American Rescue Package

Republicans are outraged by Democrats’/Biden’s $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Package.” After Trump’s 2017 Christmas gift to Jowl Street Pals, we poor folks need to catch up!

According to Wikipedia, “The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office  .  .  .   estimates that implementing the (“Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” which President Donald Trump signed into law December 12, 2017, less than a year after taking office,) would add an estimated $2.289 trillion to the national debt over ten years, or $1.891 trillion after taking (related economic effects) into account”.     

For more on “Trumpanomics,” Google Dartmouth, Oxford, Yale and Harvard professor of economics and political commentator, Robert Reich’s “Trump’s Economy Revealed” and “The Seven Big Failures of Trumpanomics.”

To Kill A Mockingbird

For over a decade I was mesmerized by Cormac McCarthy’s inability to write a boring sentence.  Thinking back, at some point a pre-conscious curiosity began to wonder if, in craftmanship and appreciation for the human condition, McCarthy has peers.  Obviously outrageous and prejudiced as I am, I addressed my quandary by reading better-known authors.

So, over the past half-dozen years, I doggedly plunged through Ernest Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms; William Faulkner’s The Sound and The Fury and As I Lay Dying; and Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five and Cat’s Cradle.  I gave up on John Updike’s Rabbit Run and Miguel de Cervantes’s Man of Lamancha.  Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, Down the Rabbit Hole and Through the Lookingglass, were welcome respites. Finally, my inspiration for this, Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize Winning To Kill A Mockingbird,

In How to Write a Damn Good Novel James Fry exposes three “secrets to dramatic writing”: Conflict, Conflict, Conflict!  But, as I see it, conflict is defined by the writer and the reader!  Nephew Larry wept over Hemingway’s first Best Seller, A Farewell to Arms.  I yawned.  For me, the faded World War I backdrop, magnums of wine, casual sex, and tepid emotion afforded the conflict of chewing gum. 

I’m suspicious of novels with a lengthy Forward or Preface.  Writing and story speak for themself.  The Sound and The Fury’stwenty-eight page forward put me on guard.  Unlike Hemingway’s, Faulkner’s masterpiece didn’t bore but bewildered me.  Despite being somewhat dyslexic and slow-witted, it is impossible for me to believe that, without the Forward and sixty-five pages of “Cliff Notes,” pedestrian readers would endure to the end, much less have a clue regarding Faulkner’s genius.  As I Lay Dying was less cryptic.  I left Faulkner sensing that his esoteric prose is not for common folk.  But, writing only for elite readers seems contrary to the literate excellence and exposition of human experience we expect in a great novel.   

Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonegut’sfirst-person tale as World War II POW and witnessing the destruction of Dresden, Germany, by Allied bombers, is compelling.  His diversions into fantasy left me wondering.  His narrative and dark humor are seductive.  His Cat’s Cradle left me puzzled.

After a bellyful of “serious” reading, the fantasy in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Down the Rabbit Hole and Through the Looking-Glass were delightful.  I’ll reread them.  I stuck with Miguel de Cervantes’s Man of Lamancha until Don Quixote’s assaults on objects and bewildered strangers took on the repetitive sameness of windmill blades.  

A 2006 New York Times authors’ survey “on the Best Works of American Fiction of the Last 25 Years” ranked McCarthy’s Blood Meridian and John Updike’s Rabbit, Run in the top five.  Classed alongside McCarthy, Updike’s novel seemed a “must read.” 

My Dad’s death ten days after my eight-birthday put Updike’s protagonist, Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, at a disadvantage.  A spoiled, twenty-year-old, ex-high school jock who abandoned a pregnant wife and son to, I guess, find himself, rubbed a sensitive nerve.  Page fifty or so, I began leafing forward, looking for Fry’s Conflict.  When “Rabbit” jumping among assorted women’s and his wife’s beds took on Don Quixote’s repetitious conflict I gave up.

Nephew Larry loves To Kill A Mockingbird.  Harper Lee’s channeling Lawyer Atticus Finch’s wisdom through his daughter is ingenious.  “Scout” brilliantly captures the eight-year-old’s inquisitive, Tomboy nature.  Her, brother Jem’s, and orphan neighbor Dell’s adventures and curiosity around mystery neighbor “Boo” kept me reading.

Around halfway through Harper’s narrative, Atticus’s defense of Tom Johnson, a negro, against red-neck Bob Ewell’s bogus claim that Tom raped his daughter becomes a central conflict.  When Scout and, more-so, teenage Jem, vice their indignity over Tom’s conviction, Harper has Atticus explained, “Tom Robinson’s a colored man Jem.  No Jury in this part of the world’s going to say, ‘We think you’re guilty, but not very,’ on charges like that.” (p. 250)

After debating our flawed legal system, need to change laws, and prejudiced juries, Atticus goes on,
“As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it—whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.  .  .  .  There’s nothing more sickening to me than a low-grade white man who’ll take advantage of a Negro’s ignorance.  Don’t fool yourselves—it’s all adding up and one of these days we’re going to pay the bill for it.  I hope it’s not in you children’s time.”  (p. 252)

Harper Lee’s prescience is stunning!  “Black Lives Matter!”  A century later, we “pay the bill!”

CPAC

Viewing TV clips from the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), two factors caught my attention: the anger in Josh Holly’s, Ted Cruz’s and Donald Trump’s speeches and the Golden Idol!  

Anger arises out of fear, and fear out of ignorance.  Not “ignorance” in the pejorative but definitive sense: to “ignore,” not to understand.  “Understanding,” the antithesis of ignorance, leads to patience.  Patience, the antithesis of anger, leads to compassion.  I hasten to note, Conservatives have no monopoly on ignorance, fear and anger.  Liberal cohorts’ and my speech and actions are, far too often, vitriolic and hypocritical. 

As I see it fear has two roots, our ignorance and sense of vulnerability in dealing with nature and people.  We fear and act to protect ourselves from floods, earthquakes, tornados, automobile accidents, cancer and COVID-19.  We fear and act to protect ourselves from people who appear, speak and behave in ways foreign to our experience. 

Apart from planning and diligence, there is little we can do to protect against accidents and natural disasters.  Likewise, we can do very little to change or control other people’s appearance and language.  Conflict arises from our inability to understand others’ beliefs and behavior and to know that our misunderstanding does not necessarily signal danger for us.  This inability to understand and appreciate other people’s experience causes at least as much human suffering as Nature.     

What misunderstanding and resultant fear triggered the anger beneath the January 6 assault on our Capital Building and Congress?  President Turmp was explicit, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re going to lose your country.”  What country?  A White-Supremacist, Male-dominated, English-speaking, Heterosexual, Christian County! 

The second CPAC news item to captured my attention was that Golden Idol!  Googling it now, I realize that on first sight of this bizarre caricature, something in me knew it had to be hoax.  Maybe snuck into the Conservative’s Conference by an embedded Liberal?  But, humorous as it appears, this is no joke!  Realizing it was meant to Idolize the Glorious Leader, I am stunned and bewildered!  Ironically and not surprisingly, Trump’s Idol was “made in China!” 

We need icons.  Our Capital Building’s Statuary Hall houses graven images of America’s heroes.  For Trump’s Cult, this ugly idol represents their Great White Hope.   

Seeing Golden Donald, the Golden Calf leapt to mind.  A glance at the internet reveals that, as often happens when I feel clever, others were out of the blocks ahead of me.   

To remind us, 

King James Bible
Exodus, Chapter 32
1 .  .  .  the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said
unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us  .  .  .
3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears,
and brought them unto Aaron.
4 .  .  .  after he had made it a molten (golden) calf: and they said,
These be Thy gods, Oh Israel  .  .  .
19 .  .  .  he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot
  .  .  . 
20 And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and
ground it to powder  .  .  .
35 And the LORD plagued the people, because they made the calf,
which Aaron made.  

Beware of false Gods! 

Why?

Utah Senator Mitt Romney believes Donald Trump, “would win the (2024) nomination if he runs .  .  .  in a landslide.”

Republicans friends, please explain why you support this man who orchestrated a treasonous, armed insurrection against the very Constitution and Government he swore to “preserve, protect and defend!”  An attack that drove Congress into hiding, killed Airforce Veteran and Capitol Police Office Brian Sicknik and caused death and serious injury for others.

Had President Donald J. Trump taken early, aggressive leadership against COVID – 19, at last tens-of-thousands of lives would have been saved and millions would not have suffered.

This man has absolutely no sense of responsibility, ethics, or morals!  He is a mean, delusional, lying, Narcissistic sixth-grade Bully!

What am I missing?

Profiles In Character

January 5, 2021, Representative Jamie Raskin buried his twenty-five year-old son, Tommy.  The following day, President Donald Trump ordered his Mindless Minions to attack our Capitol Building and Congress.  Enraged by their Leader’s rhetoric, the homicidal mob battered Capitol Police, surged under the Rotunda and down corridors, invaded and pillaged Senators’ and Representatives’, offices.  As Police and Security barricaded House Chamber doors, others rushed Legislators, staff and visitors to safety.  Thus sequestered, Representative Raskin experienced a parent’s alarm for the safety of daughter Tabatha and son-in-law Hank whom he had, ironically, invited to witness Congressional certification of the States’ Electoral Votes.

One month later, Representative Raskin lead a House Impeachment Managers’ post-doctoral seminar prosecuting President Donald J. Trump for “incitement of insurrection.”  After raising a fist in support of Trump’s mob, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley sat in the House gallery, feet up, scorning this masterful presentation.

Josh Hawley’s attitude and action reflect a deep, troubling schism within today’s Republican Party.  Donald J. Trump gives voice a faction’s feelings of contempt for Congress, the Constitution, indeed, our Government itself!  The President’s aborted attempt to stop certification of the States’ Electoral Votes puts his seditious intent beyond doubt. 

Perhaps a majority of rank-and-file Republicans favor Trump’s seditionist sentiment, if not his tactics.  Senator Lindsey Graham and Representative Kevin McCarthy represent less militant Senators and Representatives supporting their President.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s and Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene’s scurrilous words and act merit special attention.  Cruz labeled Trump’s second impeachment “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”  Given that Trump’s rhetoric triggered the January 6 assault, would Senator Cruz tell the widow and children of Air Force Veteran and Capitol Police Office Brian Sicknik’s their suffering and sacrifice signify nothing?  Would he tell the dozen other dead, maimed or injured and loved ones their pain and grief are insignificant?

A poster showing Representative Greene in dark glasses, holding an Assault weapon on three non-Caucasian, female Representatives, makes graphic Trump’s Minions’ sentiments.  Geene’s taunting a high school massacre survivor, calling Sandy Hook, Marjory Stoneman Douglas and other school shootings “fake,” groundless, mindless “Stop The Steal” claims, “Dark Web,” QAnon and “Deep State Conspiracies,” totin’ a pistol around the Capitol make her Cabal’s precepts explicit.

Thankfully, Hawley’s, Cruz’s and Greene’s contempt for our Constitution and Congress does not, represent the character of most Republican legislators today.  Amid the rock-‘em-sock-’em, drag-‘em-out-feet-first melee of Politics, Senators and  Representatives, Right and Left, show up day-to-day, wanting and working to do what they view as the right thing.

Take heart loyal Republican seamen.  The Pirates were beaten off.  Qualified Officers still chart the course.  Calling Trump’s behavior an “existential threat,” House Republican Conference Chair Liz Chaney entreats “Republicans to make clear we aren’t the party of white supremacy.”  Republican Mitt Romney twice voted to impeach Donald Trump.  Former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele expresses grave concern for the hazards Trump and his Minions pose for the Party and Country.

Down on deck, able-bodied sailors pull the ropes, rig the sails and man the helm; steady as she goes.  The Lincoln Project Republicans publicized Donald J. Trump’s clear and present danger to America.  Husband of Senior Counselor to the President, Kellyanne, George Conway points to the insanity and danger in Trump’s mindless power politics.  Expressing often-vitriolic contempt for Donald, former Republican Representative and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough faces lawsuits and death threats.

Given the devastating impact of Donald J. Trump’s Presidency on America’s Democracy, the genesis of his Republican Party is curious indeed.   Wikipedia tells me, founded in 1854, the Republican Party espoused “Classical Liberalism .  .  .  (based in) civil liberties under the rule of law.” (My emphasis.)  Its initial focus was opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act which portended the expansion of chattel slavery in America.  The first Republican President was Abraham Lincoln.

So, after a century-and-half, what has happened to Honest Abe’s Grand Old Party?  Out of frustration and antipathy toward America’s Administrations’ and Congress’s seeming inability “to get along, get something done,” acting in diametric opposition to principles on which the Republican party was founded, a handful of mutineers whose ideology includes Bigotry, White Supremacy, Racial Prejudice, Neo-Nazism, Zelophobia, Homophobia, in a word Fear! attempted to commandeer the vessel.  What about?

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The retched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
    Emma Lazarus’s sonnet, “New Colossus,”
    A plaque inside the Statue of Liberty.

Those who would, in Lincoln’s words, resurrect “The dogmas of the quiet past,” can never win!  It’s simple. The greatest of all irony: Change is the only constant!  Those who fight against the Coloring of America would hold back a rising tide.  Find a place on shore or drown.

Animal Farm

In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, while Farmer and Mrs. Jones slept, prize-winning boar Old Major addresses the assembles animals.  “Comrades  .  .  .  nearly the whole of the produce of our labor is stolen from us by human beings.  There, comrades, is the answer to all our problems.  It is summed up in a single word—Man.  Man is the only real enemy we have.  Remove man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished for ever.”

Months later, serendipity triggered a barnyard insurrection with Farmer, Mrs. Jones and their hired men “in full flight down the cart-track that led to the main road, with the animals pursuing them in triumph.”

Soon the pigs taught themselves to read.  Inspired by, now deceased Old Major, informed by their newfound literacy, boars Snowball and Napoleon formulated and had scrawled on a barn wall:

“THE SEVEN COMMANDMENTS”

  1. Whatever goes upon two legs is and enemy.
  2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
  3. No animal shall wear clothes.
  4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
  5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
  6. No animal shall kill an other animal.
  7. All animals are equal.

Needless to say, over time the pigs violated most of the Commandments and the writing on the wall was reduced to:

ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL
BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS

Like Orwell’s Animals, had Trump’s Minions’ January 6 insurrection succeeded, its impact on America’s Presidency, Congress and Constitution are impossible to know.  But, one action would summarize their belief: Amend our Declaration of Independence to, “all men are created equal, but some men are more equal than others.”

Biden and Trump

I hesitate to punch a man while he’s down, but, for the record, with under three weeks in office Joe Biden initiated a $1.9 trillion plan to ameliorate Americans’ physical, psychological and economic suffering from COVID 19.  More than Donald Trump did in one year. 

The Trump Experiment

Observing how nature appears to operate, scientists formulate and dream up experiments to test hypotheses.  Observing that milkmaids who contracted cowpox were immune to smallpox, Edward Jenner hypothesized that something in these women’s bodies blocked smallpox.  Experimenting, Jenner injecting material from cowpox ulcers into non-milkmaids and, essentially, scourges from smallpox, measles, mumps, whooping cough, cholera, polio and more were expunged from the human experience.   

Albert Einstien’s predicted that matter is unimaginable quanta of energy compressed in atomic nuclei.  To test Einstein’s hypothesis, physicists compressed a baseball size sphere of plutonium to a marble.  In a literal flash, the Nuclear Age was born.  Igniting explosive compounds inside cylinders, Dr. Robert Goddard tested Newton’s Third Law of Motion.  Decades later men walked on the Moon.  Today, Rovers transmit color, 3D, videos of Mars’s deserts and mountains. 

Like other natural scientists, Psychologists and Sociologists observe, hypothesize and experiment with human behavior.  Beginning in 1774, a collection of men I view as “social scientists” convened to hypothesize a new Democratic Government.  Codified in the Constitution of the Unted Sates of America, like any proposition theirs remains open to experiment.   

Eight and a half decides after the Nation’s birth, eleven Confederated States of America seceding from the Union and its first test occurred. April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Courthouse the Founding Fathers’ hypothesis was affirmed.    

The second and only other serious challenge to America’s government occurred when, failing to achieve reelection, President Donald J. Trump dreamt up an experiment to test the hypothesis.  On January 6, 2021 the President assembled and ordered a mob of four thousand to assault our United States Capitol Building and Congress.  While its specific objectives seem ill-defined, assassination of Nancy Pelozi and Vice President Mike Pence, disbanding Congress, suspending the Constitution and declaring Donald J. Trump President for Life seem apparent.   

After hours of hand-to-hand combat, Capitol Police and other law-enforcement personnel repelled the insurrectionists (“Patriots” vandalizing the Capitol Building, defecating on floors, urinating on walls, murdering Military Veteran and Officer Brian Sicknik) and restored civility to America’s Seat of Government.  The early hours of January 7, Congress reconvened to fulfill its Constitutional mandate of certifying the States’ Electoral votes.  Again, the Founding Fathers’ hypothesis affirmed!  

Amid that earlier seditious test of the Union, President Abraham Lincoln eulogized those, like Capitol Police Officer Sicknik, who “gave the last full measure of devotion,” and implored that Americans “be here dedicated to the great task .  .  .  that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”   

Seditious Conspiracy

January 6, 2021 

§2384. Seditious conspiracy 

If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both. 

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 808 July 24, 1956, ch. 678, §1, 70 Stat. 623 Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, §330016(1)(N), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2148 .) 

Questions? 

Madness

Right Wing Radicals trash our Capitol Building, threaten to murder Pelosi and Pence, and attempt to stop Congress’s certifying Electoral votes. Flying to Florida, Kevin McCarthy pays fealty to an insane man.  Pistol in her belt, an insane woman taunts a Parkland massacre survivor and stalks Congress. 

Has the Republican party descended into madness?  We have to believe the sane majority will step forward and reclaim Honest Abe’s Grand Old Party.