Lest We Forget, The President Offered To Buy Greenland When the Puerto Rico Swap Seemed Unlikely

Lest We Forget, The President Offered To Buy Greenland When the Puerto Rico Swap Seemed Unlikely

The Democratic National Convention ended on a high note as decent folks spoke about decency, which is all well and good, but let’s not forget that the playing field has been tilted considerably past even.  For example, this week Louisiana enacted a law which removes the votes of any protestor arrested on federal property, this from a governor who has already prohibited mail in ballots for those whose only excuse is not wanting to die of Covid-19.  Ah, but the suppression of votes has really only just begun, leading those of us with a taste for the ominous to imagine the course of the next four years under the current administration and to remember the Trump initiative to swap Puerto Rico for Greenland.

Absurd, you say?  Legit Wackiness?  Bushwacking press sniping at the Leader of the Free World once again?

Yeah, no.  The former Director of Homeland Security leaked a 2019 conversation, not merely identifying the President’s resilient next-best idea when cautioned that he could not swap Puerto Rico for a different territory, but introducing the President’s view that people in Puerto Rico are “poor and dirty”.  Let’s leave aside the reminder that those people are American citizens under the care of the President, and that in time of terrible need following a devastating hurricane, his idea of a photo op on the island involved tossing packages of paper towels to a crowd of people, many of whom were homeless and starving.  Yup, that aside, the Greenland idea has been in the back of Trump’s mind for some time.  His earlier hope had been dashed – that Norway would send their tired, their poor, their huddled masses yearning to be free; Greenland looked like the next bet bet, so, yes, he tried to buy it.

Against all odds, the Prime Minister of Denmark, to whom the offer was floated, indicated that the idea was absurd.  Once again, leaving aside the degree of sovereignty actually enjoyed by Greenland, the artful dealer was put out by the Prime Minister’s comment, cancelling a trip to Demark and warning that those who tossed “nasty” comments at the President of the United States were insulting the entire nation. In his words:

“I thought that the prime minister’s statement that it was absurd, that it was an absurd idea was nasty…I thought it was an inappropriate statement.  All she had to do is say no, we wouldn’t be interested…She’s not talking to me.  She’s talking to the United States of America.  You don’t talk to the United States that way, at least under me.”

Let’s try not to get stuck on the “all she had to do is say no,” version of global diplomacy. There’s more to contend with here than the simple “dump-the-shithole” foreign policy the president imagines his right to explore for us.  Uh, for some of us.  It’s the idea of the swapping that piques the imagination.  Outright sale?  Absurd.  Swap for a devastated post-colonial vestigial territory?  Equally unlikely.

But, Oregon, where I live, is some pretty nifty acreage.  We have mountains, farmland, orchards, and ocean views.  The western part of the state’s climate was once considered Mediterranean, but as the planets heats up, not even the Mediterranean is Mediterranean any more.  The Eastern part is known as cold semi-arid; it’s been compared to the climate of Australia’s interior.  You’ve probably seen Mad Max: Thunder Road, so ‘nuff said.

In any case, the coastal western strip includes Ashland, Eugene, Corvallis, and Portland, which is to say, it constitutes the densely populated predominantly liberally voting majority that has made Oregon a decidedly blue state.  Not a shithole, but one of the pesky “nasty” areas that could bring a tasty swap in the hands of a master dealmaker.  Keeping eastern Oregon, also known as “Almost Idaho”, would turn this part of the West notably red, and the addition of Greenland or Iceland would provide a gene pool necessary to turning the surging tide of ethnic influence in the body politic.  Big thumbs up for the current administration.

As I consider the possibility, it strikes me that were the president able to pull off the swap with Denmark, my part of Oregon would then be an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark.  We’d have a monarch and a female prime minister.  Seventy-five percent of Danes have a paying job, college students are given a $900.00 a month stipend with no student loans, Danes walk without fear in every city or town, health care is free, and Denmark is at the top of all European nations in the Gender Equality Index.

I’m not counting my chickens here; it’s not easy to traffic in autonomous land masses.  Even so, as the Republican National Committee pulls together the convention that will agan nominate Donald Trump, let’s keep an eye on all the provisions of the party’s platform.  The press may not be invited to Charlotte as the convention opens, but I count on intrepid journalists to nose out the deals under the table.  If the Greenland swap is still alive and Oregon is in the mix, I gotta say it looks pretty sweet.

It Just Doesn’t Matter

It Just Doesn’t Matter

Republican Convention  

Breaking News

Look, I’m going to take the time to take snarky shots at the Trump campaign and at the Republican National Convention, maybe you’ll take the time to read it, but in terms of presenting the candidate and the plan for the next four years, nothing about the event matters.  I’ve written about this as the Fifth Avenue Campaign, referring to Trump’s breathtaking assertion that he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and not lose a single vote. A terrifying sequence of interviews of Trump supporters conducted by the Daily Show’s Jordan Kepler demonstrated the unshakable loyalty of the President’s supporters (and the terrifying gap between an informed and responsible citizenry and overweight white zombies in MAGA hats), pretty much validates the Fifth Avenue thesis.

Would it matter WHO Trump shot in the middle of Fifth Avenue?  Nope.  The folks who are his base operate on a closed loop.  Trump good, no matter what.  Anyone who questions him bad, no matter what.  Very bad.  A gigantic and elaborate mix of conspiracy and viral enmeshment operates to protect Trump from accountability.  So, not only is his nomination assured, the tone of his campaign will come as no surprise. 

Although many of the details of the upcoming convention remain undisclosed, a few key points are now emerging.

The press is not invited as the convention will kick off on Monday with the official business of the convention carried out in Charlotte. N.C.  A bold statement of the Party’s conviction that re-election has very little to do with what pencil necked geeks in New York think of the party and its nominee. 

The more celebratory moments begin on Tuesday with an address by former model and holder of the Alien of Extraordinary Ability visa Melania Trump who will speak on “The Land of Promise”, followed on Wednesday by the effervescent former radio and television talk show host,Vice President, Mike Pence, who will speak on “The Land of Opportunity” , and on Thursday by the President speaking on “The Land of Greatness”.  Pence will speak from Fort McHenry, the Trumps from the White House, despite the provisions of what is known informally as the Hatch Act, passed in 1939 as “An Act To Prevent Pernicious Political Activities”.  

Some would argue that as the Hatch Act is Federal Law, and as it specifically prohibits the use of public works for political purposes, the President has chosen to accept his party’s nomination without regard for the rule of law, a bold statement in 2020.

In addition to the President, his wife, and the Vice President, speakers are scheduled to include his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Mark and Patricia McLoskey, who waved firearms at Black Lives Matter protesters in St. Louis.  

“It  Doesn’t Matter What We Do Or Say”, the unofficial theme of the campaign.

The RNC has decided that the platform presented in 2016 will remain unchanged.  The document, presented at the last convention by Senator John Barrasso, Governor Mary Fallin, and Representative Virginia Fox, begins with a statement of American exceptionalism then identifies the failures of the Obama administration.  Although there is much to be said for using work that already exists, there is some concern that the recycling of the document leaves some room for misinterpretation, as it might in this passage:

“The President has been regulating to death a free market economy that he doesn’t like and doesn’t understand. He defies the laws of the United States by refusing to enforce those with which he does not agree.  And he appoints judges who legislate from the bench rather than apply the law.”

I am reminded of the film Meatballs, the breakout film for both Ivan Reitman and Bill Murray and the highest grossing Canadian film distributed in the U.S.until Resident Evil: Afterlife blew past it.  Set at Camp North Star, a bargain basement camp located in the north woods, the film draws its title from the affectionate term Murray, as head counselor Tripper Harrison uses in speaking with the young campers placed in his care.  There are many camp pranks and mildly romantic after hours liaisons, but at the heart of the tale is the annual and entirely expected drubbing Camp North Star will take at the well manicured hands of Camp Mohawk.  

The kids find the expectation of taking a beating disspiriting, but Trapper delivers an inversion of the “Win One For The Gipper” exhortation, reminding the children that no matter how hard they try, no matter what efforts are made, the Camp Mohawks of the world will always triumph over the proles at Camp North Star.  Leaping into action at the bonfire, Murray as Trapper introduces the camp’s new rallying cry: “It Just Doesn’t Matter”.

Ghastly, hurtful, and perhaps untrue things will be said as the convention endorses Trump’s presidency.  Sensitive souls among us, including this battered blogger, will reel in disbelief and pain as the counter-reality of life in America is trumpeted.  

The convention will be a Fifth Avenue coronation, and no matter how egregiously the speakers slaughter factual evidence of presidential malfeasance  …

It Just Doesn’t Matter

Inside the Trump Campaign: August 20,2020

Inside the Trump Campaign: August 20,2020

 Inside the Trump Campaign:  August 20,2020

R.P.  How are we doing on that cease-and-desist with CNN.  The fake poll numbers?

L.C.  They aren’t ceasing or desisting.  We’re still suing.

R.P.  Are we still suing Brad Parscale over the numbers?

L.C.  Brad was running the campaign.  Our campaign.

R.P.  Yeah but the numbers weren’t good.

L.C.  I can see that.

R.P.  What about the other CNN suit?  The one with the NY Times and Washington Post, you know the libel suits?

L.C.  That was an opinion piece, right?  That Mueller should have charged the President?

R.P.  Libel.

L.C.  Not libel, but, no, nothing.

R.P.  We’re suing New Jersey about the mail-in ballots.

L.C.  Hadda do that.

R.P.  What about Goodyear?

L.C.  What about Goodyear?

R.P.  They don’t let worker wear MAGA hats.

L.C.  Can they do that?

R.P.  They say they have a policy against wearing politically affiliated clothing.  Black Lives Matter is ok, apparently, but MAGA hats specifically not ok.

L.C.  We’ll probably sue Goodyear.

R.P  We may have to sue Akron and Ohio too.

L.C.  For what?

R.P.  Well, after the tweet, the Mayor of Akron got all feisty, threw in LeBron, and since Ohio is a swing state, if we don’t have the numbers in November, Ohio would be …

L.C.  What tweet?

R.P.  Perfectly understandable.  Just said … wait, I’ve got it here.  “Don’t Buy Goodyear tires…”

L.C.  Hang on!  he said what?

R.P.  Sure, “Don’t Buy Goodyear Tires. They banned MAGA hats.  Get better tires for far less.  (This is what the radical Democrats do.  Two can play the same game, and we have to start playing it now!)”

L.C.  I can’t help myself.  I’ll come back to the swing state issue in a second, but I was an English major.  “This is what radical Democrats do”?  ‘This’ is an unclear referent.  What is that radical Democrats do?  Not buy tires?  Get better tires?”

R.P.  Ban hats, obviously.

L.C.  OK, but …

R.P.  Don’t get all pencil necked on this.  Big Picture.

L.C.  Uh, the big picture is that the President of the United Sates just asked Americans not to buy tires made by American workers.

R.P.  I don’t think that was the message.

L.C.  “Don’t Buy” is pretty clear.  Other tires are better and cheaper?  

R.P.  The issue is the hat thing.

L.C.  Not for people working at Goodyear.

R.P.  Now you sound like the Mayor of Akron.

L.C.  What did he say?  

R.P.  Talk about over the top wacko reaction!

L.C.  Harsh?

R.P.  “First you came to destroy American decency.  Next, you came to destroy American institutions.  Now you’re coming to destroy the American economy and heartland jobs.  Luckily, you seem to fail at everything you do.”  I’d call that harsh.

L.C.  Yeah, but “Don’t Buy Goodyear”…

R.P.  You gotta draw the line somewhere.

L.C.  Maybe not in Ohio during an election year?

R.P.  I get it.  You think this is like a normal campaign.

L.C. Uh, it’s not?

R.P.  This is a Fifth Avenue campaign.  Remember?

L.C.  What does Fifth Avenue have to do with …

R.P.  “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters.  It’s like incredible.”

L.C.  Incredible.

R.P.  So, you ready to start the Kamala suit?

L.C.  For …?

R.P.  Libel.

L.C.  Uh…

R.P.  She called him a predator.

L.C. You do know what libel is, right?

Falling In Love With America Again

Falling In Love With America Again

The opening of the 2020 Democratic National Convention was a revelation.

Until I heard the National Anthem sung by the Commonwealth Youth Choir, children from every state, the Cheyenne Nation, and five US territories, I had not realized how completely I had protected myself from the weaponized politi-patriotism peddled in the service of silencing voices that oppose the current administration. Just as the President did at his inauguration, when I enlisted in the Navy I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. I am not the enemy; I do not hate our country, but over the course of four years, I felt I lost the flag, the anthem, the Fourth of July as they became celebrations of personal power. Athletes protesting police brutality by kneeling during the anthem were called sons-of-bitches, and we who support them bad people. Veterans and active military became props, like tanks, jets, and the Bible. I no longer recognized my country.

Those children gave our anthem back to me.  

I cried, of course, because I recognized the degree to which I had tamped down hope and because I understood that I still have an obligation to hope. These were voices asking only for hope. Their perforance of the anthem ought not to have been the surprise that it was, but the expression of love of country, the best of our country, by the many faces and voices of children was a confession of faith I had almost forgotten.

The theme of the convention, “We The People”, seems an obvious description of how the work of a democracy begins. Once again, however, somewhere along the way, the rule of law has been ignored, special interest has run riot, national security compromised, and honesty abandoned. The Constitution of the United States is a living document, a charter of government that begins with the assertion that We the People have an obligation to work toward a more perfect union.  That work ended slavery, secured the right of women to vote, and put into the Supreme Law of the Land a fifteenth amendment to ensure that neither race nor color be used to decide which citizens may be allowed to vote. That work continues.

The voices that introduced the Constitution last night included Khizr Khan, the Pakistani American Gold Star parent whose son, killed in Iraq, had been awarded the Bronze Star, Ady Barkin, the Israeli American founder of the Center for Popular Democracy and Health Care advocate whose long fight with ALS has affected his ability to speak, Megan Rapinoe, Olympic athlete and advocate for the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, Robyn Seniors, national chair of the Historically Black College Students for Biden, Major General (ret) Frank Vavala, Agnes Moore, one of the surviving Rose Riveters, Peggy Flanagan, Lt.Governor of Minnesota and the second Native Woman to be elected to statewide executive office, and many others reflecting the rich diversity of people who live under the rule of law and the Constitution of the United States of America.

So, I fell in love with America again last night, even though I’ve seen the ugly turns we have taken at times.  We the people do deserve a better nation.  We can’t sing it into existence, but we can believe in it enough to do all we can to make it real.

Yo Semite

Yo Semite

I’m no longer keeping track of Presidential gaffes.  Try to number the stars or the droplets of Covid-19 still hanging in Tulsa.  Too much for the limited mind of man to hold in one lifetime.  So, but, how do we avoid pausing in reflection upon witnessing the recent celebration of the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act, a scripted, and yes, fumbling recitation of platitudes which almost obscured the relative enormity of actually getting a bill of any sort through the Senate much less a bill that has to do with the public good.  A grand moment for those who believe that the nation’s national treasures are worthy of recognition and support, made yokelish by the mispronunciation of Yosemite, among the first national parks to be established, and perhaps the most celebrated, you know, Teddy Roosevelt, John Muir, Ansel Adams, those guys. 

We know the President goes off script whenever he can, not only to indulge in the fanciful landscape of his counterfactual reality but to avoid stumble bumbling with reading.  He’s not the first public figure to mispronounce or manufacture words.  Former president George W. Bush is in competition with Yogi Berra for the greatest number of unintended but magically evocative malapropisms.  Who has not wished to be the author of, “They misunderestimated me,” as Bush said in Arkansas, or “I just want you to know that when we talk about war, we’re really talking about peace.”?  I personally have been misunderstimated more times than I can count, and even Tolstoy put war and peace in the same title.  No, the twice repeated “Yo-Semite” is of another order of misstatement.  Had the President had difficulty and pronounced the park as one would a mineral, Kyanite, or Ammolite, there’d be a few scratched heads, but separating the word as he did, putting an emphasis on Semite, well, that was just not great. 

And, of course, the President is not helped by the current use of the “Bro”ist greeting, Yo.  The etymology of the use of Yo as a salutation is entirely up for grabs.  I ran into a fellow  who argues that Yo is used among the Dravidian languages, and we’d have to travel to the Kasaragod district of Kerala to see if it pops up among those who speak Tulu.  I didn’t run into him more than once, but you can see where the problem lies if you believe, as I did, that it popped into contemporary usage when a blooded and sweat laden Rocky Balboa cries out to Adrian, Paulie’s sister – “Yo, Adrian! I did it!”  Competing claims come from a variety of sources including veterans of many military roll calls whose “YO” rang clear as an indication of their presence.

No matter how it arrived, we hear a fully articulated Yo as an invitation to turn and greet the speaker.  That said, Yo-Semite does invite consideration of a park greeting those of Phoenician, Akkadian, Hebrew, or Arabic lineage, and, since the most common contemporary usage is the term anti-semetic, referring specifically to Jews, and given that there has been the unfortunate description of Nazis as among the good people on both sides arriving in Charlottesville, we can be forgiven for indulging in some snide-lite questioning of the President’s remarks.

A sign of the times?  To be sure, as is the struggle of the online store of the American Museum of American Jewish History to keep up with demand for the Yo Semite T shirt they have sold for  years, “reminiscent of the shirts your own beloved summer camp provided”.  I find myself strangely moved and heartened by evidence that humor and resilience still endures after the relentless thumping of the past four years.  As I sit in isolation, the purchase of new clothing has not been a priority, but my shirt is backordered and will appear on zoom screens wherever I travel as a statement of faith in the human spirit to rise above the tumult.