Monthly Archives: February 2016

Is The Donald a Neo-Fascist?

From the pages of The Daily Drivel

Is The Donald a neo-Fascist as Carl Bernstein claimed on CNN today, or is he merely an opportunist? It didn’t help that The Donald didn’t immediately disavow David Duke, former leader of the KKK, in an interview this morning claiming that he didn’t know who Duke was (although he’s spoken of him in the past). His refusal sounds like Political Correctness to me. It didn’t help that he quoted Mussolini. And it certainly didn’t help that he recently stated his intention to go after the media in general and news people in particular when he becomes president. So yes, I think The Donald is a Fascist (never mind the neo- part), and an opportunist as well.

I’ll speculate here on the outcome of a perhaps unlikely but frighteningly possible event; what happens if The Donald becomes The President, either by winning outright, or by default because two opposing candidates (e.g., Clinton and Bloomberg) dilute the vote. This probably goes against an unwritten rule of blogging, and I may come to regret it, but I feel I have to get this out; it’s one of those itches writers occasionally and desperately need to scratch—otherwise it festers and leads to fevers, chills, and bad dreams.

If The Donald wins the presidency, here is the way it will play out: He’s made a lot of promises—simplistic, unrealistic promises such as building a wall and making Mexico pay for it—that he won’t be able to keep. Because he would never be able to admit failure, being the narcissist that he is, he will blame those failures on scapegoats. The scapegoats will be whomever is convenient. One of them is the mainstream media (which he’s already bashing). Another may be aliens, gays, Muslims, and possibly even blacks, Hispanics, and Jews—or perhaps all of these—anyone who his followers now perceive, or can be made to perceive, as the roots of their problems.

He will continue to demonize the mainstream media and mold it into his own self-serving propaganda media much as Vladimir Putin—a man that The Donald apparently admires—has done, a little at a time. He’ll begin to systematically exclude those reporters who irritate him from press conferences, and he’ll deny interviews to outlets that question him too much. Eventually, he’ll develop a body of sycophant reporters and outlets that will only reflect his views. Essentially he’ll develop a state-controlled media very much like Putin has done, gradually, until finally there will be no public voice to dispute him.

Perhaps simultaneously with this, or perhaps only after he’s crafted his state-controlled media, he will begin demonizing populations. It’s harder to see who this will be, or how it will play out, but it will look at least something like what strong-men of the past—Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin—did, and what Putin is doing now. It will lead to even more polarization and intimidation.

That’s about as far as my prognostication takes me at the moment. The Donald’s success at becoming a dictator will depend on how many dedicated followers he can eventually control. Note that he doesn’t need a majority, he only needs to get enough of a radicalized, pumped-up, gun-toting portion of our population to strike fear into the rest of us. Intimidation is part of his character. Whether he can do that or not is the main uncertainty as to whether our country abandons its rule of law, as Russia has done, and becomes a cult-following dictatorship, or remains, at diminished level, a democracy.

Or, perhaps the path leads to civil war. Not the relatively “civil” civil war that we all know and love, but the really nasty kind like Spain had, not partitioned so much by geography, North versus South, as by ideology, right versus left, neighbor versus neighbor, tribe versus ideological tribe. That would be the really bad kind, much to be avoided, but our currently increasing polarization and incivility seem to point in that direction.

I feel like a messenger. I feel like a navigator, plumbing the question “Where are we and where are we going?” So far I’m not liking the answer. We need a mid-course correction.

A New Life Form

From the pages of The Daily Drivel

The internet tribalizes us.

There were hopes at the beginning that it would educate us, connect us, and make us more harmonious. Instead, it dumbs us down, fragments us, and raises walls between factions—conservative versus liberal, rich against poor, religion versus religion versus non-belief, the educated elite versus the low information masses, black versus white, flat earth versus round. Up versus down!

Nobody has to read or listen to anybody they disagree with, they can talk to only those with the same world view. Compromise becomes a dirty word and flame-wars ensue. What we’d hoped would be a bridge instead becomes a barrier, counterpart of a Trumpian wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

The internet takes us where it wants, developing its own agenda, and nobody knows where or what that is yet. You have to wonder, with such a vast network of nodes and interconnections, daily getting vaster, if it’s not developing a crude consciousness of its own, a consciousness we’re not aware of in the same way that a neuron in our own brains is totally unaware of who we are or what we think.

Or maybe it’s the next primordial sea, cyberspace for a new Cambrian explosion of virtual life forms—cell engulf cell, fish gobble fish, dog eat dog. Maybe it’s the next stage of evolution, the technological one, the one that outstrips and supersedes biological evolution and eventually makes us obsolete.

We thought we’d be able to control the internet, but instead, it controls us. Whatever it is or ultimately becomes, the best we can do, ever, is attempt to imbue in it the best of our own views and values, and hope that it acquires a soul—a collective soul—that somehow looks back on us as beloved ancestors. A soul that somehow embodies good rather than evil … if it doesn’t first, intentionally or otherwise, help us destroy ourselves.

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Tucson Festival of Books – One Month!

It’s YUGE, the best, most enormous book show in the USA! It’s the Tucson Festival of Books! All the other book festivals are low energy losers. Pathetic!

It’s so yuge that The Donald™ must be there, couldn’t possibly be so wonderful without him, so come look for The Donald™ amongst those spectacular crowds, but if you can’t find him, look for Waldo, and if Waldo also escapes you, just stop by to say Hi to me, I won’t be as hard to find. Also drop by the amazing Arizona Authors Booth on the UA campus and chat up the enormously talented authors, editors and literary Grand Poobahs there—I say these are the best, the very best! All the other booths are losers!

It’s yuge, I tell you, and the best part is we’re making Belize pay for it!

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Colbert Truthiness Check: The Donaldsycophant (TDs) who is quoted above makes extraordinary statements about the Tucson Festival of Books, but literature searches do not completely validate the claim that the festival is the “best” or “most enormous” in the country. However, according to Ann Brown of the Arizona Daily Star (2014/03/02):

Festival organizers project that at this year’s [2014] March 15-16 event about 120,000 participants — that’s about twice the number it takes to fill Arizona Stadium — will pile into the University of Arizona Mall and adjacent buildings. Now in its sixth year with about 300 exhibitors and 450 authors participating in literary activities, the festival had a meteoric rise and now is among the largest book festivals in the nation.

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So, while “best” may be at best a bit of mislaid hyperbole, the festival this year will certainly be one of the very biggest in the country, and even yuger—colossally yuger, maybe the yugest—since the 2014 event.

As for the claim that Belize will be made to pay for it, rumors (thus far unsubstantiated) have it that The Donald™ will actually bill El Salvador. Nevertheless, the overall thrust of the claim by TDs is basically correct, if overstated.

Rating: Truthy with reservations.


Photo Credit: Benjie Sanders / Arizona Daily Star 2013

 

Pappy and the Power Saw

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As related to me by my daughter, with bits of artistic license stirred in.
(She says it happened pretty much the way I wrote it)

Louisa, aged six, draws kid pictures on a yellow pad in her Pappy’s living room while her Pappy reads the Encyclopedia Britannica and sips on a scotch on the rocks.

2063542902_4eb7b28157_z_mod2Little Louisa feels an itch in her full-length leg cast, and pokes a ball-point pencil down inside to scratch it. The cap comes off and drops down inside the cast just below her hip. She struggles to get her hand inside to retrieve it, but she can’t reach it. “Pappy, Pappy, I can’t get it out, it went down there,” she points, “and now I can’t get it.”

Pappy lays aside his encyclopedia, puts his scotch carefully onto a coaster, and lifts little Louisa onto his knees. They both try to get the cap out without any luck. Finally, he lifts her by her ankles upside down while she laughs, and tries to shake it out, but it’s lodged tightly and won’t move.

He puts her back down, and she begins to cry. Pappy is very sympathetic, but he is also very worldly-wise. He says, “Come out here to the garage with me and let’s see if we can’t do something.” He clears a space on his workbench, lifts the little girl up, and sits her amongst the screwdrivers and pliers.

“Now lie back there, and let’s try this.” He holds up a rotary power saw and pulls the trigger switch. The saw winds up into a high-pitched whine, then winds down again.

Little Louisa is suddenly very fearful, but she trusts her Pappy and knows that he would never hurt her, so she lies still while he begins running the power saw, ever so carefully, up the front of the cast. “Now keep real still,” he says, passing her knee. “Almost done,” he says as he grinds through the last two inches below her hip.

Finally it’s through, with a cut all the way from ankle to hip, but the cast doesn’t come off yet. “Hmmm. Have to make another cut. Turn over on your stomach, sweetie, and we’ll go up the back.” Again the saw whines and grinds up the full length of her tender little leg, millimeters from the flesh, but she loves her Pappy and trusts him and his worldly-wise ways, and doesn’t protest too much, only muttering and whimpering a little.

Finally he pushes the saw through the last few inches, and the cast falls apart in two pieces. “There,” Pappy says brightly. “And look, here’s the cap!” He stoops to get it where it’s rolled off the bench onto the floor. She is a happy little girl now, but then she wonders, “Pappy, what about my cast? Will Mommy be mad?”

“Well, we’ll just see about that,” Pappy smiles. “Lie still again and we’ll take care of it.” He fits the two pieces back together snugly on her leg, and winds duct tape around and around, ankle to hip. Finally he’s done. “There, little girl,” he says in the gruff voice that is his way of showing how fond he is of his pretty little granddaughter, “Good as new.” He raps it with his knuckles, and it is on good and tight. “Does it feel all right?”

Louisa inspects the tape-wrapped cast. “Yes, Pappy,” she answers, but a crease in her brow shows that she has some misgivings. “But what about Mommy?” Pappy smiles. He is a very wise man.

He glances sidewise conspiratorially, left and right, through narrowed eyes, then whispers with mischief in his voice, “Now we don’t have to tell your Mama about this, right?”


Photo credits:
Power Saw: Tony Taylor
Leg Cast (modified): Exceed Worldwide via Foter.com / CC BY-NC