Saturday, July 29, 2017

The thorny road to distraction




Corruption is a tree, whose branches are
Of an immeasurable length: they spread
Ev'rywhere; and the dew that drops from thence
Hath infected some chairs and stools of authority.
— John Fletcher, ”The Honest Man's Fortune,” (1613)

Back when I was a sort-of cowboy working on my father’s ranch, I learned the danger of riding into a thicket of cat-claw bushes. The scraggly looking shrubs, with their sharp fishhook-shaped thorns, could leave you looking like you wandered into a den of wildcats.
And how ‘bout that Arizona Wildcats basketball team? Will they be the preseason No. 1 pick?
Wait, wait — must stay on message. I was writing about the danger of cat-claw thickets and how a cowboy only rode into them if he didn’t know better.
Same goes for a simple blog writer, who just wanted to say something about the current state of politics and then found himself trapped in a hopeless tangle of cat-claw thorns.
I weep, I howl, I despair. These times, this era of Trump, are driving me to distraction.
Speaking of distraction, how about these latest ones. Trump tweets out an early-morning message that says transgender folks are no longer welcome in the military. He says he has consulted with “my generals” about this abrupt change of policy.
Cat-claw thorns
But those generals — who just happen to be our generals, not his — were caught entirely off guard by his announcement. So were the thousands of transgender persons now honorably serving in the military. It was an announcement no doubt pulled out of Trump’s ample butt, but it served a purpose: It got us all talking about something other than Senate Republicans’ failure to repeal, replace or do anything with the Affordable Care Act, the most stinging defeat so far of the Trump agenda.
You aren’t free of the cat-claw thicket, though. There are more thorns to tangle you up. For example, the administration delivered two more anti-LGBT actions on Wednesday. Intervening in a private lawsuit, they argued that the Civil Rights Act doesn’t protect gays against employment discrimination.
And they nominated Sam Brownback, the anti-gay governor of Kansas, to be the U.S. ambassador at large to the Office of International Religious Freedom. After having pretty much trashed  Kansas with his policies, Brownback ranks behind only New Jersey’s Chris Christie in unpopularity.
The time-honored practice of bullies: Pick someone smaller than you -- minorities such as gays and lesbians, for example -- and single them out for persecution.

Thorns, thorns and more thorns.
Linda and I have become addicted to Netflix and HBO streaming shows like “The Borgias, “ “Big Little Lies” and, of course, “Game of Thrones.” All the intrigue, suspense, poisonings, stabbings and  complete chaos grab us and won’t let go. Sort of like a cat-claw thicket of the mind.
But the suspense and intrigue also keep me glued to shows like Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell. I record them and watch them late at night, along with Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers. Did I mention that the cat-claw thorns keep me up pretty late at night?
But speaking of distractions.
-- Trump, at the national Boy Scout Jamboree, delivers the kind of speech he might use at one of his rallies, full of self-praise and political fervor. The Boy Scouts had to apologize for his bizarre performance.
-- Trump’s new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, lets fly with a profanity-laced attack against the president’s top strategist, Steve Bannon, and calls White House Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, a paranoid schizophrenic who leaks material to the press.
--  Priebus, one of Trump’s only links to mainstream Republicans, quits, and he appoints retired Marine Gen. John Kelly to replace him. Trump has wanted Kelly in the job for months.
-- Trump publicly repeatedly attacks his own attorney general, probably hoping to force him to resign so he can appoint a new, non-recused AG during the congressional recess who can fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Democrats as well as Republicans work to block any kind of recess appointment.
Alexandra Petri of The Washington Post seems to have a good grasp on the situation. “All the people with silly real names are being replaced by people with silly fake names.”
 Eventually, she adds, we will end up with a White House consisting “entirely of generals, reality TV villains, people who call themselves “Mooch” and “Mad Dog” with straight faces … A fine group to have running any country, if you don’t care what happens to the country.”
Unfortunately, I do care. And that’s why I constantly hope to find some way out of this thicket we’re in.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cat-claw thicket indeed!