Dispatches from Wolf Country – Gratitude at a Rolling Roil

He begins to sense the walls closing in, his options limited, his power constrained. He wants to fly in his own jet and discovers that after January 20, that just isn’t going to happen. How can he be expected to fly in an airplane where his bathroom doesn’t have gold fixtures? He is no longer important; his office lends him what importance he has. It’s a different kettle of foie gras…

Where will Trump  rank on the lunatic-sociopath-psychopath-schizophrenic-bi-polar autocrat scale?

Trump and minions do ironic crap without  intending irony!

Risk lives and health of their athletes to accomplish nothing.

I wrote a piece that was published last week and then the dog that is the computer cloud ate my homework. It just vanished, which was interesting for a variety of reasons. Anyway, I seldom keep copies of my posts, but I had posted some of it as a way of sharing some of my work over at Crispin Sartwell’s Eye of the Storm-Cheese It the Cops! Blog. I have been reflecting on Masha Geesen’s recent New York Review of Books piece on how to maintain sanity and integrity in the face of autocratic rule. As the Trump reality show continues to roil along or roll along, there are continuing things to look at and think about. Gessen provides a helpful template.

Of course, someone decided that I was not the same as the other people he read at the site and complained that all I was doing was complaining about Trump. Really? The Veterans News Network and Veterans Today publish a wide variety of stuff by a wide variety of authors, many of whom have radically different points of view. It’s a rarity on the web, and unique in many ways. Thus, I’m grateful to Gordon, John and Jim who’ve provided the platform. Crispin’s example led a bunch of malcontented clowns, some already bloggers and others wondering about it to write outrageous and witty and perceptive stuff. I was one, and I am grateful for Crispin’s encouragement and continued providing me an alternative home.

A home where I summarized my now lost text. I explained that I was using individual rules to help illuminate whatever the hell it is that we have going on in the last best hope of government of, for, and by the people in this new reality. Here it is.

1.Believe the Autocrat.  A more elegant writer than I, she doesn’t put it this way but — No matter how completely the statement uttered as policy is illiterate, ill considered, at odds with the facts on the ground and the general laws of god, nature, physics, mathematics and aesthetics, doesn’t mean the rabid wombat who has taken control  doesn’t fully intend to do it. Think Mao deciding to make everybody build small blast furnaces in the courtyards of their buildings and thus triple the output of steel overnight…or Stalin, deciding to imprison or execute everybody in the senior ranks of the Army because he had a bad dream and figured he’d let the dialectic sort out the sheep from the goats. Or Trump saying he doesn’t want to live in the White House…Fifth Avenue is going to never be the same. I’m not sure where Trump is going to rank on the lunatic-sociopath-psychopath-schizophrenic-bi-polar autocrat scale. I’m thinking of equating him with God in the theory that God is 80% malevolent but only 20% effective. 

2.Do not be misled by brief moments of normalcy.Well, we haven’t really seen any of those yet; he makes one appointment that makes absolute sense, one that is controversial, and one that is utterly goddamned batshit crazy and evil. You have a fanatic anti-Semite Catholic-Leninist and put him in charge of strategy. What could go wrong? When does David Duke go to work for the justice department?I kind of wish I had added that to my discussion of non-management of process and conflicts of interest. (Broken link, lost chord, Cloud Dog eaten homework!)

Now, to confuse the issues, I agree with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Where they can work together to get things done that need doing, Democrats should support Trump. Where he wants to do something utterly goddamned awful, they shouldn’t. This is exactly the way the Republicans should have worked with Barrack Obama, and despite his best efforts, nothing worked.

So of course, Trump is perfectly capable of conquering Britain the way Caligula did it, by sending the Legions to the coast of Gaul and having them collect seashells, haul them back to Rome and parade them through the streets in a triumph. Although a crazed and evil man, Caligula had a pretty weird sense of humor. We haven’t seen any sign of that from Trump land yet, but they can do ironic crap without  intending irony.  (From Cheese It the Cops)


Chaunte Lowe at Rio2016 -- Still Competing! New York Times Photo, Nove 21, 2016

Chaunte Lowe at Rio 2016 — Still Competing! New York Times Photo, November 21, 2016

“I kept doing the math,” Ms. Lowe, who originally finished sixth, said. “Wait: 6, 5, 4. … Oh my gosh — they’re right. I started crying.”

I opened my mail this morning, and saw a news alert from the New York Times to the effect that the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency have gone back to test samples from Olympics in 2008 and 2012, and discovered a horrendous number of previously undetected violations of the rules concerning the use of performance enhancing drugs. In many cases, winners are losing their medals and being sanctioned for cheating as are other high finishers. The article cites an athlete who had finished sixth, and after the third, fourth, and fifth finishers were disqualified, she was informed that she was now the Bronze finisher. Chaunte’ Lowe, an American high jumper, moved sixth place to Bronze. She learned of the possibility when another athlete against whom she’d competed in Beijing Facebooked her a note congratulating her for the Bronze.

“I kept doing the math,” Ms. Lowe, who originally finished sixth, said. “Wait: 6, 5, 4. … Oh my gosh — they’re right. I started crying.” Accompanying the joy of her belated recognition, she said, was an awareness of the opportunity costs she suffered. In 2008, her husband was laid off. The couple’s house in Georgia was foreclosed on that year, something Ms. Lowe said would not have happened had she distinguished herself in Beijing. “I was really young and promising at that point, and sponsors were interested in me,” Ms. Lowe, now 32, said. “A lot of interest goes away when you don’t get on that podium.” Edwin Moses, the American Olympic hurdler and chairman of the board of the United States Anti­Doping Agency, said it was difficult to measure the “agony of winning and losing, of having medals ripped away.” “I don’t know how you recover those damages,” he said.

Equally fascinating was that the doping scandal again involved Russia and eastern European countries which again indicated a centrally directed effort to combine the best efforts of Sports Federations and Propaganda Organs to risk the lives and health of their athletes to accomplish, well, basically nothing. The glories of the athletic field and arena are transitory at best. Barry Bonds earned his Hall of Fame induction long before he decided he needed to turn into the fantastic hulk in San Francisco. He was a few years ahead of and possibly just a bit better than Ken Griffey Jr., playing for another smaller market team in Pittsburgh, and somehow San Francisco and Dusty Baker and ego combined to turn the story into something else entirely.

That’s the problem with a lot of things in life. Other factors get involved that are absolutely irrelevant to the individual, the discipline, the talent, the skill, the courage and the trust, and the beauty can be lost in those things.

So, I’m thankful to the athletes who struggle and work to be something incredible, and I’m grateful for the agencies that try to keep the process honest. I feel badly for the athletes now tainted with cheating; was there anything sadder than Pete Rose and Alex Rodriguez trying to be pals on pre- and post-game shows during the World Series? Ego run amuck, ambition and silliness turned greatness into something different. I’m grateful for the fact that Russia just glowers and doesn’t admit any wrong doing, because that shows the difference, doesn’t it? As Don Henley wrote, “we are all just prisoners here, of our own design…” Welcome to the hotel Moskova! Or as John McCain puts it so well, once a KGB agent, always a KGB agent.

Trump’s limited appreciation of the law in general and the constitution in particular.

Which brings me back to Masha Gessen’s article in the New York Review of Books and her third rule:

Rule #3: Institutions will not save you. Gessen points out that it took Putin about a year to subvert the various institutions in Russia so that he was able to begin his long trek to making Russia Great Again! She points out that there are stronger institutions in the United States than ever existed in post-Soviet Russia but then points out that many of them are not protected by law and that Trump has shown a limited appreciation of the law in general and the constitution in particular. He’s practicing crony capitalism in the make-up of the cabinet and his appointees, and he’s demonstrating a continuing level of paranoia, grievance and self-aggrandizement that subverts the presidency.

I suspect one reason – and it may not be conscious – that he and his team have stayed operating out of Trump Tower is the intimidation of the institutions in DC. I have been to Arlington once in my life, because I thought I should go. I did, and I stood quietly off to the side and cried at the Tomb of the Unknowns. I don’t cry often, and can usually just take a deep breath and regain control. That time not so much…

He tries to tell Paul Ryan what to do, and Paul Ryan smiles at him quizzically

His office lends him what importance he has. It’s a different kettle of foie gras…

Well, here’s Trump, builder of huge and marvelous buildings. He walks in the Oval Office and realizes that he can’t have the decorators come in and knock out walls and put in Swedish modern aluminum furniture based on the latest IKEA design only rendered in the most expensive woods, leather and stone. He can’t put his name on the exterior of the building. He begins to understand that he is not automatically loved, that the Congress and the Court don’t work for him. He tries to tell Paul Ryan what to do, and Paul Ryan smiles at him quizzically.

He begins to sense the walls closing in, his options limited, his power constrained. He attacks the New York Times on Twitter, and the Times shrugs it off and other parts of the media chime in. He wants to fly in his own jet and discovers that after January 20, that just isn’t going to happen. How can he be expected to fly in an airplane where his bathroom doesn’t have gold fixtures? The Press is no longer penned in the middle of mob to be used as chum for the circling sharks; they actually make unreasonable demands like sending someone along to cover his sudden whim about dinner. He is no longer important; his office lends him what importance he has. It’s a different kettle of foie gras…

So, I’m thankful that we had a thousand years of English Common Law and 240 plus years of American Law, Tradition and proceedings to set the stage for this. I’m grateful for the fact that so many of his supporters and co-conspirators like Governor Pence and Doctor Carson are able to realize that there’s a lot more at stake here than their own ambitions and their own desires.

If Putin went to see a play, would there be any boos? No, probably not, and if he did receive some, the FSB and his bodyguards would take names. Pence goes to see Hamilton, and some of the audience boos and some clap. He watches the show with his daughter and his niece, and after he leaves, the actor playing the only Vice President to have killed a man in a duel while in office, Arron Burr, basically reads out a plea for reassurance and protection of the rights, liberties, persons and property of those who are feeling threatened and dispossessed by the Trump Administration. Pence stands in the back and listens.

The President-Elect of course engages in a Twitter War! With Hamilton and also with Alec Baldwin who had the effrontery to portray him again in a way that was not suitably submissive. And, for a change, he experiences push-back, including from his Vice President, who says he wasn’t offended and appreciated the sentiments of his predecessor’s doppelganger. He tries to reassure us that the Donald J. Trump administration will be for all the people, and that fear isn’t necessary. He is a reasonable man, a religious man, a sane person and he really is speaking for his new boss…

Perhaps the institution we should be most grateful for at the moment, and the one that can best brake the excesses of the Trump train is the office of the Vice President. An African American actor channeling the man who shot Alexander Hamilton, and the one-time governor of Indiana, and the Joe Biden memes popping up about the transition may well serve the role of the slave who carried the olive wreath above the head of the triumphant general or emperor in Rome…constantly repeating in a quiet voice but loud enough to be heard above the cheers of the mob, “Remember that you are mortal.”

Under the circumstances, am I finding myself grateful for Mike Pence? Perhaps. Whatever works and helps you sleep better tonight…





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