What the Hell. Let’s Give It a Try.

I had a little blowback from yesterday’s post in which I lamented the behavior of Donald Trump. Essentially, the blowback took me to task for an earlier post in which I had spoken ill of Hillary Clinton as well as Trump when I wrote of my distaste for both candidates and my wish that there had been a better choice in this election.

Guilty as charged – I did speak ill of Hillary. I also wrote elsewhere that I think her nomination was a tone deaf move on the part of the Democrats. Despite that, I did vote for her.

That said…I want to move on from the election and offer some words I came across this week in the book Creating a Life Worth Living,a guidebook for artists, writers and “others aspiring to a creative life.”

Re-reading this passage today, it seemed the perfect segue away from the election with a timely statement about how we can go forward now. The quote comes from playwright Romulus Linney and goes like this:

“No one religion can console this enormous country. No single philosophy convince it. No therapy relieve it of its burdens. No legal system comfort its injustice. No medicine deliver it from pain. No government give it joy. Art does all that. Claim that discipline, belong to it–you will give to the America I hope you love gifts its government cannot imagine.”

I can’t tell you when that statement was written, but it was before 1997 when the book in which I found it was published. And it was certainly before the contentious 2016 election. Still it speaks volumes about how to live in this new world.

In the end, we are all – everyone of us – creative people (artists, writers, bakers, mechanics, gardeners, parents, teachers, and more) capable of giving America “gifts its government cannot imagine.”

As physician/scientist and writer Lewis Thomas once said in a different context, “What the hell. Let’s give it a try.”

Quoting Myself to Make a Point

“Donald Trump touts himself as a successful businessman despite many lawsuits against him – one coming up next week in my own county – and bankruptcies, bad deals. He’s rich, God knows we’ve all heard often enough that he’s “really really rich.”

“But more to the point, he’s petty. And eager to be offended, jumping at the chance to set the offending party ablaze. And a liar and a punk.

“Don’t misunderstand. I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. I know how politics works and I know we’ve had some pretty miserable politicians from time to time, even politicians who were well-regarded until other facts began to emerge.

“I also know a showboat when I see one and I know a repellent jackass when I see one of those. And there’s a difference.

“The showboat does what he does for show. The repellent jackass does what he does to hurt others.

“Do we really want a petty, repellent jackass as our President – or even a candidate?”

I wrote those words and asked that question in August 2015. Reading today’s updates on the Trump transition – his demands, his bully choices for the cabinet, his continuing refusal to act in any way presidential or like a man with concerns for country – I have my answer.

Apparently, a petty, repellent jackass is exactly what a lot of Americans wanted as our President.

The irony is that Donald Trump does not want to be President. He’s already delegating his duties to Pence, his family, his friends. He doesn’t have time for the hard work or sacrifices of governing. He’ll take credit, but not responsibility.

Donald Trump wanted the only thing he ever wants – he wanted to win. Don’t bother him with the details.

Those who gave him license to run roughshod over America are now trying to deal with their petty tyrant and scrambling to rein him in, to put the best face on this unholy disaster. Good luck with that.

The first time anyone with real authority tells this man “No,” all hell and its minions will break loose.

On Veterans Day – Easing the Spring


We’re honoring our veterans today in America and as part of that, I have for you one of my favorite poems. This is “Naming of Parts,” which comes from a longer poem, Lessons of the War, by British poet Henry Reed. The poem was first published in 1942.

The juxtaposition of war and nature has always touched me deeply. Someone once said if all the generals had flower gardens we would have no war. Perhaps this is true.


To Alan Michell

Vixi duellis nuper idoneus
Et militavi non sine gloria


To-day we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And to-morrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But to-day,
To-day we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens,
And to-day we have naming of parts.

This is the lower sling swivel. And this
Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see,
When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
Which in our case we have not got.

This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy
If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
Any of them using their finger.

And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this
Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slide it
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers:
They call it easing the Spring.

They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt,
And the breech, and the cocking-piece, and the point of balance,
Which in our case we have not got; and the almond-blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
For to-day we have naming of parts.

It’s over. Donald Trump won the election. The press is as full of theorizing and bloviating as ever today about what will happen now. And yet the sun came up again this morning, the sky is blue and life goes on.

For me the signal that this might happen came when a jury in Oregon acquitted seven clearly guilty defendants last week as a “message” to the government prosecutors, not because they agreed with the criminal behavior in a standoff at a government wildlife refuge.

For months, commenters from all over the country and beyond had been squarely sure that these defendants were headed to prison. And so it seemed. But the jury thought otherwise.

Sure things are not always sure things. My last post remarking on the 1948 election made my position pretty clear on this.

As for the election itself, Donald Trump made as many threats as promises in his campaign. Others before him have done the same – Richard Nixon comes to mind.

I didn’t want Trump for president. But I didn’t want Clinton either. I don’t like the way my country feels these days with anger and spite as the abiding emotions for too many people, and neither Trump nor Clinton offered something better. Their platitudes were just that. Donald glowered and Hillary gave us her toothy smile.

Now as the transition begins, I’m going to engage in what the medical profession calls “watchful waiting.” Anything might happen, and likely will. My hope is that in four years, both parties will have stopped navel-gazing and will bring us candidates for President who have the chops, serious chops to do the job for the good of this country and not for their own egos. And who knows – maybe now that Donald has the big prize he wanted, he’ll grow up and actually lead.

In the meantime, I’ll listen to jazz, keep painting, play with the kids in the family, enjoy time with the adults, make the green bean casserole for Thanksgiving, work in the garden, go to the beach, help others whenever I can and see what happens.

Otherwise, I’m with Billie Holiday: “Pray for the future. Hope for the best.”

Remember 1948!

For all who are closely following the polls, the politicians and the punditry, I have this reminder:


(That’s president-elect Harry Truman holding the paper… )

How Do We Solve A Problem Like The Bundys?

Halloween came early in Oregon last week when the howling monkeys, aka jury, in the Malheur occupation trial opted to judge the prosecutors instead of the defendants.

In the process, they let the defendants walk and left the prosecution and a lot of the rest of us shaking our heads. They also left the rest of us concerned about roaming bands of fully armed, self-proclaimed “patriots” who talk peaceful protest while carrying AK-47s or worse and now feel they’ve been given a license to behave badly.

“We just carry these guns for protection. We’re not going to hurt anybody.” This is the mantra. But the mantra has another clause that sometimes goes unmentioned: “Unless they try to stop us.”

The guns are, of course, military weapons but we’re assured they’re only for protection.  From what?

Isn’t this the same mantra of every gangster that ever walked the streets of America? Every fascist leader anywhere in the world?

These “patriot” militia-types have no legal standing. But they pose in their war surplus GI Joe camo as the law of the land. They interpret the Second Amendment’s Right to Bear Arms as the right not only to bear arms but to use them as a threat to anyone who disagrees with their politics.

Worse – and yes, I’ll sound elitist here – they are largely not well-educated except when it comes to guns and complaints. They listen to right-wing talk shows that spew hate and unrest and lies like party beads at Mardi Gras.

These “patriots” are either too stupid or too lazy to pursue other forms of protest to support their claims against the government like working for legislation to get what they want. They don’t want to do that hard work and they don’t want to compromise on anything.

Their go-to solution is “grab a gun and threaten.”

The law-breaking behavior of the Bundy gang was documented in their own videos made during the Standoff. The evidence was clear. But jurors in the trial, Oregon folks who had been vetted for jury duty, took on an arrogance that was hard to believe.

A self-chosen spokesman for the jury said later that they found the prosecution wanting even though the jurors agreed that the laws had been broken. They wanted to send a message to the prosecution and let them know they hadn’t done a good job.

This is a puzzling and chilling take on our legal system. The same juror made this equally puzzling statement: “Not guilty does not mean innocent.”

This Alice in Wonderland trial has not clarified anything except that it seems we’ve hit an “anything goes” time in America. Between the Bundys and Donald Trump and yes, Hillary Clinton, our country is up for grabs.

“Patriots” can occupy our public lands without penalty. Juries can make their own rules about what to deliberate. “Patriot” cohorts are even now celebrating their “victory” and planning their next Standoff. It could be in anybody’s backyard. Maybe yours.

The world seems upside down.

So far, the sun still rises in the east, but I check that every morning.