Is this Happening?

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What is our world coming to?

The new de facto leader of the Republican Party brags he wants to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. and limit the rights of other foreigners, such as the tens of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing genocide in their native country, from ever getting inside our borders.

As a Jewish fellow, all I can say is good thing he wasn’t around when my grandparents entered the country. I’d have a whole different life. Or no life at all.

Here’s what it says on The Statue of Liberty, which at last glance still stands in New York Harbor:

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Maybe we take the Statue down in light of 9/11? Or just erase the words. After all, it was a gift from France. They probably wouldn’t mind because of what happened in Paris a few months ago, right?

We could replace it with a shiny gold building that looks like a Dunhill cigarette lighter. That’s Gloria Steinem’s analogy about Trump towers, not mine. Because, well, how can you say it better?

Jugs of Justice

Jugs of Justice

Apropos of something, I have another question. When Trump skipped the last debate before the Iowa primary on Thursday, he claimed to have instead spearheaded an event that raised $6 million for our wounded war veterans through his website. But the only donation link on his website was to his Trump Foundation, which the PUBLIC TRUST(s) will go to our vets. But if this is so, can’t he still get some sort of personal TAX DEDUCTION from it? It’s His Foundation, right?

Any accountants out there know how to maneuver cash as a deduction amid all of the full legal slime written on a multi-billionaire’s federal tax return? Cause every little bit counts – that’s how you get and stay rich to begin with – so I’d love to get a full reading on this. That would be my American Dream at the moment. Assuming anyone could out-maneuver him or his money. Hillary? Bill? Bernie? Bueller? Anyone???

Sorkin, can you hear meeeee?

Sorkin, can you hear meeeee?

A friend of mine wrote on Facebook last week that he doesn’t see how discrimination and exclusion can be remedied by discrimination and exclusion. Okay, he was referring to the Oscars and how under the Motion Picture Academy’s new rules to remedy #OscarsSoWhite people like the lesbian female writer of Nine to Five; one of the biggest child star actors of the sixties and seventies; and another woman who was a pioneering animator back in the day, would have their voting rights stripped despite many decades of membership that always guaranteed voting. Where do these new Academy rule makers think they are – Florida? Don’t they remember that almost a decade ago, they gave Al Gore the Oscar?

Um... no no... we're good

Um… no no… we’re good

Of course Donald Trump’s frontrunner status can be compared to Oscar voting. To quote the words Mel Brooks’ character of Hitler sings in his megahit musical The Producers:

The thing you’ve got to know is…

Everything is show biz….

After which point he sings:   Heil myself, Heil to me….

Ring a bell – or lighter – yet?

#HomerKnows

#HomerKnows

Try explaining the current state of our affairs to small classrooms full of 21 year olds as I attempted this week. Sure, these were writing classes, not political ones, but to be a good writer one needs to draw from real life. Which means an understanding of human behavior in the world as it exists is essential in order to convincingly portray anything remotely recognizable in your made up world.

Somewhere along the line I got flummoxed and actually found myself reduced to phrases like:

It wasn’t always like this.

Or –

Yes, it was crazy, but never this crazy.

And then finally –

No, I’m not sure this is a joke. So why are we all laughing? Well, um, good question!

In the end I’m not sure I did any good at all. I was only hoping at that point, not to make it all seem any worse than it already is.

Me, every 10 seconds

Me, every 10 seconds

Fortunately, teachers are not held to the same standards as doctors. First Do No Harm dictates the Hippocratic oath. Yeah, right, that wasn’t happening.

I can’t blame any of this on the Trumpless Republican debate because I wasn’t watching, Instead, that night I was actually teaching one of these mini-groups. But unfortunately in an effort for clarity I recorded the damned thing and perused the highlights several days later.

Insert "Elephant in the Room" pun here

Insert “Elephant in the Room” pun here

Here are some, courtesy of the Washington Post and my viewing brain:

Jeb Bush: Look, I am in the establishment because my dad, the greatest man alive was president of the United States and my brother, who I adore as well as fantastic brother, was president.

Retired neurosurgeon Dr. Carson: I’ve had more two a.m. phone calls than everybody here put together, making life and death decisions, put together very complex teams to accomplish things that have never been done before.

Sen. Ted Cruz: I would note that that the last four questions have been, “Rand, please attack Ted. Marco, please attack Ted. Chris, please attack Ted. Jeb, please attack Ted…” Let me just say this…

Moderator: … It is a debate, sir.

DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY INTO HIS EYES!!!

DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY INTO HIS EYES!!!

Another Moderator: Can you name even one thing that the federal government does now that it should not do at all?

Gov. Chris Christie: How about one that I’ve done in New Jersey for the last six years. That’s get rid of Planned Parenthood funding from the United States of America.

Moderator: Anything bigger than that?

Christie: Bigger than that? Let me tell you something, when you SEE thousands upon thousands upon thousands of children being murdered in the womb, I can’t think of anything better than that. 

Sen. Marco Rubio: Well, let me be clear about one thing, there’s only one savior and it’s not me. It’s Jesus Christ who came down to earth and died for our sins..Because in the end, my goal is not simply to live on this earth for 80 years, but to live an eternity with my creator. And I will always allow my faith to influence everything I do.

Walk the walk, Rubio

Walk the walk, Rubio

Oy vey iz mir, as my grandmother used to say. How can this be happening? I have no idea. And I am more confused than ever. But luckily, I’ve never been intimidated by Dunhill lighters. I’ve always thought they were tacky. And the people who used them dumbasses.   And I’ve never been afraid to say so.

Neither should you.

SUBSCRIBE CHAIR

 

Time Bandits

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The terrific new film Spotlight tells the story of how an investigative unit of reporters from The Boston Globe spent more than a year researching, reporting and writing a story about the Massachusetts Catholic sex abuse scandal and the Catholic Church’s widespread cover-up of numerous pedophile priests. The real-life reporters won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for their work – which exposed many decades of the hidden sexual abuse of many hundreds of children by these men, who were protected by a massive labyrinth-like web of obfuscation by Church hierarchy that reached all the way to the upper echelons of the Vatican.

A year or more on one news story? Uh, yeah – sometimes it takes a long time to get things right.

#preach

#preach

I can personally testify to this as someone who just took a year to write a very complicated screenplay adaptation about another journalist who sacrificed his family and career in order to expose widespread corruption in a small midwestern town. The tireless work he did in the late 1970s failed to receive the massive attention of the Globe story but nevertheless it put some very bad people behind bars and shed light on a corrupt system of justice that slowly began to get just a little better as a result of his efforts. And yes, it also took him a little more than a year to do it.

All of this is not to say that one year is the writer/reporter’s magic number to turn out anything of value and significance. Rather what the demarcation means is that in order to tackle particularly challenging tasks of any kind —

IT. TAKES. TIME.

Not to mention lots of thought, many dead ends, and tons of hard work.

This seems a novel concept these days.

We want immediate actions and spontaneous results to some of the world’s most complicated problems. And by gum, we’re getting them.

Take terrorism (Please).

Yes, let's please discuss

Yes, let’s please discuss

The Republican Apprentice proposed a national registry just for Muslims, in addition to surveillance programs and taking a serious look at the mosques. (Note: Re the mosques – in Apprentice-speak that could mean anything from a walking tour to a burning tour depending on whether he’s talking to MSNBC or Fox News while subtly evoking images of the Holocaust or KKK).

Dr. Ben Carson advocated banning ALL Syrian refugees, whom he compared to rabid dogs running around your neighborhood.

Marco Rubio raked Pres. Obama over the coals for not taking more immediate, hands on action in light of the Paris attacks to stop the Syrian, or perhaps all immigration – it wasn’t quite clear. What was apparent…oh heck… here’s the chief sound byte from the diminutive Florida senator who could: This is a clash of civilizations. And either they win, or we win.

Ladies and gentleman and those who prefer to remain gender neutral: These are your three top Republican presidential nominee frontrunners. By A LOT. Either one of them or Hillary Clinton will be your next president.

Oh gawd, don't remind me!

Oh gawd, don’t remind me!

It’s not hard to imagine how long it took each of them to come up with those responses to perhaps what are the most complicated and perplexing issues of our time – how to stop terrorism, protect our homeland and help broker some sort of peaceful co-existence of various factions, tribes and religions in the Middle East.

A minute, 10 minutes, an hour? Certainly not a full day. They don’t have time for that.

Mrs. Clinton delivered a very detailed, in-depth, speech with her own complex plan and strategy. How boring.

Oh, and here’s the answer Pres. Obama gave at the G3 summit last week when a CNN International reporter/patriot spit out this thoughtful, provocative question re: radical terrorists: Why can’t we take out the bastards?

The president’s response: This is not, as I said, a traditional military opponent. We can retake territory. And as long as we leave our troops there we can hold it. But that does not solve the underlying problem of eliminating the dynamics that are producing these kinds of violent extremist groups.

What a wimpy nerd.

Just being honest

#reality

If I have to listen to or read about one more dumbass talking head angling for some votes, or trying to sell a few more books, or even adding a couple of more points to their TV Qs, I’m gonna barf.

And you try turning off the noise. Everyone’s talking about it. Commenting on things they know nothing about. Yes, I suppose that includes me – at least in comparison to Mrs. Clinton and the/our current sitting president. See the president gets confidential briefings on these matters daily and Hil circled the globe maybe five times as Secretary of State talking to all of the players. Which was 10 years after she spent 8 years as First Lady, circling the globe while married to another former sitting president.

Oh... was that me?

Oh… was that me?

If I wanted to build a hotel in Beirut even I might consult the Republican Apprentice. And while I wouldn’t trust him to operate on my brain for fear that someone might have told him about The Chair, I would certainly choose Dr. Ben’s hands over Hillary’s if it meant going under anesthesia. (Note: Wait, would I???) As for the Senator-ette that could – he hasn’t been in Washington, D.C. all that long and has one of the highest rates of absenteeism of any current elected official in Congress. So I guess if I needed an advisor on how to get elected to a job I didn’t want to do I admit he might be in my top five, or maybe even three.

But at the task at hand (i.e. how to stop the terrorists) – none of the above three.

blerg

blerg

They don’t take the time, they take the oxygen. And suck it out of the zeitgeist. To the point where most of the rest of us can’t breathe and recede into our own individual worlds – desperate to not pay attention when attention should be paid because it’s too tortuous to engage through their smoke and mirrors spew show of nonsensical rhetorical bluster. I always hated the jingoist dialogue in tent pole action movies. Why would I want to engage in it – or even listen to it – in real life?

It is in this way that the lazy know-nothings win. To fight them is the intellectual equivalent of continuing to go out to cafes in order to not let the terrorists win. But one has to keep paying attention, reason through the muck and fear and put a great deal of thought into considering what the long term solutions are and who best can lead us there if we are to survive through this.

We’ll be lucky if it takes just a year.