Monthly Archives: November 2016

“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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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!

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Hey, it could happen!

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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 |

The lower image is courtesy of APG 146 – When Pigs Fly?  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.”

On Alice and her restaurant – yet again…

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

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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…”

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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…

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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

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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 – JOHNNY CASH – THE REBEL – JOHNNY YUMA …  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?”

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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. Professor Allan Lichtman 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.”

But 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” 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.” )

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Is Donald Trump the new Simon Legree

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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 –  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. 

For some related thoughts see On dissin’ the Prez in my companion blog, and 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 (or actually an Independent)

Ralph Waldo Emerson – possibly the first real Contrarianin American History…

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(Editor’s note: Make that “Independent, like Moses and Jesus.” As discussed in my upcoming February 2021 post, which means changing – to the extent possible – all references to the word “Contrarian” in the text below into “Independent.” Then too, it seems that most Independents have to have a bit of a Contrarian streak to stay Independent…)

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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?”

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November 4, 2016 – 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. Then things got close. The Indians tied it up in the eighth inning. The game went into extra innings, and 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 and got a run in the bottom of the 10th. Finally 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 the recent 11th-hour hubbub about Hillary Clinton facing “FBI indictment.” (A report “later debunked.”) But the hubbub reminded me – after the initial shock – of a story I read some time ago in The Presidents Club. (By Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, Managing Editors at Time magazine.) Starting on page 236, they described Richard Nixon committing 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 back to Nixon’s treason: The story – said Gibbs and Duffy, sub-head, “October Surprise” was of Nixon “scuttling” 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 – 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 –

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.”

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The original post had an upper image courtesy of Richard Nixon – Wikipedia. I captioned it, “Richard Nixon – ‘traitor’ – goes on the air three months before resigning to avoid impeachment.”

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 …

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