Trump: America’s Greatest Stand-Up

Like anyone with a brain, I have been flummoxed by the sensational rise of Donald Trump as a presidential candidate. donald-trumpIn Donald McGrath’s New Yorker piece, We Have a Serious Problemit was surmised that Trump was trying to bow out of the race asap: “’I said that Megyn Kelly was menstruating. I insulted Carly Fiorina’s face. I did a routine about Ben Carson’s belt that should have provoked a psychiatric intervention. I proposed internment camps for the Muslims already here, and you’re telling me that my numbers are what?’” trumpmuslimsOthers have theorized that the American electorate always oscillates between extremes, making the bombastic Trump an ideal follow-up to Obama’s taciturn manner. But still…Donald Trump? The businessman who has spun his bankruptcies as “facts of life”? The guy who says whatever pops into his mind? That guy?The reality television star whose tag-line is “You’re fired”? It’s not possible. Is it? firedI admit to being transfixed by Trump’s pontificating, his meandering monologues that emphasize ADHD more than repetitive policy. He delivered a classic on Saturday, February 27 in Bentonville, Arkansas, stumping for the Super Tuesday primaries. He started with an attack on The New York Times for their stories against him: It’s the worst newspaper. It is a dead newspaper going out of business. These are really bad people. These are really bad.

He mused on how he might behave in the White House: The president is calling an air conditioning company. I may make some of the calls. They’re going to say it’s terribly un-presidential, but I don’t care, all right?

He reflected on the game of politics: They’re all playing games, folks. It’s cute, it’s fun. It’s life. It’s the way life is, OK, it’s the way life is.bentonvilleHe explained why he is the best choice: I went to the Wharton School of Finance, which is considered the best business school. You’ve got to be very smart to get into that school, very smart. The Rubios of the world could not get into that school, believe me. They don’t have the capacity. But I go to Wharton, I’m smart. You’re smart. But you don’t have to be smart.

It hit me me like a Trumpism. I’ve been thinking about this all wrong. I have believed that Donald Trump was running for president, actually running for office. But that’s not it at all. It’s a ruse. Trump isn’t campaigning for president. His statement is much bigger picture than that. He is on a tour not for political office but as a performance artist, on the greatest comedy tour of all time. He has amalgamated the bitter monologues of Lenny Bruce with the explosive delivery of Lewis Black and the unwavering hucksterism of Andy Kaufman to create a character for the ages – Donald Who Would Be Chief. kaufmanAnd we don’t even know it yet. Because he hasn’t told us. There’s been no reveal. Nothing. There may never be. That’s genius, right? Truly beyond belief. No doubt about that. As long as he doesn’t take this tour thing around the world. That could be bad…really, really bad. His shtick might go over their heads.

Goddamned Guns – Again!

“And what’s become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose any kind of common-sense gun legislation,” President Obama said. “Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out. ‘We need more guns,’ they’ll argue. ‘Fewer gun-safety laws.’ Does anybody really believe that?”

I thought that, after what happened in Sandy Hill Elementary School, Connecticut on December 21, 2012, some kind of gun control might actually be enacted. 481566_145675995581913_1982810992_nI was wrong.

There is no debate on guns. There is only fear and hate.

Gun-rights activist Dave Larson, of Bountiful, Utah, carries his AR-15 rifle and a sign which reads, "...From my cold, dead hands" during a "National Day of Resistance" rally at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. Activists said they were were there to show their support for the U.S. Constitution and the 2nd Amendment. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

There have been over 85,000 gun deaths since the Sandy Hill shooting in Newtown. 85,000 people. Dead.

How many more hundreds of thousands to come? Lobbyists and legislators have to realize that for a society to survive, the violence must be taken out of the argument. NRA-meme-620x597Don’t they?

Blogging Floggers: Faith through Violence

The cat is getting ready. imagesApostates are being called out with violence and condemnation. Even the friendly old pope has put himself on the wrong side of the fence: “If my good friend speaks badly of my mother, he can expect to get punched. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others.” pope-francis-easter-620xaThe fact is that insulting is allowed (freedom of speech) and punching is not (violence).

The society that condones punching, suppresses any sense of freedom of speech. Punching them is the same as flogging them. Is the same as killing them. raif-badawiAs much as one might find these Charlie Hebdos and Larry Flynts a pain, the only thing to be done is eye-rolling and making an appeal for decency. flynt3008_840_634_100Nothing more.

All of that said, my guess is that a greater conflict is to come in countries that espouse freedom of speech where so many in power maintain the guise of faith simply to avoid a violent reaction from a certain percentage of its citizenry. obama-churchAs personal as the question might be – “Do you believe in God, Mr. President?” – people will keep asking and inevitably the truth will come out. And it won’t be pretty.

Dave Feshuck: Idiot Toronto Star Reporter Strikes Again

Dave Feshuck, Toronto Star sportswriter, made news for himself yesterday by attacking Phil Kessel: “You’re the best player on the team, and the coach is fired…are you difficult to coach?”
Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 8.28.36 AMKessel turned to the others. “This guy’s such an idiot; he’s always been like this.”

Mr. Kessel is, in fact, quite correct; Feshuck has always been like this. Even as an elementary school student, Feshuck enjoyed baiting others, once demanding of a Grade Four classmate: “You’re the best student here, the school burned down…are you difficult to teach?”

distressed-girl_225Feshuck gave international reporting a swing after college but had to be escorted back to Canada after he posed the following to Prince Charles, “You were supposed to be king, Princess Diana is dead…are you a difficult prince?” prince-charles001Feshuck had a brief reprieve under Mayor Rob Ford, because he seemed to like these questions. “You’re a heroine user, people laugh at you…are you a difficult mayor?”a_560x375However Feshuck had to be escorted away again when he demanded of President Obama, “You’re a black guy, the police are killing black people…are you a difficult president?” 6a00d8341c630a53ef0134884c0c96970c-600wiIt is believed that Obama muttered, “This guy is an idiot.”bSFSQas1And so, Feshuck, being dumb, aggressive and lazy, found he was qualified only for one thing: reporting on sports.

President Obama is More Than All Right.

Make no bones about it, Barrack Obama is the greatest President of the United States in the past 60 years. obamaoneI say this despite the anti-Obama media barrage, the ceaseless mud slung by his political opponents and the embittered populace who have lost faith in a man who was once their desperate icon for hope. hope_obamaThe truth is that President Obama was set up to fail. The ridiculous expectations dumped on him demanded that he walk on water and then turn that into wine; anything less would be a failure. That’s the way everyone wanted it. It gave them a perfect scapegoat for unemployment, international strife, indeed whatever plague or natural disaster arose.

Hurricane Sandy, Battery park Tunnel, 2012

Hurricane Sandy, Battery park Tunnel, 2012

All anyone has to say is, “Obama’s let us down again,” and there is applause. This despite the facts, which are these:

a. Obama passed a bill that actually made health care more affordable, an achievement no other president has been able to achieve in the face of a sick political culture which believes in money more than well being.

b. Obama has reduced America’s military presence in the world, despite a war-hungry opposition, and worked to develop coalitions with anyone who will listen.

c. The economy has steadily improved every year under his administration, to where the financial markets now sit at record highs.corrections-2008-2014

d. Obama has consistently endorsed social policies which promote understanding and acceptance of others, such as gay marriage. And although he has yet to succeed in the battle for gun control, he has stood firm for the reduction of automatic weapons.

e. Obama acknowledges the need to confront climate change and looks ready to put this issue at the top of his agenda in his final two years.

It’s actually surprising that there hasn’t been even more hate against the president. After all, not only has he directly challenged the establishment – and played golf with friends – but there is also the insidious problem this country has with skin color.

As high-minded as it might have sounded to have a black guy as president, there are some, a lot actually, that are tired of the idea and want to go back to way things were, everyone knowing their place, that kind of thing. The George Zimmerman verdict, unrest in Ferguson and choke-hold death of Eric Garner all speak to the fact that this is not going away any time soon.. eric-garner-police-brutality-ramsey-ortaNevertheless, the elections are just a couple of days away, and as much as everyone seems to want to distance themselves from this leader of our time, only time will tell how bad a mistake it turns out they all made. Obama speaks about the sequester in Washington

Ice Bucket Challenge: Look at Me!

It’s hard to find anything sensible on social media; too many images tend toward the horribly violent – riots and executions this week – to the inane. This latest fad of dumping ice water is telling.bisonettechallengeDone in the name of a worthy cause – finding a cure for Lou Gehrig’s Disease – the hype of who’s doing it, not to mention how effectively they are dousing themselves as well as who’s being challenged and who accepts that challenge has become a predictably stupid focus. ice bucket challengeJustin Bieber was called out for not having ice, Charlie Sheen for dumping money and President Obama for not doing it at all. bieberWhile the challenge is an effective marketing ploy that has brought attention to a real medical issue, it also demonstrates a damning tendency of our need to fit in. Rather than calling on each other to watch these cold water farces, it would make so much more sense to donate, just donate, quietly and thoughtfully, and nothing else.

Just as we would all like to see an end to suffering, it would really be something to see this change progress not as another fad – and so not streaking and tweeting – but rather as something we share and consider and then act as best we can. streakignfor tigersHelping one another; that’s the rub.

My Problem with the President’s Selfies

President Obama is a fine leader. Calm and judicious, he has tried to apply common sense in a time where few seem to give a damn.

Although he hasn’t applied the same reasoned approach as of late.

Nelson Mandela's funeral

Nelson Mandela’s funeral

David+Ortiz+selfie+with+President+Obama+cropIt seems that he has forgotten that selfie tomfoolery is beneath his office, connecting him too much to ‘folks’ like these…bieber KK1 selfie-selfie-beautiful-girl-1382219169He just needs to be reminded of where this road goes.

Carlos Danger

Carlos Danger

Guns: The Violence in the Argument

The problem with the debate on guns is that one side has a lot of guns and likes to use them. Predator The poison-laced letters recently sent to President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg are only the latest example in the on-going assault: “If you take my guns, you…will get shot in the face.” threatening-letter-bloombergActually, the truth is there is no debate. A debate involves structure and logic, not threats and yelling, “It is my god-given right!” (It isn’t.) gun-control-piss-on-constitution-1024x640The irony of their argument – do I even need to point this out? – is that it’s the gun owners themselves who are getting killed.

Eddie Routh's shooting of Chris Kyle.

Chris Kyle was gunned down by Eddie Routh.

Their children too.

5-year-old shoots 2-year-old sister.

5-year-old shoots 2-year-old sister with toy rifle.

4,362 gun-related deaths since the massacre in Newtown. 4,362 people. Dead. How many hundreds of thousands to come? The lobbyists and legislators have to realize that for a society to survive, the violence must be taken out of the argument. Don’t they?

President Obama’s Inauguration: Good Words on a Good Day

Richard Blanco (from Inaugural Poem One Today): BlancoOneAll of us, as vital as the one light we move through, the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day, equations to solve, history to question or atoms imagine, the “I have a dream” we all keep dreaming or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain the empty desks of twenty children marked absent today and forever. 

President Obama (from Inaugural Day Speech): obamatwoProgress requires us to act in our time. For now decisions are upon us and we cannot afford a delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle. Or substitute spectacle for politics. Or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act.

Martin Luther King: (from final speech given on April 3, 1968): mlkAnd another reason that I’m happy to live in this period is that we’ve been forced to a point where we are going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demands didn’t force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men, for years now, have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence or nonviolence in this world; it’s nonviolence or non-existent. That is where we are today.

Apocalypse Survival: We Must Change

We must change.” So pronounced President Obama at a memorial service on Sunday for the families of victims of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. obamaHe is right. There is no doubting that. We are an extremely violent species with an unconscionable past. And we must change that. But can we? Is there really any way to do this? My money is against. The fourth stage of accepting the oncoming apocalypse is a day on which depression, reflection and loneliness dominate. This is supposed to be a long period of sad reflection, but you’ve only got the day. You realize the true magnitude of your loss, and you isolate yourself on purpose. William Basinki’s The Disintegration Loops is ideal for this state of mind. Created in Brooklyn on 9/11, these CDs document the disintegration of sound on reel-to-reel tapes. loopsThere are five CDs in all, but Disintegration Loop 5 is 52 minutes well worth trying. Michaelangelo Frammartino’s Quattro Volte evokes a similar feeling; it is a film with a disintegrating narrative of sorts, using an old shepherd, a baby goat, a tree and smoke, in that order. quattroIt’s a remarkable film for contemplation. Jose Saramago’s Blindness is far more harrowing, starting with a plague of white blindness that gets worse and worse and worse. It is next to impossible to put down. blindnessPresident Obama concluded his speech with the following: “We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we are powerless in the face of such carnage? That the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?” What are you prepared to do? Genuinely. What? It’s something to think about and act upon. We must change.