Overheard on The Presidential Playground.

“Heads I win, tails you lose.”

Kind of childish, isn’t it? It was a trick your big brother or sister played on you. By the time you got into elementary school, you were streetwise and no second grade bully was going to win your nickel with that silly challenge.

But if you have been paying attention, you know that the president is trying to play that old trick on the electorate. If I don’t win, the election must have been rigged. He says it or tweets it until it gets imprinted in the brains of some of the voters.

Ignoring him would be the normal healthy response to that kind of talk. But regardless of his current functioning grade level, we have handed him one of the world’s most powerful offices and he uses it to protect himself from the law.

He even had one of his minions in the administration urging people to arm themselves in case the election went the wrong way. That guy is heading for a little time off. He is afraid there could be physical threats. And there are those long shadows on the ceiling of his lonely apartment.

DJT got there with the help of enough American voters to attain an Electoral College majority. A majority of voters doesn’t get you anything in the USA. Buckle up for another thrilling night, week, or month of vote counting.

Quote from a Distant Friend

I have a friend who has been periodically emailing updates to old friends from his retirement home out of state. Today’s update began with an admission that he has been somewhat depressed lately, like Michelle Obama, as he pointed out.

Sadly, this is the same friend I burdened with a six page lamentation for his reading enjoyment a few days ago.

Friend, you know who you are. I owe you my sincere apology. But thank you for your email today. In it you said some things that spoke for me. You called it a rant. I call it a prose poem. Here are his words, sans his original formatting:

I resent like hell the Cheeto-faced narcissist calling my father, father-in-law, brother, and even a cousin or two Losers and Suckers. Shame. Recent revelations regarding his pandemic response are proving to be even more shameful, if not criminal. [My wife] and I have been fortunate these last six months that we have been a few degrees of separation from a close friend or family member becoming infected or dying. However, at the current rates, promulgated and exacerbated by lies and “down-playing”, I fear that that may not be the case by year’s end – 200K is [250K] too many. I recall a number of co-workers coming into my office on Election Day almost four years ago to gleefully and proudly announce that they had cancelled my vote. I wonder…Are they still proud about what these last four years have brought? Are they still gleeful?

He speaks my heart. Thank you, old friend.

Things don’t change much here in Lake Jackson. You ask, “are they still gleeful?” Probably they are. Yes, that’s a Trump-Pence sign peeking around from behind the Randy Weber sign in my neighbor’s yard.

Another Mind-Boggling Day in the Trump Years and Day 177 in COVID19 Lockdown

Five days short of six months now in semi-isolation and I wake up to read that DJT thinks I’m a sucker and a loser for submitting myself to service in the US Army in 1968.

And the same day, my next door neighbor posts a Veterans for Trump sign in his yard.

This veteran, on the other hand, thinks Donald Trump owes it to us to resign. Tomorrow. Jump on his Trump Jet and fly to Moscow where he can build his hotel and casino. His friend Vladimir can offer him sanctuary where US prosecutors will not be able to reach him.

But he must always be nice to Vladimir. Vladimir plays hardball. No reality shows for Vladimir. With Vladimir there is just reality. And it can be frightening.

Twenty Weeks in Isolation; 144 Days, or, a Gross of Days. When Will the Rats Return and Liberate Us?

Call it isolation, quarantine, or lockdown. It all feels like a leash or a probation department ankle bracelet. We do this of our own choice, not by order of Dr. Fauci, George Soros, the Chinese embassy, County Judge Lina Hidalgo (wrong county but I would do anything she asked of me), or, heaven forbid, Gov. Greg Abbott.

The latter, Gov. Abbot, was a late comer to the mask mandating business. Per his order of a month ago, you are only required to mask if there are 20+ active cases in your county. Presumably if you had twenty positives living and three hundred formerly positive, now dead, your county would be exempt.

Hermiting (gerund form of the verb, to hermit) has allowed me to dig in and enjoy my inner obsessive compulsive drive. I do not consider it a disorder if I can channel it into healthy addictions.

I have directed my OCD into treadmilling since no one can walk outdoors in Lake Jackson’s heat and humidity in July and August. We regularly experience “feels like” temperatures of 110 F. plus in the daylight hours. Even in early evening when the sun is setting, it will often feel like over 95 degrees with the humidity over 60 per cent. But the treadmill lives inside in air conditioned space under a ceiling fan. I can walk as long as my bones will bear it.

So, I have made it my goal to abandon the sedentary life by walking a minimum of 7,000 steps a day. That is a modest amount of exercise but, done regularly, it keeps me from feeling like one of those vegetables left too long in the bottom drawer of the fridge. My goal, pushed along by my OCD, now has me up to 42 consecutive days. (I have permitted myself two “recovery days” that are included in the count. So, call it 40 if you are beyond OCD, maybe anal retentive.)

The side benefit of treadmilling is that I can read on my iPad Kindle app. Walking enables deeper concentration on my reading, which is to say that I can’t fall asleep while walking. Should I fall asleep I can pick myself up and go back to walking and reading. It hasn’t happened but I know I could do it if necessary.

Using this method, I have finally finished Albert Camus’ The Plague, and Pat Conroy’s The Great Santini. My brief reviews of those two: 1.) The end of a pestilence is greeted by the return of rats to the streets and gutters, not doves bearing olive branches, and 2.) Pat Conroy delivers more locker room talk than I have heard since junior high school and Army basic training. Ugh. Almost as repulsive as the joyous return of the rats to our daily lives.

My other compulsion has been Duolingo Spanish lessons. After five years of daily exercises, I have finally decided to reward them with my $7/month so I can enjoy the site free of advertising. Their advertising is not as annoying as Pandora‘s. The woman who serves as Pandora’s shrill shill and whom they drop like a cold dagger without warning in between Brahms and Bach makes you either want to quit going to the site forever or cough up the $5/month to make her go away. I blinked and gave them my credit card. Life without her has been a joy.

Duolingo, on the other hand, is much less intrusive and annoying with their advertising. I could have tolerated it forever and gone on with free Spanish lessons. I finally gave in because of my nagging conscience.

What they do at Duolingo has made me consider nominating the organization for a Nobel Peace prize. Their lessons seem expertly organized and thought out. There are people on their staff who know languages and language pedagogy. And, even better, they know some of the tricks of game-style motivators for online learners. My OCD feeds right into their trap.

By their count I now have 1,837 consecutive days of meeting my self-defined practice and instruction goals. That is just over five years of 30 minutes or more every day. And, ever so slowly, it works. After five years I can hold brief conversations with a few of the native Spanish speakers in my world. Well, so long as they answer without asking a question. I’m not quite that fast.

So, if you must have a mental health disorder during a pandemic, I suggest the obsessive-compulsive. It beats clinical depression for many reasons, not the least is the survivability rate. So, if you have a computer and want to learn a language, there is no better time than the present. Duolingo offers ninety-five courses in thirty-eight languages with over 300 million registered users.

If you came of age in the sixties like me, you may even want to take Esperanto. It may be the language humanity’s far spread remnants can use to make peace and start the process of rebuilding the world. You could be among the first to say, Ho gojo, la ratoj revenis.” Oh joy, the rats are back.

Pipophobia, the Epidemic that Seems to Affect Only Republicans

I have struggled to understand why United States senators with law degrees and postsecondary degrees from premier universities are so craven and timid when DJT threatens them with a tweet. Well, like most questions in psychology, if you fail to understand something, you can at least label it.

So I took to Google to get some help with labeling this condition. After finding the Latin word for tweet (pipo), I am prepared to announce my diagnosis: John Cornyn and Ted Cruz suffer from an extreme form of pipophobia.

I am sympathetic but unforgiving. Anyone whose integrity can be so easily intimidated by a semi-literate tyrant has no business presenting himself for public office in the United States. I have never run for office and never will. But I can tell you that I would be honored to be the subject of an insulting tweet from @realDonaldTrump.

But I guess even that is not worth getting a Twitter account for.

Classtime for White Folks

Yes, I mean white folks. That may sound a little crude or you may even think racist. But this post is addressed to everyone who racializes themselves or is racialized by others as white. If you checked the box next to the word “WHITE” on item 9 of your 2020 United States Census form, then this is a video you need to watch.

In this video, Jeffery Robinson, ACLU Deputy Director and an experienced trial attorney, speaks on the topic “The Truth About the Confederacy and the United States.” If you grew up in Texas or any other Southern state, it has been taught to you that the Civil War was not about slavery and that flying the Confederate battle flag is nothing more than a salute to our wonderful history, southern gentility, and tradition.

States’ rights, according to this version of history, was the driving force that led the South to secede and make war against the odious abolitionists of the North whose cause was to undermine the southern economy.

The video runs a little over an hour and forty minutes but it is worth your time.

Mr. Robinson has a more precise term for the grand tradition that the Confederate battle flag stands for: white supremacy.

In case you didn’t see the link above: https://youtu.be/QOPGpE-sXh0

Leave a comment and let me know what your think.