Is this what T.S. Eliot meant?

Normally I wait until the end of the year to do my chronological recap of key news events . But I’m getting older and fear I may not have the neuronal power to remember anything from the year, including my birthday. Besides this is a new era, a bold political biospheric type of world in which most things must be examined upside down and inside out. So to wait till December to make sense of any of it involves a bit too much risk.

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Besides, April was surprisingly uneventful. You know one of those times when the hustle and bustle of the world as we know it came to a little standstill, when all the chaos of living in a world characterized by insecure dictators, hegemonic aspirations and almost apocalyptic clashes between civilizations took a little hiatus.

Well if you were in a coma that is.

Otherwise, the geopolitical version of Murphy’s Law took place in April. In fact to such an intense degre it actually made Donald Trump seem like just a face in the crowd. T.S. Eliot’s epic poem “The Wasteland” begins with the famous line, likely a reference to Easter, that “April is the cruelest month”. I’m starting to see why.

Lets start in my temporary hometown of Washington, DC. The month began with the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee, Neil “Gorshy” Gorsuch, a.k.a that kid in high school who was just a little too intent at sitting in the front row and memorizing facts. After sitting vacant for nine months, the seat which had formerly belonged to Antonin “Don’t Call me John Belushi” Scalia was temporary filled by Jared Kushner. While Trump tried  to circumvent traditional Supreme Court protocol by making the Kushner fill-in permanent, eventually Trump was talked out if it by none other than Kushner himself who said he was more interested in becoming the next Russian president.

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In a rare display of partisanship, Democrats decided to filibuster the Gorsuch nomination one as payback for denying Obama appointee Merrick Garland a hearing and two, because Garland was a bit evasive during his confirmation hearings refusing to answer such fundamental questions as “Do you think Brown v. Board of Education had any impact on schools?” and “Should baseball game attendees be allowed to put both ketchup and mustard on their hot dogs?”

In both cases, Gorsuch said such matters were personal and in keeping with 5th amendment statutes, did not want people who were unaware that schools were integrated nor non-baseball fans to read into his statements one way or the other.

Eventually the Republicans, frustrated that a political party dared  to give it a taste of its own medicine opted  to go for the nuclear option which involved what Donald Trump thought was pointing a fully engaged nuclear missile at Chuck Schumer’s house until his wife said “uncle”. But as it turns out, the nuclear option implied deciding on the nominee based on a gigantic game of tug of war between Democratic and Republican members of the House. For a moment, it appeared the Democrats might win, especially with Lebron James and Hillary Clinton cheering from the sidelines, but a late game referee change which involved a Russian grabbing the whistle allowed the GOP to add Rush Limbaugh, the Patriots offensive line, Porky the Pig and Winston Churchill to their side, eventually resulting in victory and the nominee of their choice.

Speaking of which, the Brits formally declared their intention to Brexit the European Union which actually benefits the rest of the EU more than thought. Now tourists can no longer officially declare that European food stinks on the basis of the Brits lousy food.

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Actually the Brexit declaration was formalized on the grounds that as America in learning in all-too-unfortunate fashion, if something has worked really well for almost all parties involved for a really long time, there must be a catch. As a condition for leaving the EU, however, the Brits must admit that most of Shakespeare’s plays are nearly impossible for high school students to read, much less their teachers, without the use of Sparknotes.

Speaking of reading, the first book ever produced by Snapchats was written by a 15 year old girl entitled “Why do the Rich Always Complain about Taxes When They Don’t Have to Pay Them?” In her dedication, the author wrote: “To Donald Trump, the man who vehemently asserted during a debate ‘Why should I pay taxes if the government is going to waste it?’ and has then proceeded to fly a football team sized entourage every weekend of his presidency to Mar-a-Lago while simultaneously authorizing increases in military spending.

In response to the dedication, Trump replied, “She makes some valid points but she’s got to realize that I’m a busy man. If the IRS really wants me to go public with my tax returns, tell them they are going to have to grab it by the “p—y”.

In fairness to Trump, April was a rather busy month, one in which he spent three consecutive weeks playing “Eeny, Meeny, Minny, Moe” as to whether he should be friendly to Russia, a decision made slightly easier when he realized that:

  • (1) Russia was aiding and abetting the Syrian government in using Sarin and other chemical weapons against its own people this month.
  • (2) Russia, despite any labeling to the contrary, is still a Communist country, employing all the features of Communist rule including poisoning its enemies and spying on pretty much anyone suspicious
  • (3) His wife is Slovenian, not Russian
  • (4) Vladimir Putin has a man crush on Napolean Bonaparte, Julius Caesar and all former Russian czars.

To temper some of the chaos, a month which included two decent decisions by Trump, one responding to the Syrian attack by launching an attack of our own on Assad;s weapons base and following it up with the mother of all bombs on a Taliban outpost in Afghanistan, the Donald hosted the 115th Easter Egg hunt on the White House Lawn.

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With his 17 children, wife, three mistresses and a few Russian “observers” in tow, Trump was quoted as saying his favorite part was getting to pat the Playboy Bunny and with his newfound biblical wisdom in full force, celebrating the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

When told that story referred to Passover, Trump responded, “Well my son-in-law said that too but you know how son-in-laws usually tell you what you want to hear.

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With a week to go in April, we should be holding our collective breath. France just experienced its first round of elections and the two finalists are 39 year-old Francois “MacDaddy” Macron who developed the “Mrs. Robinson Syndrome” at age 15 and Jean Marie Bonaparte Bannon Le Pen who in the kindest terms seems  makes Trump look like the founder of Ellis Island when it comes to immigration.

Meanwhile, back in his backyard, Trump is pledging to go forward with tax reform. The plan is rumored to include a proposal to only have Democrats and working class Republicans pay taxes, then make Jared Kushner the new head of the IRS.

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Without Dennis Rodman to carry out what he does best, shuttle diplomacy between the U.S. and North Korea, things are a little precarious. Needless to say a young, stupid and delusional dictator with nearly unlimited power and an older, egomaniacal and insecure president with his hands close to the nuclear button are a combustible mix.

But despite all the gloom and doom, there is a hint of hope. Trump has begun to take a stronger stance on Russia (mainly for above reason#3), baseball season is upon us and the spring bloom is in full swing.

But in the meantime, I would take a look at T.S. Eliot’s poem. Like I said, we still have a week to go. The Wasteland

 

 

 

 

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This is not The Matrix

I write this blog in the wake of Saturday’s senseless and surreal shooting at Merrick Park, which left three people dead, including the shooter Abek Wilson.

Coral Gables is a peaceful community and the Romanesque Merrick Park is a symbol of its commitment to the good life.

As much as I love being a Democrat, and vote that way in most elections, I am foremost a humanitarian, secondly a believer in the collective joy of living, and alongside that a husband, father, child and on good days, half sensible.

Moreover, I am a Miamian who believes this ever-growing oasis of tropical pleasures should manifest itself in an even greater degree of kindness and appreciation.

We pride ourselves on staying active and helping others try to get the most of their lives.

But this ideal doesn’t happen when angry people start carrying guns.

Three lives in the prime of life lost because a young man decided the best way to deal with a frustrating professional curve ball and what I assume was some pent up anger, was to grab his gun and make sure pulling the trigger did what it was designed to do.

Three wasted lives because of a homicidal impulse.

Gun stories don’t have happy endings. You don’t hear of stories that go something like “Bob was angry so he grabbed his gun, dipped it in paint and decided to create a beautiful mural out of it.” Or “Fred saw a young boy fall into the river but Fred wasn’t a good swimmer so he ran to his car, grabbed his gun and shot it into the air which roused a beautiful little mermaid from her slumber to save the drowning boy.”

Nope. Guns are used to kill people. Yesterday was no exception.

I could go on and on about the absurdity of it all. In fact, vote Republican all you want, but please don’t base your preference on anything related to protection of the 2nd amendment. The right to provide for a well-armed militia made sense during the American Revolution, but chances are the biggest invader of our peaceful communities today are Starbucks and Chase Banks. From a national security standpoint, we are surrounded by oceans to the east and west, and allies to the north and south. Last time I checked, aliens were still the province of the movies.

My suggestion is to speak to your representatives and tell them you absolutely don’t give a crap how much money the NRA pours into your campaign, nor how sacred you think the constitution is when it allows anyone who has played a few too many games of Call of Duty or revels in watching the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan, or just anyone with a little too much testosterone to carry a firearm. In fact, tell them to show some real self-defense by speaking up on what is right.

I’m not buying the argument “that it’s not guns that kill people, it’s people who kill people.” That’s like saying it wasn’t the Atom Bomb which decimated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was the men flying the Enola Gay.

That kind of logic is demented.

During the Republican primary, Marco Rubio, actually all the GOP candidates with the exception of the half-sensible Jeb Bush, bragged about their gun ownership, as if it was some form of Republican nominee rite of passage. Something to the effect of, “Well I’m not really big on serving the greater good, but I do know how to load a weapon.”

Owning a gun is nothing to be proud of. At least not in my eyes. If you want to brag, talk about how many nice pieces of art or classic books you own. Brag about how you believe in civil disobedience and non-violent reactions to aggressive behavior. Even brag about your families.

Speaking of which, Marco Rubio has four kids. Trump has five. It’s almost rhetorical of me to ask how they would have felt if those victims were his own children.

The irony is that many of these same gun toting advocates call themselves “pro-life”. What hypocrisy. If you’re pro-life then the safety and sanctity of the born has to match that of the unborn. And don’t try to rationalize being pro-life with pro death penalty and pro war.

Really, this incident took place on a relatively small scale and is quite the aberration for peaceful Miami. But for a perspective, lets look at Japan, a country we almost entirely eviscerated into one big mushroom cloud, and is surrounded by two of the more hostile and well-armed nations in the world, North Korea and China.

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According to a September 2016 article in USA today

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/09/22/study-guns-owners-violence/90858752/, there are approximately 265 million guns owned in the U.S., which is more than one per every adult. In fact, half of those guns are owned by just 3 percent of the population.

Do with those statistic as you see fit, but my simple reaction is that if you are really gung-ho about shooting your guns, join the military or move to the Middle East to enter the fight against ISIS.

Then you can pretend you are in The Matrix.