Dr. Seuss And The Age of Trump

Donald Trump’s first three weeks in office have been rather tumultuous, yet surreal at the same time, and the references by many to dystopian novels have been plentiful.

1984 is the bestselling book of the past few weeks as the articles making comparisons between Trump’s tenure as president and Orwell’s “fictional” world immediately began to circulate when he took office and began to decree his executive orders.

References to other books like Handmaid’s Tale and Brave New World have also been made numerous times.

But there may be another writer who has eerily framed the present with past works.

That is Theodor Seuss Geisel. He is known to most people as Dr. Seuss.

In February of 2009, the eclectic magazine Mental Floss, published an article written by Stacy Conradt entitled “10 Stories Behind Dr. Seuss Stories” that provided background content for some of Theodor Seuss Geisel most well-known stories (http://mentalfloss.com/article/28843/10-stories-behind-dr-seuss-stories).

If you have never read a copy of Mental Floss, then treat yourself. It’s a rather nerdy respite from the world and highly engaging. We have subscribed to it for years.

When that article came out, I printed it and posted it to the peg board in my room at school. Occasionally, the need to reference Seuss still comes up in class.

Known for his ability to weave issues that surrounded the current political and social landscape of his time, Dr. Seuss was able to craft complex allegorical stories in such a way that it was palpable to the imagination of a child and the intellect of an aware adult.

However, while the stories themselves have reached an age that spans decades, their applicability and messages still have power and may be more relevant to the present than ever before.

Conradt specifically named 10 of Suess’s stories. While I will not refer to all of them, I will put in bold her descriptions of the texts she lists and then follow with my own observations.

  1. “The Lorax is widely recognized as Dr. Seuss’ take on environmentalism and how humans are destroying nature.”

Think of the executive orders that Trump signed in the first week that restarted the Keystone Pipeline construction and his move to take us out of the Paris Agreement. Add to that the freezing of grant programs for the EPA, the appointment of a controversial individual to head the EPA, and the shutting down the twitter accounts of the National Parks, and one can see how Trump has not really been the president that the Sierra Club would have wanted.

suess-lorax

  1. “Green Eggs and Ham. Bennett Cerf, Dr. Seuss’ editor, bet him that he couldn’t write a book using 50 words or less. The Cat in the Hat was pretty simple, after all, and it used 225 words. Not one to back down from a challenge, Mr. Geisel started writing and came up with Green Eggs and Ham—which uses exactly 50 words.”

Have you ever looked at the comments made by linguists who have studied the rhetoric of Trump on the campaign trail? They talk about the preponderance of one-syllable words and the repetition he uses. The only “Script” that I know of that uses more one-syllable words is the movie 300, but it had much better visuals.

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  1. “Horton Hears a Who! The line from the book, “A person’s a person, no matter how small,” has been used as a slogan for pro-life organizations for years. It’s often questioned whether that was Seuss’ intent in the first place, but when he was still alive, he threatened to sue a pro-life group unless they removed his words from their letterhead.”

Trump’s stance on abortion at one time was pro-choice, but it changed rather swiftly when he converted to the GOP and began to court the evangelical vote. However, while there may be a pro-life argument to be made with the text of Horton, it is the fact that Trump wanted to represent the average American that makes this book applicable – he wanted to let all “Whos” be heard.

Maybe that is why he has the most homogeneous cabinet in recent history and appointed more people from Wall Street to his cabinet than from Main Street.

seuss-horton-hears-a-who

  1. “Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!It’s often alleged that this book was written specifically about Richard Nixon, but the book came out only two months after the whole Watergate scandal. It’s unlikely that the book could have been conceived of, written, edited, and mass produced in such a short time; also, Seuss never admitted that the story was originally about Nixon.”

But the Trump – Nixon parallel has been made by many. In fact, Nixon seems rather fond of Trump.

suess-nixonsuess-marvinkmooneywillyoupleasegonowbookcover

  1. “Yertle the Turtle= Hitler? Yep. If you haven’t read the story, here’s a little overview: 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. Mack, the turtle at the bottom, is exhausted. He asks Yertle for a rest; Yertle ignores him and demands more turtles for a better view. Eventually, Yertle notices the moon and is furious that anything dare be higher than himself, and is about ready to call for more turtles when Mack burps. This sudden movement topples the whole stack, sends Yertle flying into the mud, and frees the rest of the turtles from their stacking duty.”

I am going to stay away from this one. Saturday Night Live has touched a little on this one.

suess-yertle_the_turtle_and_other_stories_cover

  1. “Butter Battle Book was pulled from the shelves of libraries for a while because of the reference to the Cold War and the arms race. Yooks and Zooks are societies who do everything differently. …The book concludes with each side ready to drop their ultimate bombs on each other, but the reader doesn’t know how it actually turns out.”

Trump / Putin? Check. Nuclear Arms race about to start again? Check.

suess-butter-battle-book

  1. “Oh The Places You’ll Go is Dr. Seuss’ final book, published in 1990. It sells about 300,000 copies every year because so many people give it to college and high school grads.”

With Betsy DeVos as the new secretary of education and revelations 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.

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  1. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas! In the Dr. Seuss-sanctioned cartoon, Frankenstein’s Monster himself, Boris Karloff, provided the voice of the Grinch and the narration. Seuss was a little wary of casting him because he thought his voice would be too scary for kids.”

I actually thought more of Steve Bannon with this one.

suess-grinchchristmas

  1. And I will add two others myself starting with The Sneetches. “Now, the Star-Bell Sneetches had bellies with stars. The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars.”

If you have never read The Sneetches then do so because you will see the obvious parallels to the Jewish nation when they had to be identified with a yellow star of David. With the recent debacle of not mentioning the Jews in reference to the Holocaust Remembrance Day, it seems this story would make all of us remember who was truly victimized.

seuss-sneetches

  1. 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.”

Enough said.

suess-big-brag

Melissa McCarthy and Acting the Truth

Donald Trump has literally revitalized Saturday Night Live.

Not because he hosted an episode in 2015, but because of the fodder he is giving the show. Alec Baldwin’s impression of the new president might just win him an Emmy Award, but what Melissa McCarthy pulled off this past weekend might be the best political satire of this television season.

When SNL spoofs the press secretary as the basis of a skit, then you know that the Trump administration is under an incredible self-created microscope. The more the president has attacked NBC and SNL (and Hollywood for that matter) through Twitter and other comments, the more the public tunes into shows like SNL to see if there is any response to him.

And Melissa McCarthy delivered as a Sean Spicer. The link is below:

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/sean-spicer-press-conference/3465162?snl=1

mccarthy-spicer

With references to how Spicer began his stint as press secretary – gum chewing, claims of standing ovations for Trump and crowd sizes, a red Herring with Finding Dory, the word “ban,” blasting the New York Times and CNN, not remembering people’s names, and just confrontational – was not only hilarious, but painfully realistic.

And to add to this fantastic skit was Kate McKinnon’s spoof of Betsy DeVos and DeVos’s inability to articulate educational issues. From her growth versus proficiency bungle, to shooting grizzly bears, to her evangelical motivations, McKinnon summed up DeVos’s non-qualifications to lead public schools in a matter of seconds.

mccarthy-devos

When has a nominee for secretary of education ever been spoofed on Saturday Night Live? And they wouldn’t do it unless they knew that the viewing public had already been apprised of DeVos’s disastrous confirmation hearing.

But McCarthy was not done for the weekend.

Her starring role in the environmentally-conscious ad for Kia won the USA TODAY ad meter contest for best ad during the Super Bowl.

mccarthyad

And don’t think that Donald Trump’s current leanings as far as the environment were not part of the “clean” fuel for many commercials. For that matter, immigration became a central theme in the commercials of this year. Just look at the Budweiser commercial about its beginnings with Adolphus Busch, or even the 84Lumber commercial that was “banned” from the television because it so provocatively commented on immigration.

And a WALL.

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McCarthy’s specific ad showed her trying to save whales, icecaps, trees, and rhinos while hilariously failing each time – but at least she stays intact and drives a hybrid car that is environmentally friendly.

And in a new presidency where the Keystone Pipeline has been put back into action, a removal of the US from the Paris Agreement, and an anti-environmentalist chosen to head the EPA (which has now gone rogue with its own “alt” twitter account) McCarthy’s presence not only helped to keep those issues in the view of the Super Bowl audience; it challenged Trump and his administration on their nebulous policies. Ironic considering that Kia is a South Korean company.

And manufactures their cars in Georgia, home of the Falcons who just lost an epic game in epic fashion.

A good weekend for Melissa McCarthy, but a better one for those who got to see her in action doing what we need to keep all presidents and politicians somewhat honest, or at least cognizant that their alternative truths are still false  – satirical insight.

Because that insight can help us find doors in those walls.

 

I Will Not Write Joyce Krawiec About Her Tweet Concerning The Women’s March, But I Will…

I am not going to write Sen. Joyce Krawiec a letter concerning her statement in a recent tweet that belittled the women who marched in the Women’s March this past Saturday which looked something like this:

joyce1

I am not going remark to her that using Twitter allows for your comments to be seen by everybody and that tweets can get people in a little bit of trouble.

joyce2

 

I am not going to remind Joyce Krawiec that on her Twitter description she identifies herself as someone who defends the constitution and attaches herself to #Christian #Conservative #Constitution hashtags.

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I am not going to tell the state senator that in her tweet she actually was attacking the constitutional rights of those women who were participating, specifically the First Amendment.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

I am not going to remind Joyce Krawiec that not a single woman or individual in any of the marches associated with the Women’s Day March was arrested and that they all had the right to congregate.

joyce4

I am not going to remind the state senator that freedom of speech means that one can use vulgarity. Considering that she endorsed a man to become president who frequently used it and has exhibited lewd behavior, she seems to be selectively judging others even though the Bible teaches her not to do so.

“I think he’s going to make America great again. I believe that he will do what he says he will do” – Se. Kraweic on Trump, July 24th, 2016 for Fox8.

“Grab them by the pussy” – Donald Trump 2005.

I will not remind the senator that protesting as a group of civic minded people is about as grassroots as it gets in America.

“Joyce Krawiec is a small business owner, grassroots activist, and life long Republican. As a believer in the grassroots, Joyce has dedicated her time and efforts to holding government accountable to the people of North Carolina” – from http://www.joyceforsenate.com/.

I will not remind Joyce Krawiec that she of all people does not get to decide what the right reasons are for people to congregate.

joyce5

And will not tell her that her excuse for what she tweeted is because she is new to twitter is utter bullshit considering when she joined Twitter and how many tweets she has already sent out from her personal account.

joyce6

Nor will I tell her that her tweet literally went against that credo of restoring freedom and liberty.

And that I have a hard time remembering how to spell her name.

I will simply tweet it and send her one of those pink hats.

joyce7

With her name knitted on it.

Spelled incorrectly.

 

Verbal Iocane – What The Princess Bride Can Teach Us Besides Turning Archetypes Upside Down

Everyone should see the Princess Bride at some time in their lives.

There’s that kid from the Wonder Years, Andre the Giant, the minister, Jenny from Forrest Gump, and the guy who tries to take Tom Cruise’s sponsorship in Days of Thunder.

“Inconceivable!”

In it there is the encounter that Westley (as the Dread Pirate Roberts) and Vizzini ( a cerebral guy) have that is eventually settled with a “battle of wits.”

Man in Black: “What you do not smell is called iocane powder. It is odorless, tasteless, dissolves instantly in liquid, and is among the more deadlier poisons known to man. All right. Where is the poison? The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink, and find out who is right… and who is dead.”

princess-bride-1

Westley wins and Princess Buttercup inquires as to how he won.

Man in Black: “They were both poisoned. I spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocane powder.”

Words. Just like Hamlet says in Act II when he begins his descent into feigned and/or real madness,

“Words, words, words.”

But these words come with ominous imagery.

Words used to paint an unrealistic landscape in such a way that you see it without any single cue.

Like ill-fated, cacophonous, dystopian words that can be poison, except in this case they are still tasteless, dissolve instantly in the ears, but maintain a certain stench if you keep your senses together.

But you don’t ever want to build an immunity to them.

You want to hear them and listen to what they say.

And make a decision whether to believe them or not.

Donald Trump’s inaugural speech cast a shadow over an America that I don’t entirely agree exists exclusively from so many positives that we have. He does identify some elements that are truthful, but in the speech he used some words that if repeated enough will become so common to our lexicon of how we describe our country that we will become almost immune from the shock of hearing them.

The text of his inauguration speech is at the end of this post for reference and I will highlight some words that Trump uses to help maybe “poison” our minds to how we view our country.

Philip Bump wrote a very interesting post in “The Fix” blog run by The Washington Post on January 20th entitled “Trump’s inaugural address was demonstrably bleak” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/01/20/trumps-inaugural-address-was-demonstrably-bleak/?utm_term=.7ea9dd03391c).

This is the kind of article that begs to be talked about, especially in the scope of a lens that is called DIDLS – diction, imagery, details, language, and syntax.

I will quote from Bump,

“Earlier this week, we cataloged each of those prior addresses, building a tool allowing you to search them and see how the expressions the presidents used were in and out of vogue over time.

It also allows us to see which terms were used by Trump but not by any president prior. The words below constitute that list.

sprawl, ignored, windswept, overseas, tombstones, rusted-out, trapped, neighborhoods, landscape, flush, carnage, unrealized, robbed, stolen, likes, listening, hardships, transferring, politicians, reaped, stops, subsidized, disagreements, bedrock, Islamic, reinforce, solidarity, unstoppable, brown, mysteries, arrives, politicians, hire, infrastructure, trillions, depletion, allowing, disrepair, redistributed, tunnels, stealing, ravages, issuing, bleed

There have been variants on those words used in the past: politician (William Henry Harrison, 1841), ravage (Richard Nixon, 1969) or hardship (used in both of Barack Obama’s). Others, though, are totally unique to Trump.

“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

“…rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation”

“Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities…”

“…the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.”

“whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots…”

“America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay…”

And the speech was a constant dosage of this negativity without much to neutralize its power to people who simply believe what they hear without listening.

The fear I have is that more of us will become desensitized to the words so that they become so common place that any change in the dialogue in the future will automatically constitute growth and rejuvenation. And that’s something I personally believe Trump wants us to associate with him.

Simply paint a negative picture, dim the lights, and play ominous music to set the mood. We the people become desensitized and make it the wallpaper of our lives.

Then new brighter colors are used, the lights are turned up, and the music becomes happier and more upbeat. And who did that for us?

Possibly the person who painted the original picture.

If words can be like iocane powder, I hope that I never build an immunity to them. I hope the ear that hears them, the brain that interprets them, and the mind that listens to them will allow them to have as much power the thousandth time it is used as they have the first time.

Some already do.

“I love you.”

“Daddy.”

When I hear strong words used to describe something I want to be able to identify them.

“Iocane. I’d bet my life on it.”

Prince Humperdinck knows it when he senses it. And while he is a bit of an ass and an antagonist to the Princess Buttercup and Westley, he is keen enough to know what has happened.

princess-bride-2

If you become desensitized to the rhetoric then you might become “mostly dead” to what is good in this country. Don’t let something “inconceivable” block you from your “true wuv.”

And watch the other movies that have that six-fingered man in them. Waiting For Guffman and Best in Show are two of the greatest movies ever made.

Speech:

“Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans and people of the world, thank you.

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. We will face challenges. We will confront hardships, but we will get the job done. Every four years we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent. Thank you.

Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning because, today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people.

For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have born the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs and, while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you. It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is your day. This is your celebration, and this, the United States of America, is your country.

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.

Everyone is listening to you now. You came by the tens of millions to become part of an historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before. At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public, but for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists.

Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation, an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

We are one nation and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home and one glorious destiny. The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans. For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.

We’ve defended other nations’ borders, while refusing to defend our own, and spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas, while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay. We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon. One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind. The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world.

But, that is the past and now we are looking only to the future. We assembled here today, are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first. America first. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families.

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body and I will never, ever let you down.

America will start winning again. Winning like never before. We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams. We will build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation. We will get our people off of welfare and back to work rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor. We will follow two simple rules: buy American and hire American. We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.

We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow. We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth. At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America and, through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.

The bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when god’s people live together in unity. We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity. When America is united, America is totally unstoppable. There should be no fear. We are protected and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and most importantly, we will be protected by God.

Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger. In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving. We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action constantly complaining, but never doing anything about it. The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action. Do not allow anyone to tell you that it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America. We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.

We stand at the birth of a new millennium ready to unlock the histories of space, to free the earth from the miseries of disease and to harness the energies, industries, and technologies of tomorrow. A new national pride will lift our sights and heal our divisions. It’s time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots. We all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American flag.

And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky. They fill their heart with the same dreams and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty creator. So, to all Americans in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean, hear these words: You will never be ignored again. Your voice, your hopes and your dreams will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.

Together we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And, yes, together, we will make America great again. Thank you. God bless you and god bless America. Thank you. God bless America.”

Excuse Me Mr. Barista? May I Have Some More Spicer in My Sycophant Latte? – Or, The Making of a New SNL Skit

First it was about the size of the hands.

Now it’s about the size of the crowd.

New Press Secretary Sean Spicer made his first appearance as Trump’s mouthpiece on Saturday during a day of protest with the Women’s March on Washington and other metropolitan/urban venues.

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And he sounded like he was a mad elementary school child who was caught in a lie and was trying to fib his way out of it.

Simply put, he sounded like an “angry elf.”

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Actually, Sean Spicer is average height, but Buddy would have called him that anyway.

  • The tone.
  • The stance.
  • The words.
  • The angry pauses.
  • The false claims.
  • The attitude.
  • The atmosphere.
  • The “I’m so mad, I could just spit” kind of feeling.

And with it he set a tenor for the presidency of Donald Trump. But he also gave even more fuel to two different movements that just might meld into one.

First, his words did nothing more than cry out, “We can’t accept that more people showed up to protest the new president’s inauguration than actually came to the inauguration.”

Sorry, Sean. All reports pretty much say that more people came to show disgust today than to come and cheer Trump yesterday.

Secondly, he came in front of the media to state that the media is wrong in its reporting.

I am not a journalist, but married to a professional journalist and I have many friends in the newspaper business. They take the job very seriously, and while there are a few publications that are really out for sales and demonizing like Steve Bannon’s Breitbart News, journalists tend to hold the First Amendment very strongly like Alex Jones claims to hold the Second Amendment.

Mr. Spicer just added more impetus to focus even more of a microscope on the Trump presidency. Mr. Spicer just reemphasized to journalists the very power that they have.

Trump’s press conference last week when he blasted CNN for “fake news” probably made CNN’s ratings go up. Interestingly, CNN broke the story that led to the fall of Monica Crowley when they discovered plagiarism in both her book and her doctoral dissertation.

What Spicer did was really pick an unknowing fight with something that might be bigger than he or Trump – the press.

They are galvanized and ready to ask a lot of questions.

The following is the transcript of Spicer’s “press conference.” Judge for yourself, but it is funny that he thanks journalists for being there and that he will see them later on Monday after he just finished belittling the profession.

Then go and read other accounts – other news outlets – CNN, MSNBC, FOX, ABC, BBC, etc. See what they say.

But if I DIDLS (look for diction, imagery, details or lack thereof, language, and syntax) Spicer’s spiel, then I come to one and one/half conclusions – bruised ego with a side of fear.

That fear is that it is all very real now with no “do overs.”

Good evening.  Thank you guys for coming.  I know our first official press briefing is going to be on Monday, but I wanted to give you a few updates on the President’s activities.  But before I get to the news of the day, I think I’d like to discuss a little bit of the coverage of the last 24 hours.

Yesterday, at a time when our nation and the world was watching the peaceful transition of power and, as the President said, the transition and the balance of power from Washington to the citizens of the United States, some members of the media were engaged in deliberately false reporting.  For all the talk about the proper use of Twitter, two instances yesterday stand out.

One was a particular egregious example in which a reporter falsely tweeted out that the bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office.  After it was pointed out that this was just plain wrong, the reporter casually reported and tweeted out and tried to claim that a Secret Service agent must have just been standing in front of it.  This was irresponsible and reckless.

Secondly, photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way, in one particular tweet, to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall.  This was the first time in our nation’s history that floor coverings have been used to protect the grass on the Mall.  That had the effect of highlighting any areas where people were not standing, while in years past the grass eliminated this visual.  This was also the first time that fencing and magnetometers went as far back on the Mall, preventing hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the Mall as quickly as they had in inaugurations past.

Inaccurate numbers involving crowd size were also tweeted.  No one had numbers, because the National Park Service, which controls the National Mall, does not put any out.  By the way, this applies to any attempts to try to count the number of protestors today in the same fashion.

We do know a few things, so let’s go through the facts.  We know that from the platform where the President was sworn in, to 4th Street, it holds about 250,000 people.  From 4th Street to the media tent is about another 220,000.  And from the media tent to the Washington Monument, another 250,000 people.  All of this space was full when the President took the Oath of Office.  We know that 420,000 people used the D.C. Metro public transit yesterday, which actually compares to 317,000 that used it for President Obama’s last inaugural.  This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe.  Even the New York Times printed a photograph showing a misrepresentation of the crowd in the original Tweet in their paper, which showed the full extent of the support, depth in crowd, and intensity that existed.

These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.  The President was also at the — as you know, the President was also at the Central Intelligence Agency and greeted by a raucous overflow crowd of some 400-plus CIA employees.  There were over 1,000 requests to attend, prompting the President to note that he’ll have to come back to greet the rest.  The employees were ecstatic that he’s the new Commander-in-Chief, and he delivered them a powerful and important message.  He told them he has their back, and they were grateful for that.  They gave him a five-minute standing ovation at the end in a display of their patriotism and their enthusiasm for his presidency.

I’d also note that it’s a shame that the CIA didn’t have a CIA Director to be with him today when he visited, because the Democrats have chosen — Senate Democrats are stalling the nomination of Mike Pompeo and playing politics with national security.  That’s what you guys should be writing and covering, instead of sowing division about tweets and false narratives.

The President is committed to unifying our country, and that was the focus of his inaugural address.  This kind of dishonesty in the media, the challenging — that bringing about our nation together is making it more difficult.

There’s been a lot of talk in the media about the responsibility to hold Donald Trump accountable.  And I’m here to tell you that it goes two ways.  We’re going to hold the press accountable, as well.  The American people deserve better.  And as long as he serves as the messenger for this incredible movement, he will take his message directly to the American people where his focus will always be.

And with that, a few other updates from the day.  The President had a constructive conversation with Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada about strengthening the relationship between our two nations.  They also discussed setting up additional meetings in the days to come, which we will follow up on.  He also spoke to Prime Minister Peña Nieto of Mexico, and talked about a visit on trade, immigration and security that will occur on the 31st.  The President will welcome his first foreign leader this Thursday when the United Kingdom’s Theresa May will come to Washington — on Friday.

Tomorrow, the President will oversee his Assistants to the President being sworn in.  The staff will then have an ethics briefing, a briefing on the proper use and handling of classified information.  Further updates as far as what he will do — oh, and then in the evening, he will have a reception for law enforcement and first responders that helped support the inauguration.

Thank you guys for being here tonight.  I will see you on Monday.

Mr. Spicer, you just became a new character on Saturday Night Live.

Taking Dolorous Umbrage at Betsy DeVos With No Apologies to Dolores Umbridge, But I Miss Alan Rickman

When you teach a number of years coupled with the fact that social media has become such a mainstay in our culture, you have the opportunity to stay connected with former students much more easily.

It is rather a humbling that these younger people (younger than I) would want to tell you about how their lives are progressing: their victories, their obstacles, their journeys.

And they also share with you their observations of the world and its changes.

And then there are the memes. One of my more outgoing former students who happens to be a fantastic dramatist as well sent me the following meme in response to Betsy DeVos’s recent appointment and hearing in front of the HELP committee.

It’s rather brilliant.

decree-0

(Credit:?)

And funny. I do not know who the credit should go to, but if you find out, then let me know.

Here are two women who have no real experience with public education (or the education of wizards) and no IDEA of what growth is versus proficiency. Entitled with the power of a ministry, both women have a certain agenda to force into schools that seems more in line with their own personal ideologies rather than the public benefit.

And then there are the standards that each strives to put in place within the schools.

For Dolores Umbridge it was the use of Educational Decrees. Defined by the Harry Potter Wiki website (http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Educational_Decree), these decrees are,

“The Educational Decrees are laws created by the Ministry of Magic to set or modify standards at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

…the Ministry (spearheaded by Dolores Umbridge) created new educational decrees to suppress and outlaw behaviour of which the Ministry did not approve, some of which would outright expel the students found to be in transgression of. In truth, however, is just an excuse to strip Albus Dumbledore of his headship of the school and give it to Umbridge.”

decree1

In the book the Educational Decrees were as follows (thanks to Harry Potter Neoseeker – http://harrypotter.neoseeker.com/wiki/Educational_Decrees).

  • Educational Decree Number Twenty-four: All Student Organizations, Societies, Teams, Groups, and Clubs are henceforth disbanded. An Organization, Society, Team, Group, or Club is hereby defined as a regular meeting of three or more students. Permission to re-form may be sought from the High Inquisitor (Professor Umbridge). No Student Organization, Society, Team, Group, or Club may exist without the knowledge and approval of the High Inquisitor. Any student found to have formed, or to belong to, an Organization, Society, Team Group, or Club that has not been approved by the High Inquisitor will be expelled.
  • Educational Decree Number Twenty-five: The High Inquisitor will henceforth have supreme authority over all punishments, sanctions and removal of privileges pertaining to the students of Hogwarts, and the power to alter such punishments, sanctions and removals of privileges as may have been placed by other staff members.
  • Educational Decree Number Twenty-six: Teachers are hereby banned from giving students any information that is not strictly related to the subjects they are paid to teach.
  • Educational Decree Number Twenty-seven: Any student found in possession of the magazine The Quibbler will be expelled.
  • Educational Decree Number Twenty-eight: Dolores Jane Umbridge (High Inquisitor) has replaced Albus Dumbledore as the Head of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

And in the movie where so many got to meet Dolores Umbridge in a more personal way, these decrees were more numerous and amended somewhat. (Again, thanks to Harry Potter Neoseeker – http://harrypotter.neoseeker.com/wiki/Educational_Decrees).

  • Educational Decree Number 22 – In the event of the current Headmaster being unable to provide a candidate for a teaching post, the Ministry should select an appropriate person.
  • Educational Decree Number 23 – Dolores Jane Umbridge has been appointed to the post of Hogwarts High Inquisitor.
  • Educational Decree Number 24 – NO MUSIC IS TO BE PLAYED DURING Study Hours.
  • Educational Decree Number 25 – The High Inquisitor will henceforth have supreme authority over all punishments, sanctions and removal of privileges pertaining to the students of Hogwarts, and the power to alter such punishments, sanctions and removals of privileges as may have been placed by other staff members.
  • Educational Decree Number 26 – Teachers are hereby banned from giving students any information that is not strictly related to the subjects they are paid to teach.
  • Educational Decree Number 27 – Any student found in possession of the magazine The Quibbler will be expelled.
  • Educational Decree Number 29 – Although never actually passed, it was mentioned by Argus Filch, and would have presumably allowed Filch to torture the students as a punishment.
  • Educational Decree Number 30 – ALL WEASLEY PRODUCTS WILL BE BANNED IMMEDIATELY.
  • Educational Decree Number 45 – PROPER DRESS & DECORUM IS TO BE maintained AT ALL TIMES.
  • Educational Decree Number 68 – All Student Organizations, Societies, Teams, Groups, and Clubs are henceforth disbanded. An Organization, Society, Team, Group, or Club is hereby defined as a regular meeting of three or more students. Permission to re-form may be sought from the High Inquisitor (Professor Umbridge). No Student Organization, Society, Team, Group, or Club may exist without the knowledge and approval of the High Inquisitor. Any student found to have formed, or to belong to, an Organization, Society, Team, Group, or Club that has not been approved by the High Inquisitor will be expelled.
  • Educational Decree Number 82 – ALL STUDENTS WILL SUBMIT TO QUESTIONING ABOUT Suspected ILLICIT Activities.
  • Educational Decree Number 98 – THOSE WISHING TO JOIN THE INQUISITORIAL SQUAD for Extra Credit May sign up in the High Inquisitor’s OFFICE.

decree5decree2

While I cannot confirm if DeVos has an affinity for cats or for the color pink or office décor centered on putting plates on the wall, it is this adherence to the wishes of the “ministry” where she and Umbridge have a magical connection.

Since Cornelius Fudge is the Minister For Magic who places Umbridge in her educational post, he directs what Hogwarts can and cannot do in the classrooms. In fact, Umbridge on many occasions simply talks about herself as an extension of Fudge within Hogwarts.

“I am sorry, dear, but to question my practices is to question the Ministry, and by extension, the Minister himself. I am a tolerant woman, but the one thing I will not stand for is disloyalty.”

“Your previous instruction in this subject has been disturbingly uneven. But you will be pleased to know from now on, you will be following a carefully structured, Ministry-approved course of defensive magic. Yes?”

“It is the view of the Ministry that a theoretical knowledge will be sufficient to get you through your examinations, which after all, is what school is all about.”

Now that’s loyalty.

Betsy DeVos in her confirmation hearing stated her allegiance with her own Cornelius Fudge, Donald Trump, as she would back up his policies, especially when she was pressed in her conversation about guns at schools.

And when you talk about advancing the wishes of a “ministry,” then DeVos certainly is a proud disciple of that. The Mother Jones magazine article (yep, it’s liberal) entitled “Betsy DeVos Wants to Use America’s Schools to Build ‘God’s Kingdom’” is rather eye-opening and it includes some rather zealous statements about DeVos’s devotion to another cause that may be rather cloudy according to the separation of church and state (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/01/betsy-devos-christian-schools-vouchers-charter-education-secretary).

Asked whether Christian schools should continue to rely on philanthropic dollars—rather than pushing for taxpayer money through vouchers—Betsy DeVos replied, “There are not enough philanthropic dollars in America to fund what is currently the need in education…[versus] what is currently being spent every year on education in this country…Our desire is to confront the culture in ways that will continue to advance God’s kingdom.”

From 1999 to 2014, the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation gave out $2.4 million to the Grand Rapids Christian High School Association, $652,000 to the Ada Christian School, and $458,000 to Holland Christian Schools. All told, their foundation contributed $8.6 million to private religious schools—a reflection of the DeVoses’ lifelong dedication to building “God’s kingdom” through education.

Makes the word “ministry” take an even more celestial meaning.

Imagine the new guidelines for finding effective teachers after DeVos’s Common Core issues are finally politically cemented and then implemented (if she is confirmed). Umbridge went after many of Hogwarts’s most established professors with the acumen of an educational novice, but with the authority derived from being granted undeserved powers by a man bent on profit, there’s no telling how DeVos will measure effectiveness or growth or proficiency once she looks those words up in her dictionary.

In the books, during a round of standardized testing, Fred and George Weasley literally “drop out,” probably hum some Pink Floyd quietly and make a rather stunning display of civil disobedience that ends with Umbridge being “swallowed” by a dragon-shaped firework. And dragons are appropriate for this because – well, just read this post – “Teachers, Winter Is Coming, So Get Your Dragons!” – https://caffeinatedrage.com/2017/01/07/teachers-winter-is-coming-so-get-your-dragons/.

decree3

So the meme that puts both Umbridge and DeVos together is quite appropriate and shows that the magical world and the real world might not be that far apart.

At least in some people’s minds.

However, the meme does say that “we needed centaurs to get rid of” Umbridge.

Well considering that DeVos and her family have given heavily to organizations that are blatantly anti-LGBT, centaurs may not be the best choice of helping us rid ourselves of the “deforms” of Betsy DeVos.

So I suggest,

decree4

And after they are done taking away DeVos, they can go to Raleigh and get rid of HB2.

But, just in case DeVos is confirmed it might be time to go ahead and put Defense Against the Dark Arts on the registration list.

In fact, it should be a prerequisite.

decree6

 

For Alan Rickman – “Always”

Bear This In Mind, Grizzlies Are Not Preying on Public Schools – Even Dwight Shrute Would Agree, but watch out for Beets and Battlestar Galactica

First there was The Office.

Jim Halpert: [imitating Dwight] “Fact: bears eat beets. Bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica.” (From “Product Recall episode 2007).

bears-beets

Then there was Sarah Palin.

“This mama grizzly … has more reason than ever to protect our young” – Sarah Palin, 2008.

bears-palin

There’s always been the references to Russia as a bear.

Don’t poke bear.” – Commonly referred to when talking about Russia.

bears-dont-poke

Then there’s that great presidential campaign commercial from Ronald Reagan in 1984. Entitled “Bear” it makes its point to a country in the midst of the Cold War.

“There’s a bear in the woods.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpwdcmjBgNA

And now, bears are forcing us to put guns in public schools. At least according to Betsy DeVos.

“I will refer back to Sen. Enzi and the school he is talking about in Wyoming. I think probably there, I would imagine there is probably a gun in a school to protect from potential grizzlies.”

Betsy DeVos said those now famous words during her confirmation hearing on January 17th, 2017 in response to questioning about guns on school campuses.

In an exhausting search to find the number of public school students killed by grizzlies or other bears, no number besides ZERO has shown up. On the other hand, the number of students killed with guns rises each year at alarming rates.

And honestly, who will stand up for bears and grizzlies in this case of absolute discrimination? In an attempt at a red herring on avoiding the question about guns on school properties, DeVos showed a distinct hatred of mammals that were probably here well before humans were, and in doing so directly offended many icons who are of the family Ursidae.

She certainly is saying that bears have no place in schools. And that just hurts people like Grizzly Adams in the old grizzly groin.

That means these American icons can no longer grace the hallways of any school.

Winnie the Pooh will now have to go by “Mr. Sanders.”

bears-pooh

Baloo the Bear will definitely need to stay away from the man villages.

bears-baloo

Yogi Bear? Yep, and Boo-Boo too. At least kids will keep their lunches.

bears-yogi

Fozzie Bear? You wacka-wacka betcha.

bears-fozzie

Ted? I know he’s foul-mouthed, but still.

bears-ted

Little Bear? Yep. Even him and his first grade self. Maurice Sendak is rolling in his grave where the wild things are.

bears-little-bear

Paddington Bear? Yep. Gentle Ben? Yep. Even the Coca-Cola Bears who want to wish you Happy Holidays?

bears-coca-cola

Even them.

And what about all of the schools that have “bears,” “grizzlies,” or even “bruins” as mascots? According to mascotdb.com, over 390 high schools, colleges, and professional teams have “bears” as a mascot. Over 100 have “bruins.” Over 104 have “grizzlies.” We’re talking about incredible schools like:

  • University of California at Berkley
  • UCLA
  • Baylor
  • University of Maine
  • Oakland University
  • Brown University
  • Cornell (uses a bear as mascot)
  • Mercer
  • University of Montana.

Even Bowdoin College has the bear as a mascot and it educated Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Franklin Pierce, and Nathaniel Hawthorne at one time!

Think of the Chicago Bears, the Chicago Cubs, the Boston Bruins, and the Memphis Grizzlies.

And as if the line had not already been crossed and defecated upon (because bears do that kind of stuff in the woods),

bears-poop

there’s the Bad News Bears.

bears-bad-news

They’re literally just cubs! Look at them. And the law says that kids must go to school, but Betsy DeVos says it’s alright to have guns in schools to protect against these “grizzlies-to-be.”

Now who is breaking the law?

The weird thing here is that DeVos says she will uphold Trump’s policies when it comes to his stance on gun-free zones in schools. She’s worried about grizzlies and bears attacking our kids.

Ironic then that Trump already has poked a bear.

bear-russia

And “Heavens to Betsy” we’ll need more than what DeVos offers.

In the “God I Wish This Was True” Category -Inaugural Poem for Donald J. Trump

Earlier today, the British newspaper The Independent published a copy of a poem that “pays tribute to his Scottish ancestry and attacks Barack Obama” (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-inauguration-poem-barack-obama-tyrant-scottish-heritage-a7530506.html).

And then it went from there.

“The President-elect’s mother, Mary Anne Macleod, is a Scot and grew up on the Hebridean island of Lewis.

The poem, which was not commissioned by Mr Trump or his transition team, refers to snatching power from “a tyrant” who has “ill-gotten power”.

 It was written by celebrated American poet Joseph Charles McKenzie of the Society of Classical Poets.”
Celebrated? I had never heard of him. Maybe I have overlooked him. Maybe that’s why they missplled his name.
There are many living poets out there in America who have certainly been celebrated – Billy Collins, Natasha Trethaway, Mary Oliver to name just a few, but I had not heard of MacKenzie.
I have an English degree. Took a few poetry classes. Taught a lot of poetry to freshmen all the way to AP Lit students. Written bad poetry myself. I have never run into a poem by MacKenzie.
But I have heard of a Charlie MacKenzie. He’s a fictional character in the movie So I Married An Axe-Murderer and he’s played by Michael Myers of SNL fame. In it he plays not only Charlie, but his cantankerous father, Stuart MacKenzie, who is Scottish. Myers’s actual parents are Scottish, so he does the accent extremely well.
myers1
The parts where Stuart talks about the size of his son’s head and the “pentavirate” and the wedding reception singing Rod Stewart are hilarious.
You should see it. You will hear the Shrek voice for the first time.
But that’s the wrong MacKenzie.
So I read the poem and all of its introductory glory on the website for The Society of Classical Poets.
I am glad I did. I feel better about my own poetry.

Pibroch of the Domhnall

By Joseph Charles MacKenzie

Author’s Notes:

§ The refrains at the end of each stanza are to be recited by the Inaugural crowd.
§ A Pibroch is a rallying bagpipe tune and is pronounced like “PEA-brohgh.”
§ Domhnall, the Scottish form of the name Donald, is pronounced like “TONE-all”
§ Torquil was the royal progenitor of the MacLeods of Lewis, the outer hebridean island and birthplace of President Trump’s immigrant mother, Mary Anne MacLeod.

Come out for the Domhnall, ye brave men and proud,
The scion of Torquil and best of MacLeod!
With purpose and strength he came down from his tower
To snatch from a tyrant his ill-gotten power.
Now the cry has gone up with a cheer from the crowd:
“Come out for the Domhnall, the best of MacLeod!”

When freedom is threatened by slavery’s chains
And voices are silenced as misery reigns,
We’ll come out for a leader whose courage is true
Whose virtues are solid and long overdue.
For, he’ll never forget us, we men of the crowd
Who elected the Domhnall, the best of MacLeod!

When crippling corruption polluted our nation
And plunged our economy into stagnation,
As self-righteous rogues took the opulent office
And plump politicians reneged on their promise,
The forgotten continued to form a great crowd
That defended the Domhnall, the best of MacLeod!

The Domhnall’s a giver whilst others just take,
Ne’er gaining from that which his hands did not make.
A builder of buildings, employing good men,
He’s enriched many cities by factors of ten.
The honest and true gladly march with the crowd
Standing up for the Domhnall, the best of MacLeod!

True friend of the migrant from both far and near,
He welcomes the worthy, but guards our frontier,
Lest a murderous horde, for whom hell is the norm,
Should threaten our lives and our nation deform.
We immigrants hasten to swell the great crowd
Coming out for the Domhnall, the best of MacLeod!

Academe now lies dead, the old order rots,
No longer policing our words and our thoughts;
Its ignorant hirelings pretending to teach
Are backward in vision, sophomoric in speech.
Now we learnèd of mind add ourselves to the crowd
That cheers on the Domhnall, the best of MacLeod!

The black man, forgotten, in poverty dying,
The poor man, the sick man, with young children crying,
The soldier abroad and the mother who waits,
The young without work or behind prison gates,
The veterans, wounded, all welcome the crowd
That fights for the Domhnall, the best of MacLeod!

Whilst hapless old harridans flapping their traps
Teach women to look and behave like us chaps,
The Domhnall defends the defenseless forlorn;
For, a woman’s first right is the right to be born.
Now the bonnie young lassies that fly to the crowd
Have a champion in Domhnall, the best of MacLeod!

But for all his great wisdom, the braw gallant man
Is matched by his children, the handsome Trump clan,
And the flower of Europe, Melania the fair,
Adds a luster and grace with her long flowing hair.
May they flourish and prosper to form a great crowd
Around the good Domhnall, the best of MacLeod!

Is there man left in Scotland, without base alloy,
Who remembers the Wallace, the Bruce, or Rob Roy?
Or have five hundred years of a blasphemous lie
Robbed your manhood of might that you lay down and die?
Get up and walk free, all ye brave men and proud!
Long life to the Domhnall, the best of MacLeod!

 
 Please remember that there is a part of me that really thinks this might actually be connected to the 45th president. The rest of me is thinking that this ha to be a parody of some sorts.
Why? Well I thought after reading it that the corpse of Robert Burns would literally come out of his grave, drink a fifth of scotch, and piss on a copy of this poem, not to mention that when I hear “MacLeod!” shouted repeatedly I think of the original Highlander movie (which kicked ass by the way).
So then I started reading the comments from the “Comments” section.
Priceless.
So then, I had to go and read up on one Joseph Charles McKenzie because in one of the responses to his comments, he lovingly shared his website – https://mackenziepoet.com.

Just go to his website. Big on lyrical poetry. BIG ON HIS LYRICAL POETRY.

And he even compares himself to the likes of Shakespeare and W. B. Yeats. I have heard of those two guys.

“One of my professors, an Oxonian named Charles Bell, indicated that some of my sonnets surpassed many of Shakespeare’s.”

“The only solution to the crisis is the triumphant appearance of Joseph Charles MacKenzie’s Sonnets for Christ the King, the first significant body of traditional lyric verse produced since the poems of W.B. Yeats and Charles Péguy.”

And then the magic was taken away as Snopes.com reported that the poem was not really the true inauguration poem (http://www.snopes.com/trumps-inauguration-poem/).

It reported,

Although this article was published under the headline “Poem celebrating Donald Trump inauguration describes Barack Obama as a ‘tyrant,'” The Independent used a more sensational (and less factual) title when they shared this item on social media — “Donald Trump to pay tribute to British heritage at inauguration with poem about Scotland”:

trump inauguration poem

Several other publications also shared this poem in articles claiming that it was “Donald Trump’s inauguration poem,” misleading readers into believing that this poem would actually be read at the inaugural event. Paper Magazine, for instance, reported that this was the “official poem for President-elect Trump’s inauguration:”

The official poem for President-elect Trump’s inauguration celebrates the Trump clan’s Scottish roots (his mother, Mary Anne Macleod was born and raised in Scotland till she was 18) while taking time to exalt Trump to Christ status, and call President Obama a “tyrant.”

However, this poem is not an “official” selection for Trump’s inauguration, nor was it commissioned by the president-elect. The text of the The Independent‘s article explained that this poem was merely inspired by Trump’s election:

The poem, which was not commissioned by Mr Trump or his transition team, refers to snatching power from “a tyrant” who has “ill-gotten power”.

It was written by celebrated American poet Joseph Charles McKenzie of the Society of Classical Poets.

The group said the inspiration behind the poem is “to touch on the classical poetry existing throughout American history, and the inauguration poem marks important moments in US political history”.

This “inauguration” poem was first published by the web site ClassicPoets.org on 15 January 2017. The group did not claim that the poem would be read at the inauguration, but their version of the poem was accompanied by instructions for how the it would theoretically be presented if it were used at the inauguration:

§ The refrains at the end of each stanza are to be recited by the Inaugural crowd.
§ A Pibroch is a rallying bagpipe tune and is pronounced like “PEA-brohgh.”
§ Domhnall, the Scottish form of the name Donald, is pronounced like “TONE-all”
§ Torquil was the royal progenitor of the MacLeods of Lewis, the outer hebridean island and birthplace of President Trump’s immigrant mother, Mary Anne MacLeod.

When the group shared the poem on Facebook, the lyric was accompanied by a message imploring Trump to include the poem, making it clear that this poem had not been selected for this purpose in the first place:

No Republican has had an inaugural poem. Trump should be the first…

This poem is not listed in the schedule of events planned for the inauguration. 

We’ve reached out to both Joseph Charles McKenzie, the poem’s author, and the Society of Classic Poets for more information. “

Still think I might just slip this poem in a class one day and see what happens, and if I ever meet one Joseph Charles MacKenzie I will have to thank him for the time well spent reading and researching this posting. I will also have to ask him what he thinks of his poems.

U2, MLK, John Lewis, Donald Trump, and W.B. Yeats – Forever On The Same Soundtrack

This past weekend served as a reminder that there is an ever-growing soundtrack of songs that not only keeps playing in the back of my mind at all times but that keeps growing because the story of my life as it becomes wrapped up in the story of others becomes bigger. And greater.

And the songs that played in my head this weekend more than the others came from one group: U2.

Not many bands have stayed together for thirty years with all of the original members. Not all bands in the liner notes of each album credit the just the group with songwriting.

Today is the day that our country honors the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy for the fight for civil rights. And I am reminded of the first U2 album that I ever owned.

On cassette tape.

The Unforgettable Fire.

the_unforgettable_fire

Track #2 is “Pride: In the Name of Love.” It is a song written about King. And while some critics in the 1980’s may have not received the song as highly as the charts did, it is probably one of the most enduring songs of U2’s career. Take away the fact that King did not die “Early morn, April 4,” but rather that evening, I find the lyrics to stirringly austere.

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come he to justify
One man to overthrow

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed up on an empty beach
One man betrayed with a kiss

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

Early morning, April four
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

 

And there’s that reference to the Judas kiss – the betrayal of betrayals. And to think that MLK was a man of God.

Words like “pride” can have so many connotations – some negative, some positive. But in this song about this man it wonderfully collides with the word “love.” And “love” is such an active word. Love should take energy to give, to show. Also, it gives energy if you allow yourself to receive it.

However, that is not the only U2 song that came about this weekend to the music box in my head.

Last Friday, the Freedom Fighter Rep. John Lewis, a 30-year representative of Georgia’s 5th district, said in an interview on NBC what he thought of Donald Trump’s election as president.

From nbcnews.com (http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/john-lewis-leads-charge-against-donald-trump-u-s-marks-n707156),

Lewis said in an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” on Sunday, that he doesn’t believe Trump is a “legitimate president” and that he wouldn’t be attending the presidential inauguration for the first time in his 30-year political career, citing the intelligence community’s explosive findings over Russian hacking of the presidential election.

“I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people, but it’s going to be very difficult,” Lewis said in the interview, which was recorded Friday. “I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president.”

“I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected and they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” the Georgia Democrat added.

Rep. Lewis can say that. First Amendment rights. God knows Trump uses them plentifully. Trump in his news conference earlier last week even admitted to the Russians hacking, but not to what extent its effects may have been.

Trump quickly shot back through Twitter:

trumplewistweet

All talk?

No action?

Don’t think I have lost the U2 connection because it’s deep here.

selma

The picture above is from the march in 1965 in Selma across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. That’s John Lewis in the front. He was often with MLK as one of his closest allies, friends, and confidantes.

On Sunday, Rep. Lewis responded to Trump on NBC’s Meet the Press,

Rep. John Lewis said he would not invite President-elect Donald Trump to visit Selma, Alabama, with him, though he also would not “do anything to prevent him from coming.”

On what became known as “Bloody Sunday” in 1965, Lewis was badly beaten by Alabama state troopers on Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge during a march for voting rights.

Bloody Sunday.

Lewis had his skull fractured that day.

alabama_state_troopers_attack_john_lewis_at_the_edmund_pettus_bridge__public_domain_

That’s actually a picture of it.

So, the song, “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” began to resonate in my head.

From U2’s album War, the song remembers the January 30th, 1972 massacre in Northern Ireland when British troops opened fire on unarmed protesters. Fourteen people were killed – seven were teenagers.

Yes…

I can’t believe the news today
Oh, I can’t close my eyes
And make it go away
How long…
How long must we sing this song
How long, how long…
’cause tonight…we can be as one
Tonight…

Broken bottles under children’s feet
Bodies strewn across the dead end street
But I won’t heed the battle call
It puts my back up
Puts my back up against the wall

Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday

And the battle’s just begun
There’s many lost, but tell me who has won
The trench is dug within our hearts
And mothers, children, brothers, sisters
Torn apart

Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday

How long…
How long must we sing this song
How long, how long…
’cause tonight…we can be as one
Tonight…tonight…

Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Wipe the tears from your eyes
Wipe your tears away
Oh, wipe your tears away
Oh, wipe your tears away
(Sunday, Bloody Sunday)
Oh, wipe your blood shot eyes
(Sunday, Bloody Sunday)

Sunday, Bloody Sunday (Sunday, Bloody Sunday)
Sunday, Bloody Sunday (Sunday, Bloody Sunday)

And it’s true we are immune
When fact is fiction and TV reality
And today the millions cry
We eat and drink while tomorrow they die

(Sunday, Bloody Sunday)

The real battle just begun
To claim the victory Jesus won
On…

Sunday Bloody Sunday
Sunday Bloody Sunday…

 

  1. A conflict over who controlled whom with religious interpretations as part of the division.

And every time I think of U2, I think of the fact that they are from Ireland which is the homeland of my last name as the only son of an only son of an only son in an Irish Roman Catholic family.

And I think of the fact that I am a native Georgian, having lived in the Atlanta area two different times in my life, who just happened to be born in Selma, Alabama in 1970 as my Irish Catholic father was stationed at an Air Force base there for a brief time.

And I think of the only time that I ever saw U2 live in concert at Philips Arena in 2002. My wife was pregnant at the time with our daughter who still has her red hair and looks as Irish as a Yeats poem. She knows a U2 song when she hears it.

Phillips Arena is in Atlanta.

Specifically, the 5th district.

Represented at that time in the House of Representatives by John Lewis.

Still is.

We Need John McCain to be a Hero Again

I have not agreed with Sen. John McCain’s assessments of how our country should act in many situations, but I have never doubted that he has had only the best in mind when it does come to our country. Political affiliations aside, he is a true patriot.

I do not believe there is anyone in the Senate who has done more for his country in a lifetime than McCain has. He has literally risked life and limb fighting for what his country asked him to do.

This is his last term in a long career of public service, and we are once again facing a totalitarian power determined on forcing the will of the people to bend to the greed of a few powerful people. Ironically that power is not necessarily confined to just the boundaries of a country, but within a mindset preserved by the greedy and the egotistical.

A good friend of mine, John deVille, put it better than I could when he said that right now Sen. John McCain is “the champion we have. His mercurial mix of alpha male,  recklessness,   deep sense of patriotism, and a  capacity to take a beating, informs and armors him.

And along with Mr. deVille, I am asking that Sen. McCain get “bloody” again for our country.

Earlier this week, it was reported that the CIA concluded the Russians intentionally hacked into American politics to help get Trump elected. FBI Director Comey probably altered the perception of what the truth that never was, and there has been the constant flow of intel that links Trump allies with Russia.

If that makes me a conspiracy theorist, then I will shut up as soon as an actual wall financed by Mexico is built thirty feet high on the border, every coal job is brought back to West Virginia, and every illegitimate vote cast by an illegal alien has been counted and verified.

If there is ever a need for checks and balances, then it is now. With a president-elect who refuses to devote his whole self to the job of becoming president, who refuses intelligence reports more often than refusing interviews with the New York Times, and who tweets more venom than building diplomatic ties, we need a champion.

Or a group of them. Especially those who remember a day when the rise of totalitarianism threatened the very sanctity of our country and of much of the world.

I think of Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation. I think of my own grandparents. I think of those who stared down Hitler, the rise of Communism, and McCarthyism and fought back to preserve what was truly American. I think of John Glenn who passed away this past week, a man who had the “right stuff” and launched our country into a new age with courage without stepping on anyone in doing it.

And then I think of who embodies that right now with what America faces, and John McCain’s face appears.

He is on his last term. And he has never shied away from a mission for his country.

And veteran senators, especially republicans like Grassley, Hatch, Alexander, and Graham should join him on that mission and show the younger lawmakers who lack their perspective and life experience that what is happening now must be checked and countered now.