Tag Archives: Fire and Fury

A little less fire and fury, please?

I finally slogged through the book Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff, about the campaign and first months in office of the incumbent President of the USA.

To make things clearer to anyone who chooses to read this post: I believe that what is needed to improve the situation in the US is good parenting, and I do not use the name of someone who wants attention over every other goal unless attention is deserved.  This means, as many parents dealing with Difficult Toddlers know: give attention for okay behaviors, for unacceptable behaviors ignore them to the extent you are able, and if the situation is egregious give a time out. If the child runs into the street endangering himself and scaring the living daylights out of drivers, you can spank him.

Back to the topic: the book is not a page turner and part way through I felt like a patsy for buying it since it felt like the whole lawsuit-over-libel thing was made up to boost sales and increase readership so more people would see the Difficult Toddler as innocent. The theory that he wasn’t organized or intelligent enough to pull off collusion was repeated more than necessary. On the other hand I am understanding the articles in this week’s paper better. I have wondered a couple of times how many of the Op-Ed writers actually slogged through the whole book…

Several things bugged me about the book, but two stood out in making it hard for me to read: The book talks a lot about Steve Bannon, whom I dislike; and it was repetitive.

At first glance the book’s voice seems neutral, but it is often from the point of view of Mr. Bannon, by that I mean his worldview is presented as desirable. The whole “this is war” idea is ridiculous and didn’t need more respect than other, more rational, ideas going around at the same time. Bannon is, to put it extremely mildly, not my cup of tea, pun intended.

Aside to explain: I think the whole TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party is a bunch of selfish, illogical, uneducated, racist galoots. The one or two exceptions to this are taking advantage of the others, and I place Mr. Bannon among these. The Republican Party was having trouble with its numbers so it subsumed the TEA Party. It’s a pretty weird pairing, which is why the party is a schizophrenic mish-mash instead of a cohesive, at least semi-rational group. But that is a story for another day…or not.

Fire and Fury is very repetitive, to be expected from the news reports that come from the White House. In general I agree with those who say that the book didn’t really say anything that hadn’t come out other ways. The one thing the book did do, at least somewhat effectively, was to put those already known things in one place, allowing a pattern to emerge, instead of outrage for each individual incident taking center stage. The outrage itself is the key component of the pattern: A Difficult Toddler throwing temper tantrums for attention. Often prodded, or manipulated, into his tweet tantrums by all those trying to “handle” him, in order to distract the tax paying citizens from what they consider “real progress” (a.k.a, screwing us over to line their own pockets) or the last debacle.

I agree that the book isn’t Pulitzer prize level work, not surprising since little time was spent honing the prose in the race to publication. Mr. Wolff’s journalism, much maligned in the press the last couple of days, is what one expects from Breitbart/Fox “News” journalism, no better and probably not much, if any, worse. The attacks on it are disingenuous. If a similar book had been written about Hilary Clinton the administration would have said it was genius.

The real question is: how and why did this mess happen? and the book doesn’t help answer it. What causes people to suspend reason in the voting booth?

One clear example of this: In yesterday’s paper ( I still read them) there was an article about how farmers are concerned that the Difficult Toddler has pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and is trying to kill NAFTA, both of which are huge sources of income to farmers, who voted for him. He also has been trying to get rid of immigrant labor, which benefits farmers a whole lot. Why did they vote for someone who stated during the campaign that he was going to do these things? (the article was from the Washington Post if you want to look it up).

A second example: I personally know a couple who are immigrants. They have been for the 40 years that I’ve known them, bringing family members from the Philippines into the US by providing them with a job and green card. They were complaining how  difficult it is to get people here while Barack Obama was still in office. They are hard over Trump supporters, even though he is wanting to put the kibosh on this activity.

So what next? My suggestion would be to have all of the late night comedians ignore the Difficult Toddler, pretend he doesn’t exist, and have mainstream media not use use tweets as if they are real news. Call them rumors. “rumor has it that…” instead of “@RealDifficultToddler tweeted: “. Refrain from using the name unless behavior is reasonable. My prediction: No one is going to do this. And that is a big part of how we got to where we are, sensationalism and gossip are addictive. We may think we’re just venting, but we are really feeding the Fire and Fury.

 

Eddying Information

I get my news through a funnel; I suspect most of us do, one way or another. There are a semi-infinite number of things going on and somehow they have to get through the narrow spot created by what can be assimilated by a human brain. When a bunch of stuff tries to get down a small hole it creates an eddy, a small whirlpool.

In the stress (mechanical, strength of materials type of stress) world one test for cracks is the eddy current. It costs a bit more than dye, but can be accurately read in hard to reach locations.

I get my news from a few carefully chosen sources: the city newspaper (The Seattle Times) gives me a bit of the world, national and local news, the Economist gives a more global perspective (I use their Espresso app and the print edition), and blogs (A Lot From Lydia is an example of one that often addresses current events in the US, but I frequently become aware something has happened from others that come up on my reader). I don’t watch TV or listen to radio news. They give me a headache.

Beyond the WordPress blogs I follow, I have given up on social media for now, less from high minded principles than from the time it takes away from walking the dogs, cleaning my toilet, vacuuming up pet hair and other tasks I was neglecting in order to keep up with cute videos of pets, outraged Russian trolls, and other Facebook treasures.

The furor over the newly published book, Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff, was so great that I got it and have been working on reading it. I decided that I needed to read the book for myself and draw my own conclusions, instead of reading what others concluded.

If it had been a novel I would probably have finished it by now. Instead I’m, according to my kindle, at 42%. I keep having to stop and let the eddy of information and emotion subside.

So far what I have found most disturbing is the quotes of the president of the USA. Not made up, the things on the record.

I could do a better job of public speaking. I don’t claim to be especially bad, or good, at it, but someone whose job is, for the most part, communication, paid $400,000 base salary plus $100,000  “travel allowance” and $18,000 “entertainment”, and a couple of other biggish items that I’ve never had as part of a job, should be able to string two or three cogent sentences together that are appropriate for the audience…Or at least read them well after they are prepared by a competent speech writer. I don’t want to seem conceited, but I have given better (more cogent and uplifting to the people who contributed) speeches to the congregation about a church rummage sale than the Difficult Toddler gave to the CIA  on January 21, 2017*.

I realize that many people had already known about these speeches, but I find the Difficult Toddler so repulsive that if his picture is on the article I flip to the next page (if in print) or scroll to where I can’t see it on the computer. I figure enough gets through my funnel without having to endure the details.

I am trying to read the words, really. But I can only take in so much at a time.

 

*If the Difficult Toddler is looking for tips: I jot down a few key ideas in large print that I can read at a glance to keep myself on task. It is really important to stop when you have communicated your points. A little touch of class: I always wore a fascinator with a pheasant feather, along with the church apron, and never mentioned how tired my feet were, how many hours I had spent, or what I donated.

 Funnel