I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
March 01, 2016 - 1:43 p.m.
I did something stupid yesterday. I never drank my second cup of coffee. It's a day old but I'm going to reheat it and drink it now. I won't taste great but I'll get some caffeine. Let's see if that helps my writing. Not bad for day old coffee.
I left my house for therapy a bit late yesterday but still made it right on time. When that happens I wonder how I'm ever late when there isn't a major subway problem. It was a very easy session. Thing is I'm not sure that easy sessions are a good thing. I need to be pushed more. One thing we talked about was my leftover coffee and the fact that I'd drink it today. And it is helping. I feel the fog lifting. This is why I'm careful about drugs, if I love coffee this much what would happen with stronger stuff? But on the other hand I did give up caffeine for years. I did that for my Crohn's but realized it wasn't helping.
I get out of therapy at 3:20 or so, technically it's 3:15 but I always run over. You know me, I like to talk; Kasper Gutman would like to talk to me. I hope you got that reference. That's Sydney Greenstreet's character in The Maltese Falcon. He tells Sam Spade, "I am a man who likes talking to a man who likes to talk." Did I need to explain that? I wish I didn't but I don't think that's the cultural touchstone it used to be. And none of that is my point. I get out at 3:20 and out of the building after paying and such closer to 3:30. Bagels turn half-price at 4:00. I decided to kill that half hour by taking walks when the weather is nice. My plan was to walk west but if I hit a red light to go south till I used up half my time. I took some pictures along the way.
West 10th street. If you want to buy me a house on this block, I'd take it. I didn't take a pic of the one I really wanted, the one with the garage.
I posted the picture of Coyote & Crow on Instagram and it picked up a lot of likes. One was from the band. I wondered how they found it as I didn't tag them. Did they search for the tag "Banjo Bass?" Did they search for pics at Washington Square Park? That seems to be their home base so that's my guess. I didn't hear a lot but I liked what I heard. They made the bass banjo themselves.
I made it back to the bagel store at 4:03, and there was a line for the half-priced bagels. But it moved fast. Now it was 4:10 or so. I had dinner plans with Erika in Gravesend at 6:15 and it would take about an hour to get there. I decided to check my PO box at Columbus Circle. I didn't have any mail. I still had time so I went to Duane Reade then headed down to Gravesend. I took the the whole way. I discovered something. Some trains don't go all the way to Coney Island. My train was one of them. I had to get off at King's Highway and wait for another train. I am quite proud that with such a long trip I arrived precisely on time. Erika was waiting for me.
It was a Turkish restaurant, the Wood Spoon. I had what they called a mixed gyro burger. It was not a burger. It was gyro served on a hamburger bun. It was delicious. The conversation was delicious too. We discussed pi and pie. Erika is a librarian and organized this; Teens Celebrate Pi(e) Day Early on March 4. I always love my get-togethers with Erika. She asked me for ideas and I ended up writing and drawing pictures all over a paper she brought then our placemats. Every restaurant should have paper placemats and provide crayons and colored pencils. It seems obvious but most restauranteurs just don't get it. I know that My Gentle Readers consider it an important amenity.
We then headed back to the . We just missed one but when we got to the platform we saw another coming in. Great timing … or so it seemed. The train didn't stop, it didn't even slow down. Erika pointed out that it was zooming on to King's Highway which would be its first stop. Why do they do that? What do they gain by cutting off four stops?
I'm going to forego my fascinating discussion of the route I took home with the stop at Stop & Shop because I have to finally write what I've been planning for days and that trumps even commuting and food. Oh wait; it doesn't trump the obligatory; "I need to see Erika more." It's obligatory because it's true.
So what trumps all those other things? Donald Trump. I'm not going to do a tirade about him because I'm pretty sure My Gentle Readers don't need to be convinced. I do have 7 friends that have liked him on Facebook but even if one of them reads this she will not be convinced. No this is me and I find my own way. What I'm going to write is the chicken and egg problem as in "which came first?"
The Republican establishment is aghast that Trump is leading candidate and strong favorite to win the nomination. I have read quite a bit of Schadenfreude in articles saying how the establishment has brought this on themselves by fomenting hatred and fear. Is that really what happened? The segregationist south was solidly Democratic once Reconstruction ended and the black vote was suppressed by violence and legislation. That started to change after WWII when Truman started the first steps to racial justice including desegregating the army in the summer of 1948. That was enough to get Strom Thurmond to break away from the party and run an insurgent campaign on the States Rights Democrats aka Dixiecrats ticket. He managed to carry South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The south returned to the fold the next three elections but then came Johnson and the Civil Rights Acts. Once again a southern Democrat, George Wallace responded with a third party bid, once again it was explicitly segregationist. He managed to carry, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Perhaps more significantly he garnered significant support in the rest of the country. He provided an outlet for bigots everywhere, sound familiar? In 1972 Nixon saw these voters as fertile ground to plant the seeds of a Republican majority. He formulated the "Southern Strategy." It lacked Wallace's overt racism but the message was clear. The result was the solid south became solidly Republican and he won every state but Massachusetts. McGovern was a particularly weak candidate. Watergate was about Nixon trying to get the stronger candidate Muskie to lose the nomination. Don't get me wrong, I strongly supported McGovern. I still support his positions. But he was unelectable and ran a terrible campaign. I was just a kid but I was part of it. It wasn't my fault but I could see what was going on around me. But with all that he garnered just five percent less of the vote than Humphrey did in 1968. The difference is that the Wallace voters went to Nixon. Reagan then doubled down on the strategy with a campaign rife with dog whistles to appeal to racists. That cemented the shift, the bigots could forgive Lincoln in the distant past but not Johnson in their living memory.
What does all this have to do with Trump? The Republican party didn't create the bigots, it courted them and Trump has just done a better job of it than others. So am I freeing the Republican establishment of blame? No. By courting the bigots, they kept hammering at the hatred and fears that drove people to bigotry. They encouraged the hatred and fear. Think of the Willie Horton ads. If the fires had not been stoked they would have subsided, instead they grew. So now people want the strong man to protect us from "Them!" The Republican establishment is not the source of the problem but they have to share the blame. And all the non-racists Republicans have to share the blame too. They let the racists be empowered. They didn't say, "sorry, I like your economic agenda but basic decency will not let me vote for you." A candidacy of a Republican that accepts climate change or is pro-choice is doomed, one that promotes bigotry is not. Where were the voices in the party fighting it?
So which came first the bigots or the appeal to bigots? It was the bigots but the two of reinforced each other. You see the same pattern over and over again where leaders ply on the hatred and fear of the populace and then can't break the cycle as they'd be punished by the people if they did. It's rules the day in the Middle East. It happened in the French Revolution. It takes great not good leadership to fight it.
Perhaps a Trump, excuse me Drumpf, candidacy will do some good. If he loses big in the general election, it could be a wakeup call to the party.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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