The Joys of Summer

Head Banging

This week, someone sent me this image. It upset me. It is so true.

Another friend sent a note expressing her grief at seeing our country fall to pieces,

I think the U.S. is finished as a world leader. In these last few years, as our leadership was crumbling, we have proven that we now have nothing others in the world should want to emulate and much that has proven does NOT work. I’m no longer proud of this country or the capitalism it’s supposed to represent; I’m embarrassed. “

Also this week for the first time I started yelling at the evening news. Chris Cuomo was interviewing one of these dipshit Republican mayors or governors (can’t remember now who it was), and this moron was chirping on: “We have individual rights, and personal freedom, and choice, and we can’t let BIG GUBMENT control or lives. If people choose to wear masks, fine, if not, that is their right! You Washington people can’t tell us what to do!”

Cuomo: “Do you support motorcycle helmets? School vaccinations? Mandatory seatbelt laws?”

Numbnuts: Silence.

Me (screaming): “Sorry Governor Dipshit, public health is much more important than your precious choice. You stupid asshole son-of-a-bitch. Fuck you!!!” I came close to throwing my valuable glass of Sutter Home Chardonnay at the TV. Instead of wasting precious Sutter Home, I started banging my head against the wall. With blood flowing down onto the carpet, Mary pulled me away.

Mary: “Careful, don’t get blood on the carpet. That rug cost us $35.”

Seriously, things are falling apart at an alarming rate. Atlantic magazine, April, 2020, had a feature describing how Trump and his team have a conscious… on purpose… plan to destroy our democracy. Whole government agencies have had their funding cut: FEMA; CDC; safety net programs; Health and Human Services, EPA, etc., etc. In addition, people are put in charge of these agencies whose goal is to destroy them, i.e. Betsy DeVos at Education.

Steve “Breitbart” Bannon “Destruction of the administrative state.”

Stephen Miller rails on about the dangers of the “deep state of unelected bureaucrats.”

I don’t blame Trump. I don’t blame his supporters. I do blame the financial elites (think Koch brothers) who are determined to destroy this democracy and suck every last dime from the middle and lower classes. The blue-color and working poor of our country have seen their lives turn to shit since Ronald Reagan convinced them that “trickle down” would bring back their jobs and life styles. It is understandable that they wanted to “drain the swamp” and voted with their middle finger.

With people elected to run our government who hate and despise government, and the great unwashed it was created to serve (“life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses”), no wonder we were not prepared for the C-19 pandemic. Holy Christ, if we were to spend money on preparations for things like that, we would be Socialists.

In trying to understand the mess we are in (incompetent government; protests and rioting; massive unemployment, economic collapse, and a pandemic), commentators on the evening news ruminate about “Why is this happening?” This is followed by concerns about racism, inequality, the global economy, etc. Now I don’t expect these people to have PhDs in economics, sociology, psychology, or political science (though some do), it doesn’t take a genius to see what is going on.

We are being dragged down by the very philosophy (I call it “Randism” after Any Rand) that made this country great: “Every man for himself, rugged individualism,” plus out of control “free market capitalism,” plus “stupid religious thinking that there is a bearded man in the sky who is watching over all this (the Lord works in mysterious ways).” All of this translates to: Government is bad (St. Reagan: “Government isn’t the solution. Government is the problem!”). All of this is reflected in the comments of the president : “It is up to the states.” So we have no coordinated, big, centralized, powerful federal program. States should take care of it themselves. Governors don’t want to mandate anything, they make “recommendations” about things like wearing masks. They leave it to the individuals.

Imagine fighting WWII with this Randian philosophy, “Today, President Roosevelt recommended that young men join the military. He also recommended (if they feel it) that Ford motor company start making tanks.

I don’t think for a minute that all this chaos is about George Floyd, or, even about Black Lives Matter. In my judgment, it is a reaction to the wealthy elites wrecking the lives of the bottom 90% as they destroy our democracy. Electing a democrat in November won’t make much difference. They are in bed with the elites just like the republicans are. Certainly, reversing the damage Trump has done will help, i.e. no more “for-profit healthcare,” but until the 540 billionaires (and the untold number of double-and-triple digit millionaires) in this country who have benefitted from the tax system of the last 50 years are forced to cough it back up, nothing will change. My fear is, without that, we are destined to see a bloody revolution. The last few months will be seen as a tea party. Look at the last ten minutes of Joker, “Kill the rich.” A dystopian reality of total chaos and breakdown. What happens when the police and the military walk off the job, realizing that, they too, are being fucked?

We should be following the teachings of Karl Marx; Cesar Chavez (The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.), and Jesus instead of Adam Smith and Milton Friedman.

Recommended reading:

Robert Reich: The Common Good.

Chris Hedges: America: the Farewell Tour.

Kurt Anderson: Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire.

Joan C. Williams: White Working Class.

Must see movie: Assault on Wall Street.

Gloria Steinem

Now on the brighter side. Recently, Public Television aired a two-hour special about Gloria Steinem. It was damn near a religious experience for me. I interviewed her in San Miguel, Mexico in 2015. This show brought it all back. I think she should be granted sainthood (which she would hate, btw). If you didn’t see my original interview, I am including it here below. I hope you will take time to watch it. You will not be sorry.

________________________________________________________________

Melinda Henning and I had just said goodbye to Gloria Steinem as she walked out of the hotel suite on her way to her next meeting. We were at the San Miguel Writers Conference in Mexico, January, 2015. We hugged each other, and I began to cry. “I’m ready to die now, it doesn’t get any better than this,” I told Melinda.

Gloria Steinem is one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met, from Carl Rogers on down. How this all came together is a very unlikely string of events.

Susan Page, who runs this yearly conference, invited me down with the possibility of interviewing Gloria, who was one of the headliners. I told Susan I’d be interested, but only if there was a possibility of greater exposure than just my web page.

I wrote up a description of how I would approach the interview and the questions I’d ask. Susan forwarded this to Gloria’s staff. There were lots of people in San Miguel who wanted to interview her, and her staff said she would grant just one interview, and that would be with me. Well, that did it.

I read three of her books and checked my video equipment. I was on my way.

The morning of the interview, I arrived at the hotel at 7:00AM. Mix-up with the room. I finally got into the correct room at 7:45AM. It took me an hour to set up. Audio, and wireless Sennheiser mic. Natural light by the window. Tripod. Nikon D800 with a 70 – 300mm zoom lens, and a 20mm wide-angle lens. Extension cords. Fresh batteries. Even with all of this prep, as an amateur in this video business, I knew that many things could scuttle the interview. In addition to the setup and equipment challenges, the questions might have been off. Rapport may not have worked, etc., etc. The list of things to worry about went on and on.

The video gods smiled down that day. Everything worked perfectly, including our big finish. I’d seen an interview she did with Barbara Walters where she tap danced for Barbara, since she’d been a dancer in high school. At the end of the interview, I changed to my wide- angle lens as I suggested she might do that for us too. She agreed, and to my delight we ended our time together with a dance routine to “You Are My Sunshine.” I thought, surely this is the most thrilling and satisfying thing I have done in my 50-year career in communication.

I got back to my room about 9:00PM and put the SD card in my Mac. With a few color adjustments, it looked fabulous. As a 75-year-old man (then), I could rarely sleep for more than three or four hours at a time. That night, I conked out at 9:30PM and slept until 7:00AM, not even waking up to pee. The tensions of the day must’ve left my body.

3 thoughts on “The Joys of Summer

  1. Hi Rick – I just saw this. If only every person in this country would. True – Biden can’t fix everything but maybe I won’t hang my head in shame for living in a country with Trump as President. Love to you and Mary.

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