The comic strips “Doonesbury” and “Bloom County” are having a field day with this primary season, and who can blame them? The debates are like catnip to cartoonists, especially the Republican displays of cartoonish aggression. This Sunday’s “Doonesbury” is especially chortle-worthy: Doonesbury, February 14, 2016.
© G.B. Trudeau – All Rights Reserved.
Featured image: Reilly Butler/Flickr.
The more I see of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Fox News and the rest, the more I am reminded of the rise of fascism in the last century. Xenophobia is on display, with know-nothing values, corporatism, authoritarianism, etc. This is nothing new, we’ve seen it before, but it has been repackaged with modern communications and given a smoother surface. And it is scary how many of today’s leading lights of the GOP have fathers who are alleged to have been quasi-fascists: the Koch brothers, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz. For an instructive look back, here’s what Salon.com has to say: It Can Still Happen Here, which recounts the 1944 article written by then U.S. Vice President Henry Wallace, on the danger of fascists in America.
“The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact,” Wallace wrote. “Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy.”
In his strongest indictment of the tide of fascism, the vice-president of the United States saw rising in America, he added:
“They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.”
Sound familiar? Scared yet? I am.
Disappearing Fathers by Faith Shearin
Sometime after I turned forty the fathers from my childhood
began disappearing; they had heart attacks
during business dinners or while digging their shovels
into a late April snow. Some fathers began forgetting things:
their phone numbers, which neighborhoods belonged
to them, which houses. They had a shortness of breath,
the world’s air suddenly too thin, as if it came
from some other altitude. They were gone:
the fathers I had seen dissecting cars
in garages, the fathers with suits
and briefcases, the fathers who slipped down
rivers on fishing boats and the ones
who drank television and beer. Most of my friends
still had mothers but the fathers
were endangered, then extinct.
I was surprised, though I had always known
the ladies lasted longer; the fathers fooled me
with their toughness; I had been duped
by their jogging and heavy lifting, misled
by their strength when they slapped
me on the back or shook my hand. I kept imagining
I would see them again: out walking their dogs
on the roads near my childhood house,
lighting cigars on their porches, waving to me
from their canoes while I waited on shore.
Source: Disappearing Fathers by Faith Shearin | Friday, January 15, 2016 | The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor
I have been somewhat AWOL in recent weeks partly because I am in the process of losing my surviving parent. And I am sad. But this is a beautiful piece, so I’m sharing it.
Source: What I want you to know about losing your parent as an adult
Let me start by saying that I’m not proud of my feelings right now. But they are real and they are mine, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who has felt this way. In fact, according to Hello Grief and its post on “Grieving the Difficult Relationship”, I am not. The same post notes that:
It is human to feel ambivalent. The people that we lose often had very human problems – addictions, incarceration, gambling, infidelity. These problems are real and are prevalent, yet the unwritten rule of grief is “You don’t speak ill of the dead.”
However, if you can’t speak about it, where does it go? The body remembers everything.
So I will write. A colleague of mine has died suddenly, leaving a spouse and children. That alone is cause for sadness. They are devastated, understandably so, and I feel so sorry for them. Here is the ambivalence: this was a powerful colleague who spent the last few years openly bullying and undermining me at work. Continue reading
The viral news of this week — leaving aside the serious issues of war and peace in the Middle East, ongoing genocide in Africa, incursions into international waters by China, etc. — was the reaction of undergraduates at Yale College to two emails sent to them by various faculty and administrators. The first, send by a group concerned with Intercultural Affairs, reminded students to avoid racially and ethnically offensive Halloween costumes. The second, sent to students in one of the residential colleges by its Associate Master, criticized the first message and questioned whether it was appropriate for Yale to manage expression by its students or if it would be preferable for Yale students to monitor each other and — gasp! — have thoughtful, respectful conversations about their disagreements.
So far, just another tempest in an academic teapot. But when an advocacy group called FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) got hold of the story, and its president recorded and aired a video showing a confrontation between some students and the Master of Silliman College (who is married to the Associate Master), the story went viral. Lines were drawn in the sand and loud voices at both extremes of the political spectrum have been raised. Score one for FIRE! Free publicity!
Here is my take on it, in part. Continue reading
For those of you who may not read The New York Times, here’s a sobering piece of news: Death Rates Rising for Middle-Aged White Americans. Basically, so many white Americans with less than a college education are dying prematurely from things like suicide and substance abuse that they are causing a statistical anomaly. This came to researchers’ attention when they realized that “unlike every other age group, unlike every other racial and ethnic group, unlike their counterparts in other rich countries, death rates in this group have been rising, not falling.” So they started digging into the details of that data. ” [P]oorly educated American whites … are dying at such a high rate that they are increasing the death rate for the entire group of middle-aged white Americans, Dr. Deaton and Dr. Case found.” Dr. Angus Deaton, by the way, is a 2015 Nobel Prize winner in Economics.
Furthermore, the impact of this sudden increase in death rates in a specific age group is so dramatic, “Dr. Deaton had but one parallel. ‘Only H.I.V./AIDS in contemporary times has done anything like this,’ he said.” Continue reading
I have a love-hate relationship with The New York Times’ “Room for Debate” feature. I know the whole point is to present, in brief, conflicting points of view. It just riles me up. And this past week’s topic REALLY riled me up. “Is Honesty for Suckers?” . I think in our culture, at this time, it probably is. But that doesn’t mean I plan to become dishonest or I envy those who are. It just means I have resigned myself to foregoing some of the rewards that I have seen dishonest people reap for years. And I’m okay with that, as I am very fortunate in many ways, and I’d rather be myself (and live with myself) than go through life the way they do: rushing to grab every advantage, making and dropping “friends” along the way, unable to sustain loving, real relationships (funny how many of these folks seem to have dysfunctional personal lives). If that makes me a sucker, so be it. Honestly.