Arizona Right Wing to Parkland Kids: Drop Dead!

Julie get the gun, Julie throw it in the river
Let it roll far on out to sea
Let it carry the confusion
The hatred and the worry here in me
River rolling out to sea
            – John Stewart, “Some Lonesome Picker” (California Bloodlines, 1968)

It was as modern as Instagram yet recalled the best elements of an old-fashioned political rally, with passionate speakers, rousing music, and a crowd electrified by them.  The speakers were kids – literally – and brought the incandescence of youth with conviction, ambition, purpose and a fierce dedication to waging a battle they might not be ready for.  They brought declarations of sorrow and fear, determination and challenge, and four and a half minutes of silence that seemed to stop the planet on its axis.  The images and sounds captivated millions and likely changed a few minds.

Some minds have calcified and cannot change.  Where many of us saw a reason to hope the Parkland kids and allies from Chicago, Los Angeles and elsewhere could lead America out of the shadow of gun violence, others saw a threat to their mistaken belief that a society with virtually no control over gun possession is the model of governance.  They value their guns over the lives of children, although they try to mask their deficient humanity with the preposterous argument that arming teachers and increasing the presence of guns in schools will guarantee a secure learning environment.  They’re arsonists masquerading as firefighters.

Sadly, some of them reside in my town, as demonstrated by their reaction to a Facebook posting from an evangelical conservative who manages local radio stations.  He wrote this: “It is encouraging to see young people march in Washington and around the country for gun control. We can argue about whether gun control is the sole issue or even the main issue, but regardless the kids are energized.”  He closed by hoping the movement would trigger a “spiritual revival.”  Based on the reactions, you’d have thought he denounced motherhood.

Consider the commentator who said the Parkland kids were “lied to, manipulated, and used as pawns to advance the agenda of Socialist-seeking Idealogues (sic).”  That was a recurrent theme:  that the Parkland kids, apparently unable to think for themselves, are mere pawns of an adult agenda.  “(T)hese are under age children according to the laws of the land,” wrote another.  “Where are their parents? What has happened to parentis en locus (sic)?”  The nastiness was captured in this comment: “It’s not encouraging to see them like ‘sheep.’ I apologize to all the real Sheep (sic), that was a put down, at least you have a brain.”

One of the strangest comments was a question that asked, “How many oddballs, loners and ‘weird’ kids have been embraced, accepted and befriended this week by the marchers?”  A few comments down the page the author added, “I doubt very many actually thought critically about the ‘reason’ for the march they joined, most likely just because it was a thing all the other kids were doing.”  Another wrote, “I would like to see some evidence that they are not simply running with the herd, and are actually thinking critically and independently.”  Was he not watching on Saturday, March 24th?

The most troubling comment came from a prominent local businessman who is a member of the Republican National Committee.  “Children are being used as props for leftist gun grabbers,” he wrote.  “These children have free speech because of the second amendment they want to throw away.”  That suggests the Parkland kids’ most powerful adversary is the Grand Old Party – emphasis on “Old.”  But I would not bet against them for three reasons:

The first, and most important, is that the kids understand modern media.  For those as old as Donald Trump and Wayne LaPierre, cell phones and the Internet are “technology” because they were invented during their lifetimes.  For the kids, these things are not technology, but environment.  They grew up with smart phones and understand new media better than older folks.  That gives them a power over their message their elders cannot match.

Second, the gun advocates are fighting on the kids’ terms, because both rely on emotional arguments.  The kids’ emotional appeal is clear:  they want to feel safe in school but the abundance and nature of weaponry in America makes that impossible.  The NRA and its fellow travelers rely on emotion as well.  They live in a paranoid reality, afraid of their own shadows, grabbing desperately at guns to shield themselves from their inner demons.  They concoct enemies they must arm themselves against, including their own government.  I have long believed men obsessed with guns conflate them with their male member, as though permissive gun laws will remediate their shortcomings.  The kids’ legitimate fears will eclipse the make-believe fears of the gun radicals.

Finally, the kids have time and numbers on their side.  Fewer than one-third of Americans own guns and only three percent of the population possess half of them.  Most United States citizens support stricter gun controls, a number that accelerated after the Parkland massacre.  Gun rights advocates historically vote in higher percentages than the general population, but that won’t matter much longer, not with the culture and demographic and political numbers trending irrevocably against them.  America’s future is not their future.

Gun radicals insist the Parkland kids and their young allies should be ignored and shunned, even when their lives are at stake, arguing they cannot think for themselves and are pawns of an anti-American political agenda.  In other words: shut up and drop dead.

Children can be so cruel.

© 2018 by Mike Tully


Stormy Weather

It was a dark and Stormy night.  Then it was a dark and Stormy dawn, followed by a Stormy day, followed by another Stormy day, then another, one Stormy week upon another, day after day, night after dark and Stormy night.  The forecast is merciless and unchanging – Stormy weather in the offing as far as the crow can see.  The Czar was so angry he skipped his third helping of chocolate cake.

“She’s everywhere!” he bellowed like an alphorn.  “She gets more air time than I do.”  The Czar retrieved a Tic-Tac from his coat pocket and skillfully flipped it into his mouth like a self-feeding sea lion.  “Except on Fox, of course.  They stick with the program.  We need to get rid of the others.  CNN.  MSNBC.  Get David D. Smith to buy them.”  The Czar sadly looked back at his row of large, flat-screen TVs.  “Look at her,” he said, with a sweeping, imperial gesture.  “Isn’t she something?  Look at that figure.  If they hadn’t already invented wide screen TV…” he added, his voice trailing off.  The Czar looked up at the ceiling, suddenly lost in whatever his brain uses for thought.  He absent-mindedly retrieved another Tic-Tac.

General Kelly slowly realized the Czar had forgotten he was there and began to clear his throat.  The Czar didn’t notice him and the General cleared his throat again, louder than the first time.  He cleared his throat several more times, louder and louder, like he was auditioning for the Vocal Fry Glee Club.  Finally, he spoke up in his booming command voice and asked the Czar, “Do you need anything else, Mr. President?”

The Czar, who was sucking on a Tic-Tac with his eyes closed, stopped mid-suck.  “No,” he replied.  “That was enough.  That was great.  Thank you, Stormy.”  The Czar blinked, sat up straight and looked at Kelly.   “I mean General.  Thank you, General.”  Kelly, who long ago had accepted the defenestration of his integrity, would have answered to “Stormy” if that’s what it took to get out of there.  But the Czar was not done.  Gesturing to the TV screens, which showed a photograph of Stormy Daniels taking a polygraph test, the Czar asked Kelly, “What do you think of her?”  The General studied the screens.  “She looks like she’s making a hostage video with two Koalas stuffed inside her shirt,” he replied.  “Well-fed Koalas.”  The Czar slumped in his chair and changed the channel to Fox.  “You’re excused, General.  Good night.”  “Good night, Sir,” Kelly replied, executing a crisp pirouette as he left the room.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this, thought the Czar.  The presidency was supposed to be easy and fun, like “The Apprentice.”  He was born to be president, a leader, someone gals lusted for and guys admired.  When he dreamt of being immortalized on a rock, he was thinking Rushmore, not Prometheus.  The eagles ravaging his liver are named Stormy, Karen, and Summer, vindictive women after a pound of his ample flesh.  Does this happen to Putin or Duterte?  No way.  This is why the country is going to hell.  Men can’t be men any more.  There’s a war on straight white guys.  And Christmas.  War on Christmas.  Easter is next.  Gotta use that at the next rally to fire up the rubes.  We need to protect Easter.  Save the bunnies.  Bunnies.  Playboy.  Karen.  Love the bunnies…  As the Czar began to fall asleep while Foxes and Foxettes babbled in the background, the Czarina quietly entered the room.  “Donald, do you need anything before I go to bed?” she asked him.  “No,” mumbled the sleepy Czar.  “Thank you, Stormy.”  The Czarina turned and left the room, slamming the door like a thunder-dent.

The Czar fears the vindictive women more than he fears Robert Mueller.  The Special Counsel might want to slap cuffs on his wrists, but the women have a different target, the thought of which makes the Czar squirm and ruffle his bloomers.  If only he could bring Roy Cohn back from the dead.  He’d take care of all those ungrateful bimbos and their greedy shysters.  Say what you will about Roy Cohn, he was a man’s man.  Besides, the Czar was in his element in court, whether defending himself against contractors he stiffed or filing for bankruptcy to wipe out a ledger of inconvenient financial obligations.  The legal system is a playground for the wealthy; lawyers will accept less than they bill and many judges have a surprisingly accommodating price point.  Mueller and his crew are lawyers; the Czar fears no lawyer.

But the women – not just Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal, and Summer Zervos, but all the others as well – scare the Czar, because they threaten to unmask him for what he is:  a man obsessed by sex above all else.  Everything he has become, all he has done was driven by his insatiable libido.  Money and power were secondary, mere devices to lure models, Playboy Bunnies and porn stars into a connubial lair.  So great was his need for notches on his sex pistol that he took unnecessary chances, barging into a room full of under-age beauty queens in various stages of undress, groping women on planes and elsewhere, enjoying exotic “room service” in a Moscow hotel.  He knows, in the dank chamber of his deepest secrets, that he is but a marionette in service of his loins.

Now his curtain is pulling away, exposing his history of debauchery in the worst possible place at the worst possible time –  while he is here, in the eye of the storm.

© 2018 by Mike Tully


Found in Translation

The following is a transcript of a meeting that may take place between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.  While the world hopes the unpredictable and mercurial individuals will chart a new course toward peace, most regard the meeting as akin to a pair of gasoline-soaked men engaging in a wood-burning contest.  For that reason, the United Nations made the parties agree to a single interpreter, loyal to the U.N. and not the two leaders, who can use his “creative” skills to temper the conversation and avoid a catastrophe.

TRUMP:  It’s wonderful to finally meet the famous “Rocket Man” face-to-face.  Can I call you “Rocket” for short?  Short?  Get it? Short?  Ha ha ha ha ha.

INTERPRETER:  President Trump is honored to meet you.  He says you are much taller than he realized.

KIM:  Good morning, Mr. President.  You look like a beached whale with a blonde hairpiece decomposing in the sun.

INTERPRETER:  Good morning, Mr. President.  You are the picture of health. Clearly you have gotten some sun.

TRUMP:  Yeah.  I keep in shape playing golf at my luxurious resorts.  You have nothing like them in your country.  Nothing.  That’s why I have a tan. 

INTERPRETER:  I like to exercise outdoors.  That’s why I have a tan.

KIM:  A tan?  You don’t have a tan, you stinking pile of rotting cabbage.  It’s makeup.  You are the color of dung.  It looks like it was applied by a drunken blind painter in an earthquake.

INTERPRETER:  He says he was admiring your tan.