On Hard hats, Hell’s Angels – and Inauguration Day 2017

Are we in for another “deja vu all over again,” on Inauguration Day, 2017?

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden.  Back in the ‘50s, people called him a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

That’s now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

Inauguration Day Clipart | Clipart Panda - Free Clipart ImagesInauguration Day is coming up on January 20.  And here’s a news flash: I Googled “trump inauguration protests” – and got over two million results.

Here’s part of the grab-bag:  Trump rips John Lewis as Democrats boycott inaugurationThe Anti-Inauguration 2017‘Bikers for Trump’ to Form ‘Wall of Meat,’ and The Gathering Storm of Protest Against Trump.

Which leads to the musical question:

“Are we in for yet another “deja vu all over again?”

Kent State massacre.jpgIn this case we can go back in time, to see if history will repeat Itself.  That is, back some 47 years before the upcoming January 20, 2017.  Back to New York City and “a sunny spring day in May 1970.”  There, over a thousand peace activists started a march to protest – among other things – the shooting of 13 Kent State students.  (Four of them died, as shown in part at right):* 

As the Manhattan peace protesters made their way … 200 white, middle-aged, construction workers in hard hats and carrying American flags barred their way and chased the young hippies through the streets beating them with lead pipes and crowbars.  Policemen stood by passively and watched.  More than 70 protesters were injured, and 20 hospitalized.  A few days later president Nixon met with the “Hard Hat Riot” members at the White House to turn a patriotic victory lap. (E.A.)

for Trump prepared to form ‘wall of meat’ against inauguration ...See Anger Redux | The Huffington Post.  In turn, the image at left brings to mind a recent web article: Angels, Protesters and Patriots: What a Long-Ago Skirmish Says About Love of Country.

That article went back to 1965, when a group of Hell’s Angels also staged an attack on an “antiwar protest in Berkeley, one of the first of countless such protests to come.”  (For an ironic note, see “politics make strange bedfellows.”)  But there was a difference:  The president didn’t invite the Hell’s Angels to the White House for a “patriotic victory lap.”

Instead, the president of the Oakland Hell’s Angels decided to end to all future attacks.

That is, on October 16, 1965, a group of Hell’s Angels from the Oakland chapter “attacked a Get Out of Vietnam demonstration at the Oakland-Berkeley border.”  The first clash came at the Oakland Army Terminal, a “shipping point for men and materiel bound for the Far East:”

The Angels attacked…  The existential heroes who had passed the joint with Berkeley liberals [now attacked] the same liberals with flailing fists and shouts of ‘Traitors,” “Communists,” “Beatniks!”  When push came to shove, the Hell’s Angels lined up solidly with the cops, the Pentagon and the John Birch Society.

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The protesters had planned to hold another demonstration the following month.  But – fearing further attacks – in the interim a number of liberals including poet Allen Ginsberg – at right – worked to keep the Angels from attacking again.  (Thompson, 244-53)

The result?  According to Angels, Protesters and Patriots, “Oakland chapter leader Ralph ‘Sonny’ Barger … called the protesters a ‘mob of traitors.’”  Nevertheless, he promised to forego further attacks against protesters.  He did so – he said – based on the Angels’ “patriotic concern,” after which he “read a telegram he claimed to have sent to President Lyndon Johnson, volunteering the Angels for behind-the-lines ‘gorrilla’ [sic] duty in Vietnam.”

The article pointedly noted that the “Angels, at first blush, seemed unlikely patriots.”

Which leads to another question:  If the “Bikers for Trump” – shown above – or other Hard hats start beating up Inauguration Day protesters – with lead pipes, crowbars or otherwise – will the new president invite them to the White House for a similar “patriotic victory lap?”

Samuel Johnson by Joshua Reynolds.jpgAnd speaking of patriotism:  The wise – and oddly prescient – Samuel Johnson once said, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”  But it should be noted that he wasn’t condemning either true patriotism or patriotism in general.  Instead he condemned “false patriotism:*”

What he’s calling attention to is that scoundrels, when challenged, will often use false patriotism in order to shut up their opponents.

Which brings us back to Richard Nixon.  (The sitting president who feted the construction workers who beat up the offending “peace activists” in 1970.)  In his case, Nixon had – only two years before – committed an act of treason to get elected president.  That treason resulted in the death of 18,506 members of the armed services in Vietnam.  What Nixon had done was scuttle the Paris Peace Talks,” in October, 1968, solely in order to get elected in  November.

That was the point of last November’s Deja vu all over again?  And the point at issue – that Nixon committed treason to get elected – was conceded by as “arch” a conservative as George Will.  (See George Will Confirms Nixon’s Vietnam Treason.)  

A black placard with white text reading: "KTO NIE PAMIẸTA HISTORII SKAZANY / JEST NA JEJ PONOWNE PRZEŻYCIE" / GEORGE SANTAYANA / "THE ONE WHO DOES NOT REMEMBER / HISTORY IS BOUND TO LIVE THROUGH IT / AGAIN" / GEORGE SANTAYANABut we digress.  And I’m not necessarily saying that Donald Trump committed treason to get elected in 2016.  The point here is that – sometimes to a frightening extent – “History Repeats Itself.”  (Or as Santayana put it, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”)  

But in this case, let’s hope not.

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That is, in response to actcs of violence by some of his supporters, Donald Trump has told them to “Stop it.”  But Sonny Barger actually got his “supporters” to stop their attacks.

As Hunter Thompson noted, in the weeks leading up to the second planned march on the Oakland Army Terminal, a group of liberals including Ginsberg and Ken Kesey’s “Merry Pranksters” tried to persuade “Barger and his people not to attack the marchers.”  For one thing, Ginsberg delivered a long speech – in the form of one of his famous poems – at San Jose State College on November 15, 1965.

Barger had second thoughts about attacking a march that Ginsberg “obviously considered a right thing.”  But still – referring to the Vietnam Day Committee – “Sonny considered them all chickenshit – and that was that…  So it came as a surprise when,” on the day before the scheduled second march, the Oakland Hell’s Angels held a press conference.

At the news conference, Barger repeated his disdain for the marchers’ planned “despicable, un-American activity.”  Nevertheless, there would be no further attacks, he said, for reasons including that “any physical encounter would only produce sympathy for this mob of traitors.”

Or, as noted in What a Long-Ago Skirmish Says About Love of Country:

Barger, who would go on to survive cancer and prison … never changed his views.  Those “left-wing peace creeps,” he declared in his autobiography, deserved every bruise they got.

All the same, the Angels never attacked another protest.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Donald Trump could do the same thing with his supporters?

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“The Prez” – Sonny Barger (middle) – saying the Hell’s Angels would no longer attack protesters.

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Notes:

The upper image was courtesy of Hard Hat Riot: Tea Party of yesteryear – Daily Kos.  (Which has since been “removed.”)  The caption refers to two prior posts from this blog:  Last May’s Is this “deja vu all over again,” and last November’s repriseAnother “deja vu all over again?”  See also Hard hat – Wikipedia, as to the literal meaning of the term, and the Collins Dictionary, as to its cultural implications; i.e., “characteristic of the presumed conservative attitudes and prejudices typified by construction workers.”  (See also, Hard Hat Riots.)

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus, as to the 13 Kent State students, see Kent State shootings – Wikipedia, which included the image to the right of the paragraph.  The caption:  “John Filo‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio, a 14-year-old runaway, kneeling over the body of Jeffrey Miller minutes after he was fatally shot by the Ohio National Guard.”  A further caption reads: “Mary Ann Vecchio gestures and screams as she kneels by the body of a student, Jeffrey Miller, lying face down on the campus of Kent State University, in Kent, Ohio.  On publication, the image was retouched to remove the fencepost above Vecchio’s head.”

The “inauguration day” image is courtesy of Inauguration Day  … Clipart Panda – Free Clipart Images. As to January 20, 2017, see Weather forecast for Trump’s inauguration looks gloomy.

The Allen Ginsberg image is courtesy of classics allen ginsberg american …hellopoetry.com.

Re: Samuel Johnson.  For some of his sound-bites on “the real deal,” see The Samuel Johnson Sound Bite Page: Quotes on Patriotism.  Re: the false patriotism quote, see What does this quote by Samuel Johnson mean: ‘Patriotism,’ etc.

Re: 18,506 service-members killed in Vietnam after Nixon “scuttled the Paris Peace Talks” in October and November, 1968:  US KIA in 1969 – 11,616, 1969 in the Vietnam War – Wikipedia;  US KIA in 1970 – 6,081, 1970 in the Vietnam War – Wikipedia;  US KIA in 1971 – 0, 1971 in the Vietnam War – Wikipedia;  US KIA in 1972 – 641, 1972 in the Vietnam War – Wikipedia;  US KIA in 1973 – 168 1973 in the Vietnam War – Wikipedia.  (Total = 18,506.)

A green brick wall with a white sign reading "Wer die Vergangenheit nicht kennt, / ist dazu verurteilt, sie zu wiederholden. / (G. Santayana 1863–1953, Philosoph)The “history repeats” image is courtesy of George Santayana – Wikipedia.  The caption: “Santayana’s famous aphorism ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’ is inscribed on a plaque at Auschwitz concentration camp in Polish translation and English back-translation (above), and on a subway placard in Germany (below).  The “subway placard” is shown at right.

Re: Donald Trump and his “violent” supporters.  I Googled “trump ‘stop it,'” and got some ten million, seven hundred thousand results.  (10,700,000.)

The Hunter Thompson image is courtesy of Kentuckian Hunter S. Thompsonjohncoxtalks.com.

For another post on Trump vis-à-vis the Angels, see Donald Trump and the Hell’s Angel.

The lower image is courtesy of Angels, Protesters and Patriots: What a Long-Ago Skirmish Says About Love of Country.  Re: Barger as “Prez,” see Thompson’s Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga:

In any gathering of Angels … there is no doubt who is running the show:  Ralph “Sonny” Barger, the Maximum Leader…  To the Oakland Angels he is Ralph.  Everybody else calls him Sonny[,] although when the party gets wild and loose he answers to such names such as Prez, Papa and Daddy.

1999 Ballantine Book edition, at page 10.  (Thompson added that Barger was – by turns – a brawler, a fanatic, “a shrewd compromiser and a final arbitrator.”)  See also Hunter S. Thompson – Wikipedia, and On the wisdom of Virgil – and an “Angel,” in my companion blog. 

And finally, this proviso:  “Any resemblance to actual persons” – that is, and comparison to other actual persons – “living or dead is purely coincidental.”  See Any Resemblance to Actual Persons, Living or Dead, is …, and/or All persons fictitious disclaimer – Wikipedia.

Finally, for a more in-depth treatment of the negotiations leading to Barger’s decision to “stop the violence,” see Thompson’s book, Ballantine edition, at pages 244-53.  Six of those ten pages are taken up by Ginsberg’s poem, “To the Angels,” delivered at San Jose State on November 15, 1965, “before students and representatives of Bay Area Hell’s Angels.”  These pages included two ironic notes, the first that for “reasons never divulged, [President] Johnson was slow to capitalize on Barger’s offer and the Angels never went to Vietnam.”  (To engage in “behind-the-lines ‘gorrilla’ [sic] duty.”)  Also:  

The Angels … are rigidly anti-Communist.  [Which adds a third note of irony, given the events of this last election.]  Their political views are limited to the same kind of retrograde patriotism that motivates the John Birch Society, the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party.  They are blind to the irony of their role [as] knight errants of a faith from which they have already been excommunicated.  The Angels will be the first to be locked up or croaked if the politicians they think they agree with ever come to power. (E.A.)

Note that a knight-errant was a “figure of medieval chivalric romance literature.”  Such a knight would “wander the land in search of adventures to prove his chivalric virtues.”  The plural would be Knights-Errant, as seen in Sparkler Monthly. 

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden wrote and published it from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (Another way of saying he told good stories.)  That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life.  As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like so many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  And for more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

Some highlights from 2016…

Seeing a “naked lady on the Yukon” – symbolized here – was one of my highlights from 2016…

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It’s New Year’s Day, and so a good time to recall some highlights from 2016.

Johnny Mercer, New York, N.Y., between 1946 and 1948 (William P. Gottlieb 06121).jpgThere was of course the Election From Hell, but the less said about that the better.  I prefer to “Accentuate the Positive.”  (Referring to the 1944 song with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, shown at left.)  And seeing a “naked lady on the Yukon” certainly qualifies as one of those positive 2016 highlights…

Back in August my brother, nephew and I met up in the town of Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory.  From there we drove to Skagway, Alaska.  And from there we hiked the Chilkoot Trail in four days.  (The “meanest 33 miles in history.”)

And here’s a news flash:  There’s a good reason why they call it the “meanest 33 miles in history.”  Mostly it’s because “the Chilkoot” is not a trail at all, but just one big pile of rocks after another.  But it was a man-against-nature venture, and fortunately the “manly men” won. (Though not without some bruises and blisters that lasted for weeks…)  

After that my nephew had the good sense to head back east to begin classes at Penn State.  However, my brother and I proceeded on to a twelve-day canoe trip “down” the Yukon River.  We ended up in Dawson City, also in the Yukon Territory.  But the most “poetic” part of the journey involved two days paddling on Lake Laberge, at right.

Most people know it better as “Lake Labarge,” thanks to the famous poem,  “The Cremation of Sam McGee.”  But that’s only because “Laberge” doesn’t rhyme with “marge,” meaning “shore” or “edge.”  (As in “edge of a lake.”  And further as in the poem’s narrator hauling McGee’s body to the “marge of Lake Lebarge.”)

I figured there was an object lesson there, somewhere…

All in all my brother and I spent five weeks driving up to the Yukon – from Utah – then doing the two “man against nature” adventures, and finally driving back home from the Yukon.  But by far the more traumatic of the two was hiking the Chilkoot Trail.  It was so traumatic that I had to do two blogposts on the subject:  On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail!, Parts 1 and Part 2.

One of the highlights hiking the trail came as we three were approaching the summit of the Chilkoot Pass.  (My brother and nephew were way out in front.  And at left is the good part.)  

And what with my lack of depth perception – from having only one good eye – going over “one big pile of *&$% rocks after another” was like negotiating a minefield.  I wore heavy hiking boots, but they felt like ballet slippers.  Every step was sheer torture, and brought new pain to each aching foot.

So anyway, I had just taken one of many missteps – causing severe pain – and thus let loose a string of pungent epithets.  Then I looked behind me and there – climbing behind me – was a sweet young lady hiker.  Sheepishly I apologized, noting that I had “no depth perception.”  But she went ahead and passed me.  (And probably rolled her eyes in the process…)  A short while later I had another misstep and loosed another string of epithets.

Again I looked behind me, and again there was a young couple, including another “sweet, innocent young thing.”  So I said to myself, “Hey, I may be on to something here!”

Unfortunately I tried it a few times later on the trail, but my magic formula didn’t work.  (On the other hand there I did see that “Naked lady on the Yukon,” 10 days later, on August 12…) 

You can see the full story at the “Naked lady” post, which brings up the strong current on the Yukon River.  Generally it’s pretty fast, ranging from over four miles an hour up to seven miles an hour in some places.  (Except on“Lake &^%$# Laberge,” where the paddling is very slow.)

That’s the kind of current that helps you paddle 440 miles in 12 days.  But it also means that when you see something totally unexpected, by the time you recognize it, the current is already moving you downriver…  Which meant that by the time I recognized the naked lady as a naked lady, the current was already pushing me farther down-river.

SwampWaterPoster.jpgWhich is enough – for now – about the naked lady on the Yukon.

Which brings up one of my other 2016 adventures, a return trip to the  Okefenokee Swamp, as detailed in “There he goes again.”  That post – from Monday, May 30 – looked ahead to the middle of the week.  I actually put in 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning, June 1, and counted 39 gators in the first hour of paddling.  (Then I stopped counting.)   I never did do a post on that little adventure, which is something I need to do in the next week or so.

As for an excuse, I had “another stinkin’ funeral.”  A close friend died unexpectedly the day before, but I didn’t find out about it until I was already in Valdosta.

Which makes this as good a place as any to end this particular post.  Except to note that there were way too many “stinkin’ funerals” to go to in 2016.  (As noted also in the December 19 post, A funeral and an NTE (Near-Ticket Experience).)

And to note that I didn’t see any naked ladies in the Okefenokee Swamp.

Just at lot of alligator[s] mississippienses…”

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The upper image is courtesy of Sun tanning – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The caption:  “A woman sun tanning on a Portuguese beach.”  Further references are in the blog-posts cited in the text.  And a BTW: Googling “election from hell 2016” got me some 154,000,000 results.

A funeral and an NTE (Near-Ticket Experience)

Image may contain: night

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything.  In fact it’s been since December 6, when I posted “I dreamed I saw Don Trump last night.”   But I have a good excuse:  I had to go to a funeral.

My aunt died on December 7.  She was a mere 80 years old, and so still fairly young by today’s standards.  (Especially as I myself get closer to that age.)  But she had a host of health problems, and so it wasn’t really surprising to get a text from my sister-in-law on December 3.  It said Joan was in the ICU, “critical but stable.”  But unfortunately she went downhill from there.

So I had to attend “another stinkin’ funeral!”  (As we say in our family, having gone through too many lately.)  I had to work up until 2:00 in the afternoon, last Saturday, the 10th.  Then I headed north, making Gastonia (NC) that night.

The following day I had an NTE.  (Near-Ticket Experience, an allusion to an NDE, as illustrated at right.)

I had crossed the line into Virginia about noon, on I-85, and about 20 minutes later some obnoxious guy in a brand-new BMW passed me.  (The BMW was so new it still had the paper-temporary license tag.)  To make matters worse, he did the old “thread the needle trick,” squeezing between two cars – one was mine – as we rocketed along about 76 mph.

At first I was a bit miffed, but then I figured I’d use him as a “rabbit car.”  A Rabbit Car is the mythical entity by which you can go well over the speed limit but not get caught.  The theory is that the police will stop the rabbit car first.

So, we were both barreling along about 85 mph.  I was slightly behind, and in the right-hand lane.

Right there on I-85 in Virginia the median is full of trees and woods, interspersed with service roads between the north-bound and south-bound sets of lanes.

And in one such service road I saw a police car.

Unfortunately the obnoxious guy in the new BMW saw him first, so he slowed down first.  Which meant that I actually passed him before I could slow down myself.

There were seven or eight cars fairly close behind us, so the trooper had to wait to pull out.  But sure enough, in my rear-view mirror I could see him get out on the road and start to follow us.  Then – quite soon after that – he turned on his “rollers” and sped up.

So I slowed down a whole lot, and also tried getting into the “rocking chair” position, nestled snugly between two other cars, one right in front of me and one right behind.

And for a moment or two I cursed my luck.  I didn’t need either an expensive ticket or an increase in insurance rates.  But fortunately the trooper passed me and commenced to pull over the obnoxious guy in the BMW.  (Who by then was about 10 car lengths ahead of me.)

After my heart-rate and breathing got back to near normal, I figured there was some kind of object lesson there…  I may write more about the funeral later, but speaking of object lessons, I got another one a day or two after I got back.

I made it back home from the funeral on Thursday, the 15th.  I worked all day Friday, and Friday night was busy unpacking and getting stuff sorted out.  Then this happened on Saturday…

I was at K-Mart, buying wrapping paper.  It came out to $4.76, so I handed the sweet young cashier a 5-dollar bill and a penny.  She said, “Sir, it’s four dollars and seventy-six cents.”  And I said, “Yes, it is.”  So she said again, real slow,  “Sir, the price is four dollars and seventy-six cents.” I said, “Yes, and I gave you a five and a penny.”

So once again she repeated – pointing to each individual number on the cash register, one number at a time – “Sir, it’s four dollars and seventy-six cents.”  (As noted, she said it really slow, like she was talking to a moron, or an old geezer.  As in, “OMG, this old guy came in today…”)

Naturally my mind HAD been racing with all kinds of thoughts, off in la-la land, your might say.

Part of it was the hectic travel involved in the funeral I’d just been to, and part of it was the upcoming Christmas season, with all the demands that go along with it.  But this little encounter slowed me down.  (“Grounded me,” you might say.)  

I had been on automatic pilot, but now I had to be “in the moment”

So finally I was able to “become the moment,” and explain.  I said to her, real slow, “If I had given you a five dollar bill, you would have had to hand me six coins back.  Two dimes and four pennies.  But by handing you a 5-dollar bill and a penny, all you have to do is give me ONE coin back, a quarter.”  So she said, “Oh…”

I figure that somewhere in this combination of experience there’s yet another object lesson.

But one thing is, one day her generation is going to be running the country.  Like when we’re in our nursing homes.  I mean, who knows? These young people today might end up electing some doofus who’s totally unqualified and untrained to run the country!

Oh, wait…

Or they might do things like rocket along an interstate highway at 85 miles an hour – or more – two cars at a time, on some delusional “rabbit car” theory.

In the meantime, the encounter with the cashier reminded of the cartoon below.

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The upper image is courtesy of Police Car Lights Flashing …police led light bar …galleryhip.com.

The lower image is courtesy of http://lowres.cartoonstock.com/food-drink-koala-koala_bear.”

“I dreamed I saw Don Trump last night…”

Baez stands behind a too-tall podium bristling with microphones, wearing a plaid sleeveless top, longish hair in a feather cut

50 years hence, will some dulcet-toned lass sing “I dreamed I saw Don Trump last night?”

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden.  Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

That’s now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

Woodstock poster.jpgA word of explanation:  50 years from now that dulcet-toned lass could be singing that ode to Donald Trump to the tune of “I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night.”  Joan Baez sang the original song – about Joe Hill – most memorably at Woodstockback in the summer of 1969.

Another word of explanation.  The day after the last election – November 9, 2016, in case you’ve forgotten – a phrase came trickling up from my memory vault.  In fact, I did a post on Facebook, reminding people of “what Joan Baez said:  ‘DON’T MOURN.  ORGANIZE!

But then I had to explain it was actually Joe Hill who said that, but she’s the one who made the saying famous.  (At Woodstock, “back in our hippie days.”)  As an aside, Joe Hill was both a labor activist and a song-writer, and as such was credited with inventing the term pie in the sky.

(Which could also refer to Donald Trump, but that would mean going off on a tangent…)

So anyway – and to make a long story short:  Today I finally uploaded Joan’s “Joe Hill last night,” and listened to it on my iPod Shuffle as I did my weekly two hours of kayaking.

That’s when I was struck by the line at the end of the song:  “Where working men defend their rights, it’s there you’ll find Joe Hill.”  Which is what makes the resulting comparison in this post so ironic.  (Either that, or incongruous.  I always get those two  mixed up.)

A black-and-white photograph of Donald Trump as a teenager, smiling and wearing a dark uniform with various badges and a light-colored stripe crossing his right shoulder. This image was taken while Trump was in the New York Military Academy in 1964.The thing is, in some strange way Donald Trump – educated at the New York Military Academy, then the Wharton School (at right) and worth an estimated 3.7 billion dollars* – has somehow become a hero to the (white) American working man.

See for example Trump’s fans have more to lose than Trump himself.  That article noted that whatever the outcome of the election, Trump would remain “more or less intact … rich and privileged and more famous than ever.”  However:

The same cannot be said for the millions of Americans who have looked to Trump to save them.  These folks … the angry, white, blue-collar workers who are outraged or terrified that America has become some topsy-turvy multi-cultural nightmare where a hard-working man cannot make a decent living … will emerge from this circus worse off than before.

See also Donald Trump a working man’s hero in US coal country.

But the future may not be so rosy for The Donald.  In another line from from “Joe Hill,” Joan Baez noted, “‘The Copper Bosses killed you Joe, They shot you Joe’ says I.”  In DJT’s case, the same professor who predicted – back in September – that Trump would win is now saying that he’ll be impeached.  And in another irony the Democrats won’t be behind the impeachment.

Professor Allan Lichtman recently noted that Republicans are nervous about Donald Trump, for reasons including that he’s a “loose cannon” and that no one know what he really believes.  “He can’t be controlled.  The Republicans would vastly prefer to have Mike Pence, an absolutely predictable down-the-pipe conservative Republican.*”

Which – you could say – was what happened to Joe Hill.  The “Copper bosses” couldn’t control him, so they had him convicted of murder in a “controversial trial.”  In Donald’s case, if his party bosses can’t control him, they may resort to impeaching him in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, and seeing him convicted in the Republican-controlled Senate.

 (See also – for example – That OTHER “Teflon Don,” which noted – back in March – that Trump “may well be the first president in American history to get both impeached and convicted.”)

And if that were to happen, Trump would remain forever as a hero to many.  (Untarnished by his actual performance in office.)  As the original song said, “Takes more than guns to kill a man…  Says Joe ‘I didn’t die.'”  And it may well take more than an impeachment-and-conviction to tarnish the Donald’s reputation with the American working man.  

And so the final stanza of  “I dreamed I saw Don Trump last night” might go like this:

From San Diego up to Maine,
In every mine and mill,
Where working men defend their rights,
It’s there you’ll find Don Trump,
It’s there you’ll find Don Trump!

*   *   *   *

Hey, it could happen!

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of Joan Baez – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “Baez playing at the March on Washington in August 1963.”  See also the “Portrait of Joan Baez in 1961.”

For a live version of the song see Joan Baez Live @ Woodstock 1969 Joe Hill.mpg – YouTube, or Joan Baez At Woodstock: Her Song For Joe Hill (VIDEO).”  For the full lyrics see JOAN BAEZ LYRICS – Joe Hill.

Re:  “Hence.”  I used the term in main caption in the sense of “archaic, of a length of time,” and/or meaning “in the future from now.”  An example:  “A year hence it will be forgotten.”

Re:  Joe Hill.  See Wikipedia, which noted that as a labor activist and songwriter, he was “variously celebrated as a martyr or a villain.”  And as a song-writer, one of his best-known songs was “The Preacher and the Slave,” in which he coined the phrase “pie in the sky.”

Re:  “Memory vauit.”  The link will take you to Confabulation – Wikipedia, which defined the term in psychiatry as “a disturbance of memory, defined as the production of fabricated, distorted or misinterpreted memories about oneself or the world.”  (Which could “also again” refer to Donald Trump, but as in the main text “that would mean going off on [another] tangent.”)

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed in these “notes.”  Thus, as to the professor predicting Trump’s impeachment, see Professor predicted Trump win, says he will be impeached.

Re: Trump’s net worth.  See Donald Trump Net Worth | Bankrate.com.

The lower image is courtesy of APG 146 – When Pigs Fly?airlinepilotguy.com.  See also Flying pig – Wikipedia, which defined the phrase in pertinent part as “an adynaton—a figure of speech so hyperbolic that it describes an impossibility.”

*   *   *   *

Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden wrote and published it from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (Another way of saying he told good stories.)  That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life.  As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like so many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  And for more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

On Alice and her restaurant – yet again…

reprise from last December’s Alice’s Restaurant – Revisited.  

*   *   *   *

Last December I posted Alice’s Restaurant – Revisited.  It included the photo-montage above, but who’da thunk it?  Who would have thought that one of those men – (the guy at top center) – would be elected president, a year later, in 2016?  (And I’m sure Donald didn’t inhale either.)

So once again the question is:  “Can you say prescient?”

But back to the point.  Alice’s Restaurant – Revisited was about a Thanksgiving tradition I started back in 1993.  Listening – every Thanksgiving – to the full 18 minutes and 34 seconds of Alice’s Restaurant.  (The “musical monologue by singer-songwriter Arlo Guthrie,” released in 1967.)

I do that to “help my team win.”  Just like Moses did, holding his arms up at the Battle of Rephidim.  (At right.)

That is, Moses held his arms up at the Battle of Rephidim to help his team win.  I do the same thing, in part by listening to Alice’s Restaurant every Thanksgiving.  (To help my team beat its hated arch-rival, just like Moses helped his team beat “the dreaded Amalekites.”  For more see On football, Moses and Rephidim.)

But this year is different.  My team is out of the hunt for a national championship, so the outcome of tonight’s game isn’t going to change much.  (At most it’ll be the difference between going 9-3 in the regular season, or “falling” to 8-4.)  So whatever happens tonight, “we” will still have to wait until next year to win “our” fourth national championship.

This year is different because there are bigger events going on in the world outside sports.

The biggest difference?  This country has now embarked on what we might call “the Donald Experiment.”  Which means the question to be decided over the next four years is whether Donald Trump can deliver on the veritable plethora of promises that he made in his recent campaigns.  (First for the Republican nomination, then for the presidency itself.)  

Or whether those promises are merely “negotiable campaign devices.*”

Alice's Restaurant.jpgAnd that’s where Alice’s Restaurant comes back in.  For one thing, the full title of the song refers to the “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” and as Wikipedia noted:

The term “massacree,” used by Guthrie[,] is a colloquialism originating in the Ozark Mountains that describes “an event so wildly and improbably and baroquely messed up that the results are almost impossible to believe.”  It is a corruption of the word massacre … but carries a much lighter and more sarcastic connotation, never being used to describe anything involving actual death.

In turn that phrase – so wildly and improbably and baroquely messed up that the results are almost impossible to believe – perfectly describes the election we just went through.

But getting back to the song itself:  “Alice’s Restaurant” described the Kafkaesque way that Guthrie managed to avoid the Draft – illustrated at right – in 1965.  Briefly, he was rejected because he’d been convicted of littering on Thanksgiving Day.  There followed his encounter with the “surreal bureaucracy at the New York City induction center at 39 Whitehall Street:”

[A]sked whether he had ever been convicted of a crime, Guthrie mentioned the littering incident, and learned that incident was bureaucratically indistinguishable from a violent felony…  In Guthrie’s words, they wanted “to know if I’m moral enough to join the Army – burn women, kids, houses and villages – after bein’ a litterbug.”  (E.A.)

Or as I noted in Alice’s Restaurant, in that song “Arlo Guthrie turned a patently absurd situation into a timeless classic.”  Which brings us back to the challenges raised by a Trump presidency.

To many this last election presents many Americans with a “patently absurd situation.”  But it could also present both a challenge and an opportunity.

Official portrait of Vice President Joe Biden.jpgOr in the immortal words of Joe Biden (at left):

“Calling it an opportunity is a little like saying:  ‘I’ve been dropped in the water that is shark-infested.  But you know, it’s an opportunity.  If I make it to shore, I will set a world’s record.  No one has ever done this before.”*

So if – on the morning after the last election – you started to feel like the next four years will be something like swimming in shark-infested waters, remember this:  It’s an opportunity!

But we digress…  We were talking about the Alice’s Restaurant Massacree and other such blasts from the past.  Which brings up another point that I made in Alice … Revisited:

Alice’s Restaurant reminds us that – for many folks – those good old days weren’t so good[, as seen in the] image at right: “segregated seating at the Super Bowl in 1955.”

Segregated Super Bowl 1955And here’s that image, of “segregated seating …1955.”  You can see the full image at Alice’s Restaurant – Revisited, but the point I’m wondering about is whether we’ve made any progress at all.

Or – to put it another way – there always seems to be a significant segment of Americans who keep wanting to drag us back into the past.  And that’s true even though for many people, “those good old days weren’t so good.”

So it seems to me the slogan “Make America Great Again” carries an implied proviso:  “That is, ‘great’ for the people who did have it made back in the good old days.”

But just for kicks, how about this slogan instead:  Make America Better! 

As in, make America better for all those people who didn’t have it so good back in those “good old days.”  Or for that matter, those people who don’t have it so good right now.  And how about working to Make America Better by fulfilling that promise on the Statue Of Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

And that brings us back to the election we just went through.  In some ways the outcome of that election is perfectly illustrated by this, The House GOP just took the whitest selfie ever:

The House GOP surrounds VP-elect Mike Pence in this extremely bright, white selfie

Which brings up this observation:

“Sometimes you don’t know whether to laugh or cry…”

*   *   *   *

The upper image – which I borrowed from Alice … Revisited – is courtesy of courtesy of Liberal group claims Mitt Romney, Dick Cheney, Donald Trump, others are draft dodgers.  “Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed in these “notes.” Thus, as to Trump’s promises being negotiable or campaign devices, see Before taking office, Trump signals campaign promises are negotiableAll the Campaign Promises Donald Trump Has Broken in the Last 24 Hours, and/or Trump backs away from some of his strident campaign promises.

The “Draft” image is courtesy of Draft evasion – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The caption, “U.S. anti-Vietnam War protesters at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.  A placard to the right reads ‘Use your head – not your draft card.’”

Re: The image “segregated seating at the Super Bowl in 1955.”  In Alice’s Restaurant – Revisited I noted an anachronism, a “chronological inconsistency.”  That is, “the first Super Bowl was not played until 1967 – not 1955.  (The Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10.)”  The image in question – and the “Super Bowl 1955” caption with it – came from ivman’s blague.  The “blague” or “blogue” – apparently French for “blog” – is about “one French professor’s humorous and serious perspectives on life.”  (And specifically, his post on the Good Old Days of Yesteryear.”)  Accordingly, even though the “Super Bowl 1955” caption was written by a cheese-eating surrender monkey – who got the timing of that ostensible Super Bowl wrong by a full decade – the photo is real enough…

The Joe Biden quote is courtesy of Ethan Bronner‘s book, Battle for Justice:  How the [Robert] Bork Nomination Shook America (1989), Anchor Books edition, at page 211.

A final note:   I borrowed the quote beneath the lower photo – “Sometimes you don’t know whether to laugh or cry” – from On rectal thermometers and “you’re entitle.”  That referred to an essay by Harry Golden, involving “our sense of American ingenuity,” the law of unintended consequences, and a concept he called “gradual integration,” referring once again to those “good old days:”

In the emergency room of the Alachua General Hospital at Gainesville, Florida [in 1962], there are three thermometers.  They stand in a row on a small shelf with nothing else.  The first is in an open container labeled:  “WHITE – ORAL,” the third is in an identical container labeled, “COLORED – ORAL,” and the middle one, which protrudes through a cork, in its otherwise sameness, is labeled “RECTAL.”  This is what I call gradual integration.

Donald Trump – The new Johnny Yuma?

The answer?  (From last April.)  Yes, there seems to be a new rebel – or Maverick – in town…

*   *   *   *

I have to admit I’ve been pretty much stymied since the election, last November 8.  The best I could come up with since then was “Trump is like a box of chocolates.”  (Posted November 13, nine days ago.)

It’s as if the Muses have abandoned me.  On the one hand I want to be fair and not cranky.  (Like so many other people my age.)  But on the other hand I have this deep sense of foreboding

Anyway, one project I’m working on is the recent hubbub about  Mike Pence [being] ‘harassed’ by the cast of ‘Hamilton,’ the Broadway musical.  My point there would be that that was simply an exercise of the First Amendment’s right to petition in the United States:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Another project was inspired by a recent comment from my wacko lady friend.  (See ‘Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian.)  It was about Donald Trump basically saying to Obama, “You’re fired!”  The point there would be that according to her reasoning – “and I use the term loosely*” – the American people will be able to say the same thing to DJT within four years.  (See Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution.)

But both projects are slow-going.

Nick Adams The Rebel.JPGThen I hit on the idea of comparing Donald Trump to “Johnny Yuma,” the original Rebel from the TV show back in the early 1960s.  (1959-1961.)  But first a word about the photo at the top of the page.  

There’s a simple explanation.  I like the top image in any post to be a full column wide.  But the best photo I could find of “Johnny Yuma” was a half-column wide.  See On “Johnny YUMA was a rebel.”

So instead I borrowed a photo from “Is there a new ‘Maverick’ in town?”  That post from last April was about mavericks in general:

Originally the term referred to “Texas lawyer Samuel Maverick, who refused to brand his cattle. The surname Maverick is of Welsh origin, from Welsh mawr-rwyce, meaning ‘valiant hero…”  As an adjective the term applies to someone who shows “independence in thoughts or actions.”  As a noun the term means someone “who does not abide by rules.”  Either that, or someone who “creates or uses unconventional and/or controversial ideas or practices.”

It also asked the musical question:  “Can you say prescient?”

But we digress!   Speaking of Donald Trump, I Googled the words “Donald Trump rebel” and got 46,300,00 results.  Of course some results were about something different than my idea. (Things like Donald Trump Likely to End Aid for Rebels Fighting Syrian Government, and Donald Trump‘s wife, daughters rebel in ‘SNL’ parody.)  But others were more on point.  Kind of…

From June 2015 came this:  Donald Trump’s announcement “refreshing,” “inspiring.”  It was about immigration and “the current situation in Iraq,” courtesy of The Rebel Media.  (The “conservative Canadian online political and social commentary media platform founded in February 2015 by former Sun News Network host Ezra Levant.”)

A Confederate flag for sale at a recent Trump rally in Richmond, Virginia.Another one was How the Rebel Flag Rose Again – and Is Helping Trump.  That title pretty much speaks for itself.

But what about “Johnny YUMA,” the rebel we knew and loved from 1959 to 1961?  That post had two key points, the first being that true rebels tend to die young.  (Think James Dean.)

The second was that we’re fascinated by rebels, a term defined at least two ways.  One says a rebel is a person who “refuses allegiance to, resists, or rises in arms against the government or ruler of his or her country.”  The alternate definition is of a “person who stands up for their own personal opinions despite what anyone else says.”  See Urban Dictionary, which added:

It’s all about being an individual and refusing to follow a crowd that forces you to think the same way they do even if it means becoming an outcast to society.  True rebels know who they are and do not compromise their individuality…

All of which could apply to Donald Trump.

But then there was this observation, from The Rebel | Television Obscurities:

Yuma faced down intolerance, distrust, greed, confusion and revenge.  Despite his rebellious nature, Yuma respected law and order and despised abuse of power.  He stood up for the weak and downtrodden.  He traveled alone and was often forced to work alone because he was the only one willing to stand up to the bad guys. (E.A.)

Which brought up The Establishment.  “Remember that?  Also known as The Man?  Either refers to a ‘dominant group or elite that holds power or authority in a nation.’  And either can also be used to describe oppression, and that seemed to be what Johnny Yuma pledged to face down.”

Which raises the question:  Is “The Donald” a Johnny Yuma kind of rebel?  The kind that Johnny Cash sang about?  (And exemplified himself.)  Or will he be just another version of The Man

*   *   *   *

*   *   *   *

Notes:

The upper image – borrowed from “Is there a new ‘Maverick’ in town?” – is courtesy of Maverick (TV series) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.   “Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed in this “notes” section.  Thus, as to “according to her reasoning – ‘and I use the term loosely:’”  I borrowed that phrase from The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, another old TV series.  It aired from 1959 to 1963, for two years concurrently with “The Rebel.”  Mr. Pomfrit – Dobie’s English teacher, played by William Schallert – routinely began his classes by saying, “Students – and I use that term loosely…”  He also referred to them as “my young barbarians.” 

J. R. CashThe lower image is courtesy of popsike.com – JOHNNY CASH – THE REBEL – JOHNNY YUMA … popsike.com.  See also Johnny Cash – Wikipedia:

Cash was known for his deep, calm bass-baritone voice … a rebelliousness coupled with an increasingly somber and humble demeanor, free prison concerts, and a trademark look…  Much of Cash’s music contained themes of sorrow, moral tribulation and redemption, especially in the later stages of his career.

“Trump is like a box of chocolates…”

“Are you telling me Donald Trump just got elected president?”

*   *   *   *

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump arrives for his election night rally at the New York Hilton Midtown in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly Saturday, November 12 – In the news this morning:  Trump tells ’60 Minutes’ he will try to keep the ‘strongest assets’ of Obamacare.

Meanwhile, there was a professor – Allan Lichtman – who predicted last September that Trump would win.  But now he’s saying he’ll be impeached, but not by Democrats.*  The Republicans – he says – would rather have Mike Pence, as “far easier to control.”

They don’t want Trump as president, because they can’t control him. He’s unpredictable. They’d love to have Pence – an absolutely down-the-line, conservative, controllable Republican…  “Having Mike Pence in the White House would put a more trusted establishment Republican in the job.”

http://kara.allthingsd.com/files/2011/03/irony3.jpegBut the good news could be that it will take 67 Senate votes to actually convict and remove “the Donald” through impeachment.  Which may explain why he’s being so “nicey-nice” with Democrats now.  (That’s where the “irony” image at left comes in.)

That is, if Donald plays his cards right, the Democrats might be the ones to insure that he doesn’t get impeached and convicted.  (It’s a two-step process, you see…)

Which brings up what I said back in March.  (About Trump being impeached if he got elected…)

In That OTHER “Teflon Don,” I compared Donald Trump with that “other Great American Showman, P. T. Barnum.”  (Barnum was often referred to as the “Prince of Humbugs,” as shown at right.)

Also in that post I noted that Barnum (1810-1891) was known for supposedly saying, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

Which may be something a lot of people would credit Donald Trump as saying.  But in writing that post I learned something surprising.

Barnum – who we might today call “The P.T.” – also went into politics later in life.  And – surprise of surprises – he turned out to be quite an effective public servant:

Barnum served two terms in the Connecticut legislature in 1865 as a Republican.  [On the issue of slavery] and African-American suffrage, Barnum spoke before the legislature and said, “A human soul, ‘that God has created and Christ died for,’ is not to be trifled with. It may tenant the body of a Chinaman, a Turk, an Arab or a Hottentot – it is still an immortal spirit.”

Which no doubt surprised a number of people.

From there he was elected Mayor of Bridgeport, CT in 1875.  He “worked to improve the water supply, bring gas lighting to streets, and enforce liquor and prostitution laws.  Barnum was instrumental in starting Bridgeport Hospital, founded in 1878, and was its first president.”

A man is at the center of the image smiling into the camera. He is sitting on a blue crate and has his hands resting on his legs.Which no doubt surprised even more people.  And that brings up What Tom Hanks meant when he said ‘Life is like a box of chocolates:’

When you open a box of chocolates, there is a variety of flavors available. Problem is, since they are covered in chocolate, you can’t really tell what any given piece of chocolate is going to taste like…  The real lesson: you take what life gives you and you learn to deal with it, because – as they say – that’s life.

Which means that whatever else happens, the outcome of this last election is not going make me grumpy.  (Like those right-wing wackos, whining and complaining these last eight years.)  I’ll continue on as a Contrarian.  (Which I define as a “moderate with a ‘tude.”)

But I’ll be a cheerful Contrarian.  And besides, we just might be in for some pleasant surprises…

As noted in “Teflon Don,” P.T Barnum surprised a lot of people when he evolved “from a man of common stereotypes of the 1840s to a leader for emancipation by the Civil War.”  And it may be that Donald Trump will “evolve” as well.  That is, he may well evolve into something neither his ardent supporters nor his rabid opponents expect.

On the other hand, it wouldn’t surprise me if Showman Donald Trump actually played “those far-right conservatives like a piano.”  (See That OTHER “Teflon Don.”)

Either way, it leads to a question:  In light of Donald Trump’s chameleon-like shifting political positions – especially since last Tuesday – will he eventually be seen as an “effective elected official,” or a funhouse showman?  Or as the Simon Legree his opponents believe he is?  (And which – by the way – his statements on the campaign trail led them to believe…  But again, that may have been part of his playing “those far-right conservatives like a fiddle.” )

*   *   *   *

Is Donald Trump the new Simon Legree

*   *   *   *

Notes:

The upper image is courtesy of Forrest Gump (1994) – IMDb.  See also Forrest Gump – Wikipedia, and Life is like a box of chocolates – Wiktionary.  The latter indicated that the book “Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, first published in Japanese in 1987, and in English in 1989, has the following: ‘Just remember, life is like a box of chocolates.'”  (I.e., some seven years before the movie.)

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus, as to the prediction of impeachment, see Trump will be impeached – washingtonpost.com.  The “Having Mike Pence in the White House” part of the indented quote is courtesy of Professor Predicts Congress Will Impeach Trump.  And BTW:  “Trump now says ‘Crooked Hillary’ is ‘very strong and very smart.'” See ‘Crooked Hillary’ no more: Trump, etc. 

The “irony” image is courtesy of: kara.allthingsd.com/files/2011/03/irony3.jpeg.  See also On dissin’ the Prez in my companion blog.  Also, An update on “dissin’ the Prez.”

The “Gump-in-uniform” image is courtesy of Forrest Gump – Wikipedia.

Re: To play someone like a piano.  The cited reference is actually to playing someone like a fiddle – Wiktionary, meaning to ” manipulate (a person) skillfully.” 

The lower image is courtesy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “Simon Legree on the cover of the comic book adaptation of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ (Classic Comics No. 15, November 1943 issue).”  The article added:  “It is unclear if Legree is based on any actual individuals.  Reports surfaced after the 1870s that Stowe had in mind a wealthy cotton and sugar plantation owner named Meredith Calhoun, who settled on the Red River north of Alexandria, Louisiana.  Generally, however, the personal characteristics of Calhoun (“highly educated and refined”) do not match the uncouthness and brutality of Legree.”  But that could change, I suppose…

‘Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian

Ralph Waldo Emerson – possibly the first real Contrarian in American History…

*   *   *   *

It’s the eve of Election Day, 2016, and thus a time for reflection.  (Not to mention prayer…)

Whatever the outcome tomorrow, we’re in for more turmoil.  The “war for the soul of America” will go on.  It will continue largely unabated.  (And by the way, Googling that “war for the soul” phrase got me 13,400,000 results.)  So whoever becomes the next president, he or she will face rabid hostility from close to half the American population.  Which means in turn that he or she will face the prospect of impeachment, or at least a realistic threat of impeachment.

But as Lincoln noted – some time before that other Civil War – a “house divided against itself cannot stand.”  He went on to add that “I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided.  It will become all one thing or all the other.”

Unfortunately, it may take a good long time – not to mention a lot of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth – before that “all one thing or all the other” comes true.  In the meantime, Cheer up!

I’m about to tell you how Mi Dulce – and Donald Trump – turned me into a Contrarian:

A contrarian is a person who takes up a contrary position, especially a position that is opposed to that of the majority, regardless of how unpopular it may be.

(See Wikipedia.)  And a word of explanation:  The Internet says Mi Dulce is Spanish for “My Sweet.”  That’s what I call the lady I’ve been “dating” some time now.  (Since the start of the relationship, near the time I started saying she had me “wrapped around her little finger.”)

Also since then she’s broken up with me at least 10 times.  And I learned – over time – that she is an ardent conservative.  (What I now call an “RWW,” or “right wing wacko.”)

There’s more on that later, but it does raise the topic of Contrarians.  As Merriam-Webster defines it, a Contrarian is a “person who takes an opposite or different position or attitude from other people.”  There are good reasons why I prefer that term over “moderate” or “Independent.”  (One of them is based on Ralph Waldo Emerson:  “Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.”  But basically I just like the sound of it.  It sounds more “manly.”  

That is, I used to call myself a “moderate,” but these days that sounds pretty wishy-washy.  (“Oh, I just can’t make up my mind!”)  Then back in July – close to Independence Day – I toyed with the idea of calling myself an “Independent.”  (See On the Independent Voter, which includes the image at left.)  

But in the end I’ve taken up the term Contrarian, and it’s all because of Mi Dulce – and Donald Trump.

Getting back to Mi Dulce:  When we first met, I was all “moderate and nicey-nicey.”  (Like Aristotle, below right.)  I used to say – or at least think – things like, “Let’s not rush to judgment!”  Or, “Let’s wait until we get all the facts before we say anything that might be taken the wrong way!”

Copy of a lost bronze bust of Aristotle made by Lysippos (4th century BCE)The problem is that in my neck of the woods – especially with someone like Mi Dulce – that moderate, reasoned, common-sense approach will get you nothing but bowled over.  (In the sense of hearing something so “whacked” that you are rendered temporarily speechless with disbelief.)  

Now, to be fair – not to mention moderate and reasoned – I’m sure there are lots of left-wing wackos out there as well.  (Somewhere.)  But I haven’t met any.  None of them seem to live in my neck of the woods.

Instead, where I live there seem to nothing but right-wing wackos.

That means I’ve had to listen to nothing but moaning, groaning and complaining these last eight years.  (Since Obama got elected.)  So naturally I got a bit tired of it. (Hearing the same complaints over and over.)  But then – to top it off – it turned out that Mi Dulce was a right-wing wacko too.

(But not really.  She has a heart.  I’ve seen her buy a hamburger for a homeless guy, and there’s a stray cat that keeps coming by to mooch a free meal from her.  Plus she’s cute…)

And I’ve learned one thing about RWWs.  (Including but not limited to “Mi Dulce.”)  They all use the 8-track tape mode of political discourse.

If you’re under the age of 65, you probably don’t remember this “magnetic tape sound recording technology,” popular in the U.S. from the mid-1960s to the late 1970s.  That’s when “the Compact Cassette format took over.”  (And what’s a compact cassette?)

The thing about 8-tracks was that they never stopped.  You never got to the end.  They used a “continuous loop” system, which is why they didn’t have a rewind option.  As long as you played the tape, you got the same thing over and over again.  The same “data,” the same songs played in the same order over and over again.

Which is pretty much like trying to have a meaningful conversation with a right-wing wacko…

The upshot?  My definition of a Contrarian includes the fact that we have to take a position directly opposite the person we’re talking to just to get a &^%$ word in edge-wise!

You could also refer to it as having to “out-wacko the wackos.”  And that’s turning out to be a skill that we former “moderates” are definitely going to need in the years ahead.

Which is where Donald Trump comes in.

Donald TrumpHow “the Donald” could turn someone into a Contrarian should be self-evident.  But in another sense you could say he’s liberated us from all those hangups about having to be factually accurate in what we say.  (In other words, “moderate.”  Or for that matter feeling the need to say only things that actually makes sense.)

But that also means that from now on, those right-wing wackos are going to feel free to say anything outlandish that comes into their pointy little heads.  In fact, the more outlandish to better.

Which means in turn that if we former-moderates stick to “just the facts” – or only make sense in what we say – those RWWs are just going to bowl us over.  So, in self-defense both moderates and LWWs will need to learn how to “out-wacko the wackos.”

Which turns out to be actually kind of fun, once you get the hang of it.  And that’s something I would never had learned without Mi Dulce.  (And of course “the Donald.”)

I’ll be writing more on this topic in the days to come, but for now I’d like to watchfully wait until tomorrow night.  I want to see who I’ll be “contrarying” over the next four years.

But before closing, a few observations.  One is that being a Contrarian is a bit like being a public defender – which I was, for 24 years – or like a “Devil’s advocate.”  (One of the “see alsos” in the Wikipedia article on Contrarians.)  Another is that at times, the give-and-take between Don and Hillary these past few months have reminded me of Playing the Dozens.

But finally, note that being a Contrarian means learning how to make a snappy comeback.  And the nice thing about right-wing wackos is the fact that they make the same arguments over and over again.  Which means your “moderate” or “Contrarian” snappy comebacks don’t have to be all that snappy.  You can plan your snappy comebacks way ahead of time.

Which translates to:  “Bless those right-wing, 8-track political arguments…” 

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Stay tuned

“Factory optional 8-track stereo player … mounted between the center console and dash…”

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The upper image is courtesy of Ralph Waldo Emerson – Wikipedia.

The 8-track image is courtesy of 8-track tape – Wikipedia.

Re:  Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.”  On the other hand I could just give up the fight and join the ranks of grumpy old white people who now surround me on every side.  But who wants to be a cliche?  Or to paraphrase Jackie DeShannon:  “What the World Doesn’t Need Now Is a Bunch More Grumpy Old White People.”  (See also “No city for Grouchy Old White People.”)

Re: Playing the Dozens.  This verbal game is known best – in the white world – through the phenomenon of Yo Mamma Jokes.   (“Yo’ mamma so fat,”  “Yo mamma so ugly,” etc.)

The Dozens is a game of spoken words between two contestants, common in Black communities of the United States, where participants insult each other until one gives up.  It is customary for the Dozens to be played in front of an audience of bystanders, who encourage the participants to reply with more egregious insults to heighten the tension and, consequently, to be more interesting to watch.

The problem – as Richard Pryor once noted – is that “white folks” do not know how to play.  White people – witnessing such exchanges – fail to realize that they offer an alternative to actual violence.  (“The status of a participant is greatly diminished if he answers a verbal insult by fighting.”)  And they fail to recognize that the goal is to show some linguistic creativity, rather than “weakening” the opponent or the community.  Which of course opens a a whole new topic of discussion:  Teaching white people like Hillary and Don the right way to play the game…

The lower image is courtesy of 8-track tape – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “Factory optional 8-track stereo player in a 1967 American Motors (AMC) vehicle mounted between the center console and dash.”  The article added:  “The format is regarded as an obsolete technology, and was relatively unknown outside the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Japan.”

Another “deja vu all over again?”

Richard Nixon – “traitor” – goes on the air three months before resigning to avoid impeachment

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I didn’t get to bed until late Wednesday.  (Another sleepless night.)

I wanted to see if the Chicago Cubs could “break the curse.” They started Game 7 strong, and built a solid lead.  But then things got close;  the Indians tied it up in the eighth inning.

The game went into extra innings.  In the top of the 10th the Cubs got another apparently-solid lead; two runs, to go up 8-6.  But the Indians came back again and got a run in the bottom of the 10th.  The Cubs hung on and ended up winning, “by the narrowest of margins.”  (8-7.)

I’m starting to wonder if the upcoming election will turn out the same way.

One reason is all the recent 11th-hour hubbub about Hillary Clinton facing “FBI indictment.”

(By the way:  That report was “later debunked.”)

But the hubbub reminded me – after the initial shock – of a story I read some time ago in The Presidents Club.  (The book by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, Managing Editors at Time magazine.)  

Starting on page 236, they described how Richard Nixon committed treason to get elected president in 1968.  But don’t take my word for it:  See George Will Confirms Nixon’s Vietnam Treason.  And by the way, the title of this post harks back to one I did last May:  Is this “deja vu all over again?”  (Which asked the musical question:  “Is there a new Maverick in town?) 

Donald TrumpThe “new Maverick” – of whom I asked – was Donald Trump.  (And the post included the image at right.)  But getting back to Nixon’s treason:

The story – according to Gibbs and Duffy – began with the sub-head, “October Surprise.”  The surprise in October 1968 was the “scuttling” of the Paris Peace Talks.  The kicker was that despite having a peace treaty ready to be signed – to end the war in Vietnam – the South Vietnamese suddenly pulled out.

The upshot –  of South Vietnam pulling out – was that Richard Nixon got elected instead of Hubert Humphrey.  And as Nixon later confessed, if the peace treaty had been signed – some 72 hours before Election Day, 1968 – Humphrey “would have had the election in the bag.”

So how did Nixon do it?  According to one official, “It is not stretching the truth … to say that the Nixon campaign had a secret source within the U.S. negotiating team.”

Which leads to my question:  “Does Donald Trump have a secret source within the FBI?”  (Or is the FBI simply an anti-Clinton “Trumpland,” as other sources say…)

George C Wallace.jpgBut again, let’s get back to Nixon’s treason.  Before announcing the tentative accord – some three weeks before the election – then-President Johnson called the three candidates for president:  Nixon, Humphrey, and George Wallace.  (At left.)  To each candidate he said the same thing, “I know you don’t want to play politics with your country.”

He was wrong – very wrong – about Nixon.

Over the next two weeks the plot thickened.  Nixon figured that Johnson wanted to bring peace in Vietnam – to end the war – solely to “swing the election in the final days,” to Humphrey.  And he had sources inside LBJ’s camp, including Henry Kissinger, who was “working both sides of the game.”  (And despite Kissinger’s thinking that Nixon was “a disaster,” “unfit to be President,”and “the most dangerous of all men running.”)

The upshot was that Nixon made a deal with Nguyễn Văn Thiệu – at right – then-president of South Vietnam.  He pulled out of the talks, with the result that Johnson looked like “a sneak, a manipulator who put his own agenda ahead of the country’s.”  (Even as Nixon himself was doing just that.)  

Later – when Nixon spoke with Johnson in person, by phone – he “poured it on thick,” saying that he would “never do anything to encourage Saigon not to come to the table.”  But after the phone call ended:

“Nixon and his friends collapsed with laughter,” reported the Sunday “Times” of London in an account of the episode months later.  “It was partly in sheer relief that their victory had not been taken from them at the eleventh hour.”  Forty-eight hours later, Nixon won the presidency by the  narrowest of margins:  seven tenths of one percent.

Which brings up a key point:  Although Nixon won the popular vote by that mere “seven tenths of one percent,” he won by a wide margin in the Electoral College.  (301 Electoral College votes to 191 for Humphrey and 46 for Wallace.  See Presidential Election of 1968 – 270toWin.com.)

Which means – in a word – that quite often the popular vote doesn’t mean squat.

But getting back to the election in 1968.  The other upshot of Nixon’s treachery was that Hubert Humphrey found out about it soon after the fact.  However, in the best interests of the country he kept it a secret.  (As did all other members of the “President’s Club.”)  All those arguably-honorable men kept Nixon’s treason a secret, “until the tapes revealed all.”

Another result:  U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War continued until August of 1973, instead of ending closer to Election Day, 1968.  The “war would continue and widen [and] the death toll mount … until it finally ended on terms very much like the ones tentatively agreed to in October of 1968.”  And incidentally, Nixon made his “in the bag” comment while sitting in Air Force One, one version of which is shown at left.  (And which a gracious Lyndon Johnson let Nixon use – as president-elect – as a “club courtesy.”  Referring again to the so-called “President’s Club.”)  

As to his committing treason to get elected?  “‘It sure beats losing,’ he said with a smile.”

*   *   *   *

 *   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of Richard Nixon – Wikipedia.

For another take on Clinton’s “11th-hour woes,” see FiveThirtyEight’s extraordinary prediction model is failing.  (And also Matthew 20:9, and/or What’s the Origin of the Phrase “The Eleventh Hour.”)

Re: “Eleventh-hour hubbub.”  For one take, see the Fox News claim.  For another take, see ‘The FBI is Trumpland’: anti-Clinton atmosphere spurred leaks, sources say.

Re:  “President’s Club.”  The full title: The Presidents Club:  Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity, by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy.  The quotes from the book are from the “October Surprise” section, from page 236 to 249. See also “Brother from another mother” and other ex-Prez tales.

Re: Nixon treason:  See also How Richard Nixon Sabotaged 1968 Vietnam Peace TalksYes, Nixon Scuttled the Vietnam Peace Talks – POLITICOYep, he sabotaged peace talks in Vietnam for political gain (Smithsonian); and/or Nixon sabotaged the Paris Peace Talks – Esquire.

The “Thieu” image is courtesy of Nguyễn Văn Thiệu.jpg … wikimedia.org.

The lower image is courtesy of Vietnam War – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “Marine gets his wounds treated during operations in Huế City, 1968.”

On Halloween – and “Fool’s Fire”

Japanese view of a Will-o’-the-wisp  –  That might “lead you to your doom” on Halloween night…

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Jack-o'-Lantern 2003-10-31.jpgSunday, October 30 – If you’ve been living under a rock – or sticking your head in the sand to get away from negative political campaigning – you might not know that Halloween is tomorrow night.

And speaking of jack-o’-lanterns – like the one at right – they are widely known as one of the prime symbols of Halloween.  And in some traditions they are said to represent the “souls of the dead.”

Another theory is that some old-time people set those carved-out pumpkins on their windowsills, to keep out “harmful spirits.”  (Keep them from invading their home.)   And in yet another tradition,  jack-o’-lanterns “represented Christian souls in purgatory.”

(See also “corpse candles,” in the notes below…)

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) - The Day of the Dead (1859).jpgWhich brings us back to Halloween.  But what many people don’t know is that Halloween is actually a religious holiday.  Or that there are actually Three Days of Halloween.  (Called the Halloween Triduum.)  The third day of the three-day holiday – November 2d – is called All Souls’ Day.  The original idea was to remember the souls of “the dear departed,” illustrated by the painting at left.

The second of the three days – November 1st – was known as All Saints’ Day.  But back in Merry Olde England, the word for “saint” was halig, which eventually became “hallow.”  (It may have been easier to pronounce…)  So originally – back in England – November 1st was called “All Hallows Day.”  That meant that – literally – the night of October 31 was the evening – or e’en – before “Hallows Day.”  (Or “All Hallows Day.”)

That then got shortened to “All Hallows E’en” – “Eve” or “Evening” – which in turn got shortened further to what we now know as “Hallowe’en,” or just plain Halloween.

Two things about the night of October 31.  One:  By tradition it started the winter “season of darkness.”  (Old-timers – seeing the days get shorter and shorter – started thinking the days would eventually get so short there would be no light at all.)  The other thing old-timers believed was that on the Eve of All Hallows, “the veil between the material world and the afterlife thinned.”  Put another way, the veil between the living and the dead was most permeable.

(Spirits could more easily “pass through” the veil separating the dead from the living.) 

 So what was the deal with wearing masks and disguises? 

To review, people originally thought that on the night of October 31, the barrier between the living and the dead was pretty much all the way down.  And those old-time people were – perhaps naturally – “scared of those ghosts.”

So those old-time people originally started putting on masks and/or costumes to fool the ghosts and spirits.  (In other words, to disguise their identities.)  The idea was to keep the afterlife “hallows” – ghosts or spirits – from recognizing the people in this, the “material world.”

Another thing they did was to build “bone fires:”

“The fires were thought to bring comfort to the souls in purgatory and people prayed for them as they held burning straw up high.”  The idea came from pagan times, when evil spirits had to be driven away with noise and fire.  (Note also that “bonfire” is short for bone-fire.  See Bonfire – Wikipedia, noting the term “is derived from the fact that bonfires were originally fires in which bones were burned.”)

And there was another old-time custom.  If you had to travel on All Hallows E’en – like from 11:00 p.m. until midnight – your candle could tell your future.  If your candle kept burning, that was a good omen.  (The person holding the candle would be safe in the upcoming “season of darkness.”)  But if your candle went out , “the omen was bad indeed.”

The thought was that the candle had been blown out by witches.

Which brings us back to “fool’s fire,” will-o’-the-wisps, and/or jack-o’-lanterns.  A note:  Such jack-o’-lanterns are now made from pumpkins, but were originally carved from large turnips.

And both the jack-o’-lantern and Will-o’-the-wisp are tied in with the strange ghostly light known as ignis fatuus.  (From the Medieval Latin for “foolish fire.”)  That refers to the “atmospheric ghost light seen by travelers at night, especially over bogs, swamps or marshes.  It resembles a flickering lamp and is said to recede if approached:”

Tradition had it that this ghostly light – seen by travelers at night and especially over bogs, swamps or marshes – resembled a flickering lamp.  The flickering lamp then receded if you approached it, and so it “drew travelers from their safe paths,” to their doom…

Put another way, the phenomenon of fool’s fire was “linked with the leading astray of weary travelers into mires.”  The guy leading people astray was said to be a “mischievous spirit,” carrying a lantern or torch and was said to play tricks on people.

Not that there’s any connection to the election coming up next week or anything…

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 [Feux Follets Near Paris]Another view of some  ghostly “Fool’s Fire…”

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The upper image is courtesy of Will-o’-the-wisp – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “A Japanese rendition of a Russian will-o’-the-wisp.”  (It should also be noted that any resemblance between that “upper image” and any of the political candidates running for office is purely coincidental…) 

Much of the text and “imagery” for this post was gleaned from my companion blog, to wit:  “All Hallows E’en” – 2015, and – in 2014 – On “All Hallows E’en,” Parts I and Part II

 The lower image is courtesy of Will-o’-the-Wisp – Lantern Man, Feu Follet, Ignis Fatuus.  The caption:  “Artist unknown. Source: ‘Flammarion, L’atmosphère: météorologie populaire’ (1888, p.749):”

The Will-o’-the-wisp has been recorded as flickering over marshy ground since at least the middle ages…  The lights have also been incorporated into modern literature, e.g. Dracula, and have even had a children’s television show named after them.  The most commonly cited explanation for them is that they’re the product of ignited marsh gas:  most likely slowly leaking methane whose ignition is triggered by phosphene…  Some of their synonyms reveal what cultures thought about them[, such as:]  “corpse candles” suggest[ing] that they’re the souls of the departed…  The phenomenon is also inextricably linked with the leading astray of weary travellers into mires.  The light was taken to be a lantern or a torch carried by a mischeivous [sic] spirit … said to play tricks on people.