I have squandered my existence
On a pocket full of mumbles such are promises
Paul Simon, The Boxer
Another bleak day in Democrat land. Who was Lucy and who was Charlie Brown in today’s deal to end the government shutdown? Mitch McConnell taunting Chuck Schumer? Or Chuck Schumer taunting us? How many times have we watched this play out, hoping to see the Democrats match their actions to their words, only to see them cave?
The Republican Party has moved beyond truth, beyond shame, beyond the last remnants of their morality. We need something more from our Democratic Representatives than that they manage only to be better than that.
On Saturday we marched. On Monday we mourn.
Where the river bends, is a place I’ve been
The water’s not as blue, and the grass, well it ain’t so green
The current gets strong, it can pull you down
You gotta swim hard, if you want to turn around.
Michael Barber, Where the River Bends
The morning began with the sounds of battle. Skunk in the yard! Lily ran around the corner of the house and I heard the excitement of engagement, all too brief, and then one startled bark signifying defeat. She came racing back, frantically scraping her body and face against the pavement and the ground. Her color changed completely from white to mud. I dumped her into the bath, but neither of us was satisfied with the result. She ran through the house, wiping herself off on all the rugs, furniture, and bedding. We are turning her over to the professionals at Petsmart and I am spending the day in the great wash-up. I know it’s pointless. The stink always wins.
Speaking of politics.
I feel as if I spent a whole year in the constant hope of imminent rescue. Headlines continually assuring me that Trump was losing it; he was melting down; Mueller was closing in; this or that bit of news was a game-changer. Today marked the beginning of the end for Trump (Daily Beast, August 15, 2017.) Keith Olberman, retiring, predicts the end of Trump. (Washington Times, November 28, 2017) Michael Wolff Says That Washington Will Bury Trump (New Yorker, yesterday.) Meanwhile the support of the Republican Party for all things Trump deepens and broadens. Lindsey Graham is not a real boy, but a puppet, and along with Chuck Grassley (less surprising) is all in for obstruction of justice. Trump seems to me no less insane today than he did at his inauguration, i.e. he’s always been the raving bafflegab we see before us. We have lived a year now caught at the event horizon of venal stupidity. It’s exhausting. Ask Tantalus.
So I attach two soothing pictures – art at the beach and the dawning of a new day.
Listen, and understand. The Republican Party is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.
And I’m going down
Where the waves will surround
To the roll and the pound
Of the wild wild sea
Talking sweet to me
A.A. Bondy, A Slow Parade
There were big, mean dogs at the beach this morning. Lily told them off, but they didn’t listen. Still, we persisted. We will not be run off the beach. We will just run. We are very fast. (One of us is.) Lily is now lying against me in our chair, all tuckered out.
Otherwise, a beautiful morning. An egret in the surf, five pelicans flying low over the silvery water, one otter on its back in the waves. The tide out and the beach long.
We’ve been watching in horror as southern California burns. I have a lot of family in Ventura. One of my cousins lost her house and everything in it. The others have spent the last days evacuated. Yesterday a group of them arrived up here for a while. They came with stories and nightmares. Some of the footage online is simply unbelievable. My son tells me the sky is full of ash and the horizon is a deadly orange. A hellscape, is what he says. We will take a moment from our national outrages to mourn.
Moment over, mourning ongoing. Also outrage.
Mitch McConnell is lecturing democrats on responsible government. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is lecturing John Lewis on the importance of the civil rights movement. Donald Trump is lecturing Al Franken on sexual misconduct. Irony has taken to her bed with a cold compress and a bottle of gin.
And I’ll use you as a warning sign
That if you talk enough sense, then you’ll lose your mind
Amber Run, I Found
It has been a very long time since I posted. I honestly don’t have the words. Horror follows on the heels of horror – the gutting of our national monuments, the green light on the leaking Keystone Pipe Line, the end of net neutrality, the end of affordable healthcare, the end of the Consumer Protection Bureau, the end of the CHIP program, the packing of the courts, the rise of voter suppression, the rise of white supremacy, the likely election of a child molester to the Senate, the power and influence of habitual sexual predators over our lives, the power and influence of a racist government over our lives, the power and influence of the Republican Party, driven by greed and hostile to democracy, over our lives, a corrupt Supreme Court, Murdoch and Sinclair, the Kochs buying influence at PBS, NPR, the FCC, and Time, inc., mass shootings followed by thoughts and prayers.
The specter of a Nobel Peace recipient overseeing the genocide of the Rohingya people.
And much more. Through it all Trump grinning like an idiot, lying about whatever suits him in the moment with no checks and no consequences.
Who is the very worst person in the country today? So many, many contenders. Suddenly Lisa Murkowski is on the short list. At least we know what the price of her principles is. Wilbur Ross? Ajit Pai? Kellyanne Conway? What riches! Hard to choose.
But my winner is the dishonorable, despicable Mitch McConnell, once again edging out the smug and smarmy Paul Ryan.
The tide is high when Lily takes me for my walk and twice we’ve been caught in an alcove as the waves swept in, soaking me up to my knees, which means Lily is swimming. In a few more months, the beach will disappear and then what will we do?
A dead seal spent a couple of days on the sand. I don’t know if the tide or the county took her away. But it started me thinking about how one of Lily’s many perfections is her lack of interest in rolling in dead things. And then I thought of how I get up every morning and immediately go to see what thing that I love about my country has been taken away today and wondered if this isn’t me rolling in dead things at the first opportunity. But then the metaphor falls apart, because a dog rolling in dead fish is a vision of joy. I am not.
We are putting a great deal of faith in Mueller, a man about whom I know next to nothing. Plus there is a very real possibility that he will show up with the goods and the Republican congress will make some speeches and move on. There is no reason to put any faith at all in Republicans. Jeff Flake says he cares about the deficit. Susan Collins says she cares about healthcare costs. John McCain says he cares about regular order. In the midnight hours, as Friday turned to Saturday, we all saw what they really care about.
This is just to say
I have given
to the top 10th
of the 1%.
you were probably
When I say
you should work harder
To enrich me.
You should have
been born like me
and so cold
Let’s overturn these tables
Disconnect these cables
This place don’t make sense to me no more
Can you tell me what we’re waiting for, señor?
Bob Dylan, Señor
Today someone left messages at Its Beach – two rocks painted blue, one of which said “Dream” and one of which said “Be Content.” I think these inspirational calls were fueled by Lay’s Potato Chips and Coke and Pepsi, because whoever left these rocks appears to have also left their trash. The lovely woman with the two Basenjis picked up after these dreamers.
The tide is high again, but was remarkably low earlier in the week – low enough that Lily and I could walk all the way to the arch. Low enough that, for the first time, I saw bird tracks in the sand before the waves erased them, tracks that ran about like pipers, but appeared too big, more gull-sized. The kind of seaweed that pops very satisfyingly when you step on it was strewn about. Rocks dotted with anemones surfaced. We enjoyed a beach on which you could walk for miles, but the arch is a conundrum, as the water doesn’t appear to angle in its direction. Many things at Its Beach defy rational explanation. My personal Bermuda triangle.
Meanwhile, our national nightmare continues. There appears to be no waking from it. The Republican Party is operating from the same bad faith that has characterized them for decades and it suits them now to have a president that is venal and vain, dull-witted and doltish, cruel and criminal. The bigger problem, the problem that can never be solved, is that so many of my fellow citizens like that about him. I don’t see any way ever to Unum this E Pluribis.
I will be the reaper
If you will be
The keeper of my heart – Indigo Girls, Keeper of my Heart
I want to notice, as many other writers have already done, that Denis Johnson has died. I met Denis about a year ago when I was teaching at Cornell. He came to do a reading and there was a dinner after to which I was generously invited. It will surprise absolutely no one to hear that he was a great raconteur as well as a great listener, and I looked forward to the day I got to see him again, as he lived not close to me, but not so far either. I regret his passing very much.
I am also mourning the loss of another writer. I never met Brian Doyle, except through his novels and essays, but I feel that he is there, more so than most writers, there in his words – a man particularly attentive to the beauty of the world, his stories told with an uncommon tenderness. There are many, many books that I love, but the magical Mink River has a special place in my heart. Of course, he had me with his talking crow.
We are losing people we can ill afford to lose.