Friday, January 20, 2017

Some Cartoons Aren't Funny

It's the End of the World - R.E.M.

You Asked for It, Inaugural Edition

Courtesy Getty Images

It’s hard.

It’s hard to want Donald Trump to succeed, to wish that his incredible boasts and unfulfillable promises become real, to admit that his misguided, snowed supporters were right. It’s hard to have faith that our protests and marches will matter, our letters and petitions will be considered, that Trump’s pledge to serve all Americans will prove true. And it’s hard to take pride in the much-lauded peaceful transition of power that will send President Obama back to Chicago today and usher in Trump and Pence as leaders of what was indeed once the greatest country on Earth but is now about as respectable as when Dubya looked under White House chairs for weapons of mass destruction.

Michelle and Melania
I wasn’t going to blog about President Obama vacating the White House and being succeeded by the crass, pompous prick who’s being inaugurated today because the people who read “What’s the Diehl?” already know what I think. You already know why what’s happening is just wrong. You know why some of us are going back and forth from incredulous and apoplectic to numb and resigned. And you know the danger – yes, danger – that myopic, ignorant voters have placed us in by choosing this orange beast over one of the most qualified, experienced politicians ever to grace the campaign trail. (Yes, Hillary stole the Democratic nomination and yes, she’s more than a little off-putting herself – see “Why I’m Not Voting for Hillary Clinton” – but there’s absolutely no doubt that she would have made a better chief executive than the shyster who lied and pandered his way into the White House.) But after hearing on the car radio last night that some are blaming Obama for the Trump phenomenon and watching the laughable inauguration speech delivered by our 45th president a few minutes ago, I have no choice.

First, the attempt at revising history. Barack Obama did not ignore the average Joe, turn away from the hardship faced by so many Americans, and dine on caviar and filet mignon while the middle class became poor and the country crumbled. It is not because desperate voters felt voiceless and invisible that the little rich kid from Manhattan, with his gilded penthouse and propensity to fire people on a whim, was able to dispatch his Republican rivals, capture the nomination and win the election. Obama did not preside over the collapse of our economy, an overpowering influx of Mexican rapists, the decimation of our once-mighty military or the emergence of radical Islamic terrorists as the biggest threat to baseball and apple pie since Khrushchev. Those are bald-faced lies that Trump and his surrogates spread with the significant assistance of our whorish media, who felt it journalistic and newsworthy to report every burp and belch emanating from the Wizard of Trump Tower. I submit that the lazy Fourth Estate deserves the blame for helping to advance the candidacy of this short-sighted idiot with a checkbook and cashmere overcoat, a supermodel wife whose eyes look funny and disagreeable offspring who resemble Barbie, Beavis and Butthead. They made him and now they’re trying to assign responsibility for this mess on his predecessor, who’s not perfect by any means but is completely blameless for this particular tragedy. They refused to tout Obama’s many achievements while elevating Trump’s status from brash neophyte to serious contender in a game most find abhorrent but the media insist on covering like a Kardashian.

I told myself I would join the boycott of all things Trump today but I just couldn’t stay away from the television at noon. The new president’s inaugural speech – which was as well-written as a schoolkid’s forged note to his teacher – was full of the same kind of tripe he spewed at his campaign rallies:

"We will bring back our dreams."

"When our hearts are open to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice."

"No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America."

"Our country will thrive and prosper again."

"The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action."

"Children in the urban sprawl of Detroit fill their hearts with the same dreams."

"You will never be ignored again."

"Your voice, hope and dreams will define our American destiny."

"Your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way."

"We will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And yes, we will make America great again."

What does any of this mean? How will dreams guide people along the way? How will hope define our American destiny? How will President Trump bring back our dreams and from where? I was reminded repeatedly – as in after every sentence – of old Clara Peller asking “Where’s the beef?” in those now-ancient Wendy’s commercials back in 1984. How will he actually do any of these things? And what kind of brainless moron falls for this crap?

Somehow, 62,846, 550 numbskulls did – including 53 percent of white women who presumably have no problem with their pussies being grabbed by rich assholes. I’ve added this to my list of Things I’ll Never Understand, right above “Why Is Gilbert Gottfried Famous?” and just below “Why Isn’t Everyone a Dog Person?”

It’s not because he’s a Republican that I despise Trump. It’s because he’s an embarrassment to Americans, to white and formerly-white men, to human beings. His propensity for tweeting caustic, combative, offensive messages; his obnoxious, lying, arrogant, off-putting mannerisms; his proven status as a fraud and an adulterer; his decision to ridicule a reporter who is disabled; his posturing as a successful deal-maker when he’s filed for bankruptcy more times than I’ve filed for divorce; his collusion with Putin; the way he treats women, minorities, veterans and Muslims; and the fact that he’s been accused of raping a little girl and paying Russian prostitutes to urinate on him...well, these alone are reasons why I wouldn’t even watch him on television, let alone choose him to represent me on the World Stage.

There’s also, of course, the now-infamous recording of him boasting about grabbing women by the pussy; his five military deferments; his history of stiffing vendors and contractors, his endorsement by the KKK; his efforts to discredit specific journalists and the intelligence community...and now, his ridiculous nominees for key cabinet posts who give new meaning to “unqualified stooge being rewarded for his/her friendship, large campaign contributions or both.”

Someday, if my children are fortunate enough to survive Trump’s presidency and still have breathable air and access to the internet, they’ll be able to read blog posts that lament the Orange Joker’s rise to power, including mine. They’ll know that I wasn’t party to the takeover of our country by a disingenuous fraud who spouted vapid platitudes to con susceptible yokels into misusing their votes and clouding our collective fate. At least they won’t be able to pin this disappointment on me.

I didn’t always fawn over President Obama – search “What’s the Diehl?” and you’ll find plenty of whiney, critical posts – but I see, in retrospect, how fortunate we were that he was the guy with the nuclear codes and the key to the Oval Office. As I’ve posted in Facebook, if we ever needed a non-automotive example of the truth of Joni Mitchell’s famous refrain, “You don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone,” we need look no further than our 44th President. (I’m not using “...of the United States of America” because we’re clearly not united). Barack Obama was a man of class, commitment, strength and talent, a rare and remarkable individual who endured immense pressure and obstruction and emerged as perhaps the most accomplished politician ever to reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. We all agree, I’m sure, that he and Michelle Obama will be deeply, utterly, sorely missed. I’m not sure how many of us will toss and turn tonight over their departure like I will.

Perhaps knowing that there are 65,519,461 other Americans who didn’t want Trump and his grinning, repellent spawn to surround Chief Justice John Roberts as he administered the Oath of Office today will help. I’m going to try to take solace in this even as my eyes tear up and my heart breaks.

P.S. I ran across something interesting about the Electoral College in Facebook the other day: The population of California is 38,800,000. The population of Wyoming is 584,153. California has 55 electoral votes; Wyoming has just three. It takes 705,454 Californians to equal one electoral vote. It takes 194,707 Wyomingites to equal one electoral vote. This makes every electoral vote from Wyoming worth 362 percent what each vote from California is worth in the election for President of the United States. Math wasn’t my forte in school but these figures don’t even add up to me.

P.P.S. I was glued to the television but only saw one person of color, Justice Clarence Thomas, at this national event and I'm told he's not even really black.

Source: Cook Political Report.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Yes, I'd Sleep Here for $1 Million

Rise Up - Andra Day

Hating Hayden's Passing

It makes me sad how sad I am.

This time it’s because one of my heroes, iconic social activist Tom Hayden, died a few days ago at the age of 76.

I can’t remember exactly when I heard a knock on my apartment door and opened it to see Hayden standing there looking glum and unhappy. At first I thought it was because he was dragged to my place by my then-boss, former State Senator Lana Pollack, who knew he was one of my heroes and also knew him and his ex-wife, actress and activist Jane Fonda. I soon realized his grim facial expression was in fact a result of carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, of being unable to leave his work at his office or ignore and compartmentalize injustice and corruption. He wasn’t disappointed in me. He was disappointed in everyone.

He and Lana were on their way to a function of some sort so he wasn’t able to sit down and share his opinion of the Iraq war, what it was like to author the Port Huron Papers political manifesto the year I was born, or how it felt to be charged by the feds with conspiracy to incite a riot during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago for protesting the Vietnam War. (This led to him being named one of the infamous “Chicago 7” along with Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Rennie Davis and three others. The eighth person to be charged, Bobby Seale, was tried and convicted separately which is why the “Chicago 8” became the “Chicago 7.” Seale, who co-founded the Black Panther Party and was bound, gagged and chained to a chair during judicial proceeds, deserves his own HBO special.) But Hayden took the time to autograph my copy of his memoir, Reunion, and tolerated my starstruck stammering with grace and patience. (If I recall correctly, my contribution to our brief conversation consisted almost exclusively of “I can’t believe you’re standing in my living room.”)

I learned who Tom Hayden was by watching an HBO docudrama of “The Trail of the Chicago 7” back in the 1980s. I had tuned in initially to see Hoffman, who I regarded as a loud-mouthed, entertaining clown with a propensity for American flag shirts and a Welcome Back Cotter-style Afro. I had no idea that Hayden was the heart of the antiwar effort and a leader of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the influential leftist student activist group that conservatives insisted was comprised of dangerous radicals and orgy-loving hippies.

Hayden in 1968 and more recently
He also visited North Vietnam and Cambodia more than once, publicly denounced racism, and founded the Indochina Peace Campaign (IPC) to oppose the Vietnam War and secure unconditional amnesty for draft evaders. He served in both houses of the California legislature. And he advocated for environmental protection, renters’ rights and alternative energy before it was cool to do so. (This wasn’t all included in the HBO special. I dug this up myself.)

Hayden ran unsuccessfully for governor of California in 1994, mayor of Los Angeles in 1997 and member of the Los Angeles City Council in 2001. He was an animal rights advocate who taught at several colleges and was a big Obama supporter. And he wrote or edited a number of books and served on the editorial board of The Nation, a progressive weekly magazine. Some people think of him as just the ex-husband of Fonda, to whom he was married from 1973 to 1990, but as women who are discounted as merely spouses can relate, he was much, much more.

I sent Hayden an e-mail message years later, in 2012, in which I directed him to “What’s the Diehl?” and asked him something about war or the Bush tax cuts or gerrymandering or something more substantive than “What’s it like standing in the living rooms of fans?” Here’s his response:

Good stuff on your site, but your question is tooooo overwhelming for e-messages. The new generation gets underestimated in terms of its activism, e.g. Just look at the vaginas rally on your site! No doubt the counter-movement against Obama, the 60s, and the 30s, is becoming ever more desperate as the demographics threaten to overwhelm them. Citizens United is part of a republican/business counter-movement, and is quite devastating. We have to talk about campaign finance all the time while also raising the money and the votes it takes to beat these people in November. Then we’ll see where we are.



I don’t know if this was written by Hayden himself or an aide but I treasure it nonetheless.

I also visited and added my name to his list of supporters. I received messages in which he shared his views on fracking and the environment, drones, Afghanistan and Syria, drugs, presidential debates, securing a progressive mandate, war and peace, free trade and the US–Cuba deal. He wrote about Wall Street, prisons, Trayvon Martin, Kent State, Guantanamo, Obama, Clinton and Sanders. Looking at these messages, all of which I saved to read or read again later, I realized that of all the famous people I’ve met – and I’ve met many – Tom Hayden was probably the most thoughtful, a prolific writer and essayist, an activist’s activist, an immensely knowledgeable information source who never stopped working to make things better for everyone.

He was also a graduate of the University of Michigan but nobody’s perfect.