Humor

Don’t Drop the Democracy


Well, well, well, America. Aren’t we full of surprises. You little freckle-faced rascals!

You’ve done something good. You’ve made a start on redeeming yourself; made a little wobbly-oopsy baby-step towards taking America from a state of total insanity back to the regular, day-to-day state of verging-on-insanity that we all know and love.

Democrats control the House — unprecedented wins for women, women of color, Native, Muslim and LGBT candidates — you’ve been holding out on me, you sly puss! Sincere and heartfelt congratulations.

We won’t, not yet anyway, take on those topics of: Gerrymandering and voter suppression, Republican specialties, and it is a toss-up whether you’d classify these activities as art, for the exquisite finesse in the redrawing of boundaries; or sport, for the breathtaking speed of execution and their brazen exhibitionism.  Either way, any close-call vote is suspect, notably in Georgia, where I understand the person in charge of the election’s integrity is also a candidate.  Conflict of interest much?

The post-mortems are already underway, but as a Canadian I can just take the day off and spend it sighing with relief.  I can still remember — and, youngsters, let me take a second to hook my thumbs behind my suspenders — how my loins shuddered and my flanks trembled from my absolute shock a couple of years ago when, in the wee hours after the election, I heard a crowd of voices outside my apartment on Sherbourne Street, in Toronto — if you’re not familiar with the geography, just think “up there” — then somebody saying something like, “Holy fuck, TRUMP!”, then everyone bursting out laughing.

It was, indeed, holy fuck Trump, and were I to say that you’ve exceeded my expectations by reining him in a little, please note that this is sincere — but also a bit like those desperate compliments you give your friend who’s just made their acting début in the local amateur production of “The Mousetrap,” where they say the line “dinner is served” with the gawdawful stiffness of those who have thought too much about how to say “dinner is served,” then disappear for the rest of the evening.

And you are obliged to sit through the whole damn play because you have to go backstage afterwards and tell them, “Well, gosh, Darlene, I’ll be honest — I never knew you had it in ya!”

So, here’s the deal. You got your common sense back, sort of — though it involved waiting until Trump was literally on the verge of holding a fascist-style parade, I can imagine the armed Boy Scouts in formation and modestly-clad girls performing gymnastics, because healthy women are needed to breed the Amerikanisches volk — and you have partially put a little bit of a check on Republicans run amok —

But—and I have to go here, yes—you just couldn’t elect another ssssshhhhh! black! man! for Governor of Florida, could you? That was way too much to hope for. That’s still just too errrrrr crunchy and difficult to get your heads around. We understand, and don’t forget — baby steps! It’s important not to take on more menschly normal than you can handle at a go. Saving the Free World from Trump is just fine for today.

‘Cause we know how the last black guy worked out, right? I mean, can you just imagine those Klan members’ brains, with those racist neurons and synapses firing back and forth — slave!/POTUS! slave!/POTUS! error! error! error! — until the cognitive dissonance was just too much overheating of the circuits. The greatest cross-burning opp of a lifetime, and whitey’s got mind-frazzle!

And, right on cue, like an army of rejects from a Cronenberg casting call, comes The Awakening. In this riff on The Manchurian Candidate, an entire shadowy doppel-nation of slumbering fascists is stirred into action by the opening words of Obama’s inauguration ceremony. Their eyes take on a remote, permanently glazed appearance as they stock up on ammunition, check the tire pressure, maybe research the End of Days, because what else could this be?

Your best friend has changed his name to “Biff,” buzzed his hair and joined The League of Pretty White Boys. Next thing you know he’s going skinny dipping in the bayou with his new buds, putting “Gurlz keep out!” signs on his treehouse and getting suspiciously interested in Physical Culture. You can no longer have a meaningful conversation because your values don’t align and besides, it’s really hard to talk when he’s playing “Ein Heldenleben” at full volume…


Democracy is not the default.  Goodness is not the default.  Fairness and empathy and love and justice are not the norm. These things are precious and extraordinary and they have an exquisite eco-system, an equilibrium that can be destroyed.

… And I know, like any marketer knows, that sequels are a shoo-in because they combine just enough novelty with a big helping of the familiar and predictable. In which case, I think it’ll knock ’em dead in Des Moines, how about you?

All that ugly racism awakened, yet from Obama: class and grace and decency, eight years of taking the high road . Like, what was that crazy-ass American Dream fucktard-ery all about?

I mean, stop the merry-go-round of normal! I need to take my crazy pills and chase them with a big, hot, foaming, rabid Trumpstein of white supremo!

— so, you’ve made a tiny initial act of reparation for the sinking-in-synch of democracy worldwide that Trump has enabled. You’re like the door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman who throws dirt on the lady’s carpet so he can demonstrate how “nothing sucks like an Electrolux.”  Or you threw a banana peel in front of good government and it slipped and broke its ankle and now it’s finally off the crutches, and where does that leave us?  Right back where we started.

So don’t go all self-congratulatory and amber-waves-of-grain just yet. Keep going, and don’t lose this momentum. Take out your smartphone now and make some movies or even animated GIFs of all of you being happy and jumping around so you have a reference if you forget what momentum means.

Don’t lose momentum. Prove that you’ve learned the lesson:

Democracy is not the default.  Goodness is not the default.  Fairness and empathy and love and justice are not the norm. These things are precious and extraordinary and they have an exquisite eco-system, an equilibrium that can be destroyed.

Prove that you know: the fight for democracy is never done.  There is no time off.

We will never let you forget that, somehow, you guys  were put in charge of democracy— god only knows why — and then someone yelled, “Chicken ‘n biscuits ‘n Red-Eye Gravy!!! AND FRAHS!!!” and you all just spun around and you lost your grip and you dropped it.

Jeezus Murphy.

Just don’t drop the democracy. OK? Wear rubber gloves if you need.

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Blue Wave Ish.

Also, get Young People to vote. If they ask what voting is, tell them it’s something easy that they can microwave and eat right out of the box and someone else will wash up after them.

In fact, tell them that voting is all about them and you’ll do it for them, if they’ll just come along. You’ll have their socks pulled on and their laces tied and their noses wiped and them ready to head for the polls faster than they can say, “That’s so, like. Totally woke!”

Also, make sure Bernie doesn’t run again. For anything. Maybe run for coffees, at least that’ll get him out of the house. But in that case, make sure he’s the only one running for coffee, take care that he knows that you know he’s in charge of the coffee, and if he drops the coffee, just pat his little nutty professor head and say there, there and tell him you didn’t really want coffee anyway.

I mean, you dropped the democracy, you’re no one to judge.

Because I would say, work on your universal health care. Work on this one concept, so you can shout those words in, say, a crowded theatre, without someone screaming back “Satanic Socialist Hillary Communism Obama!” and you’ll have taken an important first step. Leave the hygge and the full-frontal free-meatballs-for-all social democratic platform with lingonberry sauce until you’ve got a little more practice under your belt. K?

And please, it’s alright. No, honestly. Don’t apologize about your little mishap with the world’s peace, order and freedom.

Just don’t friggin’ let it happen again.

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Civilization, unraveled

Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash

Well, it had been at least a week since I’d heard that “prison should not be like a country club.” Luckily, the memes and talking points that most irritate the never-ending hell out of me are never far away, and I was glad to run into this one on Medium, before I spent even one day of my sunset years not puking into a waste basket and rhythmically clenching my fists.

Everyone needs someone to love them, goes some song, somewhere.  And everyone needs someone to look down on and feel better than, which often turns out to be that very someone who loves them.  Nature abhors a throw cushion, preferring instead just a big lump in the sofa that is an adaptation, a “just-good-enough” barely-useful approximation of what we really wanted.

But on the rare occasions when we have the time or inclination to look down on and feel superior to in a more dedicated way, we have criminals.  Criminals are, in one construct, the people who smoked pot before October 17th, 2018, the day on which the Canadian government waved its arms and made smoking pot something normal and legal, and really rather uncool; something you pick up at a government-run outlet.  Naughty but nice. It’s a long way from the LCBO in the sixties, with the clerk handing you a brown paper bag containing the twenty-sixer of whisky, sanctioned but somehow illicit at the same time.

Sometimes criminals are not just a construct, a wave of the wand one way or the other.  Sometimes we break serious rules, break down, inflict. Sometimes we do terrible, unspeakable harm. Or they do. Civilization unravels like American Apparel underwear when we spot the blood on someone else’s hands. Then it’s off to the fit punishment they go, but we do not trust that the punishment will be fit. Some snowflake, somewhere, will throw in a cooking class or a hot shower or an extra helping of if it’s brown, it’s meat.

Civilization unravels like American Apparel underwear when we spot the blood on someone else’s hands. 

We fret that prisoners will get food, shelter, education, coddling, and that they might forget for a moment that they are not in a country club, but in the best hell we can manage.

Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate! (Translation by Google: “Liquor Control Board?  I  haven’t even met her parents!”)

Here’s the thing. When you go to your country club — and I like to picture you driving there in your pink Cadillac with the white upholstery and tail fins, while your SO looks out the opera window, and maybe waves at the crowd — you get to leave again, drive home in your pink Caddy, and lie by the pool eating your TV dinner.

But when you’re being “fitly punished”—

—and we’ll just for the moment accept the premise hat anyone caught up in, for example, the “war on drugs” and put away for life because of mandatory minimum sentencing is getting their just desserts —

Don’t misunderstand me, here.  I’m certainly not saying that prisoners should get dessert! They’re being fitly punished, not being served High Tea with scones and cake at the King Eddie! Some gravel on a plate, after they’ve been for their daily flogging with the cat o’ nine tails, is what I’m thinking, and even that sounds a little bit bleeding-heart-social-justice-warrior-snowflake-libtard-y, IMHO.

Dessert! Please! Any kind of joy or small daily treat or practical help or compassion or recognition of humanity must be stripped from those prisoners, and, personally, I would not give them so much as an unfitly-punishing handful of Smarties out of my hard-earned tax dollars—

—when you’re being fitly punished, you don’t get to go home, sit by your pool, and have your TV dinner.

Because your freedom has been taken away from you.

That is your punishment, and no daily Scrabble tournaments, sleeping on Porthault sheets with the government-issue comfort girls and eating lobster dinners, all on your hard earned tax dollars—no extravagant, five-star country club perquisite can entirely take the sting out of that.

But, let’s be honest. What’s a little freedom? The point is, how much does it hurt? We must make sure to up the ante with the pain scenario and punish those prisoners, right? Because if we can’t look down on prisoners as bad, broken, wilful sub-humans and deserving of our punishment how will we feel better about ourselves?

How will we make sure people know that we’re one of the winners through a sheer accident of birth, and not one of the losers who, operating, you can be sure, with the same balanced upbringing, societal position, economic advantages and psychological health as us, just threw it all away to be ornery old criminals?

Just imagine: They gave up their god-given right to belong to a country club — which, frankly, is the most incomprehensible of all their crimes, for what kind of good, upright, hard-earned tax dollar-paying law-abiding citizen would not exercise that right?

The answer is as inescapable as the sand trap at the 18th hole of the golf course at your country club: Only a loser!

So the point is not to rehabilitate these guys, or to help them get back into society or teach them skills or anger management or give them some education. I mean, if they even deserved that kind of tax dollar bonanza, they could probably have got all those things — at the country club!

A final suggestion or two, just off the top of my head, to really make sure those guys know that they are bad, non-hard-earned tax dollar-paying losers, I’m thinking: slave labor, solitary confinement and maybe even torture.

That’ll get the point across, eh? I mean, show me a country club with torture! 

Well, you know. If you don’t count that endless wait between the vodka martini and the first course.

¤

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The Fake Celebrity Endorsements are IN!

Feedback is always good, especially when obviously contrived and attributed to dead celebrities and live politicians.  And just try figuring out which is which!


From the moment I picked up David’s book until I put it down again I was convulsed with laughter. Next time I intend reading it. No, that is not David’s original joke, it’s mine, and yes, I gave him persimmons. OK? Or maybe he meant “permission,” I get them mixed up. Thanks, now this is no longer funny. NICE WORK.
— Groucho Marx

This book—feels witty! Let’s see, what else? It weighs slightly over a pound and is that like, jam or something on the back cover? Gross!
— Helen Keller

First page to last, a laugh riot. Yeah. And I’m just a dumb blonde.
—Marilyn Monroe

Almost as gorgeously rib-tickling as me! Also, I did not touch David’s butt. At least, I don’t think I did. It’s hard to remember that far back but I probably didn’t, or maybe I did, and anyway, like Hellooooo! TRUDEAU, OK?
—Justin Trudeau

All too obviously written by teeny tiny Liberals posing as heartfelt, edgy, bittersweet-comic diarists.
—Ann Coulter

 Brave. Brave and credible. But in the end just a hoax perpetrated by Democrats, and—oh man! I only wish you could see my goofy facial expression right now as I say ‘Democrats’! Now THAT’S funny!!
—Donald Trump


Ready to take the plunge?  Please consider purchasing the gorgeous new hardcover version, with blue linen, gold spine lettering and glossy full color dust jacket.  Oh yeah, and also, you know.  The actual book.

Currently I’m offering twenty percent off the hardcover, but only until—I’m not saying.  Could be a week.  Could be only until midnight.  Could be forever!

Ha!  That’s what we call in marketing “Creating a sense of urgency”.  Or you could just eat a lot of really really spicy food.

Buy the hardcover because it’s in all honesty a truly gorgeous object you’ll be proud to put on your coffee table and never read; because it’s hard and—get this—it STAYS HARD, that’s right, and when was the last time you encountered that? Exactly!

And because Kraft Dinner is nice for a nostalgic treat, but it’s kind of a drag as the main thing, day after day, with the rest of your life just stretched out before you. Like a patient.  Etherized upon a table.  T.S. Eliot—you’re weird.

Trade Hardcover dust jacket

My dust jacket. Now, honestly. Do you love this dust jacket or what?

Amuse-gueules yourself with these starvation-making tidbits

As I stare at the thirty-fifth iteration of my book (NOW available in hardcover!)

and think, with heavy heart:  “Shit!  I forgot to put in a yacht race and the rape of the dowager’s emeralds!  Time for a re-write!” I realize that you guys are on the slowpainful equivalent of the Paleo diet:  the actual paleo version, where you walk around the boreal forest, skin hanging off your bones because you’re starving to death, then collapse from a stroke at your first glimpse of a moose, or failing that, refuse the blackberries your offspring foraged that morning because “you’re not doing simple carbs until you can rock the cashmere sweater” or you’re self-conscious about having to belt your wolfskin wrap under your muffin-top.

What terrifies me about Paleo believers—and like all ideological diets, this is not just a way to get healthier or lose a few pounds, it is a belief system every bit as tyrannical as those that insist that ninety-nine percent of us are losers in this human-eat-human rat race, or that little babies are born with the stain of sin—is that Paleo dieters are the ultimate blank-brained, culture-free Philistines.

Go on, throw it all at me!  I say Philistine because humans didn’t achieve anything—ANYTHING—until they settled, put up the picket fence and started raising food for the community.  This meant that Thorg could now spend some time actualizing himself with those cave paintings, even though his parents would far rather he went to law school, and Gerpf could indulge her passion for science and come up with the application of heat to food, thus making possible those big styrofoam containers of Pad Thai that everyone loves on Friday Lunar Sacrifice Nights.

You know?  Kind of thing?  Also: Mozart.

The Paleo diet represents all that is wrong with our siloed, culture-free brains in this slide-down-the-razor-blade century, because it does not know of what it speaks; it does not admit or even know that Paleo people were starving to death daily; had no time for anything other than keeping their short, desperate, ignorant, terror-driven lives going for another few hours, do not know how culture happened or that it happened or what it is or why they would want it.

Let’s re-invent ourselves as perfectly vacuum-packed solitudes, with no reference to history or the common good, let’s write history that is totally, lunatically self-serving.  It’s the perfect diet for the Trump Era, Trump being  the guy who, when no one came to his inauguration except his mom and dad, Ivanka and Frankenstein Foreheads numbers one and two, insisted it was, like, the BIGGEST crowd EVERRRRR??!!! and told us there was just something wrong with our eyes.

Eliminate your intelligence and you’ll indeed feel a whole lot lighter.  Maybe it will help you float when the entire state of Florida has become a giant water theme park and we’re spending our remaining lifetimes, where every day is a rainy Sunday, rowing out for picnics on the top of the CN Tower.

On it goes: So Donald Trump gets up at the United Nations, makes a long, rambling incoherent speech filled with stuff he’s just made up on the spur of the moment, and the audience laughs at him.

Just think. It’s like the nightmares you had before big final exams or music competitions or your amateur theatre group production:

“I’ll get up on stage and forget my lines and everyone will laugh at me.”

But that’s just at school! TRUMP GOT LAUGHED AT BY THE UNITED NATIONS! and here’s the thing:   IT DIDN’T BOTHER HIM. He lived through everyone’s worst nightmare, which for us would be pure fantasy— but it was real.

He was laughed at by the U.N., then just went home, had some Trump steaks with ketchup, pinched some Miss World butt and stared into space.

Maybe I’ve been wrong. Maybe there’s no such thing as being too stupid.  And there’s no point calling Trump an idiot when he is merely a reflection of—a symptom of—

You see where I’m going with this, my little freckle-faced Paleo dudes?

⊗⊕

To help you further slim down your brain cells, I offer as dessert trolley a selection of images of interest culled during my morning 20 laps around the unleashed Carolina Lake of Pig Poo that is the Innernet.

I was in a bit of a hurry—so I may have gotten the captions mixed up…

 

What democracy is, and isn’t, supposed to be about

Doug Ford, Ontario’s Premier of The People. (Photo credit: CHRIS YOUNG / THE CANADIAN PRESS, from September 13th edition of The Toronto Star.)

Mr Ari Goldkind, criminal defence lawyer, opining his ed in The Toronto Star, thinks

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s plan to invoke the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom’s Section 33, the “notwithstanding clause,” to push through his egregiously vindictive gerrymandering of Toronto’s electoral wards is “what democracy is supposed to be about.”

Mr Ford’s election by The People — and I guess that majority of people in Toronto who didn’t vote for Ford don’t count as The People; we’re just so much pâté on so many libtard-y crackers — trumps any old Superior Court ruling by some appointed judge. And if we don’t like it, we can just take our plush toys and pouty Toronto faces and sit in a corner for four years, until we, The People, and other-we, the pâté who are Not The People, can vote him out.

Hogwash, Mr Goldkind.

What democracy is all about in this country includes appointed judges —

— and incidentally, why is that descriptor “non-elected / appointed” such a sticking point for conservatives, as though elections always produce perfectly competent politicians who perfectly understand their place and their duties, and who perfectly fulfill the mandate from their perfectly informed constituents; whereas the appointed judiciary are self-serving, elite, out of touch fools and “activists”(read, “liberals”) who delight in running roughshod over elected leaders’ tidy, autocratic plans out of sheer malice?

Could it be that politicians don’t always have the public good in mind, but just get a bit tipsy with power and, not having the slightest understanding of procedure, or of anything, really, other than their big-as-their-belly egos, think that the rule of law is but a roadblock, an inconvenience that should be tossed aside, notwithstanding’d? And that we’ve put in place ways to deal with that and to preserve the true functioning of democracy?

No. Forget I ever said anything so cynical.

And your disingenuous argument that there’s plenty of time to rejig the municipal election, into preparations for which Mr Ford has thrown a hand grenade of chaos and spite; and plenty, you assure us, plenty of councilors once City Council is reduced to 25 instead of 47! I mean, who would want more representatives of the people in a democracy when you can have less, for heaven’s sake! — and that everyone in Canada’s largest city is just being snowflakey and whiny — your argument about plenty is so utterly beside the point, yet so revealing, I wonder how you’ve managed all these years, with that tedious legal system you have to work with, the one that doesn’t just let you go, “My client’s innocent! OK? Thanks, guys!”

It must be hell for you.

What, one might ask, is the purpose of an unelected judiciary? For that matter, an unelected Senate? Was this just an oversight, a flaw that no one caught?

I hate to seem like I’m carrying lumps of coals to Santa’s Hideaway, but I guess I, who have but scant expertise in any kind of law except Murphy’s, will now have to explain this to the criminal lawyer. Mister Temerity J. Intrepid, that’s me!

We have these unelected roles, Mr Goldkind, to protect us from the government, and they are able to do this because they are unelected. They can make unpopular but necessary decisions to protect us from governments that seek to curtail our rights. Like, for example, Doug Ford’s government.

(Canada’s appointed Senate, by the way, is termed the “House of Sober Second Thought.” Because sober second thought is deemed to be, you know.

A good thing.)

Premier Ford was duly elected, in — to use an adjective I may had heard once or twice before in the past few days — a “dysfunctional” electoral system that is so bag-of-rocks idiotic that a minority vote can win the prize, but that’s for another day — duly elected, but not by Torontonians, whose map turned orange-for-NDP with dismay, in every single ward except one, at the prospect of Mr Ford as Ontario’s Premier.

“Left-wing downtowners” as Mr Ford has it. More like left-wing down-, up-, mid- and every other direction you can name towners, for Torontonians knew that, in the war between the just-plain-folks ‘burbs and us, we are destined to be outnumbered and out-just-plain’d.

And Mr Ford is out for blood, to avenge his bro for the humiliation he suffered at the hands of Toronto City Council.

There is no question that Mr Ford’s attempted gerrymandering, which purports to fix a non-existent problem of a “dysfunctional” City Council, is conceived in pure, vengeful bad faith and in loathing of we Toronto “elites.”

It is not The People or even Not The People who need to be scolded by you about “democracy.” It is Mr Ford who should understand better what democracy is all about, that democracy is not just ballots cast and that’s the end of it. Democracy includes:

transparency and proper consultation with those affected by proposed legislation, and sufficient time for debating it and voting on it;

respecting the rule of law, by which a judge’s legitimate and informed expert decision about the bill — that it is unconstitutional, a decision echoed in the press by every constitutional scholar with a smartphone and a wireless connection — trumps Mr Ford’s wish to implement it;

not punishing Torontonians by redrawing wards to conveniently “disappear” pesky politicians who don’t back Ford’s agenda, via legislation which was not mentioned during his campaign;

not disrupting near-completed plans for the current municipal election, disruption that has caused the City Clerk to take the unprecedented step of hiring her own lawyer and to warn of an election whose integrity has been seriously compromised; and

which includes the letters, petitions and angry protests and demonstrations by Torontonians of every political affiliation that prompted the court challenge to Bill 5 to begin with.

That’s all democracy, Mr Criminal Defence Lawyer. All of the above, not just ballots in the ballot box, is what democracy is supposed to be about.

Just goes to show: You learn something new every day.

~