This holiday was a good time for taking stock. I’ve decided to turn over some of my worries to you, while I worry about the big stuff. Like, I’m turning over worry about Trump and a 2024 presidential bid to you. Trump has passed his shelf life, except among the addled Republicans who think he can be resurrected. Remember these are the same folks gathered in Dealey Plaza as I write this, waiting for JFK and JFK Jr. to be resurrected and save the world. There are serious—really serious—mass mental health issues in this country and Trump is the locus of many of them, but I think there’s little to worry about him regaining the White House. Oh, he’ll strut around channeling Mussolini—maybe Gucci will even design an emperor’s uniform for him—and pretend he’s the Fuhrer, but I think his presidential hopes are pipe dreams. So, you can worry about that.
I worry about the Trumpazoids who are trying to out-Trump Trump. Right-wing legislatures in Georgia, Texas, Florida, Arizona, and God knows where else are loading up the dice to thwart a Democratic win in their states. These benighted states have gerrymandered and jury-rigged their election processes so that they—not the voters—can decide who wins and who gets their electoral votes. This is so clearly unconstitutional that it’s hard to imagine the Supremes would let it get through—except that the Supremes are themselves now seriously skewed to the right. If the GOP zealots succeed, we won’t have a democracy to worry about.
I will continue to worry about the virus. This holiday weekend we welcomed yet another COVID variant—OMNICRON—to our list of viral worries. The media might be hyping this one too much (as they love to do to sell soap powder and pills), but early indications are it could be a game changer. Better to worry too much too early, than wait until too late to take precautions. If the immediate fears of the scientists are borne out, we could be back in deep shit. Get the jab and wear your mask!
I’ll also worry about climate change. There are so many signs that we’ve already delayed too long, that I feel very insecure about the future of the planet. Generations yet to come will blame us for our procrastination on climate change and its causes. Whether we leave a water covered planet or a dust bowl, those future historians will see our puny excuses and stalling as only what they are—greed in its most selfish and deadly form.
If you’re not worrying about this stuff, then you’re not paying attention, fluffy. Wake up. The alarm went off years ago.
We’ll soon see if Steve Bannon is the fire-brand revolutionary he fantasizes himself to be. We’ll see if jail will dampen his spirits, or instead prompt him to write his own Mein Kampf from his cell. When Bannon came on the political scene in 2015 as Trump’s campaign manager, he described himself as a “Trotskyite.” That’s worth a second look.
I don’t pretend to understand the nuances behind the different flavors of communism, but Trotsky and Stalin were enemies. They feuded like a couple of Southern Baptists over the direction of communism in post revolutionary Russia. Trotsky’s philosophy was perpetual revolution, continually disrupting the status quo, creating fear and uncertainty in countries where they wished to establish a foothold for communism. Stalin opted for a different violent approach and committed a genocide that rivaled Hitler’s.
We ignore Bannon’s Trotsky-esque self-description at our peril. Creating chaos is his goal—fear and confusion and hatred, making it easier to control the poorly educated and credulous in our population. Sadly, the media plays into Bannon’s hands, as they do Trump’s, giving them a convenient platform to perform their antics. Endless clips of Bannon ranting in front of the courthouse, or Trump haranguing a crowd of supporters, only gives them free airtime. It is no time smugly believe that right-thinking people will simply recognize their dangerous rhetoric for what it is and ignore it. Too many are too easily swayed by their oversimplified nonsense. And too many violent splinter groups hitching a ride on their hate speech. Stop providing a stage for the performance of authoritarian political theatrics. Are you listening, cable news outlets? Rachel? Cuomo?
p.s. Bannon better watch his back. Stalin had Trotsky assassinated.
Beto Beto Beto
Beto O’Rourke has launched his campaign for governor of Texas. This may be the first ray of sunshine into the toxic politics of that dark state in a long time. Beto came within spitting distance of defeating Ted “I’ll meet you in Cancun” Cruz in the last senatorial election. Beto’s audacious campaign, crisscrossing the state, driving himself to every county and small town, shaking hands and spelling out his brand of liberal populism, has laid the groundwork for a high-powered bid to unseat the current crypto-fascist governor, Greg Abbott. I’m predicting that he’ll do it. People love Beto. He possesses the right amounts of charm, boyish enthusiasm, boundless energy, and hard-nosed political savvy. He has a keen sense of what working folks need, and of the goals of the growing non-white population in Texas. In short, he cares about people. Of course, he’s up against the gerrymandering hijinks of the GOP majority in the Texas state legislature. Their efforts are extreme and unfair, cutting and slicing voting districts to favor GOP candidates at the expense of the will of the voters. But, if Beto can prevail in the gubernatorial race, he can go a long way to block their anti-democratic efforts. He can undo some of the devilment perpetrated by the glueheads in the Texas Lege. Pay close attention to Beto. If he wins the Texas governor’s seat and sets the state on a path to recognizing women’s rights, human rights, and voting rights, he’ll be bound for bigger things in the years to come.
If you are not a veteran, you know one. Honor them today and every day. Veterans come in all shapes and sizes. And genders. One size does not fit all, except in one way: if you are a veteran, you pushed all the chips to the center of the table, at least for a while. You may have done it out of patriotism, love, obligation, calculation, or, if you’re of a certain age, you may have been drafted. But whatever your motivation, you made the commitment, took the pledge, got the buzz cut, and donned those stiff fatigues stenciled with your name. You may or may not have been in harm’s way, but for the length of your hitch, you did what you had to do. You are to be saluted.
If you’ve read these pages for very long, you know I went to Vietnam. I entertained at fire stations from the DMZ in the north to the delta in the south. Without exception the young men and women in uniform I encountered wanted one thing—to go home upright and in one piece. Far too many did not. I visited the wounded in hospitals and I witnessed the dead being readied for transport home. The smiling faces in the audiences at my shows, the determination of the wounded to put on a good face for me in spite their pain, and the cold reality of the aluminum caskets stacked in cargo bays with their somber contents to be returned home—they all haunt my dreams. I saw some bad shit. Like many of you, I suffer from PTSD. It is, as you know, a lifelong companion.
I encourage you to give a smile, a hug, or a kiss to a veteran you know—or one you do not. There is plenty of space to critique the wisdom of warfare, but there is no room to criticize the ones who had to fight. They made their decision—wise or not—to join and serve. And without their strength we would be less safe and less strong within ourselves.
May you have a thoughtful Veteran’s Day. And may you carry the remembrance of it into every day of the year.
Usually I come down on the side of the so-called left-wing media, but this time I’m calling BULLSHIT. The center-to-left media seems to believe that President Biden should have come full blown from his inauguration to easily pass the sweeping legislation for infrastructure and social assistance without opposition. Pundits who should know better pontificate upon how Biden was somehow at the mercy of GOP majorities. Passing the giant legislation Biden ran on required patience, hard work, no bullshit negotiating skills, and a keen knowledge of how the legislative branch works and where the bodies are buried. He has done a remarkable job moving his legislative package through the congress. So give the president a fucking break. He has brought common sense, empathy, and determination to governing in America—something that was sorely absent in the prior miserable excuse for a presidency. If you think his legislative package is socialism, then you should go back to 9th grade civics. If you think it’s lawmaking that makes the lives of everyday Americans better, then you are abso-fucking-lutley correct. mvd
Greta Thunberg is a giant reincarnated in the body of a child. She may be tiny and frail-looking, but Greta possesses the courage of a mother lion. No one else has had the sheer grit to stand before the United Nations and upbraid the assembly for their willful rejection of decades of warnings about climate change. She angrily called the European Union’s climate resolution a “surrender.” She accused the leaders of the world of being childish in their resistance to the science of climate change. “We must be the adults in the room.” Her determination to provoke action on climate change has sent her to the far corners of the earth to bear witness and report on its destruction and misery.
The proof of her effect on the world’s power structure ranges from leader’s attitudes of smug dismissal and angry defensiveness to grudging agreement. Greta has clearly struck a nerve. She continues to wage war against the cynicism and greed that deny the reality of climate change science, and prevent meaningful action to reduce the huge payload of carbon emissions dumped into our atmosphere daily by burning fossil fuels. “We don’t need a plan for 2050, we need a plan for 2020 and every year after that.”
I binged the three episodes of Greta’s PBS documentary series last night. (They were aired last spring.) I’ve followed Greta’s first school strikes in front of the Swedish parliament since they began, and followed her voyages back and forth across the Atlantic to attend climate conferences. In the face of adversity, insults, and threats against herself and her family, Greta speaks her mind and brings her crusade to every speech. Her small voice echoes across the planet which she stubbornly tries to save from irreversible disaster.
“Right now,” she says, “we do not speak the language of the planet. We must learn it quickly.” Humanity needs to listen and learn. Greta makes me proud to be a Swede and a woman.