Showing posts from July, 2019

There Is No Other Hand

The subjects of Trump's latest assault on American values. There are so many ways to say "no" to this president. No, the four congresswomen you attacked are not going to be flown "home" by Nancy Pelosi to get them out of her hair. No, they're not foreigners, aliens, or even immigrants (even though one of them once was), they're citizens. No, the color of their skin does not make them any less American than invasive pink-skinned you. No, the act of criticizing this country is not unpatriotic (in fact, you did plenty of it during your own campaign). No, no, no, no, no. Since Donald Trump began his campaign with an attack on Mexican-Americans, "no" has been the prevailing message of every thoughtful pundit, regardless of political persuasion. No to the misogyny, the lying, the sabre-rattling, the racism, the rabble-rousing, the bluster, the threats, the incompetence, the corruption, the grifting and graft, the assaults on anything and eve

And Beyond

Woody, Buzz, Jessie, and Forky Warning: here there be spoilers aplenty. Sequels have been around as long as storytelling. The best storytelling is incomplete. It creates outlines of engaging characters, but lets the audience use their experience and imagination to fill them out. It does the same with the universe in which it places these characters, as well as with the plot that carries them from beginning to end. To do this well, the storyteller must trust the audience, and have confidence in their intelligence and creativity. The best-told stories leave audiences both satisfied and hungry, wanting to revisit the universe, spend more time with the characters, see it from different angles. But the best stories are so complete that sequels are unnecessary: the work stands on its own. To justify its existence, a sequel must present something so new, no distinctive, that it is a good story in its own right. Such was the case with the most ancient story/sequel pairing I

Democracy on the Rocks

Entrusting the governance of a nation to democracy is like turning a horse loose in a hospital: the best result that can be hoped for is that no one was severely injured. Reading the Constitution, it's easy to see just how skeptical the founders were of this system they'd chosen for the fledgling United States of America. They were in agreement of the principle that power should reside in the people, but they were unsure how to channel that power into governing authorities. Looking back on history, they could see that classical experiments in democracy had been limited to city states, and none of them had lasted long. For democratic government on a national scale, they had only Britain to compare themselves to, and that system's reliance on a hereditary monarchy was the very thing they had rebelled against. They'd also had several years to experiment with a weak central government, and the results had been so chaotic as to mandate a major revision of the ne

Tanks for the Memories

Two tanks arrive for Trump's National Mall speech. In yet another you-can't-make-this-shit-up moment, Donald Trump delivered a hackneyed, mostly non-partisan address mainly to his biggest fans while flanked by two state-of-the-art yet obsolete war vehicles. Getting the tanks to the Lincoln Memorial entailed an enormous feat of engineering, as simply driving them through Washington would have caused extensive damage to streets and infrastructure. Instead, they had to be shipped first by rail, then on flatbed trucks on a carefully selected route to the Lincoln Memorial, where they were parked on pads designed to distribute the enormous weight and protect the surface underneath. As journalist and Iraq War veteran Elliot Wood points out in a New York Times op-ed, tanks are relics of a form of warfare that no longer exists.  These mobile bunkers were created to break the brutal, bloody stalemate that was trench warfare, and they accomplished that goal: World War II saw fa

This Is America

A Bradley fighting vehicle at the Lincoln Memorial. Lies told and retold without fear of consequence. Cabinet positions exploited for personal gain. Nepotism on an international scale. Children locked in cages. Journalists accused of treason. Truth labeled as fake news. Scientists marginalized. Polluting extractive industries subsidized and promoted. Democratic allies shoved aside while authoritarian murderers are lionized. And tomorrow, in just the latest abomination to be committed by the Trump regime, the traditionally non-partisan Capitol Mall Independence Day celebration transformed into a militaristic political rally for a populist demagogue who stumbled into office in not just an example, but the apotheosis of Murphy's Law. We're well beyond the point at which Washington has become a dark, satyrical parody of itself. The Republican party surrendered any last vestige of being a force for good shortly after Barack Obama was elected, when Mitch McConnell stated t