The Effects of Self-Righteous Blindness

During the past few days, the most astonishing news headlines, except for those involving the Ukraine, have been about Virginia (Ginni) Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas.

Hearing the news that she had tried to create a coup powerful enough to overturn a national election (with the help of her personal friends, Jesus Christ and Mark Meadows, Chief of Staff). Her utter and terrifyingly blind ardor for Donald Trump, turned her into a crazed and deeply disturbed Joan of Arc over a hunch that the government was being gift-wrapped and ready to hand over to Democrats. Her almost Nazi devotion to Donald Trump and the egomaniacal presumption that God Himself would be opposed to the Democratic win simply emboldened her until she became entirely separated from any shred of truth, reason, fairness or actual respect for democracy itself.

The twenty-one text messages, completely devoid of truth or reason, received eight responses from Mark Meadows that were almost as brashly unhinged and delusional as those of the mad woman herself, almost as though the psychotic messages were a kind of infectious virus. What ensued on January 6th by violent and ill-informed traitors to American justice was the closest we, as a nation, have come to an actual collapse of our republic.

Despite all the horror of misdirected violence of that day, we somehow survived, having, (I hope) learned a new level of fragility in a nation as senselessly divided as we have been over the past five years.  JB

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Playing the Fool for Political Points

Governor Ron Desantis is not a stupid man. He has degrees from Harvard and Yale with a record of being an excellent student, but he chooses to play the role of ignorant oaf in order to please the multitudes of dolts who inhabit parts of Florida, enough parts to make a big difference at election time. There is, of course, an elderly, very conservative part of the citizenry, many frozen in time and seemingly bereft of reason, curiosity, or any desire to leave 1950’s white America behind in terms of current science or racial awareness.

The governor’s choice for Surgeon General in the state was Dr. Joseph Ladapo, seemingly also mired in the America of sixty years ago, and, as a black man, an excellent prop for “racial equality” in the state. Dr. Ladapo makes a perfect hand puppet for the governor, whose deliberate, attention-getting insult of teenagers last week for wearing masks was a painful scene, not just for the innocent teens, but for the governor himself in his feeble attempt to demonstrate his loyalty to the current far-right’s defiance of science and medical facts. It was an embarrassing, dangerously insensitive display of political posturing in an attempt to mimic Donald Trump, the would-be dictator, still attempting to regain his throne.

If there were a trophy awarded to the most two-faced impostor in politics today, it would surely end up being ensconced in an illumined cabinet at the home of our governor.  JB

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Follow the Bouncing Ball

For the past two years I have felt like some kind of marionette floating around rather a small puppet theater, my strings controlled by some mysterious outside forces.

I know that I am not alone and that others everywhere yearn to participate fully in life again without the shackles we have endured over the past two years.

Just as I was beginning to feel that the world was crawling back to “normal,” our economy experienced what, to me and many others, seemed like a collapse of independence, our political system becoming more and more a child-like war game based upon scored points and awful opportunities to sneer at the opposition. This led to my psychotic fantasy of everyone from CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News being given actual weapons to obliterate each other as in a computer war game.

Then came the news items about Vladimir Putin attacking the Ukraine, resulting in the devastation and continuing violence that brings me to tears. Once again, the world I thought I knew, at least in part just a few years ago, has become a cesspool of suspicion, snide political criticism along with too many “truths” turning out to be like Fake Rolex watches.  JB

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Politics, Pandemic, and Bills Coming Due for Trump

I can’t recall another time in my seventy-five years when I felt so utterly separated from other people, partly due to the pandemic, but even more so due to political division. The great divide we’re experiencing in America now has not been seen since our Civil War of the 1860’s. It is a political and social phenomenon that has been too underestimated by profiteers and political hacks who wish to downplay a division so wide and deep that narrowing it will take all the guile, compassion, honesty, and common sense that we have left to do battle against a smug rancor that has not even been imagined since Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy of the 1930’s. The past year has brought into clearer focus the terrifying greed and self-aggrandizement for a maniac of mammoth narcissism, who in the eyes of his willing worshipers, seems to be God Himself, who can do no wrong.

Facts no longer mean anything to too many (especially Republicans) who insist upon downplaying the violent coup of January 6, 2021, that very nearly turned our nation into a Nazi dictatorship with absolutely no regard for law or our Constitution and the peaceful transition of power by American voters. The main figure of this despicable disruption and the creator of the pack of lies that almost destroyed democracy was none other than Donald Trump, who makes even Benito Mussolini look like Mr. Rogers. Now too many continue to wear blinders to this man’s two-faced criminal behavior, who lives in terror of having to pay back many millions of dollars he has borrowed over several years, money that he was able to borrow only through lies about his actual worth. The presidency means little more to him than a safety net in which he can feel protected against any form of justice that has been pursuing him for quite a while. This tower of narcissism will remain a very dark spot on our national history if his armies of gullible worshipers don’t wake up soon to make things right.  JB

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Another Season Ends

Christmas for me never comes to an abrupt ending. I have friends who take down their holiday decorations on December 26, while I keep mine on display until Epiphany (January 6). One of my former students (Dan Novakowski) kept up all his elaborate Christmas decorations (including several full-size indoor yuletide trees, covered with hundreds of beautiful ornaments) throughout the year. I unabashedly milk the season too (though not to the extent that Dan did) for every drop of joy it can provide, including its music and cookies. The warm glow of the season lingers after the last candy cane is consumed and the final tree ornaments with the front-door wreath are taken down.

This shouldn’t sound like bragging or puerile behavior in me or anyone else who embraces that season with similar ardor. Rather, it should sound like what it really is, a melancholy reluctance to let go of a true warmth, social receptivity and benevolence that seem to fade all too soon after the last ornament is packed away in the attic. We all know better, but the speed and impatience of “modern” life always seem to return, like the Grinch sneaking back after the glow of the season fades, and the frantic pace creates a kind of blur in our lives until the next yuletide glow returns next year.  JB

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The Covid War and the Soldiers Who Oppose its Victory

For better or worse, Democrats are “in power” at this time, which has left a bitter taste in the mouths of Republicans, many of whom have become bad sports and poor losers in the game of politics thanks to their former leader. Their principal cry seems to be “You can’t tell me what to do!” as though the political landscape has become something of an absolute monarchy. This point of view comes into frightening focus when we look at the Covid vaccinations, but if we go back in history, say to the America of The German Measles epidemic of 1918 or the plague of Polio a bit later, people still believed in medical science as an aid to avoiding illness and death. That faith saved millions of lives.

It wasn’t as much a contest about personal choices, because we still believed in science and medicine as bulwarks of safety in the face of any pandemic, instead of the suspicious hunches, called “American Rights” by too many of the untutored. This alignment between medicine and politics has created an aura of suspicion that has already cost millions of lives, because too many people have become hand puppets of their political leaders, almost as though the whole problem has become some kind of national sports event between two teams, each trying to win kudos…one side based upon ego, the other side based upon a true desire to save lives and protect the nation from destroying itself through its own unbending egotism.

Wearing sparkling blinders instead of masks has created another civil war, but the soldiers on one side are dying upon the crumbling principle of being politically loyal to their party. Even their children are paying the ultimate price for this self-righteous egomania.

I wonder how history books will describe the past two years in terms of deaths and political posturing. It’s not going to be pretty.   JB

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September 18 Demonstration in D.C.

The trickle of visitors left over from the January 6 demonstration in the nation’s capital was pretty much what I expected in terms of its message. The self-righteous determination on the faces of carriers of our American flag reminded me of the looks on the faces of Germans carrying their Swastika flags in the 1930’s. It was almost as though having an American flag legitimized the white power message that has lurked behind every other such demonstration for the past four years in a transparent attempt to announce that the nation really belongs to them and them alone. They will never understand or respect the differences between democracy and oligarchy, because they actually favor dictatorship, as long as it comes from their own icon and only for their purposes.

It saddens me to see people abuse the icon of our flag, making it their own symbol of lies and oppression in the guise of freedom for only the chosen few (their few). “With liberty and justice for all” seems foreign to them, the operative word being “foreign.” It remains a comfort for them to continue believing the national election was a fraud (no proof…just the former president’s wishful assumption and assertion, as a worse than poor loser), despite his extraordinary track record of lies and rancor. There is somewhere here the material for a remake of The Pied Piper of Hamelin, and remember what happened to the rats in THAT story!   JB 

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Thoughts on Aging

As I age, I find it more and more challenging to recall very quickly the names of even those people and things that used to be second nature to me. There is no sense of panic from this phenomenon, because all my friends and family who are my age (75 or older), seem to experience this same characteristic of life’s period of mellowing, which we all try to share, often through humor, whenever possible.

I sometimes liken the memory function to index cards we once used in libraries in order to locate information we wanted or needed. It often takes a moment to find the right one, and as we age, the number of those “cards” increases exponentially until it seems that there are millions of them, and that finding the one we need at any given moment may just take longer. Teenagers usually have only three of those cards at hand: sex, food, and cellphones, rendering their filing systems much faster, if not as rich. Maybe too, the image of a lightbulb above a person’s head works. The problem comes when the bulb eventually begins decreasing from one hundred Watts to seventy-five on some days and before coffee, down to fifty for us elderly folks.

Finally, it makes sense to me that as the elder generation, we can be sympathetic enough to share whatever “Wattage” we may have left to light the way with patience and compassion for each other. There also remains a lot of experience and wisdom on all those little index cards, too much value to discard in favor of mere speed in a world obsessed with velocity.   JB

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America in Retrograde

It seems that a very large number of American adults are enjoying visits back to their teen years in a massive tantrum, the logo of which is “You can’t tell ME what to do!” regarding the state of the nation’s health and well-being. Rejection of scientific knowledge and medical expertise about the Covid virus seems to be giving many misinformed citizens a national sense of comradeship in an expensive and dangerous ego trip that is now creating an alarming increase in fatalities. Knowledge and expertise are being shunned by those whose vanity and political resentments over the last election are taking precedence over the very lives of even their own families under the terrifying delusion of “You can’t fool ME!”

Of course a certain amount of doubt and suspicion about anything in books or news is healthy, but when it becomes the controlling message of an evil and egomaniacal tyrant like Donald Trump and his armies of clueless worshipers (many of whom seem to have had their brains surgically removed), the nation has a serious problem, one that will remain a dire peril until truth has some chance to triumph again for the national good.


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Family Feud… On A National Level

At one time or another everyone needs to reduce something to its lowest terms. Most of us want clarity and simplicity in understanding daily occurrences. What happens in our nation’s capital, a place where vagueness is often a way of life for Congress, that group so gifted at casting a sheer verbal veil over issues and their solutions? Having observed friends and even members of my own family reach boiling points, I’ve tried at times to reduce all the lacy hyperbole down to basic explanations for angst, at least for hyper-Republicans, whose bitterness over The Orange Man losing the election has raised their blood pressure to explosive levels that could clear a dining room, even without anything being said. If I had to reduce their anxiety down to one thought, it would be their profound concern that somewhere, someone at this moment is getting something for nothing and freeloading on the labor and income of Republicans everywhere. Of course, none of them would phrase it quite that way, but their postings on Facebook, the innuendos in their conversations, strongly imply their distress over those spendthrift Dems in D.C.

The view of “pure” Republicans (if there is such a thing) on abortion is also a tad contradictory or illusory and illogical in the desire to ban abortion, because “it kills innocent humans.” Well, folks, so do chemical spills and gun rampages in our schools and shopping Centers. So does starvation because mothers can’t earn a sufficient wage, even working sixty hours per week, and that parents don’t always have access to affordable healthcare. Yet politicians continue to interfere with family planning choices and have blithely opposed every attempt at safety regulations, gun control, raising the minimum wage, etc. Such hypocrisy would be laughable if it weren’t so smugly tragic.

On most other political issues, my views are moderate enough that I don’t have to fear having an apoplectic seizure over our Thanksgiving dinner with extended family, but it does seem at times that we as Americans are being manipulated like marionettes by some dark, sinister power out there, hell-bent on creating another civil war as our possible downfall.  JB

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