Hot Air Balloon

Do you think it matters how a man falls? When the falling is all that’s left; it matters a great deal.” – Lion in Winter –

It will almost have been worth it, enduring these many months of clownish embarrassment to America, to watch the slow-motion Titanic-like sinking of Donald The (T)Rump. My guess is he has about as much chance of winning as John Dillinger has rising from the dead. The Rumps chances of being Prezi are as dead as Disco.

The fun part of this three monkey; eyes, ears and mouth covered endurance trial, will be watching Rump decline, tumble and capitulate. His fall will be as macabre as any NASCAR crash we are ashamed to watch but feel strangely exhilarated by. I predict an ugly affair; one of bad form absent any sense of bearing or pride or self-esteem or good sportsmanship; a virtue that requires the loser to demonstrate dignity; one virtue so far sadly lacking in this Barker on the Midway. When this circus falls down on it’s knees and it’s big-top comes crumbling down; the sound will be hideous and repulsive, a grotesque crashing thud.

When Rump crows “folks; we can’t be so politically correct any more” it is a dog whistle, a clarion call to every racist, bigot and pseudo-militia wannabe longing for a white-wing, right-wing revolt; a John Birch-er, KKK takeover; fueled by some very pissed off people; crushed they’re tongue-bitten and can no longer say Nigger in polite company. It’s kosher at their churches, still the most segregated places in America every Sunday morning, their bars, barbershops, gun shows and back-yard wienie-roasts where bashing immigrants, Gays and minorities self-propels their need for a sense of better than thou.

Likewise the phrase “make America great again”. What America would that be I wonder Rump; the same one Reagan spoke about when he ran for the nomination; going to Stone Mountain Georgia and calling for States rights? That one?

The first time I heard anything about this carnival a friend called to ask if I’d heard the Rump was running for president. I asked; president of what; the Thieves and Scoundrels Union from the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon TV show? The very thought that someone so terminally narcissistic, undignified and boorishly buffoon would have the stones to announce such an intention seemed ridiculous.

Having said all that; in an irony-twist worthy of a Shakespearean play, the rest of the Republican field is so devoid of any lift to the spirit of America, the Rump, as it turns; looks to be the best candidate they have. I fail to recall a more motley perp-walk crew of UN-American louts in the 50 years I’ve been watching this every four year joust; not Wallace in 68′, not even Goldwater in 64′ chucked hate and fear into the cheap seats like they were fired out of a t-shirt gun at a Timberwolves game.

This unveiled self-promoter has elevated the kind of anti-American fear and hatred of the other to a place common enough to make the supremacists feel comfortable coming out from behind their otherwise hidden prejudices and odious agendas. For this we must thank the Rump and his coterie of cunts; for now we can see who they are and get an accurate count. Anyone practicing statistical analysis of opinions, however, put forth from polls, long ago decided that 3 in 10 of us, despite how obvious the question being asked is, fall on the side of the inexplicably bat-shit crazy; proving they’re just plain rabid haters.

As so it goes; the greatest show on earth, LIVE; Americas free non-cable reality show starring the worst of us; the bottom 1/3, compelling us to watch the sporting contest, the concussion , the great car wreck, the double Ram pile-driver from the top turnbuckle of the biggest, the wettest, the most obscene WWE event ever staged. We can’t stand to watch it; but we can’t look away. It will eventually end, not with a whimper but with a Game of Thrones worthy sword to the neck of the loser; the biggest loser; Donald The Rump.


On the Bus to Crazy Town

Nick Masesso, Jr.

“Sign, sign, everywhere a sign, blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind; Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?”   – Signs – Five Man Electric Band

An old desperado and sometimes accomplice obsessed with badgering an unfortunate list of victims with apocryphal urban legend fairy tales promoting fear and confusion; sends me nutso conspiracy porn advocating America as the great Satan; things like W and the Israeli Mossad perpetrated 911, the Boston Marathon bombing being a “false flag” operation and every imaginary mysterious cataclysmic event that the shadow government of the USA is supposedly responsible for; from Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicking over the lantern that started the Chicago fire to the scourge that was typhoid Mary and AIDS. Frustrated with my rejection of his host of wild theories, he sent me the following screed attached to yet another loopy Alex Jones/ Unabomber/ Timothy McVeigh style manifesto.

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Donald Trump Is Making Me A Hypocrite – by Mark Salter

I’ve always distrusted people who never question their assumptions or test their opinions against their critics’ arguments. I believe empathy is the starting point of wisdom, and imagining things from an opponent’s point of view is essential to solving problems in a closely divided polity.

Yet on the subject of Donald Trump, my mind is closed. Slammed shut. Triple-bolted. Sealed like a tomb.

Nothing anyone could reveal about Trump could get me to change my opinion that he’s an asshole. And not a “yeah, but he’s our asshole” kind but rather a cartoon villain, a fake, a cheat, a liar, a creep, a bullying, bragging, bullshitting, blowhard kind of asshole.

There have been lots of candidates in the past I’ve disagreed with, even loathed. There’s only one I’ve wanted to punch in the face as he’s doing one of his pursed-lips, chin-tilting Il Duce impersonations.

I grew up in Iowa, where people are widely admired for their courtesy, generosity, and modesty, for their un-Trumpness. Iowa was the first state to offer a new home and resettlement assistance to Vietnamese boat people. It’s also welcomed refugees from other war-torn and oppressed countries. Until the terrorist attacks in Paris, eight hundred more were expected to arrive in Iowa this year. Most Iowans of my acquaintance are just good people.

Yet for months a xenophobic bigot has been leading most polls there and nationally, with his acolyte, Ted Cruz, in hot pursuit. I don’t believe them. I think they inflate his support. I can’t imagine how Trump could appeal to more than a disaffected few who are resentful, misinformed, and misled but unlikely to go to the trouble of participating in a caucus. Mostly, I don’t want to believe the polls. I don’t want to believe Iowans or any decent person would choose Trump for president.

If you regard honesty and humility as virtues, which I think most Iowans do, his ridiculous boasts demand derision. He’s the business genius who brags about screwing his investors and who has declared bankruptcy as often as some people overdraw their checking account. He sports the world’s silliest comb-over and makes fun of other people’s looks. He’s the tough guy who never served in the military, never risked his life or his interests for anyone other than himself, and disparaged the service of a decorated veteran.

He promises to make America great again and rejects the ideals and decency that made us great in the first place. Trump isn’t a fascist. He just says stupid, offensive things, seems unaware we have a Bill of Rights, and surrounds himself with aides who appear to have graduated first in their class at the Baghdad Bob School of Awesome Ass Kissing. Fascism is an ideology. Self-aggrandizement isn’t.

But he does preach resentment of and hostility toward others—the mythical dancing Muslims of Jersey City, the Mexican day laborers pillaging our culture and raping our women. He incites people to consider fellow citizens and aspiring citizens outside the protection of our Constitution and the norms of a just society.

He isn’t a terrorist, either, but his crude populism, with its scapegoats and simple answers and appeals to the worst in people, intent on offending every Muslim on earth, makes him an ally of terrorists.

My daughter thinks I’m paying Trump a compliment by taking him seriously. To her cohort, raised in the age of reality TV and the Internet’s infinite store of human folly, Trump is just a joke gone viral without being very funny. It happens. There’s always a market for crudeness and bad taste.

But Trump is bringing out the worst in me, too.

In my contempt, I’m channeling Trump, slinging insults and scorn not at him alone but also at the people who support him, who applaud his pretensions, cheer his slurs, and nod in agreement with his asinine ideas. I’ve belittled their intelligence and character. I’ve stopped trying to understand their point of view. I’m treating them as the other, undeserving of my respect.

Some Trump fans are likely as boorish as their candidate. But what explains the people who support a man for president they wouldn’t want as a friend or neighbor or coworker? Among them are people I know—some I’ve known for many years. They are salt-of-the-earth people, good people.

I sat next to a woman at a basketball game the other day. We go to the same church and our kids attended the same schools. She’s a thoughtful, courteous, nice person. She told me she was supporting Trump. I was dumbfounded and asked her why. She gave me a version of the answer I’ve heard from other Trump supporters: The country is in such bad shape that we need someone like Trump, someone who will really shake things up.

That’s a sentiment I thought was a tendency in Latin American politics, not here—the preference in troubled times for a caudillo, a strongman to break rules, to rule the people when everyone is too scared or weak or corrupt to govern themselves.

Are we in such dire straits that we must dispense with civility, kindness, tolerance, and normal decency to put a mean-spirited, lying jerk in the White House? Are we not still the strongest, wealthiest, freest society on earth, with more opportunities for more people than anywhere else? We fought the last presidential election mostly over a 4 percent difference in the top marginal tax rate—not exactly an ideological battle for the ages. Four years on, is the notion that the country is hopeless so widespread that people are willing to throw in the towel by nominating for president someone who admires Vladimir Putin?

I don’t get it, and I’ve stopped trying. That’s on me and I’m sorry. I know how I appear to a lot of Trump supporters. I live in Washington. I used to work in the government. I’m not worried about losing my job. I’m not looking for answers or for someone else to hold accountable for my circumstances. But neither is my friend from the basketball game or other Trump supporters I know personally. The only explanation I can come up with is that they’ve given up on the country for no good reason. I know that’s a failure of discernment and empathy on my part.

Of course, were Trump to succumb to a rare bout of honesty, he would confess he thinks we’re all just suckers.

I hope we’re both proved wrong. I really do. Because right now that asshole is making us all look bad.

Mark Salter is a former longtime aide to Senator John McCain and a veteran of two presidential campaigns.

Saturday Night

Nick Masesso, Jr.

Makes it kind of special down in the core; dreaming of them Saturdays that came before. Cruising down the boulevard; looking for the heart of Saturday night.”“The Heart of Saturday Night” – Tom Waits.

The carved pumpkin heads are frozen stiff; looking like decapitated zombie corpses in suspended animation. They hadn’t even started to wither and collapse in on themselves in that perennial grotesque ripening – decay dance when scarecrows upstaged them and morphed into snowman freak shows. Fall muscled Spring to the mat without much of a fight, pinned it, winked a few dying colors, then, falling early, crumbling and tumbling down on its knees; stepped aside. Strongman Winter, proclaiming itself the dominant season here; bullied its way in.

Heavy snow laid a thick blanket over catatonic ice; putting the pavement to sleep like a hit man until spring. After a couple dozen days of gloom…

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