Patrick Swayze on a Pottery Wheel!

Demi_Moore (5)

According to our resident Delphic barnacle, Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has come “out of nowhere.”

Let’s talk about that.

We live our lives in an online environment characterized by hateful, ideologically violent ad hominem attacks, hit-and-run partisan rhetoric, and the guilt-free savaging of people we call friends. We have done for years. Day in and day out. And you are what you eat.

Women assume all men want to rape them. Whites assume all blacks want to rob them. Blacks assume all cops want to kill them. Americans assume all Muslims want to blow them up. And we all assume that anyone who disagrees with us in any way must be our enemy, and at the very least can never be our friend. And the kicker is, none of these are completely groundless assumptions.

We live in a world of exceptions proving rules.

When I walk across campus, I am nearly run down by people so absorbed in their iPhones that they forget other people exist. We carry on conversations with distant strangers (twits with tweets that we are), while our nearest neighbors are virtually unknown to us. And when I do happen to catch someone’s eye, it’s often hard to distinguish between latent fear and outright dismissal.

We are terrified of everyone and everything. We populate our world with ghosts and specters of threats and danger (we ain’t talkin’ Patrick Swayze here!), and we embody those spirits in the forms of all the Others we don’t know how to approach: Muslims are terrorists, the transgendered are perverts, Mexicans are rapists, and African-Americans are thugs and welfare queens. Full stop.

Then, to put the friggin’ cherry on top, we wrap all this bullshit up in a nice, neat bundle of jingoistic self-satisfaction: we are the U.S.A., dammit, and we’ve stopped by to save the day! Can we help it if the rest of the world is too blind to see how much it needs our “assistance”?

We are a nation of self-absorbed, narcissistic, multiphobic war hawks with a collective God-complex.

Donald Trump? Yeah…what a shocker!…

Show Me Something

597px-2003_MO_Proof

Out of the many, one…

I am a cynical man. But then, I was born in the Show Me State.

And now, we wait for Tuesday.

My fellow Missourians, a pale rider cometh, face streaked with the orange residue of FakeBake, hair askew, arms akimbo, wearing his hate on his sleeve, to tell you he can “Make America Great Again!”

Don’t fall for it. Be your proudly mulish selves, stubborn by birthright, and demand proof of life (and/or neural activity). Make him make a point, not an empty promise.

And when that point proves dull, turn around and kick him in the ass like the magnificent long-ears only you can be.

Do us a solid, Missouri…

Donald_Trump_2_March_2015

Send the jackass packing.

 

Careful What You Wish For…

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Even with my eyes wide open I can’t see a thing.

– Zatoichi

Dear Trump supporters,

You have rallied behind this man because you believe that he represents your viewpoints and feelings of frustration toward a broken system. And in that conviction, you are running blindly behind an individual who, the moment you find yourselves in disagreement with any detail of his approach (and we always do, even with presidents we admire greatly), will turn on you with the same venom he has directed toward those who counter him now.

Think about that. For the love of everything sweet and holy, think about that!

I am not one to jump willy-nilly aboard the “Hitler train”; it has always seemed to me that this sort of hyperbolic analogizing demonstrates a lack of nuance in thinking.

That being said, as I watch Mr. Trump call for the expulsion of any and all presence of protest or opposed opinion from his campaign events, while simultaneously deriding the act itself of protest;

As I listen to his repeated calls for virtual pogroms against the ethnic and religious minorities among us, making them scapegoats for all the problems facing us today as a nation;

As I witness continued advocacy of any form of torture that best suits his purposes for the extraction of information from anyone he deems “the enemy”;

It becomes clear to me that this man is a fascist, plain and simple. This is not hyperbole; it is the only label that fits. And if Americans are scared of socialism, they ought to be soiling themselves at the prospect of fascism.

Here’s why.

Fascism brooks no opposition, no difference of opinion, from either friend or enemy…and the line between the two is always shifting. A friend today is a silenced enemy tomorrow. This is in direct contravention of everything we stand for as a country, regardless of our political stance.

Fascism bases itself upon the mindless acquiescence and action of the herd, in the knowledge that thought and consideration run contrary to its authority. Which is why you hear Trump disparaging the caucus process: better a system in which the voting responsibility is quickly dispatched. Too much discussion is onerous; it also might reveal some of the chinks in a candidate’s armor, and we wouldn’t want that.

Fascism seeks a scapegoat. It establishes itself on the backs of the culpable category: we are not great because the Jews are corrupting our society (or the Muslims, or the Mexicans). Distract yourselves by turning on them, and you’ll not have a chance to turn on the man behind the curtain.

These are the ways in which fascists deal with their enemies. And fascists have no friends. Only sycophants.

So, when you tell me that you support Donald Trump because he stands for the American people, know this: fascists stand only for themselves. And anyone who gets in the way of that self-love is hastily swept aside, or worse.

Donald Trump is all about building a wall, and I don’t think you realize how easily you might find yourself on the wrong side of it.

Hold this thought:

Whenever you hear Mr. Trump coming down on his scapegoat of choice, the Mexicans, the Muslims, etc., etc., etc., just remember:

There, but for the grace of Donald, go I.

SooperToosday

Suffrage_universel

But it’s so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you: are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemy’s? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me. 

– Vizzini

The day is upon us.

Super Tuesday: the day on which we all get to decide whether it’s more important to win, or whether–perhaps–there is more to our voting choices than that.

At the end of the day, this election isn’t about ideology, it isn’t about conservative versus liberal. This one’s about basic human decency, about respect for one another and our political process. This one says something, profound and revelatory, about us as a nation and a people.

I’m not endorsing one party over another here. There are Republican candidates who have a lot to offer (well, candidate, anyway: Kasich–although I’ll take Rubio in a pinch). There are Democratic candidates who also promise at least some level of progress, and who have talked, not about the “evil Other,” but about the good we can do together as citizens of the United States.

And then there is the One.

The guy whose whole platform is built on putting down pretty much everyone, who has all but endorsed whatever form of torture serves him most conveniently, who has refused to distance himself from the KKK (with which historically inconspicuous organization he claims to be unfamiliar), and who has bullied his way through a series of debates without ever actually talking about anything, really, at all.

The guy whose plan is having one.

I’ve heard of several conservatives who, given a Trump nomination, are planning to abstain. Fine. But you could vote now, instead; vote, thoughtfully, for a more thoughtful option. Which is pretty much ANYBODY ELSE.

To my fellow Democrats, same goes for you: winning isn’t everything. In fact, in some cases, it isn’t anything. “Electability” is for the cynical and cowardly. Our problem, politically speaking, is that we’re not willing to swing for the fences. Everything is “strategery”: how do we get our guy (or gal) in, and then, how do we keep them there?

And we wonder why nothing ever changes.

We have one candidate who has told us what could be accomplished if we try, and we have another who has told us, consistently, that so little can be done that trying is a waste of time. Yoda is great, but I don’t really want him in the White House. Progressivism (real progressivism) is all about the “try.” Anything else is stagnation. And we’re all too familiar with that.

Let’s be clear: Hillary tells us that the root of “progressive” is “progress.” Fair enough. The root of “socialism” is “social.” And that has nothing to do with the Soviet Union, or Karl Marx, or bread lines and sovkhozy.

It’s not about the state at all, really. It’s about how we look at each other, about who our neighbors are, about what kind of neighbors we intend to be. The true socialist society is a reflection of its people. That the USSR got it backwards doesn’t mean it can never work. It just means that it hasn’t worked yet.

So, stop fearing the labels and catchphrases, and listen to what Bernie has to say about the things that are holding us back as a nation. Which is ourselves.

Every generation needs a “moonshot.” But that means embracing the big ideas, remembering that the moon is out there in the first place, waiting to be shot at.

So, two suggestions:

Democrats, let’s vote for the candidate who’s willing to shoot for the moon.

And Republicans…

For the love of Pete, don’t vote for the guy who might accidentally blow it up.

#FeelTheBern
#DumpTrump

TrumCruBio: A Drama in Three Hacks

Donald_Trump_2_March_2015

…it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Macbeth

Rubio: (scratching head): But, sir, might I inquire as to what your plan entails? You say, ‘Smite the enemy,’ and yet you offer no strategy, no line of attack.

Rump: What, sir, is my plan? What is my plan, you ask? My plan. (Stares in defiant confusion)

Rubio: (nodding) Yes, good sir. Your plan.

Rump: My plan, sir, is simply this: good. It is the best plan. And it will succeed, sir, because it will. Doubt me not, sir: I cannot tell a lie, because I do not know the difference, sir! I challenge you, sir, to dispute with me!

Rubio: (pointing) But what are the details, sir, of your plan? How exactly do you propose we proceed?

Rump: The details of my plan, sir, are as follows: it will succeed, because it is good. Please, sir, desist from this odious repetition of words! My plan, sir, is good. It is good. My plan is good, sir! It is, I daresay, great. The greatest. My plan is the greatest plan in the history of talking about plans, sir!

Rubio: (still scratching head) Might I also inquire, sir, as to who the enemy is, sir?

Rump: It is simple, sir! The enemy is the bad people. Unless, at the time in question, they are the good people. In which case they’re our friends. Indubitably, some of the best friends I’ve had. Great advice, all of them; great advice! The best advice!

Cruz: (Looks up from the fire, where he is roasting a machine gun) Would anyone care for a morsel of bacon?

Rubio: But surely, sir, we cannot pretend the enemy knows not what he is doing? Away with this myth! Away! He seeks to change us, sir! And I will not be changed! My diaper is not yet dirty, sir! Son of a motherless goat! I will not be changed!

The light level increases abruptly. Two large shoes are observed entering stage left.

Cruz: (Proffers machine gun) Bacon?

Voiceover: Naughty children, how have you cluttered the nursery so? I dare not leave you to your own devices again! Naughty! Naughty children!

Rubio: Do not change me, Nanny! I will not be changed!

Rump: You are but a lobbyist, madam, with your boos and bahs! Leave this room! I will not be tidy, however loudly you crow! I am the best listener! I will not listen! I will not listen. I am the best. The best…

Rubio and Rump are hoisted from view. Their words turn to undefined wails, and slowly fade away. Cruz sits in the corner, chewing reflectively.

Fade lights.

Apparently, We ARE with Stupid

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Momma says stupid is as stupid does.

– Forrest Gump

I would very much like to say that I’m surprised at yet another Trump victory in Nevada yesterday. I would like that so much.

But I can’t.

Nothing we ‘Muricans do surprises me anymore. Horrifies, yes; angers, most definitely; renders apoplectic, indubitably. But surprise went out the window with the Double Down and the wiener-stuffed crust.

So, I’m announcing my candidacy: Toad for President, 2032.

Sure, it’s a little in advance. And I’m a virtual unknown. But it gives me 16 years to hone my xenophobic, nationalistic, ugly American rhetoric. Plenty of time! By then, I should be a perfectly acceptable horrible excuse for a human being. I’m a shoe-in!

Because if Donald Trump can become President of the United States, any old jackass can…