How Did We Get 'Here?'
I’ll let you define “here.”
There are thousands of factors from "there" to "here," but I’m going to list four random indicators that something was happening.
One. My wife went to the movies with some fellow teachers, circa 1981 -- "Raiders of the Lost Ark." She watched as Harrison Ford blew away a guy who was wielding a sword, in front of a crowd, and she felt he did it with a smirk, for yucks, and the audience laughed, and she felt tears. Something is different, she said. Life means less.
Two. I was clicking through the cable channels around 2006 – no doubt looking for a ball game or a soccer match – and happened upon a talent competition.
We had these things when I was a kid, Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts – first prize being a week on his morning radio show. Godfrey was generally genial on the air (well, except when he fired his singer, Julius LaRosa, live, to teach him some “humility.”)
In 2006, a talent competition was different. A British guy named Simon was sneering and making remarks about the competitors, and also about the wisdom of his fellow judges. I had never seen such sheer nastiness on the air; the show was about this Simon guy, not about the contestants singing or dancing their hearts out.
I had never seen a reality show -- knew they existed, but avoided them, scrupulously. Only thing I could say about sneering Simon was “If he acted like that in the schoolyard where I played basketball, somebody would have popped him one.” But Simon seemed quite popular.
Three. I did hear there was a comparable reality show on the tube, starring a guy who grew up near me in Queens. He was rather yappy; friends of mine who lived next door told me that. I never saw him in the schoolyard.
Later, I heard he had been staked by his successful builder father to a rather large allowance to look like a successful businessman. He owned a team in a low-scale pro football league; his wife (first wife, as it turned out) had to correct all the things he did not know about his team.
Then I heard the guy had his own reality show, on which he postured and preened, Simon-like, dismissing candidates with a curt “You’re fired.” I heard it was popular but I never saw it. After all, I had met the guy. People in New York didn't take him seriously. We knew.
Four. Starting in 2009, I started to read about new members of Congress who had run for the House or Senate because….they did not much like centralized government and the use of taxes to run the country, to help other people.
Once elected, they were obligated to go to Washington for a few days here and there, but to show their disdain for centralized government they bragged about bunking in with friends, maybe even sleeping on couches in their offices, until they could get back home to God’s Country, away from the Deep State. These advocates of minimal government were labelled The Tea Party by Rick Santelli of CNBC. Last elected rep to leave, please turn out the lights.
That brings us to today, when the country seems to be divided between elected public officials who seem to have studied and respected the Constitution and the Founding Fathers and other elected public officials who seem to have a Tea Party twitch to shut the whole thing down and turn it over to Our Masters – particularly the guy on the reality show.
I guess it goes back to laughing at bodies being blown to bits by Indiana Jones, back to contestants and fellow judges being mocked by the Simon guy, back to Tea Party types who don’t believe in the separation of powers of government, who do not respect the public servants who make government run.
It’s been coming on for a long time.
12/12/2019 11:53:54 am
It IS painful to be HERE. I am so flummoxed as to be uncertain of where we are exactly that I can not answer the question of how to get back to where we came from. Those who have led us here are only the tip of the iceberg -- those elected officials who preen before the cameras...they know their base, sadly, those back at home who see themselves as put upon by THOSE people -- foreigners, whether born abroad of in the USA; the needy and helpless, who seek to leech on "hard working folk"; those who impose all those rules, the ones that impinge on "everyone" by hoping to provide safer drinking water, cleaner air, accident free work places, honest mining and the preservation of nature at the detrement of unfettered drilling. Those folks back at home believe people like Trump, McConnell, Cruz and the rest have their best interests at heart. Why they believe that is beyond me -- I think probably it is simply because they think those who preen before the cameras in Washington will protect them from those OTHER people, the ones who are not exactly like them. I don't know if I am more angry or more sad.
12/12/2019 01:38:20 pm
Charlie: clearly you have anger-management issues, just like the Time Person of the Year. You didn't used to be that way. What has happened?
12/12/2019 05:43:04 pm
George: I triy to find solace in an occasional rum and a good cigar. Alas, the beneficial effect is short-lived.
12/12/2019 06:55:37 pm
Charlie: The Mets got me through the season, entertaining enough with some admirable players (DeGrom, McNeil, Alonso).......and on long, dark evenings now I am reading a lot and trying not to listen to the guy braying on the news. GV
12/13/2019 08:41:45 am
12/13/2019 05:24:42 pm
Randy: Thanks for the advice. Your relative is starting to mute the Earworm-in-Chief so we don't hear his tone-deaf disturbed cadence.
12/13/2019 10:32:50 pm
GV what’s to say? I do not and have not listened, if he comes on in NPR news show I turn it to inaudible, or the Classical Music channel. It is just as bad with anyone parroting the lies. Instead, I read the NYT online the WP and the local, mostly, sadly, non news papers as they slowly shrink before my old eyes. I can control fact input pretty well that way. Even the opinion columns have to carefully vetted. I know what is happenining, but avoid the noise and redundancy.Fortunately, we have found programs on NETFLIX, mostly from other nations, such as “Broadchurch” a UK police show, to anchor us in the real, if fictional, world. Keep the Faith as ACP used to say.
12/14/2019 03:44:45 pm
Ed: ACP=Adam Clayton Powell?
12/15/2019 09:33:47 am
12/15/2019 08:08:32 pm
For all the needed programs that President Obama tried to accomplish during his presidency, he must share the blame for the election of President trump. Our current president took offense to some good-natured kidding at the 2011 White House Correspondent’s Dinner and "The Donald" vowed to get even.
12/15/2019 08:28:24 pm
12/17/2019 03:25:25 pm
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“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.