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Posted by on Jan 2, 2019 in Blog, Essays | 1 comment

Scattershooting into 2019

 

 

Heading into 2019, here are some random thoughts:

January 2nd

January 2nd is opening day.  January 2nd is Monday morning.  January 2nd is the first day of the new spring.  January 2nd is the day that long weekend known as “the holidays” finally comes to an end.  Ham and turkey and dressing are gone.  Football season is over.  Presents are stored away, ready for next year’s re-gifting.  Hangovers have faded, hopefully.  Credit card bills are on the way.

Reality bites.

Now is the time to get off our asses.  It’s time to get back to work.  It’s time to launch new projects.  It’s time to clean out the garage.  It’s time to make that critical first step towards meeting new goals most of us have we’ve set for ourselves.  Some of those goals won’t be met.  Others, with effort and determination, will be acheived and then some.

January 2nd gives us the opportunity to hit life’s once-a-year reset button.  It’s the chance to erase past failures and try to instill the foundation for future success.  With our families.  With our friends.  With our finances.  With our careers.  With our communities.  With ourselves.  And so, it’s critical that we start off the new year with a positive first step.  Being productive means establishing personal habits that foster discipline and creativity.  Not tomorrow.  Not next Monday.  Not a few weeks from now.  Today. 

Call this a look in the mirror and a call to action.  Perhaps this little rah-rah speech intended for myself, actually, will inspire others to chart their own course in a different direction.  Many of us, most of us, perhaps all of us, need to reflect and when that’s done to move forward.  The fading of one year into another is the ideal time to exit highways leading to nowhere and take new roads.  Old roads lead to places we’ve already been.  New roads take us to places we long for.

May our 2019 be a year that we’ll look back upon as the time when things got better because we were determined to make changes.  Make that change with me.  And begin anew.

 

*****

The Border Wall

Trump’s political playtoy, the border wall he boasted “Mexico is going to pay for,” has become his personal Maginot Line.  It’s a losing strategy.  He can’t win.  He won’t win.

Building some massive border wall, most of it out in the middle of nowhere, makes about as much sense as erecting a giant fence around a house crumbling from within, a house that’s falling apart due entirely to mismanagement and neglect.  America’s pothole-filled roads and rusty bridges, and its entire infrastructure, are deteriorating.  But somehow Trumpettes have been brainwashed and frightened into believing that a multi-billion dollar border wall in Presidio, Texas is absolutely the nation’s top priority at this moment in history.  Stopping a few Mexican migrants and their families who happen to cross the border to pick lettuce is Trump’s justification for shutting down the whole government.  His government.  His government which up until today was entirely controlled by his own party — Republicans.

Trump owns this federal government shutdown, now entering its third week.  He broke the system.  So, he bought it.  It’s his.  Trump said as much when “the great negotiator” flubbed a humiliating impromptu press op at the White House when during the rambling, unscripted shit show, he took full responsibility for the prolonged stalemate.  Not the Democrats.  Trump.  Now, he’s cornered, confused, bunkered into a rathole along with Right-wing hate yokels with no viable political exit strategy, lashing out in desperation like the guy who senselessly tossed all the lifejackets overboard and is now sinking in quicksand.  And, he’s not just playing loose with facts, but lying in typical Trump fashion.  The truth be damned in Trumpland.

Fact:  Democrats favor border security.  History proves this.

Fact:  On numerous occasions in the past, Democrats have voted to fund border security, including walls when strategically positioned.  Strongly so.

Fact:  Democrats favor comprehensive border control.

Fact:  Democrats favor giving border patrol workers and immigration services the funds critically necessary to do their jobs.  That means congressional appropriation.

Fact:  Democrats like the government doing lots of stuff.  We liberals like government controlling many things they should be in charge of, like national security.  It’s in our liberal DNA.

Meanwhile, a twisted plank in Trump’s crazed disinformation campaign is grotesquely misrepresenting the position of his opposition.  Tell lies.  Demonize dissenters.  Make shit up.  Rinse and repeat.  Trump’s modus operandi.  It’s the story of his entire life.  Take no responsibility.  Blame others.

Fact is, virtually all of us opposed to Trump’s border folly do favor walls when and where they’re placed at strategically-smart locations, which are vulnerable to trespass by illegals.  Vulnerable places like big cities — Jaurez and Tijuana.  Places where many people might cross the border illegally.  Democrats voted to fund, staff, and maintain walls that make perfect sense from a security perspective.

What doesn’t make any sense is building a 2,000-mile long border wall out in the middle of fucking nowhere.  What doesn’t make any sense is bulldozing natural habitats and destroying the migratory patterns of other species.  It’s dumb.  It’s a waste of money.  And it doesn’t address the vast bulk of real illegal immigration, which mostly is due to foreigners coming into America and overstaying the legal grace time.

Yes, we want border security.  We even favor building walls in some places.  But we favor smart border security.  We favor building walls wisely, not recklessly, where they’re needed most.  What we don’t favor is using the government shutdown and the American people just to check off some political box to a bunch of dirt-dumb bigots wearing red MAGA hats.

Fuck the wall.  Don’t give an inch.  Let Mexico pay for it, as Trump promised hundreds of times.  Let Trump negotiate the arrangements.  He’s the great dealmaker.  Now, prove it.

 

*****

Louis C.K.

I don’t know much about Louis C.K., the actor and comedian.  I’ve never seen his stand-up routine.  I have seen him appear in several movies and on television.  It seems he’s been typecast as the weathered face and angry voice of pent-up working-class frustration.  No doubt, there’s a sizable audience for that type of humor, probably in the millions.

This past week, Louis C.K. got into trouble again.  Sometime earlier, the comedian was nabbed in the #MeToo fallout — deservedly so, based on what I know.  He’s now in the midst of trying to resurrect what was a dormant career as a performer with racy new standup material which has offended quite a few people.

I won’t get into the specific jokes that were widely considered offensive.  Perhaps Louis C.K.’s stage material went too far.  I don’t know, and frankly, I don’t care.  Whether or nor a performer’s joke or comedy routine was a hit or miss in mass popularity among some who may be overly sensitive doesn’t matter in the least to me.  The best comedians aren’t crowd pleasers.  In fact, by its very nature, the best comedy is oftentimes edgy.  Edgy is just another word for making some people feel uncomfortable.

If you don’t like Louis C.K. then here’s a novel idea:  Don’t buy a ticket to his show.  If you’re offended at his show, then walk out.  But don’t preach petty political correctness to anyone about what offends you and demand that he be fired and banned from doing what he does.  I find that offensive and if that’s you’re opinion, I find you offensive.

I’m terribly alarmed by the growing trend of self-censorship, fueled by fears of social media backlash.  Intolerance disguised as moral posturing quite simply cannot be permitted to persist without objection, and that goes for art and entertainment — and especially comedy.  After all, comedians are human, too.  Comedians speak to the human condition and encompass a wide range of emotions.  Comedians should be allowed to make mistakes.  Comedians should be permitted on occasion to go “too far.”  If a joke bombs, then so be it.  The remedy to failure?  Tell another joke.  Move on.

The most popular comedians of our time have joked about terrible tragedies.  The most popular comedians of our time have joked about the dead.  The most popular comedians of our time have told jokes that are blatantly sexist.  The most popular comedians of our time have often used the words — “nigger,” “cunt,” “faggot,” and other pejorative terms.  Most of the time, the audiences that pay to see those performers and subject themselves to that type of humor laugh and applaud.  And yet, the most popular comedians of our time also occasionally bomb in front of audiences.  Then, they picked themselves up and moved on.  That’s the way it works.

When the late controversial photographer Robert Mapplethorpe doused a crucifix in a jar of urine and called it “art,” that free expression called for our defense.  It was worth defending not because we liked the art or agreed with its message, but because standing up for Mapplethorpe represented the defense of a fundamental precept of what it means to freely express a point of view.  What’s the point of art at all, if he or she must worry about what the masses might think?  What’s performance art without comedians occasionally entering unchartered territory?  Telling the off-color joke.  Do we want a regurgitation of what’s always comfortable?  Or, do we sometimes want to push boundaries and explore new ideas?  Show me an artist that doesn’t challenge authority occasionally, and I’ll show you a bore.  We have way too much of that in “comedy” and entertainment already.  It’s even infiltrated art.  It’s called Thomas Kinkade.  It’s the boring ass shit that usually hangs on the walls of Holiday Inns.

I don’t know if Louis C.K.’s new material is funny, or not.  It doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that he should be defended.  No, not his scandalous behavior offstage.  That’s fair game for criticism and punishment.  But when Louis C.K. or any other performer gets on a stage and begins rambling in his act about life’s frustrations, that arena merits a rightful place as a test tube of creativity.  The comedy club is, in some sense, society’s laboratory.

Louis C.K.’s comedy experiment may have blown up in his face.  But we sure as hell don’t want the prissy police of political correctness monitoring every comedy routine, now do we?  The future of comedy and artistic expression depends on how we respond to Louis C.K.  I am here to take a stand and defend the right of any comedian to make any joke he or she wishes.

 

*****

The Art of Self Preservation:  How to Deal with Mass Ignorance

How do we deal with Trump’s political posse of blind defenders?  They’re becoming more deeply entrenched and at times more vocal.

Here’s an interesting idea:  Ignore them.

That’s right, skip over them.  Pretend they don’t exist.  Pay them as much attention as dusty tumbleweeds blowing in the desert.  They’re not worth chasing.  They’re not worth engaging.  They are not worth our time.  Not a millisecond or your time, nor my time.  When the Trumpsters out there post yet another disproven faux “news” article on Twitter or Facebook — likely scripted in a Russian troll factory — scroll past it.  Don’t respond.  Don’t read it.  Ignore it.

By now, given the pile of evidence, if they haven’t recognized Trump for what he is — a self-absorbed, egomaniacal, man-child with no interests other than his own — then just ignore them as though they don’t exist.  Forget them.  They’re hopeless.

I don’t mean to not speak with Trump’s defenders.  Please, do answer their questions and do so with facts and clear-minded objectivity.  But don’t honor that hit piece posted on Facebook that no one has fact-checked.  Trust me.  Do this because it’s in the interest of self-preservation.

We gave the Trump cult plenty of opportunities to change once facts came out.  We provided irrefutable evidence of his innumerable crimes and stupidity.  We posted data from a variety of sources proving virtually every one of his deeds was a ruse.  Everyone who has worked with Trump — in business and now in government — has later thrown him under the bus.  Generals.  Secretary of States.  Business partners.  Staff members.  Political appointees.  Everyone.

No one worth a damn respects him.  No one.

Nonetheless, Trump’s wagons have been circled and breaking through the lines and penetrating the echo chamber has become impossible.  So, let’s focus instead on the things we can do that work.  Concentrate on actions that are effective.  Never mind saving people who willfully wallow in ignorance who openly dismiss academia and experts in their fields.  Let’s engage among ourselves, share ideas, and seek to find common ground among those of us who know we can do much better than this.

Stop engaging and arguing with those trapped in the Trump cult.  We have far more important challenges ahead of us.

 

*****

Ten Words to Live By

Talk less.

Listen more.

Read more.

Write more.

Learn more.

__________

 

1 Comment

  1. Not that I’ve seen everything, but I haven’t seen anyone say Louis CK shouldn’t be allowed to be a comedian anymore. People just have a problem with what he said, which is fine. I think the things he said that people have an issue with sucked, and that the situation that caused his self-banishment likely added to the coarsening of his discourse, but he certainly isn’t free from criticism.

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