Founders Tavern

In a smoky corner of an afterlife tavern reserved for The Founders, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Robert Livingston sit and dissect the state of current U.S. affairs over a tankard of hard cider.  Around them, and imbedded in every aspect of their sanctuary, the world continues its revolutions.  With a slight shift in perception, easily accomplished for those dead for so long, they can easily see, hear and understand the daily triumphs and trudgings of those still on the mortal plane. They are enthralled by this election, and as appalled and terrified as the rest of the ‘informed electorate’.  They have deep discussions about separation of powers, freedom of the press, voter fraud, immigrants, the right to bear arms, demagoguery, and, most commonly, hair color. There are the usual references to pumpkins and summer squash, and the occasional comment that ‘orange isn’t the new anything’.

As in all other elections, halls are rented, crowds gather, flags are draped, speeches are made that are well-crafted, deeply emotional, and full of lies.  There is a woman running for president this time, a novelty, and thought to be a historic moment.  That potential moment  is eclipsed by the antics and bombast of a charlatan posing as a statesman.  Like the people on the plane of existence swirling around them, the founders cringe and recoil and argue.

“We are the five,” Livingston reminisces, “that were tasked with explaining to the nation, and the world, why we were breaking away from England. We are the committee chosen to write the declaration.”  Jefferson, who did most of the writing, just stares down at his drink.  He has been in the tavern longer than the others, and is beginning to sway a little.

“We gave the future generations a plan,” Sherman mutters, “a tower of rationality in an irrational age and little by little they have whittled it into a quaint treasury of clichés and empty promises.  This election completes the journey from powerhouse to madhouse.”

“Self evident,” Jefferson said into his mug, ‘that all men are created equal,  I wrote that.”

“Yes,” Livingston said to him, “and just a month before that, George wrote that “all men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights,”

“Nonsense,” Jefferson muttered.  “Dilberries.  He never did.”

“I can find you a copy, sir.  It’s well known among us that his Virginia Declaration of Rights is chock-a-block with phrases that you have become famous, even revered, for.”

Jefferson looks up with a twisted grin.  “Leibniz and Newton.  Keep in mind Leibniz and Newton.”

They all look at each other in confusion until Franklin pushes his glasses up on his nose and says, “Our ginger compatriot is making reference to calculus.  Gottfried Leibniz and Isaac Newton each claim to have discovered, or invented, calculus at roughly the same time. There was a big fight between them, what they now call a’ kerfuffle’.  I will grant you that these moderns are shallow and grasping, but I like that word ‘kerfuffle’.  Rolls right off the tongue, means exactly what it sounds like.”

Adams, scowling as usual, adds, “So, Sir Isaac became famous worldwide, and rich too, and herr Leibniz remains a footnote.  Not unlike our Thomas here and the undiscovered squire Mason.”

“Undiscovered,” slurred Jefferson, “and undeserving.  The man is a hack, or was a hack.  Probably will be a hack in the future too.”  

At that moment, if we can speak of something as tangible as ‘moments’ in an afterlife tavern shifting between planes of existence, George Mason strolls into the tavern.

“An injured friend…,” says John Adams.

“Yes, yes,” says Jefferson,  ‘…is the bitterest of foes’, I know.  I said that too.”

“Are you sure that was you?” Franklin asks.  “Sounds a bit more like Aaron Burr.  That man was an authority on enemies.”  Sherman and Livingston laugh.

Mason walks past the table, stops for a second to glare wordlessly at Jefferson, and joins Patrick Henry at a table near the window.  Jefferson, red-faced now, yells across the room, ‘Leibniz and Newton, George, my good man.  Leibniz and Newton.”  

“Ignore him,” Patrick Henry says, with his finger in the air calling for a drink.  

Franklin looks around at the gloomy faces at his table, particularly that of Jefferson.  “Gentlemen, gentlemen,” he says.  “There should be no despair here.  Our creation has faced greater crises than this, and thrived.  Do I need to remind you of the Civil War?  Of two world wars?  Of the impeachment of two presidents and the resignation of another?  Of the Great Depression and more recently of the Great Recession?”

“Or,” Jefferson slurs, “does he need to remind you of Sarah Palin?”

The table laughs. Most of the tavern laughs.  It was November 8th on our mortal plane, and they all turned to focus their perception on the incoming results.  “Results are in from Florida and .. “


Out of Touch

Still paying attention to the national election, and still find it disturbing.  It is boggling to me that so many people, according to the polls, can still support Donny.  He is abrasive, transparently hypocritical, narrow-minded, egotistical, and woefully, gleefully uninformed.  He surrounds himself with people that are very much like him, including his family.  His children look more like cardboard cutouts than flesh and blood.  His top echelon supporters, i.e. Christie, Gingrich, Hannity, Sessions, all have their own serious baggage that they are trying to outrun by attaching themselves to this rambling, mercenary gas bag.  

And yet, and yet, he seems to be doing well, even leading by some measures.  His root audience seem not to care what he says, as long as he doesn’t say what everyone else says.  I hate to get all hyperbolic and historical, but I think this situation lends itself to hyperbole and history.  

Donny is trading on the idea that he is different.  Caesar did that. And Hitler and Mussolini and Huey Long and Father Coughlin.

The dictionary, the go-to reference when something needs to be clear, defines demagogue as:  a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.  

To me, that pretty much sums up Donny.  Long on prejudices and short on rational argument.

But I am coming to understand that he is not really the problem, just a shimmering, slightly orange reflection of it.  The real problem is the people who are supporting him.  Scenes of his rallies leave me nonplussed and slack-jawed (if nonplussed and slack-jawed are the terms I want.  Do you think nonplussed and slack jawed are the terms I want?).  Screaming epithets, abusing minorities, offensive sloganeering.  And that’s before they get warmed up.  The term ‘mob’ seems to fit comfortably here, and I don’t think I need to refer to a dictionary definition.  

To be selfish about it, what concerns me most is that I am so completely out of touch.  I never saw this coming.  I know we are a melting pot society, but I thought there were some boundaries, some common ground.  How can it be that people have become so wooden headed, so obtuse, so attached to one point of view that rationality is not even possible?

I could never support someone because of the banner he or she stood under: Republican, Democrat, Conservative, Progressive, Liberal, Libertarian… none of them. 

Dear Sir or Madam standing on your soapbox or reading from your teleprompter, tell me what you think and I’ll either agree or disagree.  But I will think about it first.  

I wonder, is there room anymore for an independent?   

Labor Day

Labor Day is the real start of the election campaign season, from POTUS all the way down to local judges.  I have been watching the national race this year on TV and on websites, and it has been both entertaining and disheartening.  I can’t really believe or develop any trust  either side.  Trump and his supporters are often laughable in their dirty dancing to repackage him and his word salad.  No one really knows where he stands on most issues.  He lies with every breath, sometimes twice in a breath if the lies are short enough, and his surrogates are pulling muscles backing away from his mindless brain farts.  And, it is hard to imagine life in a country being administered by Trump, Newt, Christie, Jeff Sessions and Rudy Giuliani.  Worse lately, he has climbed between the sheets with Steve Bannon and Roger Ailes, both considered far right extremists.  If you want to get depressed, go to, CEO of which is Steve Bannon,  and just scan the headlines.  Scary, actually.  

On the other hand, Hillary’s gang are better looking, better prepared, and more palatable, but their long term effect is not real promising either. There is an uncertainty, or a shadiness about her whole public career that gives any thinking person pause. Why did she, and Bill, do the things they did?  Travelgate, the presidential pardons, the damn email server, the connection between the Clinton Foundation and the S of State?  Hard to believe that all if it is a ‘vast right wing conspiracy’, although I think the right wing has mined it like a Yukon gold strike.  She is so accomplished and so experienced that I think she would, as President Obama has said, be the most prepared person ever to be in the Oval Office.  I would rather have her talking to people like Putin than Donny, and her knowledge of domestic policy is light years in advance of Donny.  But, she will be slamming up against a major blockade in Congress, probably both houses.  Those people really hate her, I think out of all proportion to her mistakes.  Gridlock, unless the Democrats pick up a lot of seats in the House, is a certainty.

What I want is some way to follow this election without a lot of angst.  I have been too involved in it and now that it is ramping up, or even ratcheting up, I would like to keep in touch with it without it becoming a prime mover in my life.  Just in touch, not awash.

CNN and MSNBC are pretty well slanted toward the Democrats.  But with Donny bashing everyone he doesn’t like, really EVERYONE he doesn’t like, publicly, they usually just need to quote him, and not interpret him, and not even comment.  He has deadly aim when he is shooting himself in the foot.  He rarely misses.  Pow, right through the metatarsal.

Fox News (slogan: Fair and Balanced) is just a microphone for the Republican Party, and perhaps the Alt-right party.  The slogan could be changed to ‘Not A Prayer That It’s Balanced’.  They can’t even be called slanted, more like horizontal.  I can’t listen to O’Reilly, who has developed  ‘smug’ into a business plan, can’t listen to Hannity, who has slipped his neck under Donny’s foot, I can’t listen to Rush Limbaugh because he is Rush Limbaugh, ‘nuff said.

Even reading.  I get much if my news from the internet, and they tend to reprint New York Times and Washington Post articles, both of which slant left.  There isn’t much pro conservative that I have found that isn’t right wing bat shit crazy.  Breitbart included.

As this heats up, and as Ailes/ Breitbart/ Bannon become more influential, The lies will become more egregious (if egregious is the word I want.  Do you think egregious is the word I want?), the half truths more twisted, and the hyperbole more inflated.  Donny’s rhetoric to his base will become routine but more screeching, and Hillary will, as usual,  play it close to the vest of her pantsuit.  
I suppose this is just a quintessential TFY situation.   Think For Yourself.  

Sad really.  It is an objective truth that I live in the greatest country in the world.  Not a perfect country, but still the greatest.  And yet, and yet, I am having trouble finding a reliable source of information.

There is a line from a Paul Simon song that sings, “I get the news I need from the weather report….. I can gather all the news I need from the weather report.”

Maybe that’s the way to go.

Issue Is or Issue Ain’t

Issue is one of those words that has several meaning.  An issue is, among other things, one production of a magazine, as in ‘the latest issue of Oriental Folding Fan Weekly’.  It can also mean the act of going forth as in, ‘the three Musketeers issued forth with mayhem in their hearts’. Or, in legal speak,  it can refer to one’s progeny, as in ‘the Duke of Earl’s legal issue’, or it can refer to a disagreement, as in, ‘the queen took issue with his height and decided that his head should come off’.  In sports, it can refer to a nagging injury as in, ‘the offensive lineman was sidelined for six games due to a hangnail issue’.  Most frequently, the word refers to a subject of interest to be discussed.

Except so far in this election.

I hear, often, that the real election season doesn’t begin until after Labor Day.  I really hope so.  So far what we have seen is the equivalent of throwing toys at each other in the sandbox.  I won’t say which candidate with orange hair has made insults and invective his primary tactic, but the resulting dueling badinage has become unwatchable and unlistenable.  That is, if unlistenable is the word I want and if it really is a word.

Perhaps the debates next month will clear a few things up.  Perhaps the moderators will have their respective heads out of their final digestive sphincter to ask intelligent questions and keep the responses civil.  

We have beaten immigration policy into the ground.  Also the economy and trade policy have received some glancing blows without much real content or substance.  How about gun violence?  Global warming.  Renewable energy.  Fracking.  Education.  Infrastructure.  (Here comes my one and only cliché) The list goes on and on.

So, while my hope is springing eternal in my human breast (okay that qualifies as a cliché) I can at least offer some musical entertainment.

Issue Is Or Issue Ain’t My Baby  by the great and greatly underrated Louis Jordan.