The ‘national emergency’ is Trump


From The Hill:

President Trump said on Friday that he “didn’t need to” declare a national emergency but did it to speed up construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

“I want to do it faster. I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster,” Trump said during a press conference at the Rose Garden in the White House.

It seems Trump doesn’t know what “emergency” means. Or he was inadvertently admitting that his executive order was made on false premises — that he knows there’s no emergency. I asked Swamp Rabbit what he thought of the grabber-in-chief’s latest unforced error.

“He don’t care about errors.” Swamp Rabbit said. “He knows there ain’t gonna be no thousand-mile brick-and-mortar wall, no steel slats. He knows illegal border crossings are way down since 2000, there ain’t no crisis. The crisis is in the White House, not on the border.”

I asked him to explain. He said Trump’s only talent is for stirring up fear and hate in the ignorant and easily led — his base, as he calls them. If he concedes defeat regarding the wall, he’ll lose his base, and then lose the support of congressional Republicans who stick with him only because they fear being driven out of office by his base.

I poured the rabbit a half-glass of whiskey for being so astute. “What about the Republicans who say they’re for the wall but unhappy with Trump because he’s setting a bad precedent by declaring an emergency in order to usurp powers that the Constitution assigned to Congress?”

The rabbit drank up and laughed, hee-hee-hee. “Trump don’t need to usurp nothing, them chumps been handing power to him since he took office. They think they’re using him to get what they want — tax cuts for the rich, new members of the Supremes and so on — and can cut him loose when Mueller nails him, or when the base finally realizes he ain’t on their side.”

“But that’s a dangerous game,” I said. “What if Mueller doesn’t nail him? What if Trump’s morons never get wise to him? Congress would be stuck with a president who acts like a dictator. Then what?”

The rabbit sat down on my porch, dangling his feet over the swamp. After a while he said, “Gimme another drink, I’ll have to think about that one.”

Footnote: The mainstream media continue to struggle with a similar dilemma. Reporters and editors created the Trump monster over decades, by presenting him as a savvy businessman and “deal maker,” even while knowing all along he was a fraud and a dangerous fool. Now what?

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Trump to Democrats: Stop digging, or else


From Donald Trump’s State of the Union address:

An economic miracle is taking place in the United States — and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigation… If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.

“Wow, the Grabber-In-Chief is rhymin’ tonight,” Swamp Rabbit said. “But what’s he talking about?”

“He’s talking about the thing he can’t talk about,” I replied. “Federal lawyers in D.C. and New York are digging for evidence that Trump and his minions were involved in major crimes. He knows the Democrats in the House, now that they’re the majority, will be free to help the feds dig deeper. He’s warning the Dems to back off.”

The rabbit rolled his eyes and drank gin from a juice jar. “What you mean by warning them? He gonna have them whacked if they investigate?”

“No one knows what he’ll do,” I said. “He might stamp his feet and binge on cheeseburgers. Or he might start World War III. It depends on his mood.”

The cold snap had passed. We were watching the address on my laptop, which sat on my desk near the wood stove, next to an open window that looks out on the swamp.

“That’s crazy talk,” the rabbit said, playing devil’s advocate. “Congress can overrule Trump if he gets too rowdy, and the Supremes can stop him if Congress don’t.”

I reminded him that the Senate is still controlled by Republicans, almost all of them Trump supporters, and that the majority of Supreme Court judges are right-wingers, including the two Trump appointees.

“Try to learn, rabbit. The closer Mueller and his gang get to busting Trump, the more likely he is to declare a national emergency over immigration or impose more tariffs or cook up something sinister with his main squeeze, Vladimir Putin.”

“Don’t matter what he does. Nobody’s above the law, not even the president.”

“Maybe not, but Trump’s doing a good job of appearing to be above the law, don’t you think?”

Footnote: Trump sounds like Richard Nixon in the 1974 State of the Union: “One year of Watergate is enough.” But the digging continued, and Nixon resigned in August of that year.

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Blowin’ smoke on Super Sunday


I was sitting on the porch with Swamp Rabbit, trying to nail down the silliest Super Bowl moment. Was it Budweiser’s “Blowin’ In the Wind” commercial or the halftime performance by Maroon 5?

“Ain’t nothin’ silly about ‘Blowin’ In the Wind,'” the rabbit said. “The song plays and you see a beer wagon pulled by them big horses with them wind turbines in the background and them words on the screen: ‘Now brewed with wind power for a better tomorrow.’ It’s a good message.”

“Budweiser is blowing smoke,” I replied. “They’re hooked up with two of the worst right-wing organizations in the country — the American Legislative Exchange Council, called ALEC, and the Chamber of Commerce. No way ALEC will go for clean energy. Climate deniers care about today, not tomorrow.”

The rabbit lit a cigarette and blew smoke at the porch’s tar paper roof. “Budweiser is using wind power, and that helps the environment,” he said. “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, Odd Man.”

I told him wind energy is part of Anheuser-Busch’s campaign to make people believe their beer is “natural” and “organic.” It’s a propaganda stunt to mislead beer drinkers, a huge demographic that’s easy to fool.

I said, “Next you’ll be telling me Maroon 5 is a great band instead of a third-rate boy band that was hired because a lot of big-name acts turned against the NFL after they banned Colin Kaepernick for protesting racism.”

The rabbit looked at me and said, “Of course they’re a great band. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be at the Super Bowl.”

He was putting me on, I think. We jawed about the game itself — a mostly dull affair in which the Patriots beat the Rams 13-3 — and about how the Super Bowl disappoints most years because of the gulf between the hype and the reality. I told him the vulgarity of the spectacle is no longer funny once you realize the team owners have the mentality of slave owners.

“If you think it’s that bad, why’d you watch part of the game?” the rabbit said.

I had to think about that. “It’s the dead of winter,” I replied. “I had nothing better to complain about.”

Footnote: Speaking of vulgarity, I worked at an auto show on the day of the Super Bowl. On my way into the PA Convention Center, I passed a guy hawking stuff on the street corner. “Pretzels!” he shouted. “Candy! Cotton candy! Super Bowl rings!”

There were no takers.

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Weathering the reign of a fool


There are similar examples in history, but I can’t help but wonder how our grabber-in-chief rose so high despite being such a world-class fool.

I asked Swamp Rabbit yesterday as we were weatherizing the shack against a cold snap that was turning the rain into volleys of sleet.

“Trump ain’t no fool, he’s a clown,” the rabbit said. “There’s a difference, you know.”

“A foolish clown, rabbit. He makes a joke for the whole world to see and doesn’t realize the joke is on him.”

“Don’t be so sure about that,” the rabbit said as he stuffed rags between the drywall and the window frames. “He knows what he’s saying and who he’s saying it to. He knows them peeps who voted for him think global warming is a hoax.”

The rabbit continued jawing as we covered the broken windows with clear plastic. He said Trump may or may not understand the difference between climate and weather, but he doesn’t care either way. He knows his peeps enjoy his misplaced anger at minorities and foreigners, at scientists and other “elitists.” They like that he’s a twisted, born-rich version of Lonesome Rhoades in A Face In the Crowd.

“But Trump doesn’t care about peeps,” I said, exasperated. “He shut down a big part of the government. He’s put a million peeps out of work and is holding them hostage because he can’t have his wall. How long can this go on?”

“Don’t ask, but get ready to drop plenty more of them f-bombs. There’s heavy weather ahead.”

Footnote: I almost wrote “term of office” then realized “reign” is more appropriate for a fool who would be king, or at least dictator.

Another: Let’s not forget the mainstream media deserve much of the credit for Trump’s ascension. The press made a star of him and TV resurrected him with “The Apprentice” after his multiple bankruptcies.

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‘Impeach the malefactor’ is way too polite


I was on the Blue Route last week, driving carefully to avoid being pulled over by the sort of sneaky cop who nailed me on Labor Day in a speed trap near Norristown. All was well until a Chevy Suburban doing 90 mph blew past my ancient Acura.

“Motherfucker!” I shouted, dashing my New Year’s resolution.

“Your favorite word,” said my friend Swamp Rabbit, who was riding shotgun and laughing. “I knew you couldn’t give it up.”

My resolution had been to substitute the word ‘malefactor’ for the other mf-word every time I got angry . If some wise guy got on my case I would say, “What’s it to you, malefactor?” Same number of syllables, same hard consonants, but no sex-with-relatives accusation.

“Where’d ya git that word, anyhow?” the rabbit said.

I told him ‘malefactor’ comes from the Latin and refers to one who breaks the law in a big way. Teddy Roosevelt famously used the word to criticize the greedy corporate chiefs who imperiled the economy in the early 20th century. “Malefactors of great wealth,” he called them.

“You can apply the word to all sorts of rotten people,” I explained. “It’s more polite than the dirty mf-word.”

The rabbit drank from his flask and said, “Tell it to that Congress lady who dissed Trump a few weeks back. She said ‘impeach the motherfucker,’ and she didn’t use no asterisks.”

“Trump bragged about grabbing women by the pussy,” I replied. “So I guess the Congresswoman figured it was okay to call him a dirty name.”

Swamp Rabbit took another drink and shook his head. “Talking like Trump just drags you down to his level, don’t you think?”

I pressed down on the gas pedal and stared into the dark up ahead. “The people who voted for Trump dragged all of us down to his level. We’re stuck there till the motherfucker is gone.”

That was two f-bombs in ten minutes, and I figured there would be many more. It was going to be a very long year, and I was already out of resolutions.

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The ultimate end-of-year list


I wanted to know why my friend Swamp Rabbit was hard at work writing down his worst blackouts of 2018.

“It’s New Year’s,” he said. “I need to take stock.”

He noted that we humans like to compile lists of things, to put these things in categories, in order of importance. We like to read other people’s lists and compare theirs to ours. List-making helps us feel like we’ve processed and understood all the information the media has bombarded us with.

“That’s ridiculous,” I said. “We don’t understand anything.”

“It don’t matter,” he replied. “All’s we need is the illusion of understanding, of staying on top of things.”

We especially need end-of-year lists, he continued, and it doesn’t matter how ridiculous the topics are — most uninspired movie sequels, hottest male and female pop tarts, most persistent political cliches, most dominant athletes, most submissive athletes, best ukulele players. We need to share these lists, to argue about them.

“I don’t see the point,” I said.

He paused to sip from a juice jar full of bourbon. “There ain’t no point, it’s just fun. Don’t you know what fun is, Odd Man?”

There was nothing fun about 2018, I told him. Humans set new records for killing off other species. Sea levels rose faster than had been predicted. Environmental protection laws were undone by our evil idiot president while floods and fires scarred the landscape. Do people not notice what’s happening?

“You got a good list going there,” he said, ignoring the question. “Ten news stories that prove humans are doomed. You should finish it up and post it on your blog, the peeps will love it.”

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Patti Smith to young artists: Brush your teeth


I was under-whelmed by Patti Smith’s landmark debut album Horses (1975), mostly because her voice was a mess and because I thought punk rock, stylistically, was a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing musical. But Smith wasn’t a punk rocker at heart. Her heroes included Dylan and the Stones, Robert Blake and Allen Ginsberg, and she deserves credit for remaining a genuine oddball poet/rocker long after the punk craze ran its course.

A recent radio interview of Smith cracked me up. She recalled living dirt-poor in NYC with Robert Mapplethorpe, making her mark at CBGB, getting married to MC5 alumnus Fred Smith, having and raising kids with him, getting back into music and activism.

Near the end of the interview, Smith was asked what advice she would give to young, aspiring artists. I think the radio host was inviting her to say something grand that would suit her shamanistic, godmother-of-punk image.

“Take care of your teeth,” she said.

The interviewer seemed disappointed, but my friend Swamp Rabbit and I knew from bitter experience that Smith had spoken words of wisdom.

After hearing the interview, we found this, from a commencement speech Smith gave a few years ago:

…You want at night to be pacing the floor because your muse is burning inside of you, because you want to do your work, because you want to finish that canvas, because you want to help your fellow man — you don’t want to be pacing because you need a damn root canal.

“That does it, I’m going to the dental clinic tomorrow,” Swamp Rabbit said, making his New Year’s resolution. “Gotta get my singing career back on track.”

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