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The Excellence of Less

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It was a complete surprise when I got word from the Trump campaign that I had been chosen to interview its candidate.

"We hate all the press," I was told upon confirming the invitation details, "because they always insist on quoting what Mr. Trump actually says, which simply isn't fair." Apparently, random drawings for unknown interviewers were seen by the campaign as being no worse than selecting known individuals by name, media outlet, or audience.

* * *

My body clock told me I met the candidate around midnight. (This is only a guess, as I saw no clocks in the room, when I came around, after my eyes adjusted to the light, as the black bag was removed from my head, following the flight in Trump Force Nine.)

"It's really something to meet you," I said thickly, refocusing my eyes to the well-known figure seated across the large, dimly-lit room.  He was flanked by staff and bodyguards.  My hands were lashed to the arms of the chair with zip-ties, I slowly realized.  My mouth tasted like horse blankets soaked in rusty garlic oil.

"I imagine it is," he clucked.

I remembered as much of the meeting as I could, having no way to record details, which follow.  (If the account is fuzzy in spots, I apologize.  Blame the knock-out drugs.)

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Let's Pretend Words Still Have Meaning

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When there are no major upheavals on the scene, and things are percolating along on a restful plateau, I doubt we're all paying a high degree of attention.  Perhaps we've all just gotten used to being torn to shreds, politically and psychologically, then heaving ourselves up on the bank for a bit, gasping and panting, trying to suck down more air and stay alive, for the next round.

It feels like that most days, since this presidential election contest began, back in May of 1862.  Which is to say, it just feels like that.  Or, maybe, I heard someone say that -- I'm not saying it, myself, you understand me -- I'm only saying I think I heard someone say that, and I think recently, but I am not sure I can be sure...

(This campaign-speak stuff is terrible -- once you get some on you, it wants to bond with you, mate with you, and stay stuck on you forever, like the face-creature in the movie Alien.)

Then, after we've recharged some, things start to become energized and antsy, and change starts to happen and shift once again, taking on new tones, perspectives, goals.  It is here, at the Outer Markers defining the current norms, that you and I might start to joke or kid about things "starting to get a little crazy" when occasional sneaker waves surprise us with low-impact, but unexpected, developments here or there.

Example?  The announcement that Trump would run for President of the United States.  Who could ever have taken that seriously, back then?  It would have been only slightly more believable if a cab-sized jellyfish made the announcement, too.  Remember those good old days?

Then:  More change happens, in this paradigm, which generates additional, and more elevated, events and comments.  When change is in full-on, earth-quaking mode, both the ground and horizon lines in full sway, it becomes harder to tell where the norms are, when the shaking stops in a while, or how to tell how bad the damage will be.

Example?  That would be about now, in the aftermath of Trump-as-nominee -- itself once as believable as Godzilla showing up at the GOP convention in a clown suit. With tutu, and size 4200, triple-E-to-the-9th-power, floppy shoes.

This is when we start losing our abilities to find words hefty enough, strong enough, to pack the true weight we want them to lug for us.  When we say, "things are absolutely nuts here right now," it's difficult to get a bead on what that means anymore, having moved through the increasing ranges of changing norms, from the ones and twos on the low end of the scale, and having made adjustments along the way, to the early sevens and eights.

The words have changed right along with us, too, or so it feels -- if not definitions and denotations, then certainly the connotations and the curb-weights.

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Stay Calm, We Have a White Flag

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Add another quote, maybe, to the lexicon of our self-confusion:  "We have met the enemy, and we went through the looking-glass anyway."

This explains an awful lot, to my own satisfaction, from a run-on Trump to runaway tire-fires.  We humans are our own best friends and our own worst enemies.

There's a whole growth industry now in trying to explain away human mishaps and miseries, from unexpected dumpster fires with elaborate comb-overs, to the hiring of newly-minted experts who can explain to us, on teevee, why it is that we are being bombarded by flaming drone-shrapnel wreckage and bowling balls -- or are about to be.

On Monday, an aerial Gold Rush began.  A stampede of more than 3,300 civilians had signed up to take the first-ever FAA licensing test to become licensed, for-hire drone pilots.  In a year, one report noted, we may have more drone pilots than the 171,000 private pilots now on the books.

There's money in them thar skies, especially as the notion of our sense of entitled convenience increases in parallel with our overbooked waking hours and/or sheer laziness.

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Tales of the Orange Piñata

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Another day, another passel of brain cells slaughtered by Reality.

Take Trump, for example -- please.  And never give him back, so that we might yet sleep safely again at night, after we decontaminate our politics, our minds, our children, our clothing...

Today, as you know, Mr. Wonderful is in Mexico, at a splendid invitation from its president -- to the stunned disbelief of its multiply-insulted citizenry.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto gets world-class points in patience and, in, well, class, in having The Orange Buffoon visit.

Nieto is an adult, so he has Trump at a huge disadvantage right off the bat.  Nieto is also leading by example, demonstrating the sort of calm decorum and wise, open leadership we will never come to expect, or experience, from any Republican in this country.

Nieto is additionally behaving in a manner befitting a head of state, and is keeping open lines of communication.  If he has a hidden agenda here, it may be in trying to train Trump in occupying a world stage, in stage craft, and in statesmanship, unaware The Donald is already perfection personified, and more.

Either that, or else, Nieto simply wants get a short exposure to the Grim-Reaper-Nominee up close, just as one gets shots in order to hurry the making of antibodies, in order to ward off catastrophic diseases.

Nieto could also want to simply preemptively meet the train-wreck that is Trump, on the relatively safety of his own home turf, where the Mexican president knows he can go and lie down a while after contact, receive psychological first-aid, obtain migraine remedies, declare a national emergency, order his population to safety, then call in air strikes to contain the lethal contaminant, and so on.

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Crazy Is As Crazy Does

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The Big Crazy seems to have settled in for a while.

I'd hoped The Big Crazy might move on, spooked, when the six "Mars Mission" crew members were released from their habitat in Hawaii after a 365-day simulation.  I thought having that much Actual Science back in the atmosphere again, all at once, might cause The Big Crazy to at least retreat a bit.  Nope.

A check of the headlines tells me The Big Crazy has dug in for the long haul.  Take your pick: 
  • Former aide says Trump a psychopath.
  • Weiner, wife split over more crotch pics.
  • Trump campaign CEO not fond of 'whiny-brat' Jews.
  • US unable to give away 500 tons of peanuts.
  • Children's Home won't accept atheist cash donation
  • Burkini ban continues by French mayors
  • Intoxicated United Airlines pilots arrested in cockpit
  • Trump surrogate tweets pic of Clinton in blackface
  • Hackers break into voter data in two states
  • Bats have on-field sex during Lions-Ravens game
  • Mylan offers cheaper generic EpiPen
  • Trump to build force-field wall along border
  • My wife, children actually from Pluto, says Trump

And then, I backed up a little.  (No, not the Trump stories -- you get used to the hallucinations of that feverish moron after a while.  And not the bat-mating story, either -- thanks just the same.)

EpiPen, EpiPen....

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2016, a Wonder Year

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If it were possible, I'd have Perry Mason voted in as President, and be done with it -- even though the intellectual giants on the right would no doubt fear Perry's last name, and start up a whirlwind of vaprous Illuminati rumors.

With Perry, there would be no lack of adjectives describing his countless strengths, for any slogans and logos:  Infallible, fair, energetic, driven, brilliant, supremely knowledgeable, not easily outwitted, modest, humane -- the litany could go on like that for days.

Perry, though. Not Raymond Burr, mind you, even if that fine actor were still with us, but Perry Mason, the character we saw portrayed on The One-Eyed Know-It-All which invaded American households so long ago.

(I could easily see Della as VP -- no one else was as crisply efficient, warmly interpersonal, or as knowing of the mind of Mason any better.  Tragg and Burger?  Maybe the AG's office or DOJ.  Paul would likely end up at the FBI, maybe the CIA, the DIA, the XYQZW...)

In these dog days of August, and these psychodrama-daze of 2016 national politics, there is lots to wonder about.  And, I find myself wondering about them an awful lot.

One thing I wonder is how it is anyone ever treated Donald Trump like an actual political candidate. The man was a fluff-headed, self-aggrandizing, ill-adjusted buffoon with social and psychiatric issues from the outset.  He has only gotten worse sense he started -- either pushed in that direction or else his own mental state has been allowed to slip the leash and meander its own demonically-merry way.

Is it the persistence of false memory which is at fault here, as our having seen him on The Holy Teevee Screen. portraying the character Trump himself never was, which has so delighted and fascinated and gripped tight so many despairing Americans?  Was it seeing this person wield apparent power, make apparent decisions, produce apparent business results like no other?

Even at the peak of his television powers, Trump was merely a dust mite on Mason's lapel,  a residue of ink from a pen, a crumb of toast from breakfast, accidentally riding in a cuff.

I am thinking it takes less to fool us as a people than it used to.  Mason's fictional successes and struggles?  These were at least based in reality, small morality plays marching toward justice, via compassion, hard work, and sheer brainpower.

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Nothing-Speak: Dog-Whistle Comfort Chow

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This stuff is getting really hard to ignore, which is part of the plan, of course.

If Republicans can garner enough attention with Crazy Theories, Insane Supporters, and Bizarre Backers, then their psychotic candidates, all across the land, will, by comparison, be automatically seen as sedate and tame and cute as li'l baby pit vipers, all worn out, tangled up in a ball, sound asleep and at rest.

We already know, beyond all doubt, and clarity -- and the frayed and tattered edges of our long-suffering patience -- that Republicans only respond to Feelings, like fear and paranoia.  Everyone else, to some degree at least, responds to Facts, like information and evidence.

This is one big part of why we've spent the last eight years -- and more -- having a logjam in everything we do and say and attempt:  No one is speaking the other's language.  We are talking past each other.  We resort to our own modes, decipherable only to members of our own camps.

In this scenario, even if one group had something of interest to convey to the other, had that group's improbable interest and attention, there is currently no real way to relay the information -- short of interpreters, hand signs, silent movie theatrics, puppet shows, mimes, interpretive dance...

One side has been routinely and continually threatening to pull out all the stops, removing all the few remaining cables of the shabby communications bridge now swaying across the growing chasm between groups.

There are only a couple cables left -- and minions on the Breakaway Alt-Right have their amphetamine chipmunks sawing away like mad with hacksaws on those huge metal suspension-bridge cables.

These vibrating, saw-wielding hedgehogs are cheered on in their efforts by the GOP as a whole.

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