Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, the “Education Endowment Fund” and Those License Plates For Teachers

In May of 2014, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest helped to craft legislation to create a North Carolina Education Endowment Fund that would allow for tax deductible contributions to be made for supporting teacher pay.

One of the initiatives of the fund was to sell specialty license plates. As reported in a Feb. 2015 News & Observer post by Colin Campbell,

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest needs at least 500 people to sign up for “I Support Teachers” license plates, part of his effort to fund teacher raises through private donations.

Forest announced last May that he’s creating the North Carolina Education Endowment Fund, which will allow individuals and corporations to receive tax deductions for supporting teacher pay. The fund also plans to raise money by selling specialty license plates, but Forest must first reach the state’s requirement of 500 paid applications seeking a plate.

“This is not only an opportunity to raise money for great teachers, but also an opportunity to let all our teachers know we appreciate their service,” Forest says in a video posted this week. “The ‘I Support Teachers’ license plate initiative is the first step toward creating a sound foundation for the North Carolina Educational Endowment and planning for the future of teaching excellence in North Carolina through an innovative and self-sustaining fund” (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article10873850.html).

The plates were to look like this.

plate1

Oddly enough, I have not seen one on the roads of North Carolina.

That’s because the demand never reached 500 to start the production. You can look on the NC DOT site for ordering license plates and see all of the options. “I Support Teachers” is not there (https://edmv.ncdot.gov/VehicleRegistration/SpecialPlate#term=All Plates).

But while you are on that site you can actually make personalized plates in a virtual sense and see if it is available to purchase and use for your own vehicle.

PLATES9

So, if Lt. Gov. Dan Forest is really still serious about this initiative, then maybe he could be one of the first 500 people to register for the plate. In fact, there are several options that Forest could use to not only support teachers, but also personalize his “I Support Teachers” license plate with unique identifiers just for him.

And note, these are AVAILABLE! These personalized plates are legal and can be used.

If only the Lt. Gov. would follow through on his own initiative.

plate2

If you did not know, Forest literally has his own television studio in his office that was supposedly funded by a 501(c). And it appears that it may be a violation of ethics. Consider these reports:

http://www.wral.com/nonprofit-provides-tv-studio-for-lt-gov-forest-s-office/17071692/

http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2017/11/14/watchdog-group-calls-investigation-lt-gov-dan-forest/#sthash.NpwNGJjy.dpbs

But even if it is illegal, the fact that he has his own television studio is pretty neat. Teachers can’t get new textbooks, but this politician has a studio. Maybe that 501 could have donated the money used to give a studio to Forest to the endowment fund?

plate3

Of course this plate makes sense. No one advocates this farce of a law more than Forest. He even went to Texas to brag about it.

plate5

Remember when Forest had DPI reissue a report on charter schools in 2016 because it was not “positive” enough?

plate8

Remember that Forest was instrumental in starting two virtual charter schools in NC that were run by for-profit entities? In fact, they are doing so poorly  that they are asking for more money – money that could have gone into the “endowment fund” – http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2017/11/08/stay-despite-poor-scores-critics-profit-virtual-charter-school-seeks-blessing-state-officials/.

plate7

Yep. He stumped for Trump here in NC.

plate4

And yes. He will run for governor in 2020. In fact, he is actually campaigning now which leads us to the last plate…

plate6

IR4OWIO = I Run For Office While In Office.

Thanks for the support, Dan.

Philomath is Where Donald Needs To Go

We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people. Together we will determine the course of America and the world for many, many years to come.” – Donald Trump, Jan. 2017.

Those words began the inaugural address of one Donald Trump in front of a “record” crowd. It began his quest to take this country to a new place and rebuild our foundations. Maybe it was the first fable of his reconstruction, pun intended.

In Trump’s mind, that “place” might be one where he is highly approved and highly adore by people other than his immediate family and acquaintances. That place might be one where he is regarded as someone who is highly effective and highly empathetic, but that is highly questionable. Why?

Because Donald Trump “can’t get there from here.”

Besides having one of the most original videos for a song, R.E.M.’s “Can’t Get There From Here” also has one of the greatest descriptions that one could ever tag to a person like Donald Trump.

REM

“Mr. Citywide, hypnotized, suit-and-tied” might be one of the most appropriate phrases to define our current president. But with all of his campaign promises, fiery rhetoric, Twitter rants, bang and blame, and obvious disconnect, he is about to realize that he “can’t get there from here.”

This “world is a monster” right now. Russian interference, North Korea, hurricanes, mass shootings, segregation along racial and socio-economic lines, and lack of equitable health care have become the course of America. And the way Trump is handling all of these is “bad to swallow you whole.”

What Trump refuses to do is realize that he has a lot to learn. He has to become a student himself to others rather than the person who claims to already know it all. And he will have to get over his own ego, which is the biggest “troll at his door.”

trumptweet

Actually, I did not know that Trump’s I.Q. was one of the highest. And I do not feel stupid for not knowing that.

But I am insecure about where the country is going because the “there” and “here” I have in my mind are not the same “there” and “here” that Trump seems to have.

Trump touts his incredible intellect and memory. Just this month he was quoted as saying,

“People don’t understand, I went to an Ivy League college. I was a nice student. I did very well. I’m a very intelligent person….”

“…One of the great memories of all time.”

It is safe to say that I did not attend an Ivy League college. But there is Philomath, GA, and “I’ve been there. I know the way.”

As the song goes,

“If you’re needing inspiration, Philomath is where I go.”

Really, I have. It’s an actual place in Oglethorpe County, GA not far from where I grew up in Greene County. It is an unincorporated town situated between “Lexington and Crawfordville,” according to the liner notes for Eponymous. Actually, I have spent time in both of those tiny metropolises as well. There are not many “citywide, suit-and-tied” people in those towns. But they have very good memories.

philomath

The name “Philomath” has a special meaning. It is from the Greek word meaning “a lover of learning.” At one time there was a well-known boys school in that Georgia town. The word “philomath” also has a leaning toward a “love for mathematics,” and when the president starts playing around with health care costs and tax reform, he is playing with some fuzzy math.

Fuzzy math means bad calculations. Bad calculations mean stunted progress. Stunted progress will not get you “there from here.”

Simply put, Donald Trump probably needs to spend time in Philomath because there he can “know the lowdown.” But getting to Philomath would require a humility, an empathetic nature, a willingness to be among those less fortunate, and the ability to take criticism.

And Trump is not capable of those things.

In short, it would require a need for an education not offered in the halls of an Ivy League college, but on the roads that really link communities together even the small highways that connect Lexington and Crawfordville via Philomath.

Just watch out for the “deer” in the road.

 

“Can’t Get There From Here”

When the world is a monster bad to swallow you whole
Kick the clay that holds the teeth in, throw your trolls out the door
If you’re needing inspiration, Philomath is where I go by dawn
Lawyer Jeff, he knows the lowdown, he’s mighty bad to visit home

(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here
(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here
(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here

When your hands are feeling empty, stick head jumpin’ off the ground round
Tris is sure to shirr the deer out, Brother Ray can sing my song

(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here
(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here
(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here

Hands down, Calechee bound, landlocked, kiss the ground
Dirt of seven continents going round and round
Go on ahead, Mr. Citywide, hypnotized, suit-and-tied
Gentlemen, testify

If your world is a monster bad to swallow you whole
Philomath, they know the lowdown, throw your trolls out the door

(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here
(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here
(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here
(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here
(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here
(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here
(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here

 

Donald Trump Is My AP Literature Walking Syllabus – Proof That Art Imitates Life

In a world where many an English teacher like myself bemoan the lack of active reading by students of good canonized literature or other works of literary merit, there has been one person who may have unintentionally shown our American society that the lessons and themes carefully expressed in great works often studied in classes are still relevant to today as they were when first published.

That person is Donald Trump.

No, that is not a fictional statement. Rather, he is a walking “sparknote” of great literature – a “Cliff’s Notes” comb over of relevant prose and drama who reminds us that art oftentimes is the perfect representation of life.

And vice-versa.

Six months into his fantastical term as leader of the “free” world (along with a memorable campaign and non-epic rise to stardom), Trump has provided those of us who look to great literature as a reflection of society validation that maybe getting that English degree and becoming literature and rhetoric teachers might have been a wise venture.

At least for the present there is much to ponder and sort through.

The Crucible –  Arthur Miller

Miller’s reenactment of the Salem Witch Trials in Puritan New England in the late 1600’s as a way to express his displeasure with the rise of McCarthyism and the righteous rise of a hypocritical sect of theocrats during the Cold War actually might in and of itself be relevant to today’s world without Trump. But there was that comment he made not long ago on Twitter:

Crucible

But, of course he also said that he was the most persecuted politician in history. Apparently, Trump never heard of people like Nelson Mandela.

King Lear – Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s tragedy about old age, madness, and hubris might have one of the most depressing endings of all of literature.

Lear opens up with a scene in which the king literally asks his three daughters to heap their best flattering accolades upon him as a means to measure their worth for his splitting the kingdom upon his death. It’s like he is blackmailing them for affirmation of his ego.

Tell me, my daughters,–
Since now we will divest us both of rule,
Interest of territory, cares of state,–
Which of you shall we say doth love us most?
That we our largest bounty may extend
Where nature doth with merit challenge. Goneril,
Our eldest-born, speak first (I,i).

And then there was that cabinet meeting from June 12, 2017.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Good morning.

TRUMP: We have much great news to share with the American people today as we continue to deliver on our promises.

ALEXANDER ACOSTA: Mr. President, my privilege to be here, deeply honored.

TOM PRICE: What an incredible honor it is to lead the Department of Health and Human Services at this pivotal time under your leadership. I can’t thank enough for the privilege that you’ve given me.

RICK PERRY: Mr. President, an honor to be on the team.

VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Thank you, Mr. President, and just the greatest privilege of my life is to serve as vice president to a president who’s keeping his word to the American people.

REINCE PRIEBUS: On behalf of the entire senior staff around you, Mr. President, we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you’ve given us to serve your agenda and the American people. And we’re continuing to work very hard every day to accomplish those goals.

And many would say we are headed for another tragic ending.

Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

The similarities between Trump and the character of Curley are actually quite many – so many, it’s scary. Here’s a table from a post from August of 2016 (https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/08/10/of-mice-men-and-donald-trump-john-steinbeck-warned-us/).

Entitlement Curley is the son of the owner of the ranch. He is born into money. He has free reign of the place. People stay out of his way simply because of who his daddy is. Trump was given a fortune to start his empire from his father.
Language Curley barks orders and uses lots of one-syllable words, not because he is trying to sound like a simpleton, but because one syllable words allow him to stress every syllable. He also tends to make a lot of veiled threats.

 

Trump’s use of the imperative mood and one-syllable buzz words will be its own linguistic course I college one day.

 

And Trump seems to rely on phantom sources for most of his claims. “Many people are saying”, “I have heard”, and other loose forms of verification allow Trump to make assertions that are baseless.

Hands Curley is a boxer. He also keeps a glove on one of his hands. You should go to the book and find out why. If you do not know of the
controversy surrounding the size of Donald Trump’s hands, then you should not even be voting.
Gender Curley treats his wife as a possession. In fact, SHE DOES NOT EVEN HAVE A NAME. She has to seek attention from elsewhere, which drives Curley anngry, and ultimately leads to Lennie’s death. Megyn Kelly bleeding.

Suggesting Clinton be locked up and even “dealt with” by Second Amendment advocates. Calling Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas”. Saying he would tell the daughter he would date if she was not his daughter to go to another job if she was harassed. The list goes on and on including dismissing a woman with a crying baby out of a rally.

People with Disabilities Look how Curley goes after Lennie when he realizes that Lennie, while a big man, does not have a fighting temperament. Trump mocked a reporter with disabilities at a rally in one of the more repugnant displays of “presidential” behavior ever seen.
Hairlines Curley has a copious amount of hair with no comb over. No one really knows where Trump’s hairline is.

 

I had to put one contrast in.

 

Moby Dick – Herman Melville

When Herman Melville penned the story of Captain Ahab and his obsessive, monomaniacal pursuit of the White Whale, he was speaking of people like Donald Trump, a man obsessed with a vision of securing the prey which is a reason for a bigger ego.

ahab

The parallels between Trump and Ahab are striking. Both are on a selfish quest – to subdue something bigger than either of them. Ahab wants “revenge” on an animal that has bested him in the past. Trump wishes to gain a position of power and make his mark on history.

Both men wear scars from previous encounters with their “white whales.” Ahab literally has a leg missing having given the whale a little something for his gullet. Trump bears scars of a wounded ego and scandal.

Both command “administrations” that have crews which are struggling to fathom the captain’s neglect for others involved. Ahab’s crew includes those who are intensely loyal, some who are ambivalent, and some who only want the job. Same with Trump; however, there are signs of people abandoning his “Pequod.”

Possibly the strongest correlation is the prize that both seek. Ahab’s fanatical pursuit of Moby Dick is a quest for his own validation. All else in his life and the lives of his crew are secondary to him. He has forced the whale to become a part of him and the whale took part of Ahab (and ate it).

But what is Trump’s “Moby Dick”? It’s an arrogant, egotistical image of himself that he sees in the reflection of a megalomaniacal mirror that can only be satisfied with not only having obtained the top job in the free world but make it even more than that. Except in Trump’s case, his “white whale” grows in size daily and thus becomes more powerful and harder to subdue.

Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne

During the last scaffold scene of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel, The Scarlet Letter. Arthur Dimmesdale finally confesses his sin in broad daylight identifying himself as the father of the “illegitimate” Pearl, having hidden a secret intimate relationship with a married woman named Hester Prynne. He literally ascends the scaffold, bears his chest, and reveals his own scarlet “A”, a homemade, etched-in tattoo to match the one worn publicly by Hester from the beginning of the book on her breast.

The book centers on the power of secret sin – how our outsides match our insides. By the time Dimmesdale confesses, so much life has been sucked out of him that he literally dies moments later.

Catharsis at its best.

And he gains some measure of salvation and forgiveness from God. And if we think about it, we all wear some sort of scarlet letter on our chests.

In this gothically charged dark romance of an election season, it might be interesting to consider another man who has the opportunity to publicly reveal his transgressions before they end his political life – Donald Trump.

Except in the case of one Donald Trump, he may need to carve the entire alphabet into his large chest to begin to cover the range of his wrongdoings.

On the scaffold known as the national stage, Trump’s story contains as much if not more dramatic irony that Hawthorne’s novel. Readers know of Dimmesdale’s secret as the American public seems to know about Trump’s transgressions. Luckily for Dimmesdale, he confesses. Will Trump do the same?

  • A = Arrogance. The pride, hubris, and arrogance has simply been the hallmark of this campaign.
  • B = “Bigly” and Birther. What the hell kind of word is “bigly”? But that pales in comparison with the birther conspiracy theory that Trump birthed and nurtured for years.
  • C – Combover. Please. Just accept the hairline.
  • D – Denegration of others. Trump blames everybody else except himself.
  • E – Excess. It is not the wealth, but the display of the wealth.
  • F – Faulty Really?
  • G – Grab them by the P***y. No explanation needed.
  • H – Hats and “Hombres.” First, those are really ugly MAGA hats. Secondly, using derogatory words to describe people he claims to cater to is probably not the best choice of diction.
  • I – Another form of “Me” – What it’s all about to Trump.
  • J – John McCain. Dude, he is a war hero. Not many men have done as much for their country.
  • K – KellyAnne Conway. Her mouth is trying to cash checks that Trump’s mouth has been writing and she knows that they are bad checks.
  • L – Lies. That’s the truth.
  • M – Megyn Kelly and Mika. You brought that on yourself, Mr. Trump.
  • N – Nasty Woman. Fits in with “No one has greater respect for women than I do.”
  • – Opulence. See “E.”
  • P – Putin. BFF
  • Q – Querrulous . A fancy word that means “thin-skinned.”
  • R – Rigged. Refer to Putin
  • S – Sniffing. He starts doing that when you get all huffy and puffy.
  • T – Tan. Not real.
  • U – University, Trump University. That went well.
  • V – Violence. Rallies – plain and simple. Inciting people to act with guns.
  • W – Women. Video tape and accusations. Coincidence?
  • X – Xenophobia. No explanation needed.
  • Y – Yuge. Trump has used this word so much, it may actually go in the dictionary.
  • Z – Zero taxes. Illegal immigrants may actually be paying more federal taxes than Trump.

trump-scarlet-1

Oedipus – Sophocles

In an interview on The View in 2006, Donald Trump said,

“I don’t think Ivanka would do that, although she does have a very nice figure. I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”

There’s got to be something there that’s somewhat Oedipus-like or the converse, right?

1984 – George Orwell

From the interview with Chuck Todd on January 22nd’s Meet The Press:

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Don’t be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. What– You’re saying it’s a falsehood. And they’re giving Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that. But the point remains–

CHUCK TODD: Wait a minute– Alternative facts?

KELLYANNE CONWAY: –that there’s–

CHUCK TODD: Alternative facts? Four of the five facts he uttered, the one thing he got right–

KELLYANNE CONWAY: –hey, Chuck, why– Hey Chuck–

CHUCK TODD: –was Zeke Miller. Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true. Look, alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods.

alternative facts

Alternative facts? Welcome to dystopia.

Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde

The title alone should be enough – earnest means “truthful and sincere.” But there is that part where both Algernon and Jack pretend to be other people in order to escape their duties as real people. Algernon invents an invalid friend named Bunbury and even makes visiting him a verb – “Bunburying.”

From Act I:

“I have invented an invaluable permanent invalid called Bunbury, in order that I may be able to go down into the country whenever I choose.” – Algernon

To have a Bunbury is to be a “Bunburyist.”

From a May 13, 2016 Washington Post article entitled “Donald Trump masqueraded as publicist to brag about himself”:

The voice is instantly familiar; the tone, confident, even cocky; the cadence, distinctly Trumpian. The man on the phone vigorously defending Donald Trump says he’s a media spokesman named John Miller, but then he says, “I’m sort of new here,” and “I’m somebody that he knows and I think somebody that he trusts and likes” and even “I’m going to do this a little, part time, and then, yeah, go on with my life.”

A recording obtained by The Washington Post captures what New York reporters and editors who covered Trump’s early career experienced in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s: calls from Trump’s Manhattan office that resulted in conversations with “John Miller” or “John Barron” — public-relations men who sound precisely like Trump himself — who indeed are Trump, masquerading as an unusually helpful and boastful advocate for himself, according to the journalists and several of Trump’s top aides (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/donald-trump-alter-ego-barron/2016/05/12/02ac99ec-16fe-11e6-aa55-670cabef46e0_story.html?utm_term=.6c91410b4717).

Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

Swift’s accounts of a doctor locked into a journey through different worlds is a satirical look at how the English government conducted its policies in Swift’s world. In short, Swift is one of the first great satirists and while Gulliver might be well known as a giant among the Lilliputians, it is the episode with the Brobdingnagians where Gulliver explains the nature of his homeland’s form of government and how it is “elected” that Trump seems to bring to mind.

From Part II – “A Voyage to Brobdingnag”, Chapter VI:

He then desired to know, “What arts were practised in electing those whom I called commoners: whether a stranger, with a strong purse, might not influence the vulgar voters to choose him before their own landlord, or the most considerable gentleman in the neighbourhood?  How it came to pass, that people were so violently bent upon getting into this assembly, which I allowed to be a great trouble and expense, often to the ruin of their families, without any salary or pension? because this appeared such an exalted strain of virtue and public spirit, that his majesty seemed to doubt it might possibly not be always sincere.”  And he desired to know, “Whether such zealous gentlemen could have any views of refunding themselves for the charges and trouble they were at by sacrificing the public good to the designs of a weak and vicious prince, in conjunction with a corrupted ministry?”  He multiplied his questions, and sifted me thoroughly upon every part of this head, proposing numberless inquiries and objections, which I think it not prudent or convenient to repeat.

Anyone thinking of Betsy DeVos?

Gulliver

Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy-Toole

If you have never read the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel, A Confederacy of Dunces, then do yourself a favor and get a copy. It’s exquisite. It’s about an out-of-shape anti-hero who sells hot dogs and frets over a supposed heart-condition in New Orleans who is courting a radical gal from New York and ultimately survives a parrot attack. No kidding.

It’s the nonsensical element that drives this book and its ability to showcase a lot of the meaningless fodder that we as humans give so much power to.

a-confederacy-of-dunces-by-john-kennedy-toole[1]

Now substitute “Trump Steaks” for “hot dogs.” Substitute “ego” for “heart condition.” Substitute “Putin” for “radical gal.” And then substitute “free press” for “parrot.” The body figure can stay the same.

And “Oh.my valve!” can be deciphered to mean “I need to Tweet!”

Rime of The Ancient Mariner – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.”

― Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

mariner– Gustave Dore

 

These famous lines from what I consider the greatest narrative poem in the English language (and the most haunting) are a perfect example of the sadistic nature of irony that surrounds us.

Remember when Donald Trump went to the canteen so many times during his debate with Hillary Clinton? Not once did Clinton drink water on the stage.

trump water

Along with copious amounts of sniffing, Donald sought to hydrate himself so many times that it was becoming an important subplot in the narrative of the debate.

Honorable Mention – The Collected Works of Dr. Seuss

  1. The Lorax. Just look at the attacks on policies to protect the environment
  2. Green Eggs and Ham. Have you ever looked at the comments made by linguists who have studied the rhetoric of Trump? They talk about the preponderance of one-syllable words and repetition he uses.
  3. Horton Hears a Who!  Trump wanted to “represent” the average American – he wanted to let all “Whos” to be heard. Maybe that is why he has the most homogenous cabinet in recent history and appointed more people from Wall Street to his cabinet than from Main Street.
  4. Yertle the Turtle= Yertle is the king of the pond, but he wants more. He demands that other turtles stack themselves up so he can sit on top of them to survey the land.
  5. The Butter Battle Book. Trump / Putin?
  6. Oh The Places You’ll Go. With Betsy DeVos as the new secretary of education and the recent news about the actions of Trump University, it seems that many of those future graduates are meant to come from schools that were once public but now reformed into privatized entities.
  7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas!I actually thought more of Steve Bannon with this one.
  8. And I will add two others myself – The Sneetches. “Now, the Star-Bell Sneetches had bellies with stars.
    The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars.”
  9. And then there is The Big Brag.
  • “It’s gonna be huge.”
  • “It’s gonna be great.”
  • “We’re going to make America great again.”
  • “When you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.”

 

So there is Greek tragedy, Shakespeare, English Romanticism, Realism, Dark Romanticism, Modernism, Post Modernism, Dystopian – you name it.

Trump is a walking canon.

Or a walking loose cannon.

What’s The Frequency, Donald? A Dan Rather / R.E.M. Jam

Frequency: noun  fre·quen·cy \ˈfrē-kwən-sē\
plural – frequencies

  1. frequent repetition Rain fell with frequency.
  2. rate of repetition She went with increasing frequency.
  3. the number of waves of sound or energy that pass by a point every second (Tune the stereo to receive a specific frequency of radio waves.) – Merriam Webster Dictionary / merriam-webster.com

 

rather

So, what’s the frequency, Donald?

In a presidential tenure set on blaming the media for character assassination, Donald Trump’s penchant to gravitate to outlets that pretty much cater to his narrative is obvious. Simply follow the praise he heaps onto Fox & Friends on an almost daily basis on Twitter.

Look at his hiring of Steve Bannon of Brietbart as a chief strategist.

Look at his extolling the “service” of Alex Jones.

Fox & Friends, Breitbart, and Info Wars all reside on their own frequencies. Each resides in a select ideological range, a couple more extreme than the other. They offer Trump his amphetaminic drive, the one that allows him to tweet at all hours of the night. They are his Benzedrine. They allow him to drown out the rest of the frequencies on the dial of media and coverage.

Like any American, he has the right to listen to and pander to the voices that validate his narrative, but it does not mean those voices speak truth.

On December 4, 2016, a man named Edgar Maddison Welch from North Carolina entered a Chinese restaurant called the Comet Ping Pong in Washington D.C. with an assault rifle demanding the owners to confess to child sex trafficking, a false allegation perpetrated on far-right media. Welch discharged his weapon, but no one was hurt. He was caught and pleaded guilty in court. He will be sentenced later this month.

Welch had listened to the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory through a frequency of media outlets like Alex Jones’s Info Wars and allowed speculation to become gospel. He acted out based on an alternate reality and almost destroyed the actual reality of innocent people.

Interestingly enough another man from North Carolina committed an act of enigmatic violence perpetuated by a conspiracy theory back in 1986. Bill Demain explains the incident in Mental Floss, a rather fantastic periodical.

“At about 11 pm on the night of October 4, 1986, CBS anchorman Dan Rather was walking along Park Avenue in New York, on the way back to his apartment. Just as he neared the building’s entrance, he was accosted by two well-dressed men. One asked, “What is the frequency, Kenneth?” Rather replied, “You must be mistaking me for someone else . . .” With that, the man knocked Rather to the ground, and as he kicked and punched him, he repeatedly asked his strange question. Rather called out for help, and a moment later, as the doorman and the building’s super arrived on the scene, the assailants fled.

The police took a statement, but no one was ever arrested or charged” (http://mentalfloss.com/article/49147/music-history-20-whats-frequency-kenneth).

Dan Rather was at the time the face and voice of CBS Evening News. Later in the same article Demain explains that the man who committed that act of violence was caught:

“The incident was strange, but it got even stranger. In 1994, a North Carolina man named William Tager shot and killed an NBC technician, Campbell Montgomery, outside the sound studio of the Today Show. Tager had tried to enter the the studio with an assault rifle, and Montgomery died in an attempt to block him. Tager was arrested and reportedly told police that the television network had been monitoring him for years and beaming secret messages into his head. He apparently came to NBC looking for a way to block those transmissions.

Tager was convicted of murder and sentenced to 25 years in Sing Sing prison.

His story took a sci-fi twist when he told a psychiatrist that he was a time traveler from a parallel world in the year 2265. A convicted felon in the future, Tager said he was a test-pilot volunteer in a dangerous time travel experiment. If he was successful on his mission, his sentence would be overturned and he would be set free. The authorities in the future kept tabs on him via an implanted chip in his brain. During the examinations, Trager also confessed that he had attacked Dan Rather because he mistook him for the Vice President of his future world, one Kenneth Burrows.”

Apparently, Tager was trying to find the right frequency for his altered reception. What he believed was an alternate reality and acting upon that altered the reality for real people.

Michael Stipe is quoted as calling the attack on Rather “surreal” and “bizarre.” He said,

“It remains the premier unsolved American surrealist act of the 20th century. It’s a misunderstanding that was scarily random, media hyped and just plain bizarre” (https://redice.tv/news/strange-story-behind-r-e-m-s-song-what-s-the-frequency-kenneth).

Hence, came the song “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?”, the first song released from the album Monster.

And currently we have a lot of the same ingredients – media hype, bizarre stuff, unsolved American surrealist acts with Russian twists, and randomly scary stuff. Even Dan Rather is a part of it and this post is being written in North Carolina where surreal stuff has been occurring nonstop.

Trying to decipher the lines of the song without knowledge of the attack on Rather would still be quite the task in deconstruction.

“What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” is your Benzedrine, uh-huh
I was brain-dead, locked out, numb, not up to speed
I thought I’d pegged you an idiot’s dream
Tunnel vision from the outsider’s screen
I never understood the frequency, uh-huh
You wore our expectations like an armored suit, uh-huh

I’d studied your cartoons, radio, music, TV, movies, magazines
Richard said, “Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy”
A smile like the cartoon, tooth for a tooth
You said that irony was the shackles of youth
You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
I never understood the frequency, uh-huh

“What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” is your Benzedrine, uh-huh
Butterfly decal, rear-view mirror, dogging the scene
You smile like the cartoon, tooth for a tooth
You said that irony was the shackles of youth
You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
I never understood the frequency, uh-huh

You wore our expectations like an armored suit, uh-huh
I couldn’t understand
You said that irony was the shackles of youth, uh-huh
I couldn’t understand
You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
I couldn’t understand
I never understood, don’t **** with me, uh-huh

But there is a quote by Michael Stipe in Genius that says,

“I wrote that protagonist as a guy who’s desperately trying to understand what motivates the younger generation, who has gone to great lengths to try and figure them out, and at the end of the song it’s completely f***** bogus. He got nowhere” (https://genius.com/Rem-whats-the-frequency-kenneth-lyrics?referent_id=555666#note-555666).

Now while someone may read this and think that it is purely an act of fanboydom, it is rather (pun intended) interesting how small this world really is and how intertwined paths really are.

We just experienced an acrimonious presidential election that saw a divided nation not popularly elect a president who plugs into only certain parts of the media for validation and shuns what others have to say. There was another older man named Bernie Sanders who seemed to vibrate on a different frequency that pulsated with a younger generation, galvanizing them into enough of a frenzy that Hilary Clinton’s ride to the nomination was much less smooth than anticipated.

And it may be safe to say that appealing to younger generation is what anyone who hopes to be in a position to run the country must have. The electorate is getting younger. Just ask the executives at Fox News when they look at the average age of viewers as they scramble to replace Megan Kelly and Bill O’Reilly.

That same growing Gen-X, millennial electorate thinks differently than the Baby Boomer generation. They operate on a different frequency. They certainly plug into a different frequency. Actually, they plug into many frequencies.

Ask Teresa May what frequency she was plugged into when she made the rash decision to create a special election to bolster her party’s majority in order to negotiate a tough stance on Britain’s exit from the European Union.

All of a sudden she no longer has a majority. Too many younger voters in England on a different frequency.

Didn’t Trump praise the Brits on Brexit? Didn’t Trump go on Alex Jones’s show to praise what he has done?

Since “Pizzagate” Alex Jones has offered a water-down apology for helping to spread the conspiracy theory that helped to lead Welch to almost commit an act of massive violence. More notably, Jones has been embroiled in a custody battle over his own children in a divorce case in which he “admitted” that his persona on his radio show was partially an act to boost ratings.

A fake frequency with an alternate reality that others take seriously and act upon in the real lives of real people.

Others like Edgar Maddison Welch.

Others like William Tager.

Others like Donald Trump.

Ironically, the link between Trump and Dan Rather is strong as Rather very much uses his voice to offer perspective on today’s political climate. Rather has taken to Twitter quite often himself to give his take on Trump’s actions and words. However, while he may provide pointed remarks at Trump, he usually deals with Trump’s inability to listen to different frequencies like when Trump alienates certain parts of the media or starts barking about “fake news.”

Going back to Stipe’s explanation of the protagonist of the song, a couple of words resonate loudly – “desperately” and “bogus.” This country has never had a president who so “desperately” wanted to make people connect with him, but rather than act on what others say or do, he reacts in response; therefore, there comes the eventual disconnect.

That disconnection is both figurative and literal. Look at the approval ratings for Trump starting to hit the mid-to-low 30’s with over 55% of people showing disapproval. That’s a disconnect. And look at the wall, the travel ban, the pulling out of the Paris Accord, and the disastrous trip overseas that cannot be spun enough and people see more disconnection.

Yes, Dan Rather is an old protagonist himself, but he doesn’t ask what the frequency is. He tunes into a multitude of them. He isn’t trying to figure out how to appeal to the younger generations; he’s protecting their right to know the truth and to be themselves.

Freedom of the press is in the First Amendment. And while there will always exist a great amount of spin in what we read, the need for a free press as a means of checks and balances in this country is greater than ever. It gives us a range of frequencies to tune into.

Dan Rather knows that.

Donald Trump is scared of it.

R.E.M. sings about it.

And if you want to argue that the media has too easy a time of being able to sway how people act and think, then it might be time to start talking about investing more in our public education system and teaching critical thinking skills rather than test testing skills.

Just look at Donald Trump’s budget for public education.

 

 

If Donald Trump Sampled R.E.M.’s “Nightswimming” Without Giving Credit

 

Instruments tuning in an amazing way.

Piano comes in like pushing aside the leader of Montenegro to get in front.

Begin singing.

 

“Nighttweeting”

Nighttweeting can happen any night.

The photograph in the cover of a book I never wrote
shows much less hair than I comb over now.
Every late tweet reveals a disconnect with what’s real
Still it’s so much bigly.

Melania slapped my hand while visiting the Saudis
Approval rate is low.

Nighttweeting comes in chaotic times.

I’m not sure all these people understand
It’s not like I’m trying to hide
The fear of getting caught
Colluding with the Russians.
They’ve taped me while naked.
Can these things just go away?
That’s why I fired Comey.

Nighttweeting, Remembering that night
When I got fewer votes
My thumbs are getting tired
And I only have these two
Side by side in twittersphere here on my own account
The dim tide of my mind
Could not stop my nighttweeting.

Thought that ruling the world
Would be easier
Than selling the Trump brand
Yet all laugh quietly
Underneath their breath

Nighttweeting

This phone screen reflects
Every pursed lip a reminder
Nighttweeting
It’s my diary.

The only thing I read.

REM nightswimming

Dodgeball – Another Thing Betsy DeVos Is Really Bad At

In defending Donald Trump’s horrific budget proposal today for education on Capitol Hill, Betsy DeVos proved that she had not really learned anything about giving straightforward answers to deservedly pointed questions since her historic confirmation hearing.

The video below is from an exchange with Rep. Katherine Clark of Mass.

It is eye-opening.

Judge for yourself.

 

 

Why Donald Trump Should Appoint LaVar Ball to Become the Head of the FBI

Donald Trump is a business man, pure and simple. And successful business men surround themselves with people who compliment them.

So while he is “draining the swamp” of Washington D.C., it only seems appropriate that Trump get rid of those who do not share his vision and put into place people who share his blurred vision of America.

Filling the vacancy of heading the Federal Bureau of Investigations should be no different.

That’s why LaVar Ball is simply the best man for the job.

Why? Just listen to them.

  1. They think alike – meaning they think only about themselves and how others reflect on them. In fact, they are both very adept at trying to draw attention to themselves.
  2. They tout their kids as superhuman because they consider themselves as superhuman. Consider the following quotes:

 “I’ve been coaching them all their lives. I’ve instilled something in them that you can’t take out. Like, ‘No shot is a bad shot.’ ”  – LaVar Ball,  March 2016.

“I’ll tell you what I’ve learned: Children are tough. Much tougher than people think. … I’m a really good father, but not a really good husband. You’ve probably figured out my children really like me–love me–a lot. It’s hard when somebody walks into the living room of Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach and this is supposed to be, like, a normal life. But they’re very grounded and very solid. The hardest thing for me about raising kids has been finding the time. I know friends who leave their business so they can spend more time with their children, and I say, ‘Gimme a break!’ My children could not love me more if I spent fifteen times more time with them.”
–Donald Trump

  1. They believe if others were like them, then those others would be better.

 “If Charles (Barkley) thought like me, maybe he’d win a championship.” —LaVar Ball March 2017.

“He begged me four years ago for my endorsement — I mean, literally begged me,” Trump said on the “Today” show. “And he’s a failed candidate. I mean, frankly, I backed him; he failed. He was a horrible candidate, didn’t know what he was doing.”

On ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Trump added: “Mitt Romney was a failed candidate — should have beaten Barack Obama easily.” On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Trump again stressed that Romney “begged me, and I mean begged me” for an endorsement during the 2012 race (http://www.businessinsider.com/donald-trump-mitt-romney-utah-speech-2016-3).

  1. They seem to be all about their own “brand.”

“We already got our own brand. Triple B’s. Lonzo is going to be the first one drafted with his own brand. That don’t happen.” — February 2017

Trump has, well everything branded: water, golf courses, buildings, universities, ties, etc.

  1. They are both obsessed with being billionaires.

“A billion dollars, it has to be there. That’s our number, a billion, straight out of the gate. And you don’t even have to give it to me all up front. Give us $100 mil over 10 years.” — March 2017

It’s very simple. If I call five guys about Trump Tower, [and tell them] I want $2 billion … I’d have checks on my desk in ten minutes.– Donald Trump.

  1. They both think very highly of themselves.

“Back in my heyday, I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one.” — March 2017. Of course he did play one year of college basketball averaging a little over two points a game. The only person to hold Jordan under 20 a game was Dean Smith.

“We are going to have an unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout for the inauguration, and there will be plenty of movie and entertainment stars. All the dress shops are sold out in Washington. It’s hard to find a great dress for this inauguration.” Yep, he said that.

  1. They both think a lot of what food they eat.

“I was sitting at the table, we had finished dinner,” Trump told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo. “We’re now having dessert—and we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen—and President Xi was enjoying it.”

And just check the end of this interview when Lavar Ball talks about strawberries and pancakes- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPtx0Ei1G88.

This is a match made in heaven.

April 3, 2017 – An Especially Antipodean Day in the Walking Contradiction That is the Antithetical Secretary of Education

There was a disturbance in the Force today in the Old North State.

No not…

darth-vader-10-most-dangerous-star-wars-villains

But…

Betsy DeVos testifies before the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee confirmation hearing

As Alex Granados of EdNC.org reported on April 3rd,

On Monday, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made her first visit to a Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) school since being sworn in.

She came to Kimberly Hampton Primary School in Fort Bragg as part of the Month of the Military Child. 

“It’s a real privilege to be able to come here today and highlight the important role that military children have — that we have on behalf of military children, whose lives are often very transient as you all know,” DeVos said. “And we need to pay a special tribute to they and their families and to ensure that they have the best opportunity for a great education” (https://www.ednc.org/2017/04/03/education-secretary-visits-fort-bragg/).

First, I must thank Mrs. DeVos for coming to our military friendly state.

Secondly, I want to thank her again for butchering the English language when she stated that she wanted to “pay a special tribute to they.”

But most of all, I want to point out the absolute impeccable timing of this visit and the ancillary activity that surrounded it.

During that visit, DeVos tweeted the following,

devos fort bragg

And she’s right about that. North Carolina is the most military friendly state in the country as far as bases are concerned. Children of the military and their parents face challenges like no other.

But I find it ironic that someone who touts school choice, vouchers, and charters would say that about students who are, as she says, “very transient.” Wouldn’t that mean that their schools should be well-funded and well-resourced to be successful so that no matter where their families were stationed they would receive a good education?

At least that what DeVos says. And she is touting a budget that actually forced the DoDEA to have to seek an exemption because it created a hiring freeze. As reported in places like http://www.feaonline.org/passport/issues/hiringfreeze.htm,

By blocking the hiring of any new employees, the President’s plan could make it impossible for DoDEA to replace educators who retire or otherwise separate from the school system. Since the students would still remain and still require a teacher to teach them, it is not clear how DoDEA would deal with such vacancies without relying on substitutes (who are already in short supply and are not a viable long-term solution) or increasing class sizes (and thereby doing serious harm to the quality of education).

But what really was interesting was what broke in the Washington Post later that day.

Blackwater founder held secret Seychelles meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel

Blackwater was founded by Erik Prince.

Erik Prince is Betsy DeVos’s brother.

Listen to this junk.

The United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladi­mir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump, according to U.S., European and Arab officials (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/blackwater-founder-held-secret-seychelles-meeting-to-establish-trump-putin-back-channel/2017/04/03/95908a08-1648-11e7-ada0-1489b735b3a3_story.html?utm_term=.ccae3abbad8e).

What?

Go further.

Prince is best known as the founder of Blackwater, a security firm that became a symbol of U.S. abuses in Iraq after a series of incidents, including one in 2007 in which the company’s guards were accused — and later criminally convicted — of killing civilians in a crowded Iraqi square. Prince sold the firm, which was subsequently re-branded, but has continued building a private paramilitary empire with contracts across the Middle East and Asia. He now heads a Hong Kong-based company known as the Frontier Services Group.

Prince would probably have been seen as too controversial to serve in any official capacity in the Trump transition or administration. But his ties to Trump advisers, experience with clandestine work and relationship with the royal leaders of the Emirates — where he moved in 2010 amid mounting legal problems for his American business — would have positioned him as an ideal go-between.

2300-Seychelles-0401

 

So this is what seems to have happened today:

Betsy DeVos visited North Carolina (the most military friendly state in the country) today to tout school choice for a segment of the population that was originally ignored by a budget she touted while her brother, who set up a charter school version of a paramilitary overseas that took tax payer money and killed innocent Iraqi civilians who had no weapons of mass destruction during a war that claimed lives of American soldiers who trained at the very base DeVos was visiting, was being exposed as having set up secret meeting for Trump to assist in communicating with a man known for meddling in the affairs of the free-world all while living in one of the two predominantly Muslim nations that were not on the original banned list for Trump’s executive order because of original business ties to the president.

Yep. That sounds about right.

And one of the men who backed DeVos’s confirmation without any hesitation was North Carolina’s senior senator, Richard Burr who now is helping to head the Senate Intelligence Committee that is investigating the very role that Russia had in meddling with the election.

Damn, I’ve learned a lot with Betsy at the helm. A hell of a lot.

The Art of “Bang and Blame” – A Long Distance R.E.M. Dedication to Donald Trump

Friday, March 24, 2017.

House Republicans on Capitol Hill will be voting on Trump’s health care bill and it seems like Donald Trump may be facing a legislative failure in his first big legislative push.

And it set in motion a chain of interrelated thoughts.

First, there is this proclamation that came from one Donald Trump when he made his candidacy for president about his unique ability to make and seal the “deal.”

Art of deal

Interestingly enough, he used the word “art” in the title of the book that he never wrote, and ironically, it is the “arts” that he has specifically targeted in his budget proposal to boost military spending.

But Trump’s “art” really is not in making the deal. It’s in knowing when to take credit for himself and when to blame others when the outcomes of his actions, or lack thereof, create unpleasant results. And actually, it’s not an art as much as it has become a reflex practiced over and over again with the knowledge that he could always buy himself new opportunities.

CNN.com had a very interesting article called “Deal or no deal, Trump ready to cast blame” on the home page (3/24/17) and both Jeremy Diamond and Dana Bash stated,

Painting the President as a political neophyte who has only been in Washington for two months, the source said Trump has become “frustrated with his staff’s inability to get this done” and argued that Trump was misled by those staffers who urged him to tackle Obamacare head first and hitch himself to Ryan’s plan.

“He was talked into doing this bill first. It was not negotiated well on his behalf,” the source said. “He’s relied on his staff to give him good information and they haven’t. And that’s the problem.”

The source close to Trump described a president who felt bamboozled by Ryan and his own staff, duped into thinking that passing health care would be the quick victory he needed to make good on a campaign promise central to his election and push forward on other policy fronts (http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/24/politics/donald-trump-health-care-blame/index.html).

And then it occurred to me once again that there is an R.E.M. song that literally explains this whole ordeal and encapsulates the egotistical and obsessive will of the president to protect the thin, fragile, fleshy membrane that covers him: “Bang and Blame.”

REMBangBlame

The chorus sings through Michael Stipe’s original, unprocessed, thoughtful, and activist voice.

“You know that’s not my thing, you came to bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,
Then blame, blame, blame.
Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,
It’s not my thing so let it go, you
Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,
Then blame, blame, blame.
It’s not my thing so let it go.”

Think of it. It’s not hard to come up with a multitude of synonyms for both “bang” and “blame” – both connotatively and denotatively.

Bang” – (from thesaurus.com) belt, blow, bop, crack, knock, rap, slam, smack, sock, strike, swat, thump, thwack, wallop, whack, whop; or (in slang terms) have sexual intercourse with

Blame” – (from thesaurus.com) allege, attack, betray, charge, cite, criminate, denounce, frame, impeach, indict, libel, pin-on, slander, slur, sue

It seems that much of what Trump says either objectifies and belittles women (Bang) or places culpability (Blame) on others.

CBSNews.com one time compiled a list of Trump’s “wildest” quotes, and you could actually classify most of these quotes under the heading of “Bang” or “Blame” as they are either attacking someone (particularly women) else or absolving responsibility and placing it upon others (http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/wild-donald-trump-quotes/) .

  • “I don’t think Ivanka would do that inside the magazine. Although she does have a very nice figure. I’ve said that if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I would be dating her.” – BANG!
  • “Donald J. Trump is calling for a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.” – BLAME!
  • “Women have one of the great acts of all time. The smart ones act very feminine and needy, but inside they are real killers. The person who came up with the expression ‘the weaker sex’ was either very naive or had to be kidding. I have seen women manipulate men with just a twitch of their eye — or perhaps another body part.” – BANG!
  • “Our great African-American President hasn’t exactly had a positive impact on the thugs who are so happily and openly destroying Baltimore.” – BLAME!
  • “@ariannahuff is unattractive both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man- he made a good decision.” – BANG!
  • “I think apologizing’s a great thing, but you have to be wrong. I will absolutely apologize, sometime in the hopefully distant future, if I’m ever wrong.” – BLAME!
  • “You know, it doesn’t really matter what they write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.” – BANG!
  • “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they’re telling us what we’re getting.” – BLAME!
  • “While @BetteMidler is an extremely unattractive woman, I refuse to say that because I always insist on being politically correct.” – BANG!
  • “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” – BLAME!
  • “I’ve never had any trouble in bed, but if I’d had affairs with half the starlets and female athletes the newspapers linked me with, I’d have no time to breathe.” – BANG!
  • “Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault.” – BLAME!
  • “All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me – consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.” – BANG!
  • “Our country is in serious trouble. We don’t have victories anymore. We used to have victories, but we don’t have them. When was the last time anybody saw us beating, let’s say China, in a trade deal?” – BLAME!
  • “Heidi Klum. Sadly, she’s no longer a 10.” – BANG!
  • “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!” – BLAME!
  • “I love women. They’ve come into my life. They’ve gone out of my life. Even those who have exited somewhat ungracefully still have a place in my heart. I only have one regret in the women department — that I never had the opportunity to court Lady Diana Spencer. I met her on a number of occasions.” – BANG!
  • “I dealt with Qaddafi. I rented him a piece of land. He paid me more for one night than the land was worth for two years, and then I didn’t let him use the land. That’s what we should be doing. I don’t want to use the word ‘screwed’, but I screwed him. That’s what we should be doing.” – BANG & BLAME!

And with an impending defeat in this first of legislative miscues that hurt the very people who propelled him into office, it may not be too hard to see why “it’s not my thing.”

rem-bang-and-blame-album-version-1994-cs

And how apropos is it that this particular image of a ’45 featuring “Bang And Blame” is complete with “Losing My Religion,” “Country Feedback,” and “Begin The Begin”?

Song #1 explains Trump’s method of operation as far as his “leadership” style is concerned.

Song #2 explains the disconnect of his policies and those of Paul Ryan with the tenets of the very religion they espouse.

Song #3 explains how people are starting to feel about Trump’s policies – the very people who helped to elect him and he seems to have ignored now while he is in “Ignoreland.”

Song #4 explains that this may be the beginning of something. Maybe?

But it is neat to see that three of those songs were recorded live for Greenpeace, which I am sure receives no love from Trump.

Nor does Sesame Street and PBS. But they do love them some R.E.M.

FurryHappyMonstersSong

“Bang And Blame”

If you could see yourself now, baby,
It’s not my fault, you used to be so in control.
You’re going to roll right over this one.
Just roll me over, let me go,
You’re laying blame.
Take this as no, no, no, no, no.

You bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,
Then blame, blame, blame,
You bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,
It’s not my thing so let it go.

If you could see yourself now, baby,
The tables have turned, the whole world hinges on your swings,
Your secret life of indiscreet discretions.
I’d turn the screw and leave the screen,
Don’t point your finger,
You know that’s not my thing.

You came to bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,
To blame, blame, blame,
Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,
It’s not my thing so let it go now.

You’ve got a little worry,
I know it all too well.
I’ve got your number —
But so does every kiss and tell
Who dares to cross your threshold,
Or happens on you way,
Stop laying blame.
You know that’s not my thing.

You know that’s not my thing, you came to bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,
Then blame, blame, blame.
Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,
It’s not my thing so let it go, you
Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,
Then blame, blame, blame.
It’s not my thing so let it go.

You kiss on me,
Tug on me,
Rub on me,
Jump on me.
You bang on me,
Beat on me,
Hit on me,
Let go on me.
You let go on me.

No More Meals On Wheels – When Lack Of Empathy Is A Preexisting Condition

The older I become, the more I reflect on my grandparents. Both my biological grandfathers and step-grandfather were veterans. One saw frequent combat in WWII as a member of a Black Widow Squadron. My father’s mother even served in the Navy in WWII while her brother sacrificed his life in battle in Europe.

All of my grandparents experienced firsthand the Great Depression. They saw Jim Crow, Civil Rights, Vietnam, and other social struggles.

They also knew about community.

When my MaMa married my PaPa in the late 1970’s both of them began new chapters in their lives. Having lost their spouses in the previous five years, they had a new shared lease on life and the means to live rather comfortably. My Papa had never had children, so when he married my grandmother he all of a sudden had a “ready-made” family complete with grandchildren and stubborn personalities.

And he got to finally impart lessons he had ready to teach on those younger than he.

MaMa and PaPa were devout people, but more than that, they were giving people. They donated time, money, and energy to causes they thought worthy.

One of those causes was Meals-On-Wheels.

measl on wheels

Every week they delivered meals to house bound, elderly people who often lived alone and in rather meager environments. They not only delivered the meals. They visited these people.

They knew names. They knew histories. They knew aches and pains. They knew of medical appointments. They were part of other people’s lives. They understood the importance of human interaction.

My visits with my grandparents did not yield a change in their schedules. They simply took me along with them on their daily routines which meant getting up at some ungodly hour in the morning, eating breakfast without electronics, doing chores, bowling with old people in PaPa’s league, eating dinner at 4 in the afternoon and doing service work like Meals-On-Wheels without question.

And listening to two older people talk about what it meant to have others help, especially PaPa.

I got to listen to a man talk about the past as if he waited his whole life for a kid like me to come along and listen.

As a nine-year-old until I was well into college, if I was visiting on a weekday that they were slated to deliver meals, I went with them. No questions asked.

I knew why they did it. My grandparents could care less about any notoriety or credit. It was a sense of community and the need to take care of others.

A life-long Republican, PaPa loved him some Ronald Reagan. He contributed to his campaigns. He said he felt safer with Reagan at the helm. He said he liked how Reagan did not talk badly about others around him. And if you grew up a country boy in rural Georgia, that was a sentiment felt by many. The older me does not look at Reagan as a beacon of economic prosperity for average Americans, but he did have a persona that was presidential and he did have a maxim about talking positively about others.

PaPa died a little over ten years ago. He saw his great granddaughter. He saw me get married to a woman he adored. And I remembered that one of the last things he said to me had to deal with Reagan and the administration that was currently in the White House and in Congress and how disappointed he was in them that they seemed so divided and neglectful of the average American.

In his beautifully blunt way of expressing himself, PaPa told me that “Reagan would slap the shit out of them.”

A picture of PaPa and MaMa is on my desk at home. I kept his bowling ball and use it on occasion rather badly. There are artifacts from him in my classroom because I like remembering him and things he taught me. There is a book about PaPa floating somewhere inside of me.

I thought of him last night when I saw this. The New York Times released a report that outlined the budget proposal of the Trump administration (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/15/us/politics/budget-epa-state-department-cuts.html). It stated,

“In addition to the cuts at the E.P.A. and the State Department, Mr. Trump’s team is expected to propose a wide array of cuts to public education, to transportation programs like Amtrak and to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, including the complete elimination of the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program, which funds popular programs like Meals on Wheels, housing assistance and other community assistance efforts.”

With the appointment of Betsy DeVos, cuts to public education were not surprising, but I could hear my PaPa roll in his grave when I read about the possible elimination of the Meals on Wheels program.

My PaPa would be the first to tell someone that he/she needed to do everything he/she could for him/herself before expecting someone to help. He would have agreed with the old Chinese proverb that says, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

But he would also be the first to say, “Don’t pollute that man’s waters.”

He would also say, “If the man can’t hold his own fishing pole, then do it for him because we take care of each other.”

PaPa had something that I don’t think Trump has – empathy. He knew what it was like. He never forgot was loss was like. He never forgot mercy. He never forgot loving others.

That’s why he did the Meals on Wheels program, even helping people who were younger than he was.

And I know exactly what PaPa would have said last night if he read the same report and saw Trump on television at a rally for himself in Tennessee.

“A president who has to have a rally to validate himself while hurting good people is a man who does not love others well.”

And then he would say,

“Reagan would slap the shit out of him.”