I hate holidays in general, and religious holidays especially, even though the music played on classical music stations during Easter isn’t bad. Here I am sitting at my computer on the day before Easter Sunday, casting about for something to blog about, but nothing comes save idle thoughts. Still and all, a blog is just the place for idle thoughts, so here goes.
Let me begin with the delightful fact that a high school senior has driven an A-list right wing bloviator off the air, at least for a week. David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland massacre and a participant in the nationwide student protest against gun violence, was ridiculed by the reliably despicable Laura Ingraham, who described him as whining because he had been rejected by four colleges despite having a 4.1 GPA. Unfazed, Hogg tweeted the names of twelve companies who advertise on her Fox news show, urging his fellow students to contact them, and so many of the companies withdrew their advertising that she has announced a one week absence from her show. And they say there is nothing good about capitalism!
[By the way, in case anyone is mystified as to how a student could have a GPA that averages better than an A, the reason is that Advanced Placement courses for students aiming for college carry an additional point on the grade score, so 5.0, not 4.0, is the top GPA possible. Schools with a heavy minority representation are less likely to offer AP courses, one of the countless structural obstacles facing Black and Latino/a students.]
Which brings me to a question much discussed and misunderstood by cable news commentators: Why can’t Donald Trump fire anyone face to face or even on the phone, despite having made his name on TV by “firing” people on The Apprentice. The answer is obvious. Trump is a coward. He quite literally does not have the courage to look someone in the eye and tell him or her to pack up and go. His language is completely revealing. He repeatedly describes people as kneeling before him, abasing themselves before him, begging him for money or a job or approval. He is obsessed by such fantasies as only a sniveling coward would be. Like all cowards, he is desperately insecure. There is no amount of flattery sufficiently fulsome [in the correct meaning of that word] to reassure him. I think we can assume without too much risk of error that as a very small boy he was ridiculed mercilessly by his father, and nursed secret fantasies of retaliation.
On a more serious note, I have been brooding about the curious strengths and weaknesses of the odd Republican form of government established by the Constitution. Beneath the clown show of presidential politics, a group of genuinely awful cabinet secretaries and other appointed government officials have been doing everything they can to reverse eighty years of socially and economically progressive federal policies. The latest example is EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s attempt to roll back regulations limiting automotive exhaust fumes. This is pointlessly, gratuitously terrible, but thanks to the federal structure of the United States, it is probably fruitless. California has enacted strict pollution standards as a sovereign state, and California’s economy is so large that car manufacturers are forced to comply or lose that market. Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, is dedicated to destroying public education, but the funding for education is so radically decentralized that there is very little she can actually do. And so on and on. The striking exception is Jeff Sessions, whose Justice Department can in fact inflict a very great deal of serious harm on people of color, something Sessions has lusted to do his entire life.
When progressives controlled the Congress and the White House, people like me fumed [rightly so] at the resistance put up by benighted states to humane, decent, forward-looking policies. Now we can take comfort that those structural obstacles to centralized power are working for us rather than against us.
Needless to say, these thoughts raise interesting questions about the best form of a socialist government.
I end with a troubling thought that came to me as I was walking this morning. I have been blogging for nine years now, and some of you have been with me most of that time. I think of you not as an audience but as friends, as comrades, as, at the very least, reliable conversationalists. And yet, save for a handful of you whom I knew before I started, like Tom Cathcart, I have never met any of you. Indeed, I do not even know most of your names, let alone how old you are. That is, for someone my age, really strange.