Bob Schwartz

Category: Uncategorized

Trump: Snitches Get Stitches

Talking today about the trouble he is in because of a whistleblower, Trump might have said:

“Snitches get stitches.”

Or he might have said:

“Rats need to be exterminated.”

This is what he actually said:

“I want to know who’s the person who gave the whistleblower the information because that’s close to a spy. You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

Yes sir, you yourself should be glad these aren’t “the old days,” so now even traitors can escape the ultimate punishment. Of course, some traitors may try to pardon themselves.

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Why Republicans Don’t Care About What History Thinks of Them: “History Is Bunk”

“History is more or less bunk. It’s tradition. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present, and the only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history that we make today.”
Henry Ford

Republicans today don’t believe in history, any more than they believe in government or journalism. They don’t believe in historians, any more than they believe in civil servants and journalists. And they are confident that much of the electorate doesn’t believe in these either.

That’s why suggesting to Republicans that history will judge them harshly makes no difference to them, falling on deaf ears. They continue to subvert conventional regard for institutions such as government, education and journalism. Convincing people that history and historians can’t be trusted and have little to offer doesn’t seem that hard to them.

Republicans are probably not right about the whole of the citizenry. Historians are already quick-reviewing the current era in an unflattering light, and numbers of people are paying attention. But if Republicans are right about a substantial portion of the citizenry, that people are ignorant and skeptical of history, and don’t really care what historians say, that unflattering light may get much darker.

The White House is the civic car crash we can’t take our eyes off of

There are many who say the occupant of the White House is incompetent, ignorant, corrupt and crazy, at the least. Yet when we try to stop thinking and talking about him, many of us utterly fail.

It is a cliché to say that people often can’t take their eyes off a car crash, particularly a gruesome one. Clichéd and true.

For better or worse, American civic life is centered on the White House. The situation there can be described as a horrible and chronic car crash. The fire department never arrives to put the fire out. The tow truck never arrives to haul the wreck. The ambulance never arrives to carry the sick and injured away.

We keep calling 911, but no one answers. So we just keep gawking.

Assault rifles are personal weapons of mass destruction (#PWMD)

Personal Weapons of Mass Destruction (PWMD)

Assault rifles are personal weapons of mass destruction (#PWMD). America fought a war in Iraq to eliminate imaginary WMDs. These WMDs are very real (250 American mass shootings so far in 2019).

That millions of Americans are supportive of and motivated by social hate—Americans from the president on down—is a difficult problem that won’t be easily fixed. Reducing the availability of assault rifle PWMDs is easier:

Assault Weapons Ban of 2019
S.66 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)
Introduced in Senate (01/09/2019)

This bill makes it a crime to knowingly import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess a semiautomatic assault weapon (SAW) or large capacity ammunition feeding device (LCAFD).

The prohibition does not apply to a firearm that is (1) manually operated by bolt, pump, lever, or slide action; (2) permanently inoperable; (3) an antique; or (4) a rifle or shotgun specifically identified by make and model.

The bill also exempts from the prohibition the following, with respect to a SAW or LCAFD:

importation, sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession related to certain law enforcement efforts, or authorized tests or experiments;
importation, sale, transfer, or possession related to securing nuclear materials; and
possession by a retired law enforcement officer.

The bill permits continued possession, sale, or transfer of a grandfathered SAW, which must be securely stored. A licensed gun dealer must conduct a background check prior to the sale or transfer of a grandfathered SAW between private parties.

The bill permits continued possession of, but prohibits sale or transfer of, a grandfathered LCAFD.

Trump Couldn’t Get Hired to Manage a McDonald’s (Though He’d Love It)

For so many reasons, starting but not ending with incompetence, and including his reputation as a sex offender, Trump could not get hired to manage any public or private enterprise of any size. This includes managing a McDonald’s, which is in many ways his dream job (he doesn’t realize that managers don’t get free food).

And yet he is nominally Chief Executive Officer of the United States, the biggest enterprise in the world.

Leaders everywhere, the “beautiful” dictators who should be our enemies and the less “beautiful” allies who should be our friends, all know this. Aliens from other planets, if they are watching, know this. More than half of all Americans know this.

Years from now, in the unsettled and uncertain future, Trump’s “management” of America will be the stuff of hundreds of business school case studies. Even at Wharton, which he claims without proof as his alma mater, MBA students will have to read the story and be asked by their management professors, “What’s wrong with this picture?”

The right answer is: everything.

Scenes from a Wedding

Note: Some of this happened, some of it only seems to have happened. Initials are used for the cast of characters. Some characters share the same initial (so many Ks!) that it will be impossible to tell who is who and which is which.

1. The wedding ceremony between T and B is perfect. The summer wind and birds play and sing along in approval.

2. The reception is perfect. Many, many happy people, including especially T and B.

3. Late in the reception, C and K suggest that B join them at the fire pit outside. But in the confusion of a wave of guests leaving, C and K disappear. B unsuccessfully searches for them.

4. The wave of guests is heading for a bar at a local resort. But when B and K arrive at the resort, they find dozens of guests not at a bar but gathered outside the front entrance, like children with noses pressed against a toy store window. Someone has brought two portable coolers filled with beer and a canned drink containing sparkling water, fruit flavoring and some kind of alcohol.

5. An official from the resort comes by to say that the people and drinking are fine, but that the coolers must leave the public space and go to a room.

6. K picks up a cooler and takes it inside. K eventually returns and announces that the situation is greased. It turns out that K has set the cooler down in the back of the lobby, next to an ATM.

7. K, C and B overhear a complicated and hard to-follow-conversation between J and N. They are discussing how best to whiten a christening gown. Looking back, it appears this may have been a theological debate, though it didn’t seem so at the time. The final word is that Oxi-Clean is better than bleach.

8. B suggests to C that they steal the guest cart parked next to them at the front entrance. Despite many opportunities, this scheme fails to materialize.

9. K, C and B explore the parking lot. B tells a subtle and philosophical joke about a farmer and a pig (punchline: “What’s time to a pig?”). After they are finished laughing, K and C abandon B, who returns to the resort entrance. No one is left there, however, because the remainder of the guests are inside at the actual bar.

10. B and K drive back to their hotel. K is hungry and wants to eat a Filet-O-Fish sandwich at the McDonald’s next door to the hotel. They walk over to it, where the inside counter is closed but drive-thru is open. They determine that walking through the drive-thru is impractical, so they walk back to get the car. They want to stop by their room first, but discover they have both forgotten their keys. They must first go to the front desk for replacements, and then drive to McDonald’s. K drives the wrong way into the drive thru, but eventually turns around and lands in front of the display menu. K and B study the menu for five minutes, but discover no Filet-O-Fish sandwich. They drive back to their hotel, disappointed.

The Weight

Everyone carries a weight, some lighter, some heavier. The question raised is how best to bear it. Some say it depends solely on you, some say it depends solely on an Other. Whatever works is one approach. The best approach may be that carrying the weight depends on you and on an Other. Anyone trying to carry a long piece of lumber knows this.

Everyone who is not you carries a weight, some lighter, some heavier. The question raised is whether you have any responsibility to help, especially since you are already carrying your own weight. Some say you have no responsibility, some say you have absolute responsibility. Some say an Other will come along to help, some say that the Other is you.

Path

Path

some paths paved
others worn by travelers
this one obscured and obstructed
by trees and brush
the obvious way here

©

Location and Dislocation: Where Are You?

Half of a compass from Pompeii

you are here
you are there
here is there
there is here
here is nowhere and everywhere
there is nowhere and everywhere
here is not there

Dislocation is basic. It suggests more than being in one place and then another wholly intentionally and voluntarily. It may not be forced in the sense of dictated; it might be circumstantial or incidental. One thing somehow leads to another, one place somehow leads to another. What is this place? How did I get here? Where am I?

Religious and spiritual traditions spend much time on location and dislocation in many contexts. People are forced to move out and wander. People are judged and forced to go to good places and bad places after death. Or maybe the good place or bad place is right here, except we don’t know it. Or, to quote Neil Young, everybody knows this is nowhere. Or, this is somewhere and then nowhere and then somewhere.

We are not always prepared for dislocation, or for ultimate dislocation. The traditions confuse us, sometimes because they themselves are confused or misleading, sometimes because they want us to work on the matter of location and dislocation ourselves. If you think you know exactly where you are and where you’re going, think again. Or stop thinking. Find a compass, throw away a compass. Here you are.

We are in a monster movie. Some scientists say impeachment will defeat it. Some say that will only make it stronger.

All great monster movies include heated debates among scientists about how best to deal with the devastating creature. Some desperately suggest fire, some say electricity, some say atomic bombs. Others warn that fire or electricity or atomic bombs will only make it stronger, maybe invulnerable.

That is exactly where we are on the impeachment debate. As the damage mounts spectacularly, there are some who say we have no choice but to try anything and everything to save the nation. Others warn that this will only make the creature bigger, angrier and more destructive.

Who is right? What do the monster movies tell us? Sadly, they are just movies, and in any case, there is no single certain resolution or happy ending. Sometimes the combative scientists are right and the monster is destroyed. Sometimes the skeptical scientists are right and the weapons only make the monster bigger and meaner. Sometimes the monster skulks off for the moment, but returns, or has children, and they return. Nothing to do then but wait for the sequel.