Sunday, January 29, 2017

Archipelago of Nightmares

This is what happens when the Electoral College elects a reckless, feckless goon who surrounds himself primarily with intellectual lightweights and dilettantes, hypocritical office-seekers, hustlers out for a buck, and racists and their fellow travelers.

President Trump’s recent Executive Order on immigration, better known as the “Muslim Ban,” will not make America any safer.  This rushed and thoroughly under-vetted action invoked 9/11 yet oddly, it did not cover the nations from which the 9/11 hijackers came, most notably Saudi Arabia.  Could that be because of Mr. Trump’s business interests? Quite possibly but his lack of transparency on his finances makes the extent of his Saudi dealings unclear.  His failure to place the public good about his private interests, in reality and perception, is deeply troubling.  

On top of that comes the news that Steve Bannon, pedlar of alt-right bilge, is on the National Security Council.  And I thought we won World War II.   Reagan and GHW Bush had, among others, James Baker, even W had some heavy-hitters around his White House.  They were grievously wrong on multiple fronts, but they were within the bounds of sanity.

The casual- to- the-point-of-accidental relationship that exists between his Administration and the truth is evidence that the President cannot be trusted, not by Republicans, not by our allies overseas, not by anyone.  There might be occasional convergences of interests but make no mistake, there is no Weltanschauung to this President beyond a seemingly endless and bitter selfishness.

This, ultimately, will likely prove to be the undoing of his Administration.  Once a critical mass of Trump voters, and GOP Members of Congress, realize that Trump isn’t so much a Republican but an irresponsible, aspiring tin-horn with no respect for conservative values or our Constitutional order, they will move away from him in droves.  Lacking such a base, he will be like President John Tyler, a man without a party.  Let us hope this realization occurs sooner than later.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Trials and Tribulations of Z. Clement Folderol

Recently, I visited my neighbor…a long-time Howard County resident, the aforementioned Z. Clement Folderol.

As we sat on his porch, imbibing what was assuredly Crystal Light (“Because I believe in me!"), he mentioned that he had never seen such strife in the land of milk and honey, not since the introduction and debate over CB9-2017.

“Wait,” I said, “you were present for the Coolidge inauguration, you are saying that we are more divided, as a society, compared to then?”

“Absolutely.  Why did they call him Silent Cal?  It was mum’s the word.  Total peace and quiet.”

“That was only a few decades removed from the Civil War…and Maryland was a state where owning human beings was permissible.  Not to mention racial segregation and Jim Crow laws which were very much enforced in this state through much of the 60s.”

“Eh,” he waved his hand dismissively, “well that all worked out, didn’t it?”

“Well, to an extent, because people fought for their basic human rights…and it wasn’t exactly a picnic Clem, you should know, you were there.”

“Who can remember, after The Big One, we were just trying to settle down and raise families.”

“Those of you who were able to buy homes around here, sure, but de facto segregation persisted for many years after LBJ left office.”

He took a long sip.  “Maybe so…but Howard County has always been a haven for tolerance.”

“Has it been?  Have you attended any of the recent Council meetings?  Do you have a Facebook account?  There is some dire ugliness being said about some of our neighbors.”

“Oh you mean the illegals?”

“Read between the lines Mr. Folderol.  There are racial undertones not too far removed from the surface…being uttered by folks right here in HoCo.  It’s not “legal versus illegal,”…it’s clearly an “us vs. them” debate designed to amp up the fear quotient.  The anti-CB9 folks aren’t appealing to reason…what does that say to you?”

He squinted off in the direction of the sunset.  It being a cloudy night, there was no reason for the squint, but it matched his slow shrug. “Well,” he said, “people are afraid.”

“Afraid of what though?  Have you read the bill?  Do you think it will actually lead to a crime wave in Howard County?  Isn’t the opposition just appealing to the worst instincts of some of us?  Haven’t we seen this debate before, just in another form?”

“You ask a lot of questions.  It disrupts the quiet of the evening.”

“What progress is made without disruption?”

Stay tuned, as more will follow.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Hypocrisy Watch

So this "No Sanctuary Howard County" group has "emerged" onto the scene.  As I am pressed for time, here are a few thoughts:

1) For "conservatives," you folks sure seem to want the heavy hand of the Federal Government involved in our local affairs.  So the black helicopters are OK in this case?  I am just trying to understand the intellectual grounding here.

2) I am assuming a fair number of you self-identify as Republican.  So why am I not seeing that optimistic Reagan-esque language on your FB page? I did see some fear-mongering verbiage, but not much hard evidence.  "Trust but verify," remember that?  Some actual facts might help you there.

3) I saw some concerns expressed regarding education, housing, crime, and other issues.  I can only assume that you are all deeply concerned about these issues when they don't intersect with immigration policy? And that when US citizens violate the rule of law, you are outraged to the same extent, right?

4) If you haven't already done so, read the bill.  It takes about five minutes, 10 if you are half-listening to RT in the background.  The criticisms voiced on the FB page don't align with the intent and likely impact of the bill, if passed.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Hidden Figures

I had another Howard County political piece half written but I decided to put it aside in favor of a movie review.  Yes, you read that correctly.

The film in question was a special screening of “Hidden Figures,” which was hosted by the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (Iota Lambda Omega Chapter), to whom this author wishes to express his gratitude for putting on an excellent event.

The movie is based on a true story and was the subject of the book, “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race” (by Margot Lee Shetterly).

First, the film was outstanding and I strongly recommend it.  Taraji P. Henson turned in a superb, multi-dimensional performance as the lead while Octavia Spencer was excellent in a supporting role.

There was a line uttered by Kevin Costner’s character, which was similar to the adage, “history is written by the winners.”  Although the United States won the Space Race…and the Cold War… it is appalling that many of the “winners” nonetheless failed to recognize for so long the talent that was so critical to America’s victories.  Although the general tonality of the film was intended to be uplifting, the moral failure of Jim Crow is a constant presence.  Frankly, bearing in mind the time and place, the antagonists were perhaps too subtle in their projection of racism.  I did not read the book so I can’t speak to the real-life experiences of the three women portrayed on screen, but I felt as though the director and producers wanted to downplay the protagonists' struggles in an effort to focus the overall narrative on a more optimistic arc.          

We view movies, in part, through the lens of the times.  Perhaps the feel-good elements serve as a reminder of America as it could be; that progress, even in the face of hatred and hardships, is the natural direction of human-kind.  I can’t speak for anyone else in the theatre, but I know my faith in this principle has been shaken by the events in the United States over the past several months.  When our “leaders” opt for vitriol and division instead of appealing to our better angels, one wonders are we, as a nation, stalled…or going backwards?  It is deeply saddening to believe that the grandchildren of trailblazers such as Katherine Goble Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson may need to re-fight the old struggles in our “post-racial” America in order to avoid becoming “hidden figures” themselves.  Will future doors be slammed in their faces for the same reasons?  Where is our perfecting impulse?

Anyway, that is all for today.  Go see the movie.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.