trump went beyond the pale two years ago, with “Mexican rapists,” or “I like heroes who weren't captured,” or “blood coming out of her—wherever.” Earlier than that, really. Always. He's a classless bully-child, a wailing waste of anything. He's a Jabba the Hutt mass of indecency and corruptness. And president of the United States.
You know that Popeye line about all he can stands, he can't stands no more? That was Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of “Hamilton,” son of Puerto Rican immigrants, and a man of seeming infinite patience and good will, this morning:
She has been working 24/7.— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) September 30, 2017
You have been GOLFING.
You're going straight to hell.
Fastest golf cart you ever took. https://t.co/5hOY23MBvQ
If you want to contribute to Puerto Rican hurricane relief, here are some options. I donated $100 this morning to Hispanic Federation.
249 Days and Counting
This routine of Louis C.K.'s didn't get enough attention last fall. Too bad. He nailed it. He's talking about why he's voting for Hillary and then says this about Trump:
Although four more years of this shit, I don't know if we can do it. This is four more years of a guy who can't be criticized. What's more important about a president than you can shit all over them? That's what presidents are for. “Aw this fucking guy SUCKS!” That's the point of the president—to get drunk and blame them for everything. This guy, every time he's criticized, everything stops, and he makes everybody pay. That's not how it works. We need somebody who can take abuse.
This is also the routine where he said: “I think if you vote for Hillary you're a grownup, if you vote for Trump you're a sucker, if you don't vote for anybody you're an asshole.” Nailed that, too.
Trump Bites Seshie
The enemy of my enemy is still my fucking enemy, but boy is this fun. I want this scene (courtesy of the good writers at The New York Times) in slow-mo. I want color commentary. I want Mitch McConnell in the on-deck circle:
In the middle of the [May 17] meeting, [White House counsel Donald F.] McGahn received a phone call from Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who had been overseeing the Russia investigation since Mr. Sessions recused himself from the inquiry months earlier. ... Rosenstein said he had decided to appoint Mr. Mueller to be a special counsel for the investigation. ...
When the phone call ended, Mr. McGahn relayed the news to the president and his aides. Almost immediately, Mr. Trump lobbed a volley of insults at Mr. Sessions, telling the attorney general it was his fault they were in the current situation. Mr. Trump told Mr. Sessions that choosing him to be attorney general was one of the worst decisions he had made, called him an “idiot,” and said that he should resign. ...
Ashen and emotional, Mr. Sessions told the president he would quit and sent a resignation letter to the White House, according to four people who were told details of the meeting. Mr. Sessions would later tell associates that the demeaning way the president addressed him was the most humiliating experience in decades of public life.
Quick question: How can anyone tell when Jeff Sessions is ashen?
Also Trump seems to be backpedaling on both the wall and DACA. He wants the dreamers to stay in the country, and he's like whatevs on the wall. Fine with me, of course, but his base is have a shit fit. That's also fun to behold, and I also want it in slow-mo, with color commentary, and with Alex Jones on deck.