Monthly Archives: January 2018

Devin Can’t Wait

Nowadays men lead lives of noisy desperation.
– James Thurber

Devin Nunes, a California Congressman with the I.Q. of a trilobite, is the scary clown in the Trump circus, tasked with undermining the investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion by Trump and/or his family members and staffers.  His mission:  to create the illusion that the investigation is an illegitimate political attack by the FBI, headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and facilitated by high-ranking officials of the Justice Department.  His method, according to the New York Times:  a secret memo, written by Nunes without the input of the Justice Department or F.B.I. and without Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, which Nunes chairs.


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Happy Birthday, or Something

In the Hawaiian Islands, the first birthday is a very big deal.  The celebrated “first baby luau” is a coveted invitation in social circles and has been for generations.  The first birthday is important throughout Polynesian culture and elsewhere – Korea, for example.  The importance of the first birthday has its roots in much earlier times, before advances in medical science reduced a heartbreaking frequency of infant mortality.  Contemporary Hawaiians use the first baby luau to celebrate and honor a new life with a view to the future.  Their ancestors celebrated because the honoree still inhabited the planet.  The earliest first luaus were focused less on optimism and celebration than survival.  Congratulations, you’re a year old and still alive.  That’s worth celebrating all by itself.

Which brings us to the first anniversary of the Czar’s administration, which was more like the ancient first birthday celebration than the modern one.  Congratulations, you’re a year old and still alive – barely.  On anniversary day, January 20th, the federal government was shut down by political infighting after the self-professed master dealmaker proved incapable of actually making one.  There was nobody there to blow out the candle.

 


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Isms of the Czar

One of my strangest radio interviews featured a gadfly named Joe Sweeney, who died a few years ago.  Sweeney repeatedly ran for office, losing nearly every election.  He seemed a harmless eccentric until he declared he was a “racist” when he ran for congress in 2004.  He ran as a Republican and the desperate Republican party ran a conventional candidate against him in the primary.  Sweeney trounced him and the GOP was apoplectic.  Not the media.  Sweeney was a legitimate candidate and a Sweeney interview was a reporter’s dream.  I interviewed Sweeney when I was editor of the law school newspaper and looked forward to the return engagement.

I interviewed him again in 2004 during the “Inside Track” radio show with the late Emil Franzi, the show’s founder.  I asked Sweeney about his racism and he quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. (“they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”).  I expressed surprise that an avowed racist quoted MLK and told him, “Joe, I’ll take your word for it that you’re a racist.  But I have to tell you, you’re not very good at it.”

I remember Sweeney as the media arcade pinballs the term “racism” from one speaker to another, all wondering if the American Czar is a racist and, more importantly, whether racism influences his policies.  When a self-designated racist is unsure of the definition, it reminds us to use the term cautiously.

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