Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Rubenesque Figures

First, Google and read “Ruben Navarette Exposing Media’s Double Standard.” Navarette is a columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune, which is considered slightly to moderately conservative. A good friend and former colleague — a thoroughly kind and decent human being for whom I have much affection but with whose politics I could not disagree with more — shared this column via Facebook and gave it two big thumbs up. I’m giving it — not him — my middle finger. Here’s why, specifically and generally:

  The column doesn’t say “newspapers.” It says journalism. Journalism today comes in many forms and through many outlets. Few people today get their news primarily from newspapers.

• As for “fake news,” I would ask, “Was the early reporting on Watergate ‘fake news?’ Are stories regarding connections between the Jared Kushner and Russian officials ‘fake news?’ Is it ‘fake news’ when confirmed falsehoods by this president and his cohorts and minions are pointed out?

• “Egregious reporting errors’ do not flow exclusively left to right.  Google “Politifact which news channel lies the most?”

• Regarding the assertion that “Americans want their news straight up,” I’ve found no peer-reviewed, non-partisan study that indicates this. By the way, what does “straight up” mean?  How is it defined as per the research, if you can find any?

  The terms “reporters” and “anchors” are not interchangeable.

  Journalists/reporters have always sniped at each other. Anyone who has ever worked for a newspaper knows that.

  All journalists do not come from the same socioeconomic backgrounds, go to the same schools and live in the same cities. Last time I checked, Longview, Lufkin, Lubbock and Laredo all had newspapers, Internet and radio and television stations. All of the reporters in Longview and Lubbock did not attend Columbia or Harvard or Missouri or UT-Austin.
Nor do all reporters work in or out of New York or Washington. Although I do not know this to be true, I would bet that major network reporters, especially White House correspondents, earned their posts through rigorous education and expansive experience.
The media landscape is more diverse than ever. It is not dominated by any single political persuasion or entity.

• For more than a decade, the most watched news channel has been Fox News.
In 2016, the 10 most listened to talk radio personalities were Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Dave Ramsey, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, Howard Stern, Michael Savage, Joe Madison, Thom Hartmann and Mike Gallagher. Madison and Hartmann are liberal/progressives. Stern is essentially a shock-jock pornographer who might seem to lean left but is mostly apolitical. Savage is an alt-right conspiracy theorist. The rest are conservatives. Talk radio, from which millions receive their “news,” is dominated by conservatives.
The Wall Street Journal is also owned by Murdoch.

  As per the assertion regarding “thin skin,” it’s worth noting that Trump has called the media is the “enemy of the American people” and the “most dishonest” people.” By “media,” he means The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC. He does not mean the most watched news channel for the past decade, and he doesn’t mean Limbaugh or Hannity or Heritage Foundation or the Heartland Institute or Breitbart or InfoWars.

Because he disagrees with certain media outlet reporting, Trump has suggested that the FCC might want to examine its licensing procedures. Imagine if Obama had done that in regards to Fox or Limbaugh.

  As per the assertion that journalists are “too comfortable with hypocrisy,” I must ask, “How many times has Donald Trump played golf since taking office? Frankly, I don’t care, but many on the right cared quite a bit when Obama played golf. Now, they don’t seem to care. Nor do they care that Trump has refused to release his federal income tax statements or that he has made no attempts to sever conflicts with his financial interests. Nor do they care that the new tax law will increase the national debt by more than trillion dollars.
• Google “ John Oliver whataboutisms.

  As per the assertion that “[A reporter’s] job is to constantly try to tell better stories.” What constitutes a “better story?” Is a feel-good story about a soldier returning from Afghanistan to his wife and family a “better story?” Is this a “worse” story: a soldier, injured in Afghanistan, can’t receive the medical assistance he or she needs? I believe “better” stories help people understand the complexities of society, culture, technology, politics, science and economics. Better stories reveal and explain the forces conspiring against them, such as attempts to defund public education on all levels, to remove consumer protections, to poison the environment for the sake of quarterly profits. Better stories provide facts and context that produce truth—or, at least, the latest version of it.

• Regarding “truth.” Journalists cannot force people to believe truth—or, at least, the latest version of it. Though people believed it, it was never true that women are unequipped to serve in the military. Though people believed it, it was never true that African-Americans are intellectually inferior to whites. Though people believed it, the sun does not revolve around the Earth.

Though people don’t believe it, climate change is real. It is verifiable by scientific means. It is true. According to NASA, 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activity.

However, according to the Pew Research Center, fewer than 24 percent of Republicans believe that. Nor do they believe in something as obvious as evolution. During one of the 2016 Republican presidential primary debates, not one candidate admitted to believing in it. And, before you respond, “Well, it’s just a ‘theory,’” go to this link:

  News tends to come from Washington DC because Washington DC is the nation’s capital. The president lives there when he’s not at one of his private properties at the expense of the American taxpayer (see hypocrisy above). News tends to come through New York City because New York City is the world’s media center. News tends not to come from Brenham, Texas because the Brenham Banner lacks the resources to cover Washington D.C. or even Washington County. It does well to cover Brenham ISD.

  As per bias in the media: An equal number of journalists are anti-Clinton and anti-Obama and pro-Republican to the point of supporting Roy Moore, and they don’t bother to hide it.

  As for “deplorables,” it’s a term Hillary Clinton used to describe the kind of racists and neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville. John McCain is not a deplorable. Nor is my friend mentioned above.

• How does the media get back on track? Not by serving as a punching bag for the president, regardless of who he or she is. Legitimate news outlets — those that hire actual journalists rather than political commentators — can regain some credibility by providing incisive, analytical, aggressive and courageous journalism.

• We are a good country, but we are not a perfect country, and we never will be. We certainly have room to be a better country. We need journalists whose reporting makes it better. We need more informed citizens. We need citizens who don’t believe every Facebook meme created by some Russian company with ties to the Kremlin. And that’s not “fake news.” It happened. It’s been verified.


• We do not need more grab-ass idiocy and shameless hucksterism. It is not the media’s job to make feel people feel better. It’s to make them think and act more responsibly for the sake of their children and grandchildren, and the sake of the rest of the world’s children and grandchildren because we are not in this alone. And when we — and by “we,” I mean journalists and journalism educators — look at ourselves in the mirror each morning, we should see an informed, skeptical but not cynical professional. We should not see a stooge, a lackey or a gushing cheerleader.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Good to Know

Gotta love Facebook. Here are 19 random facts about myself that may surprise or even shock strangers, disturb family members and end longstanding friendships.
1. Do I make my bed everyday? At some point, yes.
2. What's my favorite​ number? 81 (high school football number)
3. What is my dream job? lingerie model/chef
4. If I could, what age would I go back to? 17 (but only for 365 days).5. Can I parallel park? yes, assuming they meant "my car."6. A job people would be shocked that I had? ditch-digger/assistant pipe-fitter7. Do I think aliens are real? How else do we explain the 2016 presidential election?8. Can I drive a stick shift? yes9. Guilty pleasure? schmaltzy music like the Carpenters10. Tattoos? Never11. Favorite color? burnt orange12. Things people do that drive me crazy? text and drive13. Phobia/fear? losing my marbles14. Favorite childhood game? football15. Do I talk to yourself? That's a good question. Let's ask me: 

Bob, do you talk to yourself? 
Oh, I don't know. Not often. Sometimes, I guess. Depends on the moment and my mood
So the answer is "yes?" 
Well, no, not really, because I don't want people to think I'm psycho or anything. Is it OK to use that word? Psycho? It's not like "retard," which you're not allowed to say anymore, and I personally agree with that. But "psycho," that's an entirely different thing
Bob. Shut up and answer the question: Yes or no?
Well, don't push me. I don't like to be pushed. I need time. In public? Never. 
Never?
Well, sometimes, but almost never?
So, pick one, damn it.
Go with No.
No? Final answer. 
Yes
Wait, Yes? Now it's yes? 
No
So, now it's still No? Right? We're going with No. No it is. And done. 
Now let's go listen to the Carpenters
No. 
16. Do I enjoy puzzles? Words With Friends. Solitude. Sudoku. Marriage. Fatherhood. I don't let them consume me though.17. Favorite Music? The Beatles, but Pitbull and Florida Georgia Line are closing fast.
18. Tea or coffee? Coffee 51%; Tea 49%
19. First thing I remember I wanted to be when I grew up? Strong enough to whip or fast enough to out-run my younger brother.
20. Who talked me into doing this? Terry Nelson, formerly of Muncie, Indiana, now a member of the Indiana State University Department of Journalism faculty. Happy birthday, professor. You bitch.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The awful grace of God

We met at Mozart’s on the muggy, breezy morning of Nov. 17, and I wanted him to tell me — on the record — his story about loss, grief and acceptance because I thought it might assuage the fury a few of my friends were feeling about the election.
But as our conversation leaned in that direction, I realized his story is too profound and too painful to serve as an allegory for anything as frivolous as a presidential election, or even the implosion of a favorite football team.
His identity shall remain as anonymous as I can keep it. If you know him, you may perhaps know what he and his family are going through, and you may wonder, “How do you do it?”
How do you sleep? And if you sleep, what do you dream? And when you wake, how do you get to your feet and out the door and through the day? How do you know what you know without wallowing in pity or bursting into flames?
 You see, my friend’s 2-year-old grand-daughter is dying. I’m calling her Alex. At the time of our meeting at Mozart’s, Alex was in ICU, where she’d been rushed from hospice. I’m writing this three days later. She may still be in ICU. She may have returned to hospice. She may have passed. I don’t know. I don’t want to know. Not now, anyway.
Alex was born with microcephaly. It was genetic, not Zika.
“Early on, we noticed that her head was small,” my friend told me. “My daughter and her husband kept taking her in for check-ups, and a few months into it, it was diagnosed.”
There’s no treatment, no cure. In some cases, doctors will remove the skull cap to allow the brain space to develop, but there was no reason to do that with Alex.
“The brain wasn't there to grow,” my friend says.
So it was just a question of how far and how long. Alex developed slightly and briefly, then declined into hypotonia — totally limp except when she suffers seizures, and she does so constantly.
Her condition is so rare, she’s not even a candidate for research. Doctors are unlikely to see another child like her.
“They can’t fix it,” my friend says. “We ask the doctors,, and they say, ‘We don’t know.’ So what we do is deal with Alex.”
They make certain she’s comfortable, and they enjoy the little girl and try not to think of what might have been. When the moment arrives, they want her to go quickly and painlessly.
“One of the things we’ve enjoyed about Alex is that she’s been able to vocalize,” my friend says. “She has no speech, but she will coo or laugh, and sometimes you can feel some joy in it.”
So, nothing will be done to disrupt that. Alex has been through so much already. Tubes and pills and shots. Extreme isolation and miserable high-this, low-that diets, and none of it worked.
In the meantime, my friend’s daughter and her husband have battled insurance bureaucrats and byzantine health care regulations and on and on and on. It’s been grueling, but my friend wants me to know that they’re at peace with the situation. He quotes Gertrude Stein: “There ain’t no answer. There ain’t gonna be no answer. There never has been an answer. That’s the answer.”
He says they don’t waste energy asking questions that’ll never be answered, and they don't’ pray for or expect miracles. It is what it is.
“Let it be,” my friend says. “And that’s where we are. Let it be.”
He half-sings McCartney’s verse. “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom. Let it be. That has to be the mantra. You can say, ‘Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done.’ That’s where we are. What is, is. Look at it. Embrace it. Don’t turn away.”
That’s tough for people to do, I respond.
“Yes,” he agrees. “But it’s essential. It is for us, anyway. I’m not going to make judgments about how other people deal with it. People find different ways to cope. Denial. Be angry.  Be the victim. There are all kinds of ways to approach it.”
This journey is not yet over, and he concedes he’s not certain how it will play out, but he says he and his family feel good about where they are. He says he thinks they’re lucky.
“Alex is a teacher,” he says. “These are lessons we don’t want to learn. The Greek tragedian, Aeschylus, says, ‘He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.”
He transposes, then repeats that line: Wisdom comes. By the awful grace of God. Against our will.
“It’s true,” he says. “And it’s everywhere, all the time. We just don’t see it — at least, not until we’re forced to.”
And each of us will be. And in these inevitable spasms of loss and grief and pain, he says, what you must do is keep your hearts open.

“Don’t spin a cocoon to defend yourself because then, you lose all of that experience and you turn away from everything else,” he said. “Life is pain. Alex is teaching us that. But you don't turn away from it. You embrace it. You look at it, and you face it with a full heart.”

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Lights Have Dimmed, but They're Not Out Yet.

I wrote the following piece for a little neighborhood magazine. The pay's pathetic, but it's good practice, and I try to practice what I preach. Dorothy Browne and her husband, Jan Reid, are old friends. Until last year, Elliott was our state representative and a damn good one at that. You probably know who Ann Richards was. Dave Richards was her husband for a while. He's a legend in the Texas legal justice arena. Cecile Richards is their daughter. Again, keep in mind that this was written for a neighborhood magazine, so it contains inside information that you might find impossible to decipher. If you run across other names you don't recognize, Google them.

There are one or two questions about Gary Cartwright — the novelist and Texas Monthly writer who died last month — that Dorothy Browne told me she wouldn’t answer. They are the personal ones. Everything else is fair game.
At the time of Cartwright's death, Dorothy was his best friend. They met in the early 1970s. Cartwright was a charter member of a pack of artists, actors, former Plan II majors, politicos, guitar pickers, liberal lawyers, chicken fried steak connoisseurs and assorted cage dancers who dubbed themselves “Mad Dog,” then worked furiously to be worthy of the moniker.
Dorothy knew most of them through boyfriends and husbands and from working with the Texas Civil Liberties Union, which kept an office on the second floor of the Joseph and Mary Robinson Martin House, built in 1903 at the corner of Seventh and Nueces. It was, essentially, Grand Central Station for Austin progressives, muckrakers and do-gooders. The TCLU shared space with the Texas Observer at a time when its editors were Molly Ivins and Kaye Northcutt, and the first floor was occupied by the offices of  civil-rights lawyers Sam Houston Clinton and David Richards, whose acid-tongued wife, Ann, would later become governor.
Since she had a young daughter, Dorothy declined full Mad Dog membership, not that it mattered. Not much took place that she didn't have a hand in or on.
It's hard to believe, given idiocy and cruelty of the current state leadership, that progressives once ran the state, that people who thought minorities ought to get a fair shake  once a blue moon, that women knew better than old, white used car salesmen what was best for their uteruses and vaginas, and that the oil and gas industry should give back as much as they took, and they shouldn't skip town leaving sink holes and tar pits and benzine leaching into the ground water.
The epicenter of all that rabble-rousing was West Austin. It served as playground, practice field and launch site for this eclectic cluster of men and women who, briefly, at least, changed the cultural and political landscape of the state. It was the early 1970’s, the heyday of redneck mothers, cosmic cowboys and Shiva’s Headband, a time when UT kids could catch Bruce Springsteen at the Armadillo World Headquarters on back-to-back nights for next to nothing, when the 20-somethings, just out of grad school or law school or hippiedom, threw parties so over-the-top that the next morning, if they woke, they pinched their eyes shut or bled to death, and they were never sure if they wanted to remember what they did, who they did it with or to or what was done to them.
Of course, this is typically true for college towns, but it was — and very likely still is — very true for Austin, and it was especially true for Mad Dog, and it was profoundly true for its class clown, Cartwright, whose outrageous antics Dorothy was all too thrilled to describe in almost sordid detail.
For example, at her 40th birthday party, he popped out of a fake cake, clenching a dagger in his teeth and wearing nothing but his son’s date’s bikini undies, which she snipped off with the dagger. He then cannon-balled into the swimming pool.
That was vintage Cartwright. The Dallas Morning News’ story announcing his death described him as “colorful,” which is like describing Saddam Hussein as “impolite.”
Cartwright’s fans idolized him, and his Mad Dog brethren adored him, even when he over-reached because his heart was always in the right place. Many of them came from places like Wichita Falls and Tyler and Lubbock, where their notions that government could look like lunch at the local diner instead of brunch at the country club were considered as absurd as eliminating the oil depletion allowance.
So, Mad Dog sniffed tails at Sholtz Garten, the Texas Chili Parlor and the now-defunct Raw Deal to vent and bitch and brag and spill their drinks and guts. They married inside the pack and out, divorced and married again while playing whack-a-mole with their innards.
 They raised rebellious children who somehow survived and emerged as responsible adults, and they’ve grown old and fought the ravages of time.
Dorothy has survived throat cancer. Jan battles chronic pain, the result of being shot in a robbery attempt by a Mexico City cab driver in 1998. You can read about it in his riveting book, “The Bullet Meant for Me.”
He was lucky not to have bled to death or been left paralyzed. He’s still walking. Other Mad Dogs and fellow travelers — Fletcher Boone, Ann Richards, Molly Ivins, Bud Shrake — were not as fortunate. Nor was Cartwright’s third wife, Phyllis, the love of his life. They transitioned, as the Baptists like to say, before their time.
•••
And now, Cartwright is gone.
“After Phyllis died, followed by Bud Shrake, Gary definitely considered Dorothy his best friend,” Reid said. “Told her so. Our relationship was also close, but he was 10 years older. A bit of a big brother/little brother dynamic.”
Reid grew up in Wichita Falls, and like most Texas boys of his time and place, he was crazy about the Dallas Cowboys. Couldn’t get enough of them. Read every word he could find about them, and that brought him to Cartwright, who covered them from 1960-66, the “unspoiled and innocent” years, as he called them. He might also have called them “the doormat” years.
But, in ’66, they began to jell, thanks to a stubborn defense anchored by Bob Lilly, and an innovative offense led by quarterback Don Meredith, aka “Dandy Don,” the pride of Mount Vernon.
Of course, the higher expectations tail-spinned, the more devastating the losses to Green Bay and Cleveland were, and Cartwright’s free-wheeling prose looked like mockery in juxtaposition to the algorithmic precision that head coach Tom Landry demanded. But Cartwright was a Mad Dog, not a lap dog, so nothing was sacred. His most famous lead parodied a hallowed line by the legendary sportswriter, Grantland Rice:
“Against a gray November sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. You know them as Pestilence, Death, Famine and Meredith.”
It was clever and funny, but it wasn’t particularly fair because Meredith was, for once, following Landry’s orders. He threw where a receiver should have been, and the pass was intercepted, and the Cowboys lost to the reigning NFL champs, the Cleveland Browns. Meredith was pulled after his third interception and never played another down.
Some claim that two or three of Meredith’s teammates planned to defend their quarterback’s honor by kicking Cartwright’s ass, and they might have had Meredith been as thin-skinned as, say, Tom Brady.
But Dandy Don understood that Cartwright was doing his job and that football — like life —is a game, and you win some, and you lose some, and it’s not fair, but it’s good, so you play it honestly, and when it stops being fun, it’s over and you move on. Transition, as the Baptists say.
He walked away from the game at the end of that season and ended up sitting in the broadcast booth on Monday nights, tormenting Howard Cossell.
That was Meredith, and Cartwright probably regretted that his most famous line came at the expense of a man he liked and admired.
Years later, Cartwright was invited to an exclusive reunion of Landry-era Cowboys. As he mixed and mingled, he searched for Meredith, perhaps hoping to ask if they were good. As he observed the physical destruction visited upon these stooped and gimpy old men, he said to himself, “It’s the fourth quarter for all of us.”
Meredith never showed up.
•••
A year later, Cartwright called it quits too. He left the Morning News in ’67 for a plum job in Philadelphia — a job he kept for a whole three weeks. He didn’t like them. They didn’t like him. So, he returned to Texas, bounced around, wrote a novel — “Confessions of a Washed Up Sportswriter” — became a hot commodity again, and in ’73 moved to Austin as one of two bell cows for a new venture, Texas Monthly.
The other was Billy Lee Brammer, the author of “The Gay Place,” a veiled portrayal of LBJ as an arm-flapping blowhard. It’s revered by the yellow-dog literati, who insist it’s as good as “All the King’s Men” or “Advise and Consent.”
Brammer and Cartwright were, as Reid calls them, “the adults in the room.” The rest of the reporters were 25, 26 years old. Thirty, tops. They were talented but green.
With the exception of Billy Lee and Gary, you could see that none of us knew what we were doing,” Reid admitted. “They knew I could write coming in, but I was still learning the ropes with the reporting.”
But he was learning quickly. A full-time reporter for the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, he covered high school sports, the cop shop, the courthouse and the carnage that is the city’s traffic circle during Wurstfest.
Then, after the paper went to press on Wednesday, he’d drive to Austin to check out Willie or Jerry Jeff or Delbert or Doug Sahm.
In ’74, he took off a couple of weeks to collect and catalogue his notes and magazine pieces and crank out a draft of what would become his first book, “The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock.”
Though he returned to his job with the Herald-Zeitung, he knew he was done, that it was time to sink or swim, so he devoted himself to making it as a magazine reporter, and he did.
At the age of 38, he was still single and renting from a school teacher a small house on 125 acres near Zorn, which is 13 miles north of Seguin. He met Dorothy at a party thrown by a San Antonio lawyer, a guy he’d met and befriended while working on a story. The party’s theme, Reid surmised, must have been “Party ‘Til You Puke.”
•••
Actually, he didn’t meet her. She met him.
Dorothy was standing with Fletcher Boone, the beret-wearing beatnik sculptor and one-time co-owner of the Raw Deal, Mad Dog’s central command headquarters. Boone was haranguing her about one of those frivolous matters that seems preternaturally important after you’ve downed four or five beers and a flight of tequila shots, and she’d heard it all before, so she turned and noticed Jan and thought, “I think I’ll go talk to him.”
They were married about two years later, and they bought the house on 11th Street, and the party rolled on. They traveled extensively with Gary and Phyllis. One of the more memorable trips was to Mexico City and Oaxaca the summer before the taxi incident.
Had our pockets picked on a subway in Mexico City,” Reid said. “Hit some of the same night spots, jumped in what could have been that fateful gypsy cab.”
They also loved Italy. From Montalcino, a beautiful little town on a mesa in Tuscany, they roamed the wine country. They returned to Italy again — after the shooting — for a friend’s wedding in Venice, then hopped a train to the northeastern corner of Italy, bordered by Austria and Slovenia.
For many years, life was good.
•••
Someone gave Gary a medical alert watch, and a few weeks later called to ask him if he was wearing it, and he replied, ‘You know, I wore it for two weeks and nothing happened, so I took it off.”
He had joined Jan and Dorothy for dinner at Maudie’s — the one on South Lamar — and was according to Dorothy, “in great form, great mood.”
He’d been working out, trying to get back in shape, battling depression and chronic back pain that kept him awake for days on end.
In the middle of the night, he fell. Why? How? No one knows. He didn’t have a stroke or heart attack. Doctors couldn’t figure it out. But he was on the floor for four days and four nights. By the time neighbors found him, he was mess. They thought he was dead.
He wasn’t, but he was horribly dehydrated. Even so, he was alert enough to chat with Jan and Dorothy and explain how it was that he knew he’d been on the floor for four days and four nights.
 “Because it’s been light and dark,” he answered.
Well, duh. Doctors were optimistic. “Maybe this’ll be like a big bed sore, and he’ll be OK,” they thought.
But he died of renal failure, caused by muscle deterioration, which sent toxins flooding into his kidneys.
•••
By the way, Dorothy never confirmed nor denied that she hasn’t allowed herself the luxury of crying over Cartwright’s death. Perhaps she fears if she talks about it, she’ll cry, and if she starts crying, she’ll won’t stop. But she will because eventually she’ll recall some outrageous antic he pulled, and then she’ll smile and then she’ll start laughing.
His death reminds us that this eclectic cluster of men and women not only changed the cultural and political landscape of the state back then, but it changed it forever. Some kid out there in Wichita Falls or Longview or Lubbock will stumble upon Cartwright’s Four Horseman lead or his “Confessions of a Washed Up Sportswriter” and decide “To Hell with it. Bring me a dagger and a fake cake.” 
So, turn on the lights. Maybe the party’s not over after all.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Ain't It Sweet

“I now understand what it must feel like to be an alcoholic trying not to take that next drink,” an old friend wrote. “I decide every morning not to watch TV for a day and I can't stick to it. I have felt all along that Steve Bannon was going to weasel his way into running this country. It appears he has now made it.”

Don’t worry, I replied. Be happy. “As perverse as it may be, I'm enjoying the hell out of this,” I wrote. “It’s such a joy watching him melt-down and listening to his hirelings read — verbatim, it seems — his temper-tantrum rants.”

Just look at the guy. He’s paunchy. His peroxide mane is falling out. He looks as if he hasn’t slept in a month, and he probably hasn’t because — it appears — America is waking up to the fact that he’s not merely misguided, misinformed, uninformed and incompetent, he’s flat-out delusional. He can’t spout “Radical Islam” enough, but on Holocaust Day, he failed to mention the Jews because it might offend the other 6 million victims of the camps and the shooting pits. That’s how they roll in alt-fact world.

In reality, it’s more like fear of offending Bannon’s alt-right, beer gut Barcalounger lugs.

This morning, I read where DT’s handlers have warned Prince Charles not to lecture him on climate change, lest he “erupt.” You can’t make this crap up.

So, I’m not depressed. I'm taking great delight in watching the dupes and bigots and pious hypocrites hem-and-haw and pivot and blame the victims for the golden-plumed run-away garbage truck that is the illegitimate 45th President of the United States.

So, all the people I blocked, all the old high school pals and wacko cousins I unfriended because they compared Michelle Obama to a monkey and called Hillary Clinton a cunt, they’re back in. The posts that nauseated me a year ago have me in stitches today. They sharing boilerplate love-the-flag, hate-Madonna nonsense or puppy videos and dessert recipes. 


What fun! They emptied their bank accounts on ammo and guns three or four times during the Obama administration, and now, under Trump, they’re self-medicating with chocolate sheet cake and lemon bars. The irony is too sweet.