First we take (the) Manhattan (Project)

I’m guided by a signal in the heavens
I’m guided by this birthmark on my skin
I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin

Leonard Cohen, First We Take Manhattan

Coincidentally, the very week national-vote-loser Trump bombed a Syrian airport, a 2007 documentary, War Made Easy: How Presidents & Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, finally made it to the top of our Netflix queue. Even without this movie, I think I would have seen the near-orgasmic media response to the “very presidential” move of bombing someone somewhere as a familiar one. But the movie clarified just how familiar it is. Nothing excites our media more than seeing the missiles fly.

But this part I find less familiar: we now have a president who is so easily manipulated that the gushing will lead directly to more bombings. So Brian Williams, Fareed Zakaria, and all the rest of you who fawned over the bomber-in-chief last week, the next round is on you. It was irresponsible in the extreme not to recognize this.

Because we all know who Trump is. It doesn’t matter what he said or says. It has never mattered what he said or says. He fancies himself a tough guy. He is very invested in looking tougher than Obama. (He won’t be tough if personal sacrifice is involved – he’s not a man who does personal sacrifice – but if he can look tough while sacrificing someone else? Win/win.) So I don’t blame the press for the first bombing as he was always going to bomb someone. But now that he knows he’ll be praised and admired for it, I expect we’ll see a lot more bombs.

While, for the first time since nuclear weapons were invented, we have a game of brinksmanship occurring between two spectacularly unstable leaders. The Cuban missile crisis redux only crazy this time. Will a first strike on North Korea also elicit such breathless enthusiasm? I’m terribly afraid the answer to this question is coming soon.

Meanwhile, in order to steal a seat on the Supreme Court, Mitch McConnell has broken the Senate. If there were a single admirable Republican anywhere, s/he would have asked that Garland get a hearing before Gorsuch. But there isn’t, so s/he didn’t. I would like to think there was some shame involved in this whole sordid episode, but there seems to be no end of self-congratulation instead. Springtime for corporations and billionaires. Springtime for voter suppression and discrimination disguised as religious freedom. Winter for women and people of color and people with no money who wish they had clean water to drink.

It is strange to be watching these terrible matters in the midst of much beauty here. The blackbirds are singing in the meadows. The sun is shining through the rain. The wild flowers are as tall as I am. The dog beach is an oasis of good will and harmony. No big dogs picking on little dogs. Balls and waves enough for everyone.