Monday, January 21, 2019

Super blood wolf moon

This is a national holiday, so in no particular order:

Let Me Grovel, the Chris Christie memoir eagerly awaited by no one, invades the bookstores this week.  Excerpts suggest that it's more like a book-shaped application for one of the many vacant jobs in Trump's regime.  To hear Governor Bridge-closure tell it, Trump is one of America's great men surrounded by "amateurs, grifters, weaklings, convicted and unconvicted felons," all of them his hires but none of them his fault.  Trump himself is "utterly fearless" and "a great communicator,"  morally neutral encomia which could describe anyone from Winston Churchill to Adolf Hitler.  And although Trump once insisted on ordering Christie's dinner for him -- lamb, which he dislikes, and scallops, to which he is seriously allergic -- that's just his impish sense of humor.  Like Lucy with the football, Trump kept dangling jobs in front of Christie and then yanking them away -- laugh, it's funny!  Trump gave him good advice, too -- wear ridiculously long ties, they're very slimming.  Apparently not a joke.   There, no need to read the "book" unless you enjoy verbal abuse of Jared Kushner, and I can do that myself.

Trump and Pence drove out to Arlington this morning, dropped a wreath in front of the King monument, and scuttled back to the White House before Rush and Ann noticed they were gone (they have one of those nanny-cams in the Oval Office).  A reporter who has to follow them around says the whole business took less than three minutes.  Because there are "very fine people" on both sides, so why antagonize the white supremacists?

Thousands of government workers have been ordered back to their jobs but will not be paid in the foreseeable future.  Making people work for no pay is the basic definition of slavery, which was outlawed (mostly) by the Thirteenth Amendment.  I know Trump thinks he can amend the Constitution by scribbling on a McDonalds napkin, but that's because he gets terrible advice from terrible lawyers.  Worse than the flagrant illegality, of course, is the spreading misery.  I have a lot of problems with Bill Maher, but he articulated what has so far been only tacitly understood -- government employees, the quintessence of the middle class, are in desperate straits because most of them have no financial cushion in the form of savings or assets they can borrow against.  They are the proverbial one paycheck away from disaster.  This is wrong, and most people can't remember a time when it was any different.  The rest of the vanishing middle class is in the same boat, liable at any time to be scuppered by serious illness, natural catastrophe or loss of job.  We hear a lot about Ogden, Utah, a sizeable town where the biggest employer is the IRS, whose shops and restaurants are empty because of "shutdown," which inevitably will lead to layoffs, bankruptcies, businesses not paying  bills, and so on down the food-chain.  And what is freshman Senator Romney* doing for his new constituents?  Howling along with the "WALL!" chorus.  Should I be saddened, enraged, or just carry on with cynical?  After all, they elected Mittens.

If MLK were alive, he would be ninety -- awesome but hardly impossible.  He would have lived through many historic changes, and he would find some things depressingly the same.  Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer who riddled Laquan McDonald with bullets and lied about the circumstances (aided and abetted by other CPD), was sentenced to six years in prison -- considerably less time, as some have pointed out, than Rod Blagojevich got for talking about selling a Senate seat.  His former colleagues were sentenced to nothing at all, because cops are expected to stand up for one another (or as my grandmother used to say, "One lies and the other swears to it").   King would not have been surprised.  He would have recognized the smirking, taunting kids who mobbed a Native American veteran, Nathan Phillips, in front of the Lincoln Memorial Saturday -- he saw them spitting and cursing at lunch-counters in North Carolina and at Central High School in Little Rock, only without the MAGA hats.  He would have been enraged at the likes of Mike Pence using him to blame the government paralysis on Democrats' refusal to "come to the table in a spirit of good faith," i.e., "GIVE ME WALL OR I DEPORT DREAMERS!"  He would have referred Pence and his master to the speech he made in 1964 denouncing the wall in Berlin, and then he would have called them straight-up racists for trying to wall out refugees and for taking away their children.  Oh, it would have been a birthday to remember.  And then King would link arms with William Barber and John Lewis and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Kamala Harris and Rashida Tlaib and Stacey Abrams and Maxine Waters and all of them would lead a memorable march.

*In fairness to Sen. Romney, he may have forgotten which state he now represents.  It's easy to lose track when you move around a lot.  If he were a Democrat the media might well call him a "carpetbagger."  



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