Sputter Sputter

I haven’t written a blog in several months, so this will be a bit disjointed.

I feel as if there’s nothing left to say from the social and political standpoint. It’s all been shouted and whispered by people more gifted than I am, and with better sources of information. Plus, to be honest, I read the news and I gag, then I sputter. It’s simple—I don’t understand what has happened and what continues to occur in this amazing and glorious country. It’s beyond my comprehension. We, as a nation, are speeding backwards, undoing the good that took decades to achieve, and we seem to be doing so with a degree of indifference I find horrifying.

We’ve lost our conscience.

The Japanese are set to restart whaling. They largely stopped the slaughter because of pressures applied by US administrations. When the whalers announced their intentions to resume the killings of a peaceful and sentient species already in decline, not a peep was heard from the US government.

When Russian ships in the Black Sea near Crimea kidnapped dozens of Ukrainian sailors in violation of maritime agreements, presidential reactions were laughable. “We don’t like what’s happening there,” said Trump.

When the CIA and other intelligence agencies demonstrated beyond doubt that the Saudis had assassinated and dismembered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Trump’s reaction was, “Maybe they did, and maybe they didn’t.”

The problem with stupidity and ineffectual actions is that they challenge description and writing. Once you’ve established someone is a liar, a cheat, a dummy, a bully, and an intellectually and morally challenged individual with few, if any, redeeming qualities, what is left to say? Do we need an unending list of examples to establish the obvious? According to the January 8 Washington Post, Trump suffers from the Dunning-Kruger effect, where “incompetent people think they know more than they really do, and they tend to be more boastful about it.” We, Americans and their elected officials, are okay with incompetence winning.

The government furloughs are taking their toll, and talk of the shutdown dominates the news. But wait—this isn’t a shutdown! What it has become—what it has always been, really—is a blackmail operation against those Americans Trump sees as ineffectual and detests the most—the government workers whom he accuses of being closet Democrats. All this to erect a wall that few want and even fewer believe might work. But it will protect the country from immigrants.

There are interesting sidebars here. Terrified of losing his diminishing voters base, Trump has told farmers he will allow migrant workers in the country to come in for the harvests. Afraid of the ramifications of thousands not getting their tax refunds, the IRS will be allowed to issue refunds. Look in the near future for a special arrangement allowing air traffic controllers to be paid for their work. Hopefully, this will occur before a major airplane crash does.

I found it terrifying, comical, and entirely believable that the FBI investigated Trump as a possible Russian agent, and I immediately recalled Richard Condon’s 1962 novel, The Manchurian Candidate. The novel is worth rereading.

I fully believe in the president’s amorality, in his willingness to sacrifice anything and anyone to get what he wants, though the latter is nebulous. What motivates normal people—greed—is uppermost in his mind, I’m sure, but the other stuff—family, friends, the welfare of others, the selflessness necessary to societal well-being, the desire to leave something positive, all these things are lacking. Pair these dysfunctions with a constitution never written to handle the partial shutdown of the system by one man, and you have a lethal, if somewhat unreal situation.

I’ve had the privilege of traveling to many countries, and only in the most dismal situations do governments of even the saddest nation allow a leader to create the havoc we are facing.

And so I sputter. Writing these few disgruntled lines makes me feel I’m flogging the proverbial dead horse… A friend suggested I stick to what I do best—people portraits and fiction. That sounds good.

Next week I’ll write about Larry and Archie, both 82 years old and new friends with stories to tell. They agree with me. These are strange, disquieting times.



About epiphanettes

Writer, songcrafter, possibly the best French pedal steel guitarist in Virginia.
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