A man drove up from North Carolina to “self-investigate” a thoroughly debunked Internet rumor (#pizzagate) about a pedophilia ring supposedly operating out of a D.C. pizza shop. Armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, he snapped off a few rounds before being arrested by police. Two women were recently found tapping the sidewalk outside the pizza shop, which has no basement, looking for tunnels they believed were used to smuggle children from the store. Welcome to post-factual America! In other news, Japan struggles with a syndrome called karoshi, death from overwork. The only thing that’s overworked in America is our imagination.
December 4, 2016
Here’s the problem with Trump taking a call from Taiwan. No one can tell if it is a gaffe, a policy shift, or a gaffe that will become a policy shift to save face. It could be any of the above. What we do know is that Trump hasn’t even been sworn in and he’s already roiling the diplomatic waters. Let’s not forget his gushing praise for Pakistan’s prime minister in another phone call, a move certain to upset India. Is Trump signaling policy shifts in two vital regions or is he just blowing smoke? Does he know or care?
November 29, 2016
Most people have never heard of Alex Jones or his Infowars program, a hard-right news source that uses pretzel-like logic to take reality to another alt-level. Donald Trump is a big fan. Trump’s claim that millions of illegal votes deprived him of a majority of the popular vote went straight from Alex Jones’ lips to Trump’s Twitter feed. For a president-elect to act as an unfiltered echo chamber for tinfoil-hat conspiracy theories diminishes the office and amplifies concerns regarding Trump’s readiness for the presidency. Maybe he’ll stop this foolishness once he enters the Oval Office. I’m not holding my breath.
November 23, 2016
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday mostly because it has remained largely unchanged, and the older I get the more that seems like a virtue. It’s the only holiday when I am not bludgeoned into buying something, because this holiday is about giving not getting: giving thanks for what we have rather than wishing for things we haven't got. And the food! There’s mom’s special stuffing, which always tastes just a little better than anyone else’s does. And no matter what your favorite pie is, there’s one made special just for you. So dig in, and pass the gravy.
November 20, 2016
The post-election angst on Facebook has been palpable. People are unfriending long-time friends. Some are pulling the plug completely. Facebook has faced heavy criticism for its uncritical news feed, which failed to weed out obviously fake news sites. To me, this is classic kill the messenger stuff. Facebook did not start the drift towards incivility that has been accelerated by anonymous commenting. Facebook did not produce under-educated adults seemingly incapable of independent critical thinking. This rough beast has been slouching towards us for a long time. Facebook may be the medium, but in this case it is not the message.
November 19, 2016
Donald Trump’s policy adviser, Steve Bannon, was quoted by the Hollywood Reporter as saying “Darkness is good … Cheney, Darth Vader Satan. That’s power.” Not exactly Ronald Reagan’s morning in America. Bannon’s rhetoric is a smoke screen designed to conceal a man on a mission to reignite Jacksonian democracy, the populist Manifest Destiny (that era’s version of “America First”) movement in the 1820s that appealed to millions of white males who had recently gained the right to vote as property restrictions were dropped by the states. Trump flies by the seat of his pants. Bannon is the man with a plan.
November 14, 2016
Pendulous clusters of berries weigh down the branches of our nandina. The holly trees were loaded too. Scientists talk about warm spring weather and timely rains. My mother would say a hard winter is coming and lots of berries were God’s way of looking out for the birds. My head knows the scientists are right, but my heart hopes for a watchful God. It’s hard to believe there’s a God watching over anything, given the way things are going. No matter. I still need something to believe in, even if it’s just a mother’s faith in a sometimes feckless God.