Dexter a.k.a. The Dood—-June 2008-April 2019

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The Dude and the Dex, love at first sight

The first time we laid eyes on The Dood, he was running around a farmyard with 11 of his siblings, fuzzy balls of fur with fat round stomachs and surplus puppy energy, oblivious to the aggravation their antics presented their harried Mom.

Both parents were Golden Doodles, crosses between Golden Retrievers and Standard Poodles. Eight weeks after giving birth, Mom was low-slung and suffering the indignities of a dozen hungry mouths pulling on her teats but Dad was showing no ill affects from the responsibilities of fatherhood.

He was an impressive animal, about 85 pounds with long legs and a tawny coat of curls that feathered out to give him a regal look. I walked Dad out to the back of the property to check The Dood’s lineage. He pulled hard on the leash but settled into my pace when I yanked it back  harder.

We picked The Dood out of the impossibly cute puppy rumble mostly because of his sex. We wanted a male.

After a stop at the Vet for shots and deworming (his tummy was fat for a reason) we dropped him at a dog training facility to learn proper toilet etiquette before we picked him up a week later to start our new life in the South Okanagan. The training stuck. For the remainder of his life he would not walk out a door before a human or poop in the yard or on a trail or path. We called him Dexter, not after tv’s serial killer but because it was a name the Dame had always liked for a pet.

Dexter took to his new home like a prince to his kingdom. We moved to a cul de sac at the lake with dog-friendly neighbours, no traffic and a field next door. He had the run of the place, rough-housing with the Boxer across the street, dragging shoes home from porches (did I mention our neighbourhood is dog friendly) and prancing proudly up the driveway with a deer hoof clamped in his teeth.

He had so much energy the older Boxer would tire of wrestling and send him on his way with a snap and a guttural doggie rebuke. Dexter didn’t take offense. He simply came back home, his face covered in Boxer spittle, and ran around the yard like a demented doodle.

He grew into the image of his Dad, only leaner with tighter curls and a lighter coat. A chick magnet of the first order.

Dexter became the star attraction everywhere he went. Women and young girls fawned over him at every public outing; men appreciated the effect he had on women and the fact he was a dog’s dog, not some yappy little runt with an attitude. Walking through the Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning was like taking a stroll with a furry four-legged George Clooney.  His love of exercise never waned, even in the foulest weather.

The Dood was not a haughty dog. He accepted attention with enthusiasm, leaning into the legs of strangers as if they were lifelong friends. He never met a person he didn’t like. All visitors to our home were greeted with boundless enthusiasm. He barked with reticence, a single sharp signal to let us know he wanted out or that his water dish was empty. Any increase in tempo alerted us to company.

Above all, Dexter possessed a constancy of disposition.

From the high energy of puppyhood to the infirmity of old age, we never once saw him display bad temper or aggression towards another being. When our first cat Nigel clipped him on the nose with a sharp jab delivered from his fortress under the kitchen chair, The Dood took his lumps with equanimity. When a mother deer decided he was too close to her fawn, The Dood took the hint and turned tail for home without so much as a growl. When visiting dogs decided his food bowl was a community affair, The Dood stepped back and let them eat their fill. Later in life, when a crotchety response would have been forgiven, he demurred to the new cat Molly when she began to hog his bed. The Dood simply rousted himself and moved to a nearby rug.

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If you want the bed I can move..

 

Before you tune out, tired of the maudlin ramblings of a grieving owner who envisions his departed best friend as the canine Mother Theresa, I should say that The Dood displayed the same annoying behaviours that have infuriated dog owners since the first wolf was domesticated.

He could hear the word ‘cookie’ whispered from 50 yards away but if it suited was deaf to his own name hollered from 10 paces. Later in life, after falling in with a bad companion, a pitbull cross with a wanderlust who moved in next door, he began to roam away from the cul de sac and could not be trusted to return from his nightly pee outings without going on lengthy and worrisome nocturnal walkabouts. On garbage day, he’d slink away from the yard at the first sign of inattention and rummage through neighbourhood garbage cans, the soggy contents of which would have to be bagged and put back, even in dog friendly neighbourhoods. He was like walking Velcro and tracked dirt and sand into the house constantly. He tore up stuffed animals, dug holes in the yard and trashed the lawn. He smelled bad after swimming in the lake. He required constant attention and ran up large bills at the vet.

Dexter ‘The Dood’ left this world just short of his 11th birthday, the gentlest of god’s creatures, taking with him a big piece of our hearts.

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Our handsome boy…forever loved

 

 

A Christmas Epiphany

 

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Some years back I found myself in the month leading up to Christmas a reluctant patient at Burnaby General Hospital. I showed up at emergency in acute discomfort without a toothbrush and subsequently spent 11 days in custody, the first four fasting while various tests were undertaken to determine the seriousness of my condition.

The attending nurses looked after my needs with professionalism and care and the doctors, while at times punctually challenged, inspired confidence in the procedures being undertaken to right my badly listing body.

I did not get to know patients sharing the room, beyond recognizing the timbre and smells of their nightly exhalations and expulsions, as they changed frequently over the course of my stay. Instead I spent considerable waking time ploughing through a less than uplifting novel about a stoic Texas rancher enduring a years-long drought. I found the book by my bed and no longer remember the title but, in any case, would not recommend it as hospital reading.

Beyond the monotony and bland food, the worst moments of my stay came late at night. Emptying the fluids pumping into my system 24/7 required frequently pushing a pole in half-light past sleeping patients to a shared bathroom.

If there is a lonelier place at 3 a.m. than an institutional green hospital bathroom I have not yet encountered it. In those quiet moments with my fate still uncertain, the smudged mirror revealed a pale, frightened man coming to terms with the realization that the fix he was in was beyond the help of his mommy. Nobody would be riding to the rescue and there was nothing to do but suppress the fear and stiffen a quivering upper lip.

The bright spots of my days were the Dame’s after-work visits, on one of which she delivered relief from the West Texas drought with a book on Buddhist philosophy, a subject I had dabbled in over recent months.

When she rescued me on the 12th day she found a newly appreciative husband in a delicate emotional state. As is her practical nature, she immediately delivered me to a White Spot Restaurant where I shed a discreet tear before devouring a pre-Christmas turkey dinner that remains high on my list of memorable meals these many years later.

The purpose of this preamble is not to elicit sympathy from readers. My condition turned out to be treatable and the oft-maligned Canadian medical system served me well. Instead, I share my hospital experience to provide background for the transformation I found myself caught up in upon my release into the frenetic holiday season.

Some readers may recall watching incredulously as the curmudgeon they knew before hospitalization emerged 10 pounds lighter as a remake of Jimmy Stewart in the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life, coincidentally the Dame’s favourite movie.

To suppress the anxiety eating away at the edge of my psyche during long hours staring at the bed curtain, I seized upon the simple concept at the core of Buddhist philosophy—live in the moment.

My understanding of Buddhism is at best rudimentary.  It should be noted for those with even less knowledge that it is more philosophy than religion in that you can be  Buddhist and also Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Jew. Paying attention to life is one of its chief tenets.

Not surprisingly, one appreciates the simplest of home conveniences after 11 days suffering bodily indignities under the control of others, however well-meaning. Walking to the fridge without a pole for a midnight snack becomes a pleasurable journey of spiritual enlightenment. Falling asleep on the couch in front of the fire a rejuvenating luxury.

But the most uplifting post-hospital moments came about through interactions with people, most of them strangers. In my euphoric state I decided that living in the moment meant being aware of the small things.

To that end, I began initiating conversations with people while doing simple transactions, like paying for gas or groceries. Instead of ending the encounter with a shrug or monosyllabic grunt I asked clerks how their Christmas was going, noting sympathetically that the demands of the season put stress on retail workers or some other nicety.

Some appeared momentarily startled, suspicious about a stranger’s concern. But they invariably responded, sharing surprising details of their lives, some joyful, some sad, some inspiring, and I quickly discovered these exchanges were mutually beneficial.

A smile and a kind word transformed clerk and customer from automatons into people.

The Dame greeted my transformation with reservation, having spent too much time with the surly cynic to buy in 100 per cent. Journalism colleagues smiled benevolently while hearing about a jubilant encounter with a mailman or waiter, no doubt noting my wraith-like post-hospital physique as they later clucked among themselves about the fragility of my mental state.

But I was walking too far off the ground to worry about non-believers. Unlike Ebenezer Scrooge, I didn’t care about Christmases past or future. There was only one Christmas on my radar screen and that was unfolding in the here and now.

I lived that holiday season enveloped in a warm glow, connecting with people in myriad ways. I also embraced the Buddhist concept of gratitude and I had a lot to be grateful for—the Dame, friends and family, home and hearth, and especially having won the birth lottery by being born Canadian.

My steps got closer to the ground as the holiday season receded and not long into the New Year I was buying gas and groceries in near silence. Meaningful human interaction, like living in the moment, requires vigilance. Next time you take a trip to the store, try concentrating completely on driving–the feel of the steering wheel, tires connecting with pavement, the road immediately outside your windshield. My bet is you won’t make it to the corner before your thoughts have drifted to an imaginary place, past or future.

Two decades later I’m looking to recapture the warmth and magic of that Christmas epiphany.

Merry Christmas people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Protecting America’s national interest comes at too high a price for Third World

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“The people of the United States want us to kill all the men, f*** all the women and raise up a new race in these Islands.”*

American soldier serving in the Philippines, commenting on the message filtering down to troops from their superior officers, circa 1900

“I knew enough about the Philippines to have a strong aversion to sending our bright boys over there to fight with a disgraced musket under a polluted flag.”*

Celebrated American author Samuel Clemons, aka Mark Twain, speaking in New York

At the turn of the 19th Century, America defeated Spain in a one-sided war advertised by the government as a fight to liberate the Cuban people from Spanish depredations. Revolutionaries in the Philippines, also tired of being ruled by far-off Spain, joined America’s cause when the U.S. Navy anchored off Manila, a strategic Spanish possession. They did so with the expectation Filipinos would be given the opportunity to govern themselves when the conflict ended, in keeping with stated American values.

Instead, the alliance devolved into a brutal fight over control of the geographically important Archipelago, in which the better trained and equipped U.S. troops were given licence to kill and torture. Honing techniques the American military would later deploy in Viet Nam, soldiers roamed the countryside in search and destroy missions, indiscriminately killing, raping, torturing captives, often to death, and burning entire Filipino villages suspected of harboring the enemy.

The U.S. Colonel who tamed the Tagalog rebels, lionized at home as ‘Fighting’ Frederick Funston, pillaged his way up the military promotional ladder to General and a Medal of Honor. Theodore Roosevelt, the president who never met a war he wouldn’t fight in personally, declared it would take more than 30 generations for the savage islanders to be on a level with Americans and capable of governing themselves. The American public, who swallowed the official bullshit with no aftertaste, viewed the conflict as being in the country’s national interest. The hundreds of thousands of brown people who died, in their polluted view, possessed ‘limited intelligence and ability’. Collateral damage.

The Third World has been enduring America First for a very long time.

During the Philippine adventure, as in Viet Nam, the U.S. did its own dirty work, with Presidents William McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt and later Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, suffering the political consequences of the moral outrage heaped on them by progressive thinkers like Samuel Clemons, a staunch anti-imperialist. Similarly, Bush 45 and Barack Obama had to answer for Iraq and Afghanistan.

A hundred-plus years and many wars later, it is hard to ignore the cliché and truism—”History repeats itself.”—when considering the current conflict in Yemen, wrought by the Saudis with the full complicity of America.

But who is answering for the catastrophic despoliation of Yemen being wrought upon millions of brown people by proxy for America’s national interest? Where are the voices of outrage in the midst of the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis?

The Saudi-piloted murder planes, until recently being refueled by the U.S. air force, and the bombs falling from them upon innocent men, women and children, some of them riding in school buses, bear the Made-In-America stamp.

Death and mayhem in the Middle East mean billions of blood dollars for America and jobs for U.S. workers, rationalizes the  Bloviator-in-Chief. Donald Trump’s coverup of the Khashoggi killing told the world all it needs to know. America sanctions murder for the right money.

The Trump administration can’t be blamed for the cause of the conflict, which dates back centuries and is rooted in religious rivalry and intolerance. But there can be no question the U.S. trains and props up a despotic Saudi regime that tortures, decapitates and dismembers its opponents and only this year gave women the right to drive.

It does so, the U.S. government tells its people, because it is in America’s national interest. Saudi Arabia is a bulwark against the nuclear wannabe mullahs of Iran. A kind of the enemy of my enemy is my friend rationale. And because they have oil money to pay for American weapons.

The Senate makes noise about limiting U.S. support for the murderous tyrant known as MSB as people starve in real time. Is anybody questioning the wisdom of providing billions of dollars in sophisticated weaponry to a psychopath who runs a country that spawned the 9/11 attackers? A country that is a friend of terrorist enemies.

If so, I haven’t heard about it on American media, currently obsessed with the top-rated multi-network reality show, Donald Trump’s Blackening of the White House, starring a villain who makes J.R. Ewing look like Mr. Rogers. Collectively, the media virtually ignores the killing of Yemenis as it does all but the most egregious interruptions in regular programming.

It takes a natural disaster of historic proportions in the homeland to shift the focus for a day and get anchors away from Washington and New York desks and out to affected locations in tight black t-shirts or stylish rain gear and boots. Only mass shootings in double digits can avert the media’s focus from its ratings winner. Or the killing of one of its own, especially if it involves a grisly dismemberment and a djellaba-wearing villain the American public can get behind hating.

It is a sure bet that most Americans are only vaguely aware of the country where the Made-In-America humanitarian disaster is unfolding, beyond that it is somewhere far away, maybe the Middle East, or Africa. On the periphery of their personal device-addled brains they know Arabs are fighting each other. They don’t know why or much care.

It doesn’t occur to them that it is not in Yemen’s national interest to have a proxy war on its soil. That Yemenis, though Muslim and brown, are parents and daughters and sons, grandparents and uncles and aunts, who want what Americans want–food, lodging and neighbourhoods where kids can play without fear of foreign made bombs, mines or machine gun bullets.

CNN managed to squeeze in a short segment last week on the Yemen man-made catastrophe at the end of one of its Trump’s Blackening of the White House episodes. After a voice-over warning about disturbing content, cameras took viewers into an emergency facility where doctors were unable to save a tiny famine-ravaged boy, following outside as his grieving Dad left cradling the body to his chest. Another scene showed children with ghastly wounds from bombs, shrapnel and snipers’ bullets.

But the most haunting images were of emaciated kids with sunken eyes, bloated bellies and skeletal arms and legs. Not a ratings winner with viewers slumped in easy chairs and on couches or bar stools, drinking beer and eating burgers, pizza and potato chips, growing more obese on four thousand calories a day.

Millions of people are homeless and hungry and the United States, using the same old ‘national interest’ trope it has relied on for a hundred-plus years, is complicit. That is not fake news or an alternative fact. It is the plain truth.

I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that the country that elected a world class narcissist to its highest office is a country of navel-gazers bordering on mass narcissism. It is only natural to have a leader like Trump when the electorate has a propagandized view of the havoc wreaked in the name of America’s national interest.

Christian evangelists, so concerned about human life in the womb they will support a soulless, venal liar if he will give them judges that further their cause, care diddly squat about the brown kids their government is helping kill. Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell Jr., well-fed and safe in their gated communities, prefer to rail against the “war on Christmas.”

Putting America First, the oft-stated goal of white supremacy groups like the Ku Klux Klan, has cost millions of brown, yellow, red and beige people their lives. As I have stated in previous blogs, there can be no argument that the U.S. is a great country, but to be the ‘greatest country’ requires more than self-proclamation. It means learning from past wrongs and making things right in the present. It’s well past time that Americans stop parroting the party line and start walking the righteous walk.

(*Quotes from the Statesman and the Storyteller, an exhaustively researched book on turn of 19th Century America by Mark Zwonitzer.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Great Generation…

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Mike and Germaine Maloney wedding photo 1939

Watching the moving rituals following a Presidential death in the U.S. brought tears to my eyes, especially when George Jr. choked up at the podium while delivering the final words of his historic eulogy for his father.

President and son to President and father.

All the sentimentality and talk about the passing of the last great generation brought my parents to mind. Mom, a devout Catholic, went peacefully to her maker at age 96 a couple of years back. Dad, her partner in faith as in life, predeceased her by 14 years at age 88. They were together 63 years.

Uncelebrated at their deaths for great accomplishments, they were born into circumstances less privileged then the late H.W. Bush.

Mom’s family moved from Quebec to Alberta when she was a young child. Her father eventually ran a one-man dairy from a rented acreage on the outskirts of Edmonton, delivering milk from his cows to the General Hospital run by the Grey Nuns.

The acreage was not connected to water, so my grandfather mounted a huge tank upon a trailer which he pulled down to the city water hydrant at the main road and filled up periodically for drinking water for the family of two adults and six kids, two boys and four girls. One of the kids’ daily jobs was to scoop water into buckets and carry them to the house for drinking and washing dishes.

Calling it a house is an exaggeration. It was a two-room shack with a loft for the boys. The girls slept in the living room crossways on a fold-out couch, four to the bed, the parents a whisper away behind a thin wall. The toilet was 50 feet from the house, a frightening and discouraging distance for a child on a frigid Alberta winter night. Throwing out the contents collected in the pots the night before was another daily childhood task.

The kids worked from the time they could walk, milking cows, feeding chickens, cooking, cleaning and shovelling cow shit. The boys did the heaviest work and the girls learned the domestic arts they would need in adulthood.

Mom started school in Edmonton wearing her older brother’s boots with English as her second language. Her father pulled the girls out of school as soon as they reached the legal age. Their place was working in the home, he told them in French, leaving no room for argument.

My Dad finished Grade Eleven. He grew up in more prosperous circumstances on a farm outside St. Albert.

The big house had running water and more sophisticated bathroom facilities than Mom’s. He had two sisters and five brothers. His father James was gassed in the trenches in WWI. The son of one of St. Albert’s prominent pioneers, James became a farmer and sometime small businessman. My great grandfather Daniel Maloney’s local celebrity was gleaned in part when he travelled to Ottawa as part of a delegation to convince Sir John A. McDonald’s Conservative government to construct a bridge over the Sturgeon River. The St. Albert RCMP station is called Maloney Place.

The celebrity didn’t translate into dollars for Daniel’s offspring and Dad and his seven siblings learned early that life required hard work and grit. Dad bore scars from being kicked in the head by a horse as a young boy and all the kids had calluses on their hands. The girls helped their Mom with laundry, cleaning and daily meals for 10 and the boys learned to build barns and sheds, to repair machinery, and to handle six-horse teams, my father’s early lesson about never walking behind a frisky horse notwithstanding.

His older brothers hauled horse-drawn freight when barely into their teens. Dad was pulled out of school periodically in spring and fall for planting and harvesting.

Mom first noticed him at Church. His scars from the horse hoof burnished away by the sun, he wore his wavy hair in a period pompadour that soared six inches above his forehead, and made him appear hair, if not head and shoulders, above the male competition in Mom’s tiny family and church social world.

Family legend has them meeting at a softball tournament in St. Albert at which he bought her an ice cream cone. He was tall, fit and handsome and she was what was called a looker, a dark-haired French beauty with fine features. They married only months later, Dad at 25 and Mom at 19, at the end of the Depression and on the cusp of the conflagration that would be World War II.

Dad was rejected for service because of flat feet, an ironic military decision considering he spent most of his working life walking from house to house delivering milk. They started life together in a series of small rental houses. Mom even stayed in a tent for a time to be with her new husband as he worked on the Alaska Highway. Before moving in with Dad she had never lived outside the family home.

They lost their firstborn son at birth and went on to have four other children, two boys and two girls, a standard number for the time. With memories of the Great Depression burned into their being, they lived a frugal life, eventually buying a small house, moving the family to a more comfortable bungalow after ten years of saving for the down payment. Mom was a homemaker and Dad worked on his days off from the dairy where he became a foreman and remained for the rest of his working life. He was a highly skilled carpenter and jack of many trades, but outdoor work was unreliable in the cold winters of Edmonton.

When they bought their first new car with the children older, Mom took a job at the General Hospital where her father once delivered milk, sewing sheets in the basement for a dollar an hour until the new car was paid off. They bought a basic model Rambler with vinyl bench seats, standard transmission and hand-powered steering and windows. Mom quit the hospital when it was paid off.

They paid bills on time and met the responsibilities of parenthood on a limited budget by doing what needed to be done. Mom canned vegetables and washed clothes in a wringer washer, hanging them on the line to dry in summer and to freeze in winter. Dad did all house repairs, yard work and car maintenance, changing the oil in the driveway of the garage he built.

They were the original recyclers. Nothing was thrown out that had any material use. Torn clothes were mended, shoes repaired, and Dad spent many an idle evening darning the toes of his socks, worn through by miles of walking on his milk routes on flat feet. Nothing was disposable, least of all diapers, which were soaked in a bucket and washed separately.

Meals were basic and wholesome, lots of hamburger and liver, with emphasis on stomach fillers like potatoes, pasta and bread. Well-cooked roast beef was a Sunday ritual. Full family attendance was expected at every evening meal and picky eaters were not countenanced. No vegetable tasted so bad that it could be left behind on a plate with people starving in India and China. On extra special occasions, Mom and Dad sipped at glasses of Mogen David Wine.

Sunday mornings were reserved for Church. Attendance wasn’t optional for the kids even into their late teens. Dad did not work for money on Sundays, using it as a day of rest to do jobs around the house. There were times when Dad had to borrow change from the float in his milk pouch but he never missed his weekly donation at Sunday mass. He was one of the men who passed the collection basket at Church, walking ramrod straight in his only suit. When it got so out of style Mom became embarrassed, he had it tailored to narrow the lapels.

Mom and Dad always put their children first, instilling integrity and ethics in their offspring as best they could, by example. They did not look to put one over on anybody by paying less or charging more on anything they bought or sold. Lying was not a misdemeanor in Mom and Dad’s book, but instead a major offense to be punished by a spanking, or even worse, a period of ostracization from their affections.

They believed in working for everything they got and did not look kindly on shirkers, whatever their social status. Devoutly religious, they tried with limited success to pass their beliefs on to their children but did not proselytize to friends or strangers of non or different faiths. I never heard them speak ill of other religions or people of different colours and cultures. They took their measure of people by the way they lived.

They raised four children, none of whom were incarcerated, who went on to live mostly respectably, working to buy homes and paying their bills and taxes.

This peon is not meant to infer that my parents were saintly people who raised the ideal family. They had the imperfections inherent in the human condition and held firmly to some of the now politically incorrect views of their time. Their marriage, though enduring, was not a perfect union.

Mom revealed herself to be an artist of considerable talent in later life and Dad was a skilled craftsman who could build a house or a fine piece of furniture. If they had dreams for themselves or disappointments for personal aspirations unfulfilled, I never heard them.

They were working class people, decent, with a moral code they would not compromise, regardless of short-term advantage. In my view, their ordinary lives were lived with a steadfastness and heroism underrated by the want-it-now pay-for-it-later generation that followed them. They left this earth without the pomp and praise bestowed upon H.W. on his final journey but with no less value for the lives they lived. George JR. said of his father he was the best a boy could hope for. I put my Dad and Mom right up there with him. They exemplified all that was right about the last great generation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wisdom of Ted the Barber

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Contrary to what readers of this space might infer from my frequent scathing criticisms of the current U.S. administration and the people that put it in place, I am not a rabid anti-American.

Some may recall the piece I wrote at the end of a five-month road trip through America. It began by paraphrasing Charles Dickens–It is the best of countries; it is the worst of countries–and went on to note its fascinating cultural diversity, geographic splendour and the many contributions its citizens have made to the world’s betterment, from music to literature, from science to technology, from championing religious freedom to advocating for democracy.

The Dame and I recently travelled to the small Arizona town of Florence for a sunny break from the frequently gloomy skies of November in the South Okanagan. It was the first time we’ve been in the U.S. since the ascendancy of the Conman in Chief and like many Canadians we were hesitant about giving the tacit support of our tourism dollars to a country that would elevate such a repellent person to the nation’s highest office.

I rationalized that it would combine a holiday with firsthand research in a state Trump won by four percentage points.

Florence is a dusty desert town set along the Gila River amidst stands of saguaro cactus and sagebrush halfway between Phoenix and Tucson. To say it has seen better days would be kind. Sprinkled along its historic main street are boarded up businesses, a burnt-out bar and ramshackle buildings of limited aesthetic value. It does not have a grocery store and its main industry is incarceration.

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Nearby, the Del Webb resort community of Anthem at Merrill Ranch stands out in sharp contrast. Littered with snow geezers and the more prosperous of the local population, it has a mini-shopping mall, an 18-hole golf course and a modern recreation/fitness facility and pool.

Back in Florence, near the end of the main street, an old school barber shop seemed a logical place to scope out rural Arizona in the era of Trump while getting my ears lowered.

The shop is a comfortable place, roomy, with two barber chairs, an assortment of seating for waiting customers and a pool table covered over, either out of disuse or to keep the falling follicles from fouling the felt.

A young boy is getting clipped in one of the chairs, while his mom, dad and brother supervise from the sidelines. They are Canadians, I am soon to learn from the affable proprietor, who rises to greet me and usher me to the empty chair.

Ted the barber is a voluble man with an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Florence. He looks to be in his mid-fifties and has lived here since his family moved from Oregon when he was a child. He wears a blue barber smock and moves gingerly with his back tilted forward from the waist at an odd angle.

The Canadian family, he informs me upon learning of my nationality, has moved to the Florence area for a business opportunity and will be staying five years. Preoccupied with the boys, the parents take no notice or offense at Ted telling a stranger their business.

After carefully determining the precise lowering of the ears desired, Ted sets to removing hair at a leisurely pace. The counter below the mirror is cluttered with the usual assortment of barbering tools and the mirror itself is framed with photos from Ted’s life.

Ted seems perfectly suited to the intimacy of his chosen profession. Loquacious without being overbearing he answers his curious customer’s questions with the authority and detail gleaned from a lifetime of living in Florence.

The town’s main employers are the 12 prison complexes scattered on the town’s perimeter that house by his estimate 39,000 law breakers, from juveniles in “training” camps to murderers awaiting their fate on death row in the super max penitentiary. He says the guards and personnel at the lower paying state prisons tend to live in Coolidge, a slightly larger down-at-the heels town about 10 miles up the road. The better compensated federal prison workers commute the 50 miles from Tucson and the suburbs of Phoenix with a smattering mingling with the snow geezers in the manicured Del Webb development.

There is a disproportionate number of courtrooms in town to deal with legal matters that inevitably arise from the plethora of prisoners who are officially considered citizens but cannot vote. The town receives a set annual amount for each prisoner housed in its jurisdiction. He says most of the lawyers and judges who preside over the courts commute or live in Anthem.

Having been cautioned about talking politics, I guardedly remark that Arizona has a new Democratic Senator for the first time in a while. Ted says, only slightly scornfully, the new Senator owes her election to the wave of liberal Californians who have moved to Arizona in recent years to escape the crowds and high taxes of California living. He says he cringes each time Donald Trump opens his mouth but notes that he has been good for the economy. I suspect he is one of the deplorables and so steer the conversation to more friendly ground.

One of the photos framing the mirror is of a local sports team. It is signed and inscribed with best wishes for Ted’s speedy recovery. Ted catches my eye settling on the photo and explains he had a little accident some years back. When asked if it involved cars he laughs and says somewhat sheepishly that his misfortune occurred at a family gathering.

Two teenage boys were causing mayhem pushing a small wooden merry-go-round at a speed that upset some of the smaller children. Ted went over to comfort one of the girls and inadvertently put a foot on the platform just as the youths resumed pushing. The resultant momentum propelled Ted onto the adjoining concrete where he broke his neck in four places. It put him in the hospital and he was bedridden and unable to walk for four years.

At the time of the accident Ted was a successful businessman in Coolidge, operating a number of cash-oriented retail businesses that fell on hard times with the boss unable to watch over them. He was eventually forced to sell the businesses at less than favourable terms.

During his long recovery, which he termed as near miraculous given the doctors’ original prognosis, he held no animosity toward the boys who pushed the merry-go-round. They visited him frequently and expressed great remorse.

“Accidents happen,” he says, matter-of-factly, with no discernible rancour or self-pity.

After relearning to walk and with his businesses now gone, Ted took up barbering and has been at it for six years. When asked about the physical rigours of being on his feet cutting hair, he says he owes his ability to work on the massive doses of morphine he takes daily. He says the furor over America’s opioid crisis caused his doctor to cut his prescription in half with another cut on the horizon. He’s not sure how he will get by when his current supply runs out and asks if I know anything about the marijuana derivative CBD oil used for pain and inflammation.

Ted lives in a large house on 10 acres a few miles from town. He’d like to sell the property and get something more manageable. One of his regular duties is removing the rattle snakes that sun themselves in his driveway and slither into crevices around the property. He scoops them with a shovel and sets them down away from the house. He used to kill them until the rat population ballooned. He and his wife kept a lot of outdoor cats that helped with the snakes and rats but lately the owls and coyotes have taken their toll and they are down to about four. They have a couple of small house dogs.

Ted is proud of his daughter who is entering pre-med school. There is a graduation picture of a teenage girl stuck on one side of his mirror and I suspect she is one of the girls in the sports team photo.

Ted does not seem beaten down, as one might expect, from all he has endured. He comes across as a proud, if slightly bent over American, determined to face the vagaries of life with the courage and resiliency that made the United States the envy of the world. He is a man of true grit, the kind of person the silver spoon rich guy Donald Trump could never be.

There can be no doubt the U.S. ranks high on any list of the world’s great countries and it is because of decent Americans like Ted, who persevere and make do with what life has given them.

Ted is a good and thorough barber. He lathers and shaves the back of my neck with a straight razor then places a soothing hot towel over my head while administering a brief scalp massage. He whisks away loose cuttings before sending his Canadian customer away with a broader understanding of the constituency that put Donald Trump in office.

The charge for the haircut is 10 dollars. The information and inspiration are free.

Watergate for Dummies

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Rational people watching what’s happening in the Divided States of America are rightly worried. Really worried.

Pulitzer prize winning journalist Carl Bernstein, the one-time Washington Post reporter who made his bones breaking stories on the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon, calls Trump’s appointment of Matt Whitaker as head of the Mueller investigation a Presidential coup.

George Conway, husband of Trump propagandist Kellyanne Conway and a Conservative Washington lawyer with solid Republican credentials, felt compelled to write a New York Times op-ed saying Whitaker’s appointment is unconstitutional.

Even before the Whitaker appointment, retired U.S. Airways pilot Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger, who demonstrated his coolness in crisis by landing a plane with 155 passengers aboard on the Hudson River, says he has never been more worried about the future of his country.

Former CIA director John Brennan, who called Trump’s slavish performance in Helsinki treasonous, warns the nation of a looming constitutional crisis.

Michael Hayden, a much-decorated four star General and former Director of both the National Security Agency and the CIA, cautions the country about the fragility of the veneer of civilization.

Brennan and Hayden, in particular, are serious men and American patriots of the highest order who have spent their lives in the service of their country.

As has Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, the rich kid who volunteered to go to Vietnam, where he was wounded in action, and later gave up a lucrative private law practice to prosecute bad guys for a comparable pittance.

On the other side of the ledger lives the evil presence of Donald Trump, a venal conman who dodged the draft in pursuit of money, proudly avoids paying taxes, cheated students at his bogus ‘university’ and on his three wives, bullies all who oppose him, praises murderous thugs like Vladimir Putin and Rodrigo Duterte and proclaims at his frightening mob rallies that he “loves” Kim Jong Un, the unhinged psychopath who starves his people, killed his half-brother and sent an American student home in a fatal coma for pilfering a poster.

When I first began writing about Donald Trump, I did so for amusement. He seemed the perfect comic foil with his ferret-top hair, orange-tinted perma-tan and ridiculous bombast. This is a man who phoned New York media outlets pretending to be his own publicist, confiding in a laughably concealed voice that he, Donald Trump, was being pursued by all the women in New York City.

I viewed him, as so many others did, as someone to be mocked, an orange clown with bad hair and a limited vocabulary.

I’m not laughing anymore.

Trump is a malevolent, malicious, criminal. A paranoid narcissist who views the world through the narrow focus of how it affects him. He has no ideology, no beliefs outside what benefits his shallow existence. No spirituality, zero empathy. No boundaries when it comes to his own survival, even if it means appealing to the worst element in America with fearmongering and lies. Even if it means violence and death. Even if it means bringing the country down with him.

Trump is cult leader Jim Jones without the mind addling drugs. He exudes unctuousness and demands total devotion from his mesmerized and often slow-witted followers. His hypocrisy is breathtaking, his lack of shame an indication of serious mental pathology. He once agreed with shock jock Howard Stern that his daughter Ivanka was “a piece of ass.” He values loyalty, on a one-way street.

Take his treatment of Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Senator who supported him from the beginning, the first serious sitting politician to join the Trump camp. Sessions gave up his safe Senate seat for his dream job of Attorney General, in his mind a fitting reward for his loyal service.

It should be said I have no sympathy for Sessions, who stood by Trump through his rancorous campaign of bigotry and lies. If he didn’t get the measure of the man during those months of daily contact he probably wasn’t qualified for the job of highest law enforcement officer in the land. But that is beside the point when looking at Trump’s view of loyalty.

Sessions, a proud conservative extremist who was nominated for a judgeship in 1986 but not confirmed because of controversial comments on race, proved to be more of a law and order man than Trump expected. Sessions took the advice of ethics people at the Department of Justice and recused himself from the Russia investigation because of his involvement in the campaign.

As Attorney General, Sessions implemented the extreme agenda Trump needed to appeal to his frightened mouth-breathing base. But this wasn’t enough for Dear Leader, who wanted a Roy Cohen-like pit bull who would use every dirty trick available to thwart the investigation that threatened his Presidency.

When Sessions couldn’t deliver, Trump began a campaign of public humiliation to get his resignation, so he could put in place a stooge. He called him weak and questioned his manhood. Sessions stood his ground, using the bad optics of his dismissal before the midterms to keep his job.

Within hours of the polls closing, Trump made his move, ordering Chief of Staff John Kelly to do his dirty work. Sessions asked for a few days to clear up his desk. The once-respected Marine General said no.

Trump got his stooge in Matt Whitaker, the wannabe politician who auditioned for the job on CNN by laying out a scenario in which an acting AG could shut down the Mueller investigation by starving it of funds. No matter that he hasn’t been confirmed by the Senate, has a questionable past working for a Florida company that cost consumers $26 million before being shut down as a scam and is otherwise unqualified for the job.

To get to his stooge, Trump had to pass over Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the Senate-confirmed Republican he picked for the job, who was next in line under the normal succession.

One wonders what it will take for the Republican Congress to wake up to the danger Trump represents. What level of debasement will he sink to before the rational people of the “self-proclaimed greatest country on earth” rise up.

Hitler was a monster disguised as a ranting clown with a bad mustache and worse hair. Kim Jong Un is an overfed fiend masquerading as a messiah in fat-concealing custom suits and cropped clown hair. Donald Trump is a diabolical brute, a schemer without conscience who cloaks his malice in grade school insults delivered from a pursed-lipped, oily orange clown face shaded under a swooping aircraft carrier comb-over of indeterminate colour.

The Shining City Goes Dark

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The abomination that is the Donald Trump presidency can no longer be thought of as an aberration. The Conman-in-Chief represents the values of a significant portion of the country’s electorate. He is symptomatic of what the nation has become.

The U.S. midterms were viewed by many observers as a referendum on human decency. Nothing short of a total rejection of the Bloviating Orange Blowhard’s corruption, lying and fearmongering would qualify as redemption for a country that likes to bill itself as a “shining city on the hill.” The world now knows that the hilltop has gone dark. The blue wave upon which rode the hopes of humanity’s better nature washed ashore not as a tsunami but instead as a spent swell that failed to muster a whitecap in the political swamp.

Both sides will claim victory. Democrats will tout the oversight significance of taking over the House and Republicans will bray about expanding control in the Senate and through it the nation’s courts.

Winning without honor is America’s thing in the New Millennium.

American voters saw fit to re-elect two candidates running under felony indictments. They gave the blatant racist Steve King a seat in Congress to legitimatize his abhorrent world view. Trump toady Ted Cruz was rewarded for embracing the man who denigrated his father and insulted his wife. It’s a long way from the inspiration of the Alamo to modern day Texas.

In Florida, voters handed the keys to the Governor’s mansion to another Trump toady who campaigned with racial dog whistles and misused his infant son in a sickening sycophantic ad. The good people of Georgia empowered the guy who spent years rigging the vote as the state’s partisan Secretary of State and then refused to recuse himself from overseeing the voting process in which he was a candidate. It wouldn’t pass muster with democracy watchdogs in a third-rate country.

Voters handed the Conman-in-Chief what he interprets as a get out of jail card. And they did so with eyes wide open, knowing he was an unindicted co-conspirator with his former personal lawyer for flaunting campaign finance laws. They knew he was a pathological liar, a tax evader, a draft dodger, a philanderer, a fear-mongerer, a bully, a danger to their precious democracy and a petty person of low moral character.

It didn’t take the Malignant Mango Megalomaniac long to act out. With the results of the mid-terms still undecided in some races, the Conman-in-Chief moved to protect himself from the Mueller investigation by firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions and appointing someone who has publicly discussed ways to muzzle the Special Prosecutor. He threatened a Democratic Congress with counter investigations if they dare subpoena his taxes.

Donald Trump, the silver spoon daddy’s boy who has never suffered the consequences of a life spent grifting in pursuit of material gain, is scared spitless at the prospect of his many financial wrongdoings being exposed. He is a desperate and dangerous narcissist capable of anything to save his orange skin.

With a constitutional crisis looming and unknown depredations waiting to reveal themselves as Trump’s legal troubles mount on multiple fronts, it is now crystal clear that Americans have the government they so justly deserve.

Enablers have blood on their hands

 

Last week started with the President of the United States covering up the murder of a journalist and U.S. resident by a Middle East money lender who is Crown Prince Jared Kushner’s BFF, progressed through a nationwide bomb scare that threatened the lives of two past Presidents, among other high-profile Trump critics, and ended with mass murder in a place of worship in Mr. Rogers upscale Pittsburgh neighborhood.

The worried world watches and waits, wondering if Trump’s heavily armed deplorables will easily surrender their moment in the spotlight or if the Dear Leader and his plethora of bootlickers will inspire bloody insurrection from the mentally unhinged fringe element if the election doesn’t go their way. .

The self-proclaimed “greatest country in the world” is a boiling cauldron of hatred ready to bubble over into post-election violence that could engulf the country and impact the entire globe.

White House leakers say the Mango Megalomaniac, his feverish brain sweating the investigations a Democratic win will bring, is working on a scheme to discredit a negative GOP result with conspiracy theories and court challenges.

Few objective observers expect anything less from this malignant narcissist? But what about the supporting cast of sanctimonious sycophants, religious wingnuts and faux patriots who masquerade their cowardice in the folds of the flag.

Presumably unencumbered by mental illness, regular CNN Trump enablers like Rick Santorum, Steve Cortes, Alice Stewart and Scott Jennings, among many others, twist themselves into human pretzels denying the obvious unfitness of their choice for the highest office in the land. They cluck about entertainer Trump versus presidential Trump, separating the toxicity of his venom and evil clown antics emanating from the Oval Office as if he were a toddler going through the terrible twos.

They justify their advocacy by citing supposed successes, most notably the seating of two ultra conservative judges to the Supreme Court. The plain politically incorrect truth is that a monkey could put his finger on the list provided by the Federalist Society and get his picks through a Senate top-loaded with tree-swingers.

The much-vaunted tax reduction for the rich, the only significant legislation passed by a Congress and Executive Branch dominated by Republicans, is so unpopular GOP candidates aren’t talking about it in the run up to the midterms, instead preferring to vilify a caravan of poor people a thousand miles and weeks of walking away from America.

Family values stalwart and Republican operative Stewart, a crucifix prominent on her throat most nights, admits to being dismayed by the pussy grabbing tape, porn star and Playboy bunny payoffs, philandering and sexual assault accusations but rationalizes voting for Trump because he appointed Supreme Court judges who might overturn a woman’s right to control her own body.

Cortes, the Hispanic Chicago businessman and slavish Trump defender, overlooks Dear Leader’s divisive rhetoric and attacks upon his heritage by pointing out good job numbers bolstered by people of colour forced to work multiple jobs for subsistence wages.

Failed Presidential candidate Santorum, ever focused on future opportunities, smiles slyly to himself while mildly disavowing the most egregious Trump behavior, careful not to alienate the deplorable base key to his political ambition.

Jennings, the ‘aw shucks’ moderate, assuages his conscience and puts on a good guy face for his kids by disagreeing with the most offensive Trump methodology while supporting the man endangering the democracy they will inherit.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Leader Paul Ryan and their respective gangs of mouth-breathers, climate change deniers, religious ravers and NRA lap dogs have chosen to be on the wrong side of history for political expediency, implications for the future of the country be damned.

Evangelical scions like Jerry Falwell Jr. and Franklin Graham, intent on their mission to preserve the power and riches bestowed upon them by their earthly fathers, will presumably answer for their self-serving actions when they meet their Maker. Meanwhile, their followers will have some explaining to do at the Final Judgement for eschewing the biblical values they exalt in favour of an agenda carried out by a demented orange emissary of the dark underworld.

The Murdoch family and the right wing mercenaries at Fox News betray the viewers who support their privileged lifestyle by spewing venomous conspiracy theories and pumping out fake news 24/7 while Dear Leader demeans real journalists.

Oblivious to the havoc he reeks, Donald Trump stumps the country spewing poisonous rancor against all who oppose him, ingraining his invectives in the sick minds of violent fringe players like accused bomber Cesar Sayoc, seen chanting CNN sucks at Trump’s frightening mob rallies, and Robert Bowers, who adopted Trumpian tropes by calling immigrants “invaders” and lamenting that Jews are “infesting” America before carrying out his murderous rampage.

Historians may recognize the Dear Leader’s mental illness as a mitigating factor for the damage he has done. Not so for the ‘sane’ people he relies upon for support.

All Trump enablers are culpable in the carnage endangering their democracy. All of them have blood on their hands.

 

 

 

Own up America, many of you are deplorable

Until my mid-teens I bought everything America was selling. I swallowed brand USA with the naivete and fervor of a Trump University sucker.

I watched the westerns with chisel-jawed heroes like Randolph Scott and John Wayne fighting bad guys and blood-thirsty Indians. I idolized actor Audie Murphy who overcame his thespian shortcomings because audiences knew the decorated World War II veteran had the real life chops to play heroes.

Back before the Me Too Movement, I laughed  as Bob Hope delivered scantily clad show girls and double entendres to American service men protecting the world from communists in lonely far away outposts.

I worshiped Davie Crockett, Daniel Boone, Colonel Travis, Kit Carson. Resourceful men of integrity and true grit.

I looked up to your Presidents. I particularly liked Kennedy, the good Catholic family man whose philandering went unreported, when he faced down the tyrant Khrushchev. In my youthful mind U.S. Presidents represented a country with principles, a country that stood up to tyranny, no matter the cost, to keep us all safe.

The truth is, I wanted to be an American, not a polite Canadian with second rate celebrities, earnest heroes and boring politicians.

Then I grew up. Or at least expanded intellectually.

The illusion of America the Great, did not shatter immediately, smashed upon a sharp rock of reality. It peeled away, layer by layer, as historical truths gleaned from a lifetime of reading and travel began to sink in.

In this era of alternate facts and truth isn’t truth, here are a few myth shattering irrefutable facts easily verified on Google:

  • The Constitution Americans so revere was formulated by bigoted white men who viewed the concept of liberty through the toilet paper tube view of race. The liberty they envisioned did not include black people who slaved on their plantations, yellow people who died at back breaking labour for meager pay or red people whose lands were usurped in a cultural genocide that would eventually be given the highfalutin name of Manifest Destiny.
  • The United States is not a true democracy in which the majority rules. Money is the determining factor in getting elected. Lots of money. Even then the Presidential candidate who gets the most votes doesn’t always win, as evidenced by two of the last three Presidents. The Electoral College system was created to appease slave states. It is so complicated and antiquated most Americans could not tell you how it works, or why. The Senate is a smoke and mirrors democratic institution: in choosing a Supreme Court Justice who will determine the country’s direction for decades, a representative from Wyoming who might represent a couple hundred thousand voters carries the exact same weight as a Senator from California who represents 20 million constituents.
  • The U.S. is not a country in which no man is above the law. As if he were a Medieval monarch, the President retains the absolute power to pardon anyone of any crime, be it friend, family member or accomplice. It is an open question among constitutional scholars whether a President can pardon himself. Enough said.
  • The United States is not the land of the free. In America, incarcerating its own people is big business. The U.S. imprisons more of its citizens than any country in the world. It’s not even close.
  • The Supreme Court is not an impartial body above politics. This is a claim stunning in its brazenness, given the disgraceful nominating process the world just witnessed. Justices are appointed by the politicians in charge on the basis of their ideology. Period.
  • The U.S. is not the greatest country in the world, a place where all the rest of us want to live. It is a country that spends more on its military than the next five countries combined while its infrastructure crumbles and Americans die because they can’t afford health care. Once great cities like Detroit have been reduced to Third World dereliction. Chicago is a war zone. No one wants to move to Flint and drink toxic water or go to Puerto Rico to sit in the dark. It is a scary country whose heavily armed citizens are killing each other in nightclubs and movie theatres, restaurants and parks, churches and schools in record shattering numbers. The majority of the non-desperate world citizens prefer to live in stable countries and many no longer want to visit the States.
  • The U.S. has never been the shining city on the hill, a beacon of integrity for all the world to see. It is a country that has always put its own interests first regardless of morality. It has pillaged the world’s resources, never putting a dollar into a Third World country without the expectation of getting two out. The feigned indignation expressed by Lindsay Graham at the Saudis for killing a journalist, the same red-faced sputterings he unleashed at the “non-political” Kavanaugh hearings, would make for great satire if the subject matter wasn’t so horrifying. As Graham well knows, the U.S. has a long sordid history of propping up murderous tyrants, from Anastasia Somoza in Nicaragua to the Shah of Iran, from Saddam Hussein to Manual Noriega in Panama, until the latter’s blatant drug dealing became too public. America threw in with corrupt Vietnamese generals while dropping bombs, napalm and Agent Orange on people fighting for the right to determine their own country’s fate. All in the name of  their own national interests. Meanwhile Graham’s new BFF is cozying up to the current generation of tyrants, professing love for the North Korean thug who had his half-brother killed in a Singapore airport and returned the broken body of a barely alive U.S. student who pilfered a poster. The hypocritical Graham will no doubt eventually fall in line with U.S. leaders who are blatantly providing a cover story for a repressive tyrant who murdered a U.S.-based journalist then cut up his body.
  • Perhaps the greatest myth of all is inherent in the country’s name. The United States of America is anything but united. The plain-spoken, politically incorrect fact that nobody on network or cable television wants to say out loud is that the U.S. comprises a society in which a significant portion of its populace has deplorable values. There can be no other explanation for Donald Trump, who is a symptom not the cause of the country’s spiritual sickness. Hillary had it right. Trump supporters are deplorable. They laugh uproariously when their Dear Leader mocks a disabled person or sexual assault victim. They chant “Lock her up!” when he chastises a political opponent and then nod reverently when he tells them accused sexual predators are innocent until proven guilty. Trump supporters are the “very fine people” who marched with tiki torches and killed a woman in Charlottesville. They profess their love of Jesus and family values while supporting a man who cheats on his wife with porn stars, lies pathologically and admits to grabbing women by their private parts, a guy who bullies the weak but barely stops short of oral sex for strongmen like Putin. They cluck when he takes babies and young children from their mother’s arms but take secret comfort in the fact desperate foreigners will soon have to climb over a 30-foot wall to get into the country. They give fealty to a man who drapes himself in the flag but avoided military service when his country called. They say America First but support a tax cheat who always put himself before his country. Deplorable is as deplorable does.

A question of malignancy

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One of the most frequently asked question among viewers of Trumpland, the greatest reality show in the history of television, is what motivates the people who defend its star.

It makes sense that sleazebags like Sean Hannity are in it for the money, as are the paid sycophants who debase themselves daily. But why do career politicians, successful business people and even military generals, all of whom already have money and status, sacrifice their reputations and legacies for a malignant, mentally unhinged, mango megalomaniac?

I have no answer except that Donald Trump is the most compelling television villain of all time. And that includes fictional soap operas like Dynasty and Dallas. J.R. couldn’t shine Trump’s loafers when it comes to duplicity and far-reaching malevolence. Forget about bankrupting rival tycoons and debauching socialites, Trump has the stature and capacity to corrupt and degrade on a global level. Not to mention his uncanny ability to metastasize his malignancy to any seemingly respectable person who enters his orbit.

Even given his ‘genius’ for entangling others in his web of nastiness, he couldn’t carry the 24/7 show himself. His backup cast is to die for.

Trump flaunts his Barbie trophy-wife on his arm like an over-the-top diamond-encrusted designer watch; his favored daughter is a callow, conspicuous consumer of her own tacky Made-in-China fashions; his shallow sons, emasculated and greasy, do their father’s dirty dealing on command; his falsetto-voiced, skinny-suited son-in-law, who absorbed the art of murky financial dealings on the knee of his felonious father, exudes the precise amount of limp-wristed ineptitude to make him seem truly sinister.

And that’s just the immediate family, all of whom might be indicted in future episodes, except perhaps for Melania, who cannot be prosecuted for taking up the oldest profession in the Biblical books.

Trumpland viewers are treated to a congo line of cowardly Republicans who dance to his frenetically crazy tune as if they are monkeys performing for a mad orange organ grinder.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, the devout Catholic who weekly demonstrates a miracle to his fellow Church congregants by walking upright to his pew without a spine, has attached himself to a thrice-married philanderer and admitted sexual predator with the devotion of a prepubescent altar boy to the Virgin Mary. Great role model for the teens in the parish Catholic Youth Organization, Paul.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the turtle-like political schemer and ultimate swamp creature, emerges from his jowls intermittently to croak positively about a President he loathes, before retreating into the folds of skin in silent acquiescence as his Republican lawmakers trash patriotic Americans serving in the FBI and intelligence communities.

General Michael Flynn gave up a life of fancy dinners with dicey foreign leaders and all-expense paid travel abroad to throw his three-star respectability into Trump’s collection basket of half-baked buns. He began his association with the Evil Orange Clown by transmogrifying his military bearing into mouth-frothing shouts of ‘Lock Her UP’ and will likely end the relationship behind bars whimpering ‘Let Me Out’.

Sean Spicer, who before meeting Trump had carved out a respectable career as a slightly bent spoke in the GOP propaganda wheel, threw his future job prospects to the winds of political expediency by publicly blowing his boss with the “yours is bigger than his” pronouncement at his first official press conference.

Reince Priebus, the weak-kneed lifelong Republican hack, emerged from the shadowy obscurity of dim GOP backrooms to fizzle out under the relentless glare of the Trump sun, his big boy political pants sagging above the crack of his ass as he shuffled off to search out a book agent.

Steve Bannon, the messy Machiavellian menace behind Trump’s rise to Conman-in-Chief, rose from the White Nationalist bully pulpit that is Breitbart News to a White House desk within slobbering distance of the Oval Office. He put in 18-hour days pulling his political puppet’s strings with a mix of feigned fealty and obsequiousness only to find himself back at Breitbart when he ran afoul of the kids, and is now scanning the job classifieds with Reince, Sean and Michael. Job hunting tips for Sloppy Steve—get a haircut, wash your face, shave and camouflage that overflowing belly with an untucked shirt.

Attorney General Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions, the Evil Elf of Alabama, swallowed his southern pride and took shelter under the nearest toadstool as the boss heaped insult and humiliation upon him for the Russia recusal. He held his low ground to do the important work of harassing ‘bad people’ who smoke pot but eventually forfeited his elfin manhood in entirety by acceding to the boss’s demand to go after the Clintons and find dirt on the director of the FBI. Where does an evil elf go when the kingdom collapses?

Anthony Scaramucci, media pundit, businessman, financier, opportunist and human pinky ring, sold his profitable company to serve a man whose venality he came to idolize only after he won the Presidency. The Mooch swaggered into the media spotlight and unashamedly put his lips to the boss’s ample ass at his first press conference with flattery that went so far beyond the pale that even casual observers were left blushing. It was all for naught as the Mooch found himself muttering profanely at the unemployment agency even before officially undertaking his new White House job.

Secretary of Health Tom Price, the good doctor of the stock market swindle, graduated from allegations of insider trading while serving in the Senate to fraudulent use of government airplanes for personal business during a brief stay in the Cabinet. His political career crash-landed when the boss uttered the words that gave him a woody watching The Apprentice—”You’re fired.”

Sweet talking southern belle Sarah Huckabee Sanders perfected the art of man-flattering and lying with straight-faced innocence, but likely won’t be up for the part of Scarlet in any remake of Gone with the Wind. She doesn’t seem like Rhett Butler’s type.

The one person in Trumpland who may have a future after impeachment is Stephen Miller, the dead-eyed Trump defender whose occasional emergence from his White House lair to do Sunday talk shows, scares the bejesus out of Liberals and even centrist Republicans. Miller might not have much of a future in drafting bills or writing speeches, but he’ll never be out of work as long as Hollywood is making movies with evil Nazi characters.