"Pleased to meet you,
Hope you guess my name,
But what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game."
The Rolling Stones
Like a bull in a china shop, Donald Trump is creating havoc in the Republican party; and like the timid shop-keeper, Reince Priebus and his fellow establishment Republicans wring their hands over the effects that Trump might have on the elections. Like that bull in the china shop, we hear the china crashing, but all eyes are on Trump, and that suits him just fine.
"I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale,
Handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail;
Only last week, I murdered a rock,
Injured a stone, hospitalized a brick;
I'm so mean I make medicine sick."
Few men are able to so use poetry as a vehicle for posturing their threatening bravado as did Muhammad Ali. I remember his not so veiled threats against Howard Cosell, and how they always left you uncertain as to whether he was joking around, or if Howard was in actual danger of being beaten to a pulp. In a boxing ring, it's good to have that kind of mystique around you. You want to be unpredictable, fear inspiring, maybe a little bit crazy. The same is true in the mean streets of our cities, which no doubt explains the "Ali style" use of taunting, posturing poetry by so many of today's rappers.
"What is truth?"
In this response to Jesus's declaration that He had come to be a witness to the truth, Pontius Pilate exemplified the futility of depending on political leaders to lead us into truth. Pilate's cynical question demonstrates a hopelessness regarding the knowability of Truth, and the sense that the question is hardly worth asking, as it has no answer. In the presence of the Son of God, he does not wait for a response to his rhetorical question, but leaves to address the political situation. Pilate was like most other politicians before him, and the ones who would follow; for him the question of what truth is was pointless; the question he concerned himself with was "What is politic?"... what would further his political ambition and agenda. Likewise today's politicians are generally agnostic where truth is concerned; the standard they raise instead is their ideology, and their ideology finds its center in what will sell.
Hollywood has a term that it uses when a TV show has essentially run out of ideas and it's time to start thinking about pulling the plug; it's called "jumping the shark". It has it's origin in the "Happy Days" episode where Fonzie, donning his trademark leather jacket, goes water skiing and jumps over a man-eating shark. I'm not sure what the plot line was, but suffice to say that it was not exactly in line with the entertaining writing of previous shows, and demonstrated that the show had little left to offer.
Adding to the clutter of hats thrown into the ring for the Republican Presidential nomination, George Pataki, in his inimitable awkward style, has put forward his name to the seemingly malignant list. So if you can't find your dream candidate in Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, or Rick Santorum; then maybe George Pataki is just what you've been waiting for; and if that's the case, then your last name is probably Pataki, or George signs your paychecks. Of course there's still the likely contenders to reckon with; Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, and John Kasich... about the only Republican we know isn't running is Mitt Romney, and he could always change his mind. Me, I'm waiting for the "Rent is too damn high" guy from the NewYork Democratic gubernatorial primary to take a crack at the Presidency, I hear he's a registered Republican now...when's the last time we had a president with a beard that cool?
There was a farmer who had three teenage sons. Each Saturday, while their friends were playing video games, or cruising through town in their pick-up trucks,
the three boys were required by their father to work his corn field. One of the farmer's neighbors took pity on the boys and suggested to the farmer that he could easily afford harvesting equipment to give the boys a break. "I don't know why you're raising corn that way anyway," the neighbor said, "You could probably buy it cheaper than what it costs you to raise it!" The farmer just looked out at his fields where the three boys were busy at work and replied, "I'm not raising corn; I'm raising sons."
"Oh, there is something I ought to tell you... I'm not left-handed either."
The Princess Bride
It would seem that after running candidates like Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, and John Kerry, that the Democratic Party discovered with Barack Obama that the safe, boring, traditional candidate is not always the best bet. Indeed, with the barely challenged coronation of Hillary Clinton, one wonders if the party will ever nominate a presidential candidate without some non-traditional gimmick again. The Democratic presidential nomination will likely be advertised as "White men need not apply", unless they are gay or transexual.
"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you."
Arguably, the most famous feud in American history was that of the Hatfields and the McCoys. What began as an argument over the ownership of a pig, eventuated in multiple murders, arson, injustice, betrayal, and even forbidden romance between the two warring extended families just after the end of the civil war. Hate begat hate and the feud climaxed in mass murder, involvement of the Supreme Court, life sentences, and a hanging. The end of a feud often comes with a bloodbath, but not so with the Hatfields and the McCoys; those who were left of the two families simply grew weary of the violence and stopped. In a typically American reconciliation, in just a few generations the descendants of the two families now share reunions, and have even light heartedly appeared together on the popular game show, Family Feud.
"We don't need no education,
We don't need no thought control.
No dark sarcasm in the classroom,
Teachers, leave them kids alone.
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
All in all you're just another brick in the wall..."
It may be true that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, but it is equally true that it's architects are those with evil designs. The intentions of the Common Core standards might seem innocent enough on the surface, such as holding schools to be more responsible to adequately teach our children, aligning standards from state to state so that children who move won't be "left behind", and objectively measuring the progress schools, teachers, and students are making across the country; but "by the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes"!
"I'll tell you what I want, Magic! Yes, yes, Magic! I try to give that to people. I misinterpret things to them. I don't tell the truth. I tell what ought to be the truth. And if that is sinful, than let me be damned for it! - Don't turn the light on!"
Blanche DuBois, A Streetcar Named Desire
When Bill Clinton was caught in a lie about not having sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky, a sympathetic media tried to lessen the outrage with articles about how, actually, we all lie, and how lying can sometimes be a good thing where honesty could be brutal. The byline for such articles could have been "Captain Obvious", but the thinly veiled ulterior motives were like excusing Jack the Ripper by saying we all can have violent thoughts. Never the less, we understood Bill's dishonesty, even if we didn't excuse it. Given the depravity of his character, it came as no surprise that he would be less than truthful in an attempt to cover it up. He was a liar, but he was a good liar, and a reasonable one. The same cannot be said for his lesser half.