We are serious baseball fans. Garry has actually written a couple of pieces like this, but you need to “get” baseball to understand them. This is a great piece and if you are any kind of sports fan, you should recognize that “the big play” is sexy on TV. A huge homer makes the fans cheer and stomp while the TV crew gets all worked up.
There are a lot of ways to win — and lose. Whacking the ball over the wall is not a game.
A homer is just ONE play. A team needs a basket of strategies to make the game a winner — and a lot of winning games to take the season to a winning finish.
Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, was just sentenced again in federal court.
So let’s talk baseball.
While such a segue is admittedly strained, the all-American game has lessons to teach sensible citizens who hang our heads over a combined seven-and-a-half-year sentence for Manafort that could allow the 69-year-old to still walk out of prison rather than be carried out on a slab.
Baseball today is a different game than the one many of us grew up with. ESPN’s Sports Center highlights helped turn the sport into one big home run derby, which prevented newer fans from ever learning baseball’s nuances. The stolen base, the hit-and-run, the run-scoring double off the wall are all exciting plays that are mostly unappreciated by newer fans who are conditioned to only get excited when the ball is hit over the fence.
It’s a crime, really, and speaking of crime, that brings us back…
One thing you notice pretty quickly once you go from neutral observer to bonafide political warrior is that you’ll get e-mail, tons of it, and all with a common theme: Send money!
Don’t get me wrong, I love helping out and love being on a first-name basis with Democratic stalwarts like Nancy Pelosi and John Lewis (hereafter referred to simply as Nancy and John), but c’mon, guys, I’ve got my own bills to pay!
Shouldn’t I get credit for having written more than 90 anti-Trump posts for The Shinbone Star? No bonus points for culling every last Trump-loving friend or family member from my Facebook feed?
I’ve got to hand it to bigwigs down at the DNC because once they sink their teeth into you they act like a dog on a bone. It doesn’t matter if that bone is already bleached whiter than the skeleton of a dead mule in Death Valley. Retiree on a fixed income? Forget about it! If you’ve still got a dollar to your name, send it in!
It’s true, they’re not necessarily asking for much. Hey, if you can’t send $25, then $1 will do. But they want you to keep sending it all the damned time! Remember that inscription on U.S. currency, “E Pluribus Unum?” It means “Out of Many, One,” but to hear the Democrats spin it, that’s gonna be many, many, many ones for the rest of your natural life.
It’s not that I ever had that much money to begin with. Working in the newspaper business for three decades sure won’t make you rich, but it will teach you a thing or two about deadlines. But I’m here to testify, I’ve never seen an outfit with more deadlines than these Democrats. They’ve got monthly deadlines, quarterly deadlines, and special super-duper deadlines. Even their deadlines have deadlines, and by god, every one is critical!
Whether I’m on my phone or on my computer, the e-mail notifications just keep coming.
Ding . . .
Oh, this is for the “special one-term president fund,” and you’re saying that if I don’t pony up right now, Trump might win again in 2020???? Gaaaaa, anything but that! To hell with the heating oil bill, I don’t care if I freeze my ass off, I’m writing a check to the DNC right now!
Sometimes, however, a simple call to duty doesn’t work, so my new DNC friends have adopted other tactics, like fear.
Ding . . .
Holy shit in the foothills! “EARTH-SHATTERING news!”
Please believe me, I’m well aware that Nancy, Deb, and Adam already e-mailed me, but I had to eat! But now, only 24 hours are left before the next deadline and someone at headquarters noticed that my excitement about the brand new Democratic majority wasn’t up to snuff. I guess maybe I wasn’t that hungry. I guess I could have sent them $1. I’m so ashamed!
They know when you’ve been sleeping. They know when you’re awake.
Ding . . .
I swear Nancy’s stalking my ass! She wants her $1 and by god, she’s not taking “no” for an answer. How the hell did she even know that I had deleted her first message before sending another the same day? Shitfire, they’re watching me!
But even guilt won’t work on some people. Sometimes all it takes is a straightforward plea from a true hero of the republic.
Ding . . .
Dang it, John, that just hurts. How can I deny a man like you who has given his blood for the civil rights movement? And all you’re asking for is one measly dollar? OK, man, you win. I’m sending it in right now, but just tell your pals to back off a little, OK? So what if the phone bill is due, I’ll . . .
Ding . . .
Oh crap, here comes Nancy again!
Wait a minute, you’re saying we have to top the GOP’s $44 million war chest and you can’t do it unless I chip in my last dollar? But for chrissakes, I just gave a dollar to John! Can’t I please just write another Shinbone article or maybe piss off another Trumpist relative instead?
Look, I’m not stupid, I know it takes money to run a campaign, but you guys really gotta know when to back off . . .
Ding . . .
Sheeeit! Nancy must have given my e-mail address to Adam!
But holy crap, man, I have been standing up! Haven’t you seen? Don’t you read The Shinbone Star? What more do I have to do??? I know, I know, just send in one more simoleon . . .
Ding . . .
Oh crap, Adam handed off to James, and he’s saying that even after all the money I’ve sent, we’re still SCREWED! And not only that, he’s snarky, pissy and demanding to boot: (Earth to Glen)
Seriously, James, you’re asking did I miss you? Was I concerned you would forget about me?
Well, Earth to James, I sure as hell wish you would forget about me because this much is clear: John, Nancy, Adam, Deb, Beto, Kamala, Barack, Hillary, Alexandria, Kirsten, Elizabeth, Tom, Mikie and a host of others sure as hell won’t forget about me until they have my last thin dime.
Ding . . .
Final notice??? But I’m already a card-carrying Democrat! Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Nope, not falling for it this time!
From the Washington Post, these are Cohen’s quotes, not something “made up” by the writer. I’m sure he had help with it because these words have the ring of a professionally written and carefully polished speech.
That being said, I think this sums up much of what many of us feel:
“Mr. Trump is an enigma,” Cohen said in his opening statement. “He is complicated, as am I. He has both good and bad, as do we all. But the bad far outweighs the good, and since taking office, he has become the worst version of himself. He is capable of behaving kindly, but he is not kind. He is capable of committing acts of generosity, but he is not generous. He is capable of being loyal, but he is fundamentally disloyal.”
He went on to say:
“Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great,” Cohen said. “He had no desire or intention to lead this nation – only to market himself and to build his wealth and power. Mr. Trump would often say, this campaign was going to be the ‘greatest infomercial in political history.’”
America. The greatest infomercial in political history? Also, probably, the biggest dive from greatest to pettiness, racism, ignorance, cruelty, and rampant destruction of what have always been the beauties of our world.
From the Post:
Cohen has insisted that “blind loyalty” is what drove him to commit crimes on Trump’s behalf. Federal prosecutors have contended that Cohen “relished the role of ultimate fixer” and that he was “driven by a desire to further ingratiate himself with a potential future president — for whose political success Cohen himself claimed credit.”
“Taken together, these offenses reveal a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy,” prosecutors wrote in a memorandum to a federal judge before Cohen was sentenced. “His motivation to do so was not borne from naiveté, carelessness, misplaced loyalty or political ideology. Rather, these were knowing and calculated acts — acts Cohen executed in order to profit personally, build his own power, and enhance his level of influence.”
I can understand why many people would be hesitant to believe the words of a man who, in the name of ambition, would follow a man he knew to be bad in every way that counted.
On the other hand, these people are defending the exact same bad guy and I will bet that every one of them knows how evil Trump really is. They aren’t doing the right thing. They are doing the politically expedient “thing” which they know to be wrong.
I find it hard to fathom anyone having that level of ambition, yet I see it everywhere. Even back in college, there was always one little wormy kid who would do anything to grab the job you were trying to get — and this was back when we weren’t even paid for the work. It was all a matter of personal honor.
Too many people have no honor. These days, it would seem that more than ever, people have no honor — just a personal agenda. Furthermore, they don’t comprehend the concept of honor. They think it’s about ambition and flags … but it isn’t and never was.
Time for a personal story. In my freshman year of college, I met a boy and we fell in love. I was 16. He was 17. He wasn’t a virgin — but he was barely not a virgin. I was a virgin — I was 16, after all — so we went to be together in a borrowed apartment and it was wonderful. It was. He eventually turned out to be more than a little psycho, so while we had an affair that lasted many years, we did not marry. Oddly, he shared Garry’s birthday. As did another boyfriend from that period.
I know we all don’t believe in “fate,” but that’s pretty fateful. I digress. Back to the story.
I actually told my mother about it. You have to understand that my mother was all in favor of modern sex and not being held to old-fashioned standards, so when she went completely bonkers, I was baffled, boggled, and bewildered. I said: “What about …”
And she said: ” Not MY daughter!”
That was when I realized that your beliefs and your BELIEFS didn’t have to be the same. Mom decided I needed to talk to the grand dame of her sisters — my Aunt Kate. My mother’s oldest sister.
She was born in “the old country” and was the only member of the household who still kept Kosher. She remained Jewish without ever casting aspersions on family members who had gone another way.
I adored my Aunt Kate. She was beautiful, a dead ringer for Katherine Hepburn as a young woman. Even older, she had cheekbones to die for. But beyond that, she was deeply and passionately kind. There was inherent goodness about her I have known rarely through the years.
I told her what had been going on. She listened. Quietly. Then she said: “But what about honor?”
I had never considered honor as part of the love/sex/passion thing. Nobody had used the word, not even my mother. It was a concept that swept in from the past and put the issue into an entirely new perspective. And I never forgot that for some people, it’s about their version of religion or faith. For others, there are just “rules” you follow because “you’re supposed to follow the rules.” For Aunt Kate, it was about honor. And after that, I never forgot to consider whether or not what I was doing was honorable.
Shortly after that conversation, I pointed out (proudly) to Aunt Kate that I was still wearing the fake fur coat she’d give me when I was in Junior High School because I loved it. Horrified that I could still be wearing that old coat, in the middle of Manhattan, she pulled off her coat and gave it to me. I tried really hard to give it back, but it stuck. Until I moved to Israel when I got rid of most of my heavy winter clothing, it was my “good coat.” It was a fake beaver coat. No fur, just poly whatever, but it looked and felt like the real thing and had a wonderful swing to it.
We had lunch at a hotel dining room and I tucked my arm into the crook of her arm and we walked locked together down the avenues of Manhattan.
That’s what is missing from today’s America. Our sense of honor is gone. We stand naked and shivering in the winds of ambition with no moral code. There’s no one worse than us, though there are a few probably at least as bad other places.
Our days of lecturing the rest of the world about right and wrong are, I think, over. Or at least over for the next 50 years while we try to repair our image. Maybe longer, depending on whether or not the chaotic Democratic Party can collect itself and think nationally and rationally.
Let us find honor for all rather than self-aggrandizement for a few.
This is a bit more than one line. “Inherit the Wind” is one of the best movies of its kind ever made. If you have not yet seen it, I highly recommend it. Not only is it brilliantly acted, directed with a script right out of the actual trial, but it is so “now.” It ought to be “old” but it’s as current as today’s headlines.
Fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy and needs feeding … — Clarence Darrow
The script for “Inherit the Wind” (Spencer Tracy, Frederic March, and Gene Kelly) is largely based on the actual Scopes “Monkey Trial” held in 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee.
“Inherit the Wind” (1960) was directed by Stanley Kramer. The trial was held in Dayton, Tennessee because teaching evolution had been banned by the state’s Butler Act.
You would think that we would have come a long way since then … and we did. We passed some good legislation. Civil rights and all that. We eliminated the legalized part of our national evil. But then, we started doubling back.
We’re heading down a bleak, dark road. Again. Apparently, we lack a national memory of having been here before and it ends badly. It always ends badly.
A nation led by hatred, ignorance, and fear is not seeking a happy ending.
It was definitely one of SNL’s better productions and Alec Baldwin IS the prez. I think after all these years, he has found his metier. The problem is that it is hard to be funnier than the real Trump. If our national life weren’t on the line, I’d laugh so much harder!
Just when I thought there was nothing new to shake my head at regarding our unstable president, along came last week’s Saturday Night Live on NBC-TV.
Any comic material about Donald Trump seems to write itself, but the show delivered a brilliant parody of Trump declaring a state of emergency for a wall on the Mexican border. The genius of it was that it was so close to the president’s real actions and reactions at last week’s news conference.
From Trump’s childish tantrums against the media, to his pathetic request for a Nobel Peace Prize (Obama got one. Why not me?), Alec Baldwin’s impersonation was spot on. That includes Trump’s habit of rambling, exaggerating, and concocting numbers that he pulls out of the air.
He claimed to be 6’7″ tall and 185 pounds of “shredded” fat. Next, he said he looked forward to meeting North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, a “very…
I figured it out! The solution to reality! This reality! This reality TV reality!
The problem is not so much that we are living in a reality TV reality. The problem is that we’re living in a REALLY BADreality TV reality. Face it, it’s not working. Each time something happens that we might think is positive, the next day — or the next hour — we discover we were deluded.
Do you know what does work?
Think about it. There was a show called “Designated Survivor.” In it, the whole U.S. government was blown up during a State of the Union Address. The Executive Branch, Congress, Supreme Court? Wiped off the earth.
The only cabinet member that had to stay home becomes the President. He has to rebuild the government from the ground up. While he’s doing that, there’s a mysterious cabal in which the ones responsible for blowing everybody up are also trying to take over the country.
In spite of that, their government and President are doing a lot better job than ours! They are noticeably more sane and coherent and sometimes, they make intelligent decisions. Imagine that!
So here’s what we do. We switch realities!
It’s a win-win for everybody. How? It’s simple — at least in theory.
The current administration leaves the government and instead, goes on real TV, 24/7. Every day. You like watching the news? You’ll never miss another show!
On Fox News. They all go to work on sets that look just like Washington, D.C. They do the exact same things they do now. It will be just like on “Big Brother”. Only bigger.
And on Fox News.
They can pass laws, write executive orders, cancel health insurance for the whole nation, eliminate “Meals On Wheels” or just kick puppies. Whatever they want! Trump supporters won’t be upset because they only watch Fox News.
As far as they’ll be concerned, everything is normal.
It just isn’t real.
“And it’s only on Fox.”
OK, great you say. But what about real reality? Who’s going to be the real President? The real cabinet?
Here’s who. Honest to God fictionalones.
The cool part is, we have a lot of options. We have lots of choices for President. And if we dig into the DNC pool, we’ve got dozens more. Hell, every billionaire is ready to declare!
We could have Jeb Bartlett. He was a great President. Don’t believe me? Watch “The West Wing.” Again. As a matter of fact, just keep watching it over and over until you feel better. It’s like a political tranquilizer.
We’ve got Dennis Haysbert. I’m pretty sure he was President twice.
We’ve got Morgan Freeman. Not only was the President, but he was (is currently, I believe) also God!
The list goes on. Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline, Jack Nicholson, Peter Sellers … (Oh, for God’s sake, Google the rest.) You get my point.
Now, appointing a cabinet becomes fun!
Secretary of State? How about Tia Leoni? She’s already a Secretary of State and seems to be doing a pretty decent job of it every Sunday. Let’s give her the job for the rest of the week.
Attorney General? Julianna Margulies. She’s a lawyer, ran for State’s Attorney and by almost all accounts, is a good wife.
Secretary of Defense? I admit, at first, I was leaning toward Schwarzenegger or Stallone. Then it hit me.
CHUCK NORRIS! Think about it. We could cut the military budget down to nothing. Nobody’s going to go to war with us. Nobody fucks with Chuck Norris!
ISIS COMMANDER: We will destroy America!
ISIS GUY WATCHING THE NEWS: Sir, America just made Chuck Norris Secretary of Defense.
ISIS COMMANDER: Shit.
(Insert favorite Chuck Norris joke here. My favorite? Chuck Norris once counted to infinity. Twice.)
Department of Education? The cast of Sesame Street.
Depart of Health and Human Services? Pick any of the stern but kindly Chiefs of Staff from any medical show you’ve enjoyed over the years. Any of them will do fine. (Except for Dr. Zorba. I’m pretty sure he’s dead.) (Extra points if you get that reference.)
Department of Housing? Chris Rock. OK, he really doesn’t have any more qualifications for the job than Ben Carson does. But I just like the guy. He’s funny.
(If you get that reference, you get double extra points.) I could go on, but you get the point.
Five: The Election
How do we do this?
We have an election. Not the usual kind. What with voter suppression, low turnouts, gerrymandering, the Electoral College, and just candidates that don’t have the right scriptwriters, our elections are not working out well. That’s how we got into this mess, to begin with.
We have the election the same way reality TV shows do it. Everybody gets to vote from their smartphone, their computer, their tablet, or Android device. You can email or text your vote. You are only allowed to vote up to 20 times on any given device. You can vote up until 10 pm Eastern Standard Time.
Granted, this will fire up the Millennials and confuse the hell out of old folks. Maybe it’s unfair, but it’s still better than the Electoral College.
We can set up March Madness-style brackets and have an election every week for maybe a month until we get a winner. Imagine how many office pools there will be. You might even win!
And we, the people, elect everybody. The President doesn’t get to appoint his cabinet. We do.
This is absolute Democracy at work!
It could work!
As a cheese-faced person who somehow actually became President of the United States said to a bunch of totally incredulous Black people:
A self-imposed exile from the machinations of Donald Trump is a good thing. It is like spraying Febreze Clean Linen scent inside your skull until the rotten stench is completely covered. Two weeks wasn’t long enough to fully enjoy it, but it is a start.
A real exile from Trump means no cable news, newspapers, Facebook memes and rants, not answering taunts and jibes and no light-hearted political discussion with the neighbors.
Netflix is a good hiding place. A more extreme alternative is Devotional Hour with Sister Marie, the wizened old nun who provides solace on a local Catholic television show. Five minutes cured everything. Even with great alternatives available, actually weaning oneself off the Trumpian titty is like quitting smoking without a nicotine patch. His nefarious influence is everywhere.
Perhaps the most revealing thing about such an experience is discovering that people who must work every day to care for their kids, dogs, and homes don’t often give a tinker’s damn about politics. It takes a particularly powerful whiff of Trumplandian swamp gas for them to even notice all is still not well in Washington, D.C. They apparently leave all the angst for old retired people who won’t suffer too long no matter what happens.
Several other discoveries jumped out immediately. The Trumpian Wall saga has run its course across the emotional nerves of my neighbors. So have mass shootings, the endless litany of #MeToo sexual peccadilloes and reports about election campaigns so far in the future they are irrelevant. The baffling Mueller probe is seen in the same light as all the other probes getting shoved in people’s keisters in the name of New Age correctness.
My hardworking neighbors know that a Saudi journalist named Khashoggi was chopped into mincemeat by lackeys of some medieval Arab prince who won’t be touched; that war in Syria and Afghanistan may be over but don’t count on it; and that some big, bald-headed guy on TV when they arrived home Friday was in a pointless pissing match with the Democrats. None of it touched their lives.
What really pisses off Mr. and Mrs. Working America is finding out that they aren’t going to get the income tax refund they used to use to buy a little fun, the really unimaginative halftime show at the cliché’-rich Super Bowl and that the constantly rising price of food and gas never gets factored into those glowing reports about how rich America is.
Just ask a working mom who looks forward to taking the kids for a week at the beach that won’t happen this year because she didn’t get a useful tax refund. Ask the tradesman who tolerated his union dues going to Democrats, thinking their expanded presence in the House would improve his life. Instead, they are using his money to buy a bully pulpit to promote themselves without accomplishing much else.
Perhaps the most illuminating people to talk to are the mid-level government employees where I live that are wracked with doubt because they spent all their savings just to survive Trump’s 35-day government shutdown. They are imminently aware that another shutdown is still in the cards. They are equally certain that at some point a shutdown will wreck the economy the same way it already has wrecked their households.
The so-called Trumpian base, the badly informed working class folks who turn to anyone who offers them red meat, are confused and angered as well. They thought their lot would have improved by now, said one of my forsaken buddies while buying donuts. We’ve been punching holes in targets together for 30 years and he still can’t bring himself to say he might have been wrong about Trump.
My old buddy lives in a trailer court down the road. He lives there because he can’t afford a house. He can’t afford a house because he earns a $1,000 or more a week during the working season and still can’t save enough for the 20-percent down payment. Despite all the news stories about how the country has run out of skilled and unskilled labor, he doesn’t have a job.
His mobile home costs $780 a month plus utilities. His wife doesn’t work because they can’t afford daycare for his three kids. Being a union laborer doesn’t provide much work in the dead of winter, he said. Unemployed union laborers go on the extra board and draw $280 a week unemployment that they hope will last until the spring thaw. The only thing being a cherished veteran got him is a VA house loan and lip service. Meanwhile, Republicans who supported Trump in Missouri are again trying to introduce “right-to-work” laws because they think laborers like my friend are paid too much.
I learned a lesson from this experience. To move forward, the country must clear its head, put its feet back on the ground and wean itself off the milk of Trumpian discourse. Hate holds only bankrupt answers. Trump’s forte is lies. It is time for Democrats to go around him, under him, over him or through him, the way illegal aliens would get past his useless border wall.
The presumption that time heals all wounds is misplaced. Time only heals wounds that don’t turn gangrenous.
Democratic leaders need to spend less time blaming Trump’s egregious behavior for the country’s wounds and begin binding them instead.
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