Archive for March, 2016

Trumpenstein

Following last Friday’s Shabbat service, we went to dinner with a few other congregants at a local eatery. It’s one of the highlights of the evening and is usually accompanied by some cheap wine, interesting conversation and strengthening of friendships.

I was fortunate to grab a seat right across the table from Ralph. Always erudite and entertaining, his company is welcomed. Looking across at him I noted that his right eye seemed to be irritated and tearing. I’ve noticed it before but I’ve never asked him about it. Being halfway into my first glass of wine, I felt confident enough to broach the subject. Ralph kindly offered me a rather detailed explanation of the relatively harmless malady that he has endured for years. “Always the right eye?” I asked.

Maybe it was the wine and his eye that then led to a discussion of the brilliant Mel Brooks movie, Young Frankenstein.  To my amazement, Ralph had never seen the movie and so had no idea why I launched into it. “You see, there’s this guy Igor, Dr. Frankenstein’s helper, who has this big hump on his back. And scene to scene it migrates from the right side to the left side. Then back again. Frankenstein occasionally comments on the migration but Igor seems unaware of it.” I had visions of Ralph’s malady behaving in the same manner as Igor’s hump.

Which, naturally enough, led us into politics and to an analysis of the rise of Donald Trump…a logical segue since Trump rhymes with hump.

Now I don’t think that The Donald is nearly as funny as Peter Boyle’s portrayal of the Frankenstein monster in the Mel Brooks movie. But I do think that the movie bears some amazing parallels to the rise of Trump in the Republican party.

In the beginning of the movie, Doctor Frankenstein, ably portrayed by Gene Wilder, has sworn off the business of creating the kind of monsters that his ancestors long ago trafficked in. But, overwhelmed by the call for greatness, he ignores the evil failures wrought by his predecessors and decides to resurrect the grisly, ancient practice. Sort of like Republican leaders who ignore this country’s changing demographics and continue to bow and scrape before old, rich white men.

Wilder and Igor, played by the google-eyed Marty Feldman, piece together the monster from a body stolen from the local cemetery and grey matter taken from the town’s brain depository. A mishap causes them to unknowingly insert a maniac’s brain into the creature’s skull. Wilder and Feldman try to make the best of their error.  Like trying to create the Republican party from wise and caring folks but doing it instead with the bits and pieces of angry people who’ve been told that they live in the worst of times and should do something about it.

Thinking the monster is under control, Wilder and his lab assistant played by the lovely Teri Garr, drop their guard and allow him to escape the confines of the castle and roam wildly through the countryside. Taking advantage of the charms of the funny Madeline Kahn is merely an hors d’oeuvre as the creature burns and pillages. Sort of like those in the Republican party who ignored, and then cheered The Donald as he alienated nearly everyone on the planet.

“I think we’ve had more than enough,” says the local police chief.  Played by the wooden-handed Kenny Mars, the chief enlists the villagers to seek out and destroy the monster.  Just like the Republican old guard who finally recognize what they’ve created and have taken up the cudgel in an effort to dismember The Donald.

Cornered, and having learned his lesson, the Mel Brooks monster retreats to the castle, is relieved of his ferocity and becomes a member in good standing of the community.

And here all parallels with the Brooks fantasy end. For Trumpenstein hasn’t learned anything, except that being a monster can be very rewarding.

Ignore and Dissent

Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader in the senate has decided that the “advise and consent” language of the Constitution isn’t enough of a check and balance on the black guy’s ability to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court. Simply ignoring the black guy is the preferred course of action.

As Mitch elaborated “Republicans think the people deserve a voice in this decision. The President does not. So we disagree in this instance and as a result, we logically act as a check and balance.”  A bit of twist on the reading of the Constitution that will be embraced only by the party faithful…along with climate change denial, the age of the planet and need to trash the Affordable Care Act.

Fearing that his own party might sabotage McConnell’s plan to keep anyone to the left of Genghis Kahn off the court, Mitch has simply decided to ignore the problem until it has gone away. As soon as a Republican is seated in the Oval Office, Mitch will suddenly find the time to consider a nomination. Meanwhile, per the Senate leader, there are other important matters that the Senate will fill its time with. High on that list include consummation of the Louisiana Purchase, establishing statehood for Alaska and, in a nod to Liberals, the possible abolition of slavery.

A potential glitch in Mitch’s ignore and dissent plan is the possible election of a Democrat to the Oval Office and, heaven forbid, the loss of enough Senate seats to put the Woody Allen look-alike Harry Reed back in control of that austere body.  Along with Hillary Clinton steering the ship of state, poor Mitch might actually be on the short end of a confirmation process that installs Ralph Nader in the seat vacated by Justice Scalia.

Not to be outdone by McConnell’s circular logic, Republican Senator Grassley, head of the committee that would actually conduct the nomination hearing had this to say “…a lifetime appointment that could dramatically impact individual freedoms and change the direction of the court for at least a generation is too important to get bogged down in politics.” Duh.

In contrast to those who would blatantly ignore the Constitution by postponing their job until after the election, Senator Corey Booker, Democrat of New Jersey said “We swore to defend the Constitution of the United States and to faithfully discharge the duties of the offices we hold. There was no addendum to the oath that excuses us from our responsibilities during an election year.”

So there you have it.  Republicans simply don’t want to lose the Supreme Court advantage they’ve had for decades and they’d rather shut down the government once again in order to get what they want. It’s a naked power grab and all other convoluted explanations of Republican behavior are blatant lies easily understood by anyone with a third grade education.

Perhaps rather than worrying about the seat that Judge Garland might occupy, Republicans should be more worried about their own seats come November.


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