[T]he prince must consider…how to avoid those things which make him hated or contemptible….It makes him contemptible to be considered fickle, frivolous, effeminate, mean-spirited, irresolute, from all of which a prince should guard himself as from a rock.
—Nicolo Machiavelli, The Prince
Hey, Fickle Readers! This is my first official, written post for 2017, and I’ve been avoiding it for weeks now. In fact, I’ve been avoiding writing anything at all here because of the election. Like many, I was not pleased with the outcome of said election. I would say, in retrospect, I tried very hard not to be devastated, because I’ve lived through devastating elections in recent memory and I know I’m not strong enough to let yet another get to me the way those other disappointments did.
What I wish I could do is vow to stay away from news of the Trump <hurk> presidency for the next four years. I wish I could do this for a number of reasons. First, picturing and/or thinking about Trump in the White House makes me viciously, brutally, destructively angry. Just reading the news (let alone seeing his bloated chipmunk face and pompous, puny-fisted hand gestures) threatens to send me into a She-Hulk-like rage, where I tear at my clothes and go out and find something to smash.
There’s also the fact that I don’t want my wrath against the government to rule my life the way it kinda did during the <urk> Bush/Cheney administration. Back then, I homed in on every lie, every idiocy, every legistlative abomination, and held it in my mind as I waited for the day when someone would finally notice and make the whole thing stop. Needless to say, for eight whole years, my mental perseverance did nothing. I don’t want to start fixating on Trump the same way (and I know myself–I will fixate) and have him destroy my peace of mind for years on end.
And yet, and yet. My Twitter feed is full of outrage and snark over the narcissistic craptocracy of Trump and his cronies, and I’ve found I can’t avoid peeking, reading, retweeting, and happily getting sucked in. Inaugural crowd size! Women’s March! Imaginary immigrant voter fraud! Mistreating Melania! Punching Nazis!!! How can an anti-Trumper like me not get into the spirit when it seems as though Trump has already pissed off huge swaths of the high-end snark-crafters who patrol the Internet?
Furthermore, ignoring the <hrp!> Trump presidency could have serious consequences for the country. I strongly believe that. If everyone who’s disgusted by Trump averts her eyes and goes off the grid, nothing about his wholesale destruction of the government will change. I don’t want to look back and remember how I sat on my ass and played video games while the U.S. collapsed. Not when a few mechanisms in our rusting democratic process still function and can still be operated by citizens to effect change.
So my overall strategy for dealing with the indefinite future is to find ways not to think of the future–or the present–all the time. I’m trying to cultivate new interests, new obsessions, and let them take me as far away as I need to go to prevent myself either from chewing off a limb or leveling some Republican lobbyist’s shi-shi Capitol Hill brownstone. (And I have been to Capitol Hill, and the brownstones there are beyond shi-shi.) Hopefully, I’ll be able to overcome my usual inertia and write about some of the new shiny objects now taking up my brain. Otherwise, I’ll continue my usual pattern of remembering I haven’t posted anything to my blog in forever and quickly digging up a halfway interesting iPhone photo. Y’all like chickens, right?
Happy 2017, everyone! Stay safe, and try to stay sane.
Come on, admit it–you knew this one was inevitable.
It isn’t so much that he is a strict disciple of radical ideology, but rather that he is devoid of fixed principles, willing to do anything and everything to gain fame, fortune and power. He has an endless, consuming need for perpetual affirmation. This is a bully who just wants to be liked, a man-boy nursing a nagging internal emptiness.
He is fickle and spoiled and rotten.
–Charles M. Blow, “Donald Trump, Terroristc Man-Toddler” (Article)
Today was another day when I woke up to discover Americans had been shot.
Yet another day when police SWAT teams in army regalia were swarming American streets.
Yet another day when news outlets posted videos and pictures from witnesses, words from good Samaritans giving first aid and comfort to the wounded as they bled.
And so, as always, we’ll wait for the response.
And as always, we’ll be told by lawmakers that all Americans have the right to own guns, even suspected terrorists of any color. Even those who have expressed a desire to kill. They all have a right to carry a loaded weapon virtually anywhere.
Because at some point in the past, that became the American way.
I really, really want someone to re-evaluate what the American way is. Somehow, I don’t think this was the idea when those vaunted Founding Fathers carved out our democracy.
Somehow I don’t think they thought, we really ought to make sure everyone in the country has an insanely powerful gun, even if they have a grudge against our government, even if they have a history of violent behavior. Because that’s only fair.
Dear infinite, unknowable God, please please please do something. It’s apparent that no one on Earth has the power to stand up and do the right thing.
Now this is what I’m talking about when I say we ought to be kicking the Bard around on the anniversary of his death. Major kudos to Aryeh Cohen-Wade and an overflowing shot of virtual tequila for this gem that appeared in the New York Times last week:
I haven’t been posting a lot on this year’s election, mostly because I’m willfully ignoring it, mostly because the whole spectacle makes me queasy. I feel like ever since 2000, I’ve plunged myself in these roller-coaster elections and tried to influence the course of events with my willpower alone. Now the whole thing seems kind of a waste of time. I know who I’m voting for. No one and nothing will change my mind. And so, watching people I detest say detestable things in debate after debate seems masochistic in the extreme. I know a lot of people like the reality-show absurdity of the whole process, but I for one don’t enjoy watching horribly unqualified people bloviate and then having nightmarish imaginings of said people in the Oval Office. I don’t need the extra stress.
And yet sometimes, even when trying to avoid politics, I find a lovely moment in my fickle reading that manages to put everything in perspective. This passage comes from May Sarton’s journal At Seventy, written in 1982, and therefore does indeed bring with it that security that comes from knowing that everything that’s happening and is going to happen will do so from the safety of the past. You can be the judge as to how much things have changed since then:
There is never any depth in Reagan’s perceptions of the world. He behaves like an animated cartoon, wound up to perform futile gestures and careless witticisms. It made me feel sick when his reaction to the despair of blacks about this administration was to engineer the other day a visit to a middle-class black family who had been threatened five years ago by a burning cross. So the TV cameras were marshaled, and Reagan and Nancy were shown kissing the family one by one. He made a few remarks about “this sort of thing” not tolerable in a democracy. But what is not tolerable is such a cheap ploy. Meanwhile, forty-eight percent of young blacks are jobless, and the administration offers no help. The black family behaved with perfect dignity, but the whole false “scene” was shown up clearly for what it was, a public-relations media event, an insult to the black community, neglected and shoved under the rug.
Hey, Fickle Readers! I don’t normally like posting a lot of video clips. There are plenty of web sites that used to be actual news outlets until at some point they decided it was much easier to slap together a bunch of clips of Stephen Colbert and Larry Wilmore. (I’m looking at you, Salon.) But this segment of the Daily Show is really worth watching. In it, Jordan Klepper shows how completely impossible it is for the casual, well-intentioned gun owner to stop an active shooter.
While you’re watching this, remember: video clips and arguments may not change minds, but the goal of representative democracy is only to change POLICY. Get lawmakers to do what you want, and if they ignore you, send their asses home.