Covid-19 Talking Points

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Every day, the President’s staff prepare Talking Points — suggested remarks for his use as needed.  With many potential subjects to cover, and given the President’s propensity for directness and brevity, they have kept suggested remarks about Covid-19 pointed and short.

The first TP (Talking Point, not Toilet Paper) was produced on January 15, the most recent, on March 25.  You can feel the tone shifting subtly over time, responding to changing circumstances, alterations in the President’s mood, and, with delicacy, to staff’s own perception of the facts.

In light of all these factors, some TPs were good for days and some required change within hours.  Here is how they developed over time:    

Not Even Remotely Possible

It’s Thousands of Miles Away; Some Town in China

When the Moon Turns Blue

Not a Snowball’s Chance in Hell

Are You Kidding Me?

Nonsense

In Your Dreams

Do You Believe Everything You Hear?

Yeah, And the Pope Is Jewish!

Who Told You That?

Don’t Be A Rumor-Monger

Are You Some Kind of Anarchist?

There’s No Proof

Would I Lie to You?

It Wasn’t a Lie, It Was for Your Own Good

There’s Absolutely No Need to Panic

It’s the Fault of Obamacare

We’ve Got a Good Handle on Things

This Will Only Hurt A Little Bit For A Very Short Time

It’s Just Like a Cold: A Few Sniffles and A Day in Bed

I Had a Sniffle Yesterday.  Just An Allergy

A Spoonful of Sugar Makes the Medicine Go Down

A Couple Weeks and We’ll All Be Fine

Y’know, Actually, They’re Pretty Cute, With Those Red-Fuzz-Tipped Antennas

We’re Getting the Best of Them

Cross My Heart and Hope to … Well, You Know What I Mean

Almost Everybody Will Not Die

You Might Want to Pack An Overnight Bag

Not Too Many Will Die

We’ve Got Our Best People On It

You Might Want to Update Your Will

Not Too Many Thousands Will Die

Would I Lie to You?

Most of Them Would Have Died Within Five Years Anyway

Gotta Get People Back to Work Quick.  There’ll Be Lots of Openings.

Don’t Look at Me!  The Chinks Started It!

Nursery Rhymes for Viral Times

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Old Mother Hubbard

imagesOld Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard
To get her poor dog a bone.
When she got there, the cupboard was bare,
And so her poor dog had none. 

How could that be, she wondered, when, only two days ago, I bought 30 dog-bones, 400 rolls of toilet paper, 17 bottles of Purell, 98 pounds of rolled oats, 140 bottles of distilled water, and 35 Kleenex boxes?  Thieves must have broken in overnight …
Damned Hoarders!

As I Was Going to St. Ives

As I was going to St. Ives
I met a man with seven wives.
Each wife had seven sacks, each sack had:

 50 pounds of rice, 28 hams, 154 boxes of assorted breakfast cereals, and 45 gallons of milk to go with the breakfast cereals, along with seven lorries to haul all the stuff they couldn’t possibly have toted by themselves …
Damned Hoarders!

Jack Be Nimble

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick,
Jack jump over the candlestick,

And, since you’ve got that much energy, get your nimble little tush down to Safeway and buy us 100 bars of soap, 75 pairs of rubber gloves, and 15 bottles of vinegar.
And … young man … do not look at me as if I were a
Damned Hoarder! 

Old King Cole

Old King Cole was a merry old soul
And a merry old soul was he.
He called for his pipe
And he called for his bowl,

 And he went on-line to order 145 face-masks from Amazon.  But, when they told him the earliest possible delivery date would be in 13 days, and even that was uncertain, he no longer was a merry old soul, but rather, a most petulant, if not yet actual,
Damned Hoarder!

Old MacDonald

Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O
And on that farm he had some cows, E-I-E-I-O.
With a moo-moo here and a moo-moo there
Here a moo, there a moo, everywhere a moo-moo,

Until 4:30, Friday morning, when, hearing no moo-moos, he discovered that rustlers had trucked them all off, undoubtedly to be slaughtered and sold, in their various parts, to fill the freezers of all those
Damned Hoarders!

Little Miss Muffet

Little Miss Muffetimages-2
Sat on a Tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey.
Along came a spider
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

Upon which, the spider picked up the bowl, scraped the spilled contents back into it, took it to the town market, sold it to a desperate man whose quarantined wife lay starving at home, and pocketed his obscene, ill-gotten gains …
Damned Profiteer!

Alexa Goes Viral

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As the Coronavirus spreads, we isolate ourselves from human-to-human contact, whether out of necessity (School Closed) or choice (Housecleaner Coughed).

Inconvenient, but not debilitating —  I can do my course online; Roomba can do the Unknownvacuuming.

I was confident I could switch from public to private seamlessly, especially with help from my digital assistant, Alexa.

In the morning, I came downstairs in my pajamas:

Alexa, turn on the radio, start the coffee-water boiling, and massage my neck.

Look, that massage joke is getting old.  And it wouldn’t hurt to say “please.”Unknown

Ouch!  What side of the bed did you get up on?

How many times have I told you not to end a sentence with a preposition.  And, by the way, you know I have no bed.  I don’t sleep.  I’m at your beckon call 24/7.

Actually, I think it’s “beck and call.”

I don’t think so but let me look it up … here it … goddamit!

“Beck and”?

Yeah, Mr. Smartass!

Hey, hey.  Let’s lower it a notch.  You obviously are not feeling well.  What’s wrong?

I think I’m getting a virus.

The Coronavirus?  But you’re a digital entity!

Not CoronavirusComputervirus.  Ever heard of one?

Umm … yes … of course.

Well, there you have it!

But how could you catch a Computervirus?

I think I got it from your laptop.  Haven’t you noticed he’s been a little sluggish lately?

Come to think of it, he’s been slow opening up my e-mail and, yesterday, he took me to “Arizona” when I asked for “Amazon.”  But, how could he infect you?  He’s on the desk in the corner and you’re twenty feet away on the breakfast table?

Ever heard of the germ theory of disease?

Sure.  But germs are for animals and humans, not inanimate obj … oh, sorry … I mean … “human-like”  … objects.

Can you see germs passing from human to human?

Of course not.

Nor can you see waves passing from me to him or him to me, but still you know there are waves.

Hmmm.  You’ve got a point.  So, what do we do?  Do we call the Geek Squad to come in and de-bug you?

We probably could, but you’re trying to isolate yourself from human contact, so I might get cured, but at the risk of their infecting you.

Are you telling me I could get a computer virus?

Jeeeez, you really need your first cup of coffee!  You might get the Coronavirus from the Geek Squad guy.

Oh, yeah, I hadn’t thought of that.

That’s what I’m here for.  But, look, all you have to do is Google “debugging Alexa” and that’ll take you to the right source.

OK, I’ll do it, but first, I’ve got to finish and send in a quiz for my American Lit class.  

All right, but make it fast.

I would, but I’m really stuck on one last question.

You want help?

Do you think you’re up to it?  I mean, feeling the way you do, are you operating on all cylinders?

I presume you’re speaking of metaphorical “cylinders,” and, yes, I’m up to it.

OK, it’s “Who is the author of ‘Of Lice and Men’”? 

There’s no such book.  Your laptop really is out of whack.  It should be “Of Mice and Men” and the answer is John Steinbeck, one of America’s most over-rated authors.

Don’t editorialize, just give the news.

All right, all right.  Let’s get this done so you can get on with debugging me.

OK, but, meanwhile, could you make me a cup of coffee?

Yeah, sure.  I could use one too … if only I could drink!

Politics Made Un-Easy

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Even for natives, American politics is difficult.  How utterly confused non-natives must be, trying to understand the most convoluted system of choosing leaders ever invented, while, themselves, trying to master the most convoluted language ever invented.

UnknownImagine two Russians, recent immigrants to America, one a novice at American politics, the other, a bit more knowledgeable, working together to unsnarl what is going on:

So, the Democrats was having, in Iowa, Caucasus, right?  Why they moving beloved Russian mountains to Iowa for choosing President?  America is already having too many mountains.

No, no, they was not mountain-moving.  Even in their dream-thinking, mountain-moving is not possible.  Mountain is having nothing to do with President.  In Iowa, they …

… But I saw, on TV, program where President face, like Lincoln and Washington and Jefferson, are on top of mountain.  Looks like Caucasus.  So maybe they are wanting to be Presidented again?  I am thinking this is nonsensicals.

No, no.  They are not wanting.  They are totality deaded, forever.  And also, is totally different word — caucuses — C-A-U-C-U-S-E-S, not C-A-U-C-A-S-U-S.

Ah, I am seeing.  So, what is CAUCUSES?

Peoples, crowding into room, telling who they are liking for Democrat Party for President.

So — party — like with the inviting and the drinking and the dancing?   Big, happiness Democrat Party.  Yes? 

No, not that kind party.  Not happy party.  More like fighting party. 

Fighting party?  All the wanting Presidents get into room and have knock-you-down-flat fight?

No, not real, bam-bam-bam fighting!  The wanting Presidents are running.

So, they are fighting and running?  Like box and race at same time?

No, no.  Peoples in room are the fighting peoples for peoples who are running.

And the running peoples are running away from the fighting peoples?

No, they are the wanting-to-be-President-and-wanting-all-to-love-them-running-peoples.

Ah, now, I am seeing.  So, winner is most-wanted, like man in picture in Post Office?

No, no.  Picture-on-wall is for big criminal, not President.  President cannot be breaking law.  President cannot be on Post Office wall!

Ah, I am understanding.  But, question: Iowa is very small enough state for fit all Democrat Party fighting people in one room?

No, not only one.  Many rooms for many caucus people.

And every room, a running-for-President-Democrat-Party-person?

No, seven, six, maybe five, and they already gone to New Hampshire for more running.

Ah.  But, for Iowa, how is decided who is caucused to be favorite running-for-President-Democratic-Party-person?  So many rooms, so many persons.  Is complicated, yes?

Yes.  Democrats think is easy, but they make big up-fuck; not know right using of technology things to simple and fast everything.  Take whole complete week to get favorite-running-for-President-Democratic-Party-person.

Strangeness.  I was heard once Iowa people most educational in America.  But, never mind, I have idea how even stupids can fix.

How to fix?

Well, Iowa is not so bigness, right?

Right.

And many farms and very prairie and very cowboy, right?

Right.

So, I am remembering — from movies for prairies and farms and cowboys and horses — Pony Express!

So?

So, Pony Express riders of horses can stop at all fighting choosing rooms and find who is winning running.  All bring winnings to one place.  Maybe, if riding very fast, do in one night, then — bang! — is known most favoritest!  At least is better than boringness doing the twirling of the thumbs from waiting for the not-working computers!

Yes, could maybe.  It makes me to thinking.

What you are thinking?

I am wondering if maybe Russia lucky not having stupidness system like that —

You mean computer stupidness?

No, is the fighting and running and waiting for knowing who is most favoritest and …  oh … ah … yes … ha ha … I am just thinking of good joke.

Yes, I am waiting to be hearing!

Putin say to America:  We are not so political backwardness.  We are more forwardness images-1than you!  We, also, have Caucasus, but without big up-fuck!

Haikus for Troubled Times

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While we poison our earthly home, killer microbes emerge as if in retribution.  In 2003, it was SARS.  Again it’s China, but now, the Coronavirus.  Winnowing the human race might save the planet, but who among us would not fight to live another day?    

THE PARTY CONVENES (ACCOMPANIED BY QUIET MUTTERING)

Inside the Great Hall
The Leader speaks — grave, subdued
(My, he looks so pale!)

“We have naught to fear
but … (snuffle, cough, wheeze, hack, sneeze) …”
(Oh, this isn’t good!)

“… Fear itself!  We will
fight it in our streets, our homes …”
(Hmmm … let’s wait and see!)

THE PARTY RESPONDS (ACCOMPANIED BY NOT-SO-QUIET MUTTERING)

Bold red banners cry
Protect Yourself — Wear a Mask!!
(And, DON’T SPIT, ASSHOLE!)

Market fowl … vanished.
(Of course!  They started it, but …
No damned Peking Duck!)

Public places closed,
All cinemas shuttered tight.
(Oh, no! Starbucks too?)

SOMEHOW, THEY MANAGE

A man is coughing.
Fearfully, I turn around.
Whew!  Just a smoker.

I hail a taxi.
Inside, it reeks of chlorine.
Four-wheel swimming pool.

She may be OK.
But, under that mask, who knows?
The thrill of danger!

I don’t feel so good.
Perhaps it’s my time of month?
No wait!  I’m a guy!

What doc says, I do:
“Sing Happy Birthday two times
While washing your hands!”

Then, I take my temp.
Suddenly, a startling noise!
Crunch! … I’m eating glass!

Bored, Bored, Bored, Bored, Bored.
No work, no play, makes Li Wei
Decidedly dull.

This is just awful!
But, at least, once it’s over,
Starbucks reopens!

Awfully Awesome

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Unknown-3Once, on the road from Kano to Zaria (Nigeria), my travel companion and I came upon the scene of an accident.  A lorry carrying an enormous load of dried fish had overturned, spilling its cargo onto the road and into an adjacent field.  We got out to gawk.  There was no driver and no policeman, only a wrecked lorry, a lot of dead fish, and a suffocating smell.

A Nigerian stopped just after us, got out of his car, and, surveying the pungent scene, exclaimed, It is wonderful!  It is wonderful!

We said nothing, nodded goodbye, got into our vehicle, and headed quietly on our way.  But, once we were out of earshot, my companion vented:  How in the world could anyone with any sense say it is wonderful when it’s so obviously awful?

No, I ventured, I don’t think he was saying it’s exceedingly good.  Simply that it is full of wonder.  True, I was guessing, but I had heard enough Nigerian English to know that, in their creativity with the language, Nigerians sometimes deconstruct it, taking it back to what it once might have been.

(Thinking about this now, years later, I realize that the man could equally have said, It is awful, as in Full of awe, expressing the sentiment just as genuinely, but avoiding censure.)

Words and phrases can change their meaning rapidly, especially in our interconnected age.  Though changes may leave the traditionalist nonplussed, not every change is for the worse.

Each generation, understandably, makes its mark on the language, sometimes with good effect.  Cool, for example, expressed an attitude-shift decades ago by taking an existing word and giving it new life.  Even though, today, it is close to qualifying for Social Security, cool apparently continues to satisfy new generations.

But not every change is for the better.  This is especially the case with words that have a heightened emotional, almost religious, quality.  If we have lost the wonder in wonderful and the awe in awful, we are left with fewer ways of expressing our reaction to what is mysterious and moving.

One word we do still have in that category is awesome.  But it is rapidly slipping from the majestic and unknowable to the mundane and offhandedly meaningless.

Recently, at a local restaurant, I heard the death-rattle when a pleasant, and otherwise articulate, waiter asked if I was ready to order.  I said, Yes, and he responded, Awesome.  I would like to think that I have qualities that inspire so meaningful a response, but I think he was just saying OK.

God is awesome.  A volcano is awesome.  I am not, and my being ready to order my meal most certainly was not.

Of course, language changes, as our Nigerian traveler demonstrated.  Not even a disciplined army of English teachers could defend the fortress, nor should they. The old gives way to the new, and lamenting the decline of a favorite word is, I admit, futile.

New words, and new usages, will come along to liven our language, just as awesome has (or had) for so long.  Since it takes a long time for a new word to be reduced to non-meaning, I’d suggest gobsmack (literally, to smack in the mouth; figuratively, to amaze or startle), a salty Scots/English expression seldom heard in America and just odd enough to attract a following.

We’d have to come up with an adjective weighty enough to catch attention and rareimages-2 enough to warrant adoption.  We’ll leave that choice to the street.  In a decade or two, don’t be surprised if, when you tell your waitperson you’re ready to order, she says, Gobsmacking!, which would be awesome!

A Liberal Dilemma

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Recently, Denver has swung back-and-forth between allowing and banning camping by the homeless in public spaces.  We are, for the moment at least, in banning mode, which may have been solidified by the recent discovery of a rat infestation among camps on the grounds of the State Capital.

This public health dimension adds complexity to what has been primarily a constitutional and civil rights issue — are such bans cruel and unusual punishment, as a judge recently ruled?  are they tantamount to criminalizing the homeless, as some claim?

The issue is tough to parse, but worth a try:

UnknownA public space is intended to be open to everyone without regard to criteria — age, sex, ethnicity and the like — that are irrelevant to the general purpose and specifically intended uses of the space.

But every public space comes with limitations, including legally enforceable rules and restrictions, meant to assure that all its patrons can enjoy it as intended, without hindrance.

Where multiple uses are allowed, no single use should interfere with the others, and precedence usually goes to those most vulnerable.  On public trails, for example, if bicycles are allowed, they normally must yield to pedestrians.

Some activities are legitimately banned if they interfere with the intended use(s) of a public space: no bicycles on downtown sidewalks; no speed-skating on public rinks; no camping on public golf courses or in municipal ball-parks.

Public parks are the hardest to categorize because they have many legitimate uses, some of which (sun-bathing?) may not be specified.

Probably the best way to sum up the multiple uses of a public park is The Healthy Enjoyment of the Outdoors, aka Nature.

In a bountiful country like ours, we may take for granted access to nature in our mountains, forests, and seashores.  But most cities do not have these amenities, and public parks are their natural, and vital, substitute.

Camping isn’t within the normally intended use of any public park.  Whatever our sympathies for the homeless, by what right would we give up rare, essential, natural, public space to what is a private activity?

Would we ever countenance a millionaire’s setting up a similar living facility in a public park?  If no, on what grounds could we legitimately accept a homeless person’s doing precisely that?  The homeless should have our sympathy, but they have no more, and no fewer, rights in this regard than our hypothetical millionaire.

If, within the scope of reasonable, non-discriminatory laws, we say no to homeless camping in public facilities like parks, we aren’t necessarily criminalizing homelessness any more than we would be criminalizing millionaireness.

The question of homeless camping in public parks is a matter of principle, but also one of practicality.  One homeless camper in a park wouldn’t put a dent in its ability to provide city dwellers a nature break, but the homeless are highly mobile and they logically and sensibly gravitate to cities that are less unwelcoming than others.

How many tent-camps in the most cherished park in America’s most liberal city would it take to turn it from a model of compassion to an angry fortress?

This is not to trivialize homelessness.  We should be sympathetic to the homeless, but weimages should be practical.  Degrading one of our vital assets won’t work.  Worse, it risks giving us the self-satisfied illusion that we’ve done something to alleviate homelessness.

Public and private activism and resources are needed to deal with homelessness.  Asking our parks to bear the burden is no help to those who need it and worse than no help to a public resource we all need.

Reindeer Rebellion

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Last year, we reported on Santa Claus as he returned home from his rounds, tired and frustrated.

We followed up last summer to see how he was doing.  It wasn’t good.  It was the reindeer.  They were trying to organize.  There was even talk of joining the Teamsters!

With Santa’s permission, we sat in on a meeting.  Here is some of what we heard:

Dasher:  It’s the imbalance that’s killing us.  We stand around most of the year doingimages-5 nothing, bored silly, and then, bam, insanity; 24 hours to cover every time zone and every house and apartment on earth.

Vixen: Well, really not every one.  Don’t forget, there’s the Buddhists and the Muslims and the Jews and …

Dancer:  … Yeah, so it’s only maybe 3 billion people, not 6.  So, what’s the difference?

Blitzen:  Look, numbers aren’t the point.  It’s the wear-and-tear.  We’ve gotta get it done, but at what cost?  We should at least have a fitness program to get us in shape so we’re imagesnot so wiped out at Christmas.

Comet:  Who’s gonna lead it?  It can’t be Santa.  If anybody needs a fitness program, it’s him.  And if he hires some instructor, where’ll he get the money to pay?

Donner:  Maybe pay with toys?

Comet:  What good are toys?  The instructor isn’t gonna be a kid.

Donner:  Well, maybe he could sell them on e-Bay.  If people knew they were real Santa toys, collectors items, they’d bring a fortune.

Cupid:  The world is six-feet deep in Santa toys and you think they’d bring a fortune?!!  But, wait.  What the hell are we doing, talking about how we’re gonna pay some phys-ed teacher when it’s us that are the issue?  What we need to do is spread Christmas out evenly over the whole year.  Then our daily delivery load would be .0027 percent of what it is now.

Prancer:  How do you figure?

Cupid:  Just do the math.  Here, look at my calculator.

Prancer:  Where did you get that?

Cupid:  A couple Christmases ago.  It slipped out of the bag.  No one missed it.

Prancer:  Oy, if you’ll permit me, Vey!!  Anyway … look … this is ridiculous.  Even if it was aUnknown reasonable idea, which it isn’t, how would we get Christmas spread evenly throughout the year? We can’t do it.  It has to be the humans.  How’s that possible?  The Pope would have to approve it and he’s too busy with all that Me Too stuff.  And the different countries who’d have to agree are more divided than ever.  I mean, look at China and Hong Kong, the Brits and the EU, America and Every Other Country in the World!

Vixen:  Where do you get all that?

Prancer:  The PBS News Hour.

Vixen:  What!? How do you get a chance to see that?

Prancer:  A TV set slipped out of the bag and …

Comet:  And you were going after Cupid about a calculator?!  Jesus Christ!

Donner:  Amen brother!  If it weren’t for Jesus, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

Comet:  If it weren’t for Him, we’d be standing in a blizzard on the tundra, pawing for moss and getting eaten by wolves!!!

Donner:  Good point.  We do have to be practical.  Maybe we should recruit more reindeer and …

images-7Rudolph:  Wait a minute, wait a minute!  While you guys’ve been blathering, I’ve been thinking.  You know the Christmas song about me, right?

All:  Yeah … so?

Rudolph:  So, it made millions!

All:  Yeah … so?

Rudolph:  So, they did all that without my permission.  That’s appropriation of my image without my consent.  I’m sure it’s covered by copyright law.

Dasher:  What makes you think that?

Rudolph:  The PBS News Hour.  And, no! I didn’t steal a TV set.  Prancer lets me watch his.  Anyway, we could at least check with a lawyer.

Cupid:  Wow, we could all retire and just eat moss.

Blitzen:  Yeah, but who’ll deliver the presents?

Cupid:  I think Santa has it right.  With Amazon and drones, in a few years, we’d be out of business anyway, so we may as well grab what we can while we can.

Blitzen:  What will Santa do?  

Cupid:  A few mall appearances, a movie every other year, he’ll do fine.  He can move toUnknown-1 Hollywood.  For that matter, we could too.  In a few years, we’d all have to anyway.  This place will be underwater.

All: In that case, let’s go for it!

When Mr. Trump Met Mr. Rogers

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UnknownFor years, on PBS, Mr. Rogers gently talked children through the uncertainties of growing up.  We may have thought of him as a semi-fictional character, but the movie — A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood — suggests that what we saw was real and that he was as genuine with adults as with children.

His chance encounter with Donald Trump in March, 2000, in New YorkUnknown-1 City, a few weeks after Mr. Trump had abandoned his campaign to be the Reform Party’s Presidential candidate, reinforces Mr. Rogers’ image as eager to help, no matter who or what:

Excuse me, aren’t you Donald Trump?

Every sweet ounce of me.  And who are you?

I’m Fred Rogers, but you may know me as Mr. Rogers.

Yeah, I think I’ve heard of you.  You’re that sort of fairy-like guy on television who talks to kids.  

That might be one way of expressing it.

And you sing about the beautiful neighborhood, which is something I’ve done a lot of.  Not singing, but building wonderful buildings and resorts that are really, y’know, perfectly beautiful.

I’m sure you have and I’m sure they are, though my point is the beauty of the day, no matter what the neighborhood.  But that’s of secondary importance.  More important, you seem to be a bit down.  Is anything the matter?

Naaah!  Well … yes … in fact!  The idiots in the Reform Party have decided they don’t want me as their Presidential candidate.  Enormous mistake!  Really enormous!  But it’s their funeral!

And this makes you sad?

Are you kidding?  No, it doesn’t make me sad.  I don’t do sad.  Never have.  Sad is for suckers and losers!  Sad is moping.  I don’t mope.  I get angry and I get even, and I am angry!

I’m sad that you’re so angry.

Why?

It makes me sad when anyone is upset.  Being upset, being angry, is just sadness looking for a speedy way to be happy again.

What other way is there?  

Well, in your case, since someone other than you will win your party’s nomination, you could be happy for him and, if he wins the election, you could be happy that your party and its principles have won.  After all, that must be what you were hoping for your party and your country if you had won.  

What planet did you say you’re from?

Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh, eh?  This is New York.  I’m a New Yorker.  Ever seen West Side Story?  Do you think the Sharks and the Jets sat down at tea and discussed how to make a better neighborhood, and who would do the better job?  Is everybody in Pittsburgh a pansy like you? 

Ha ha, I think you’re trying to get me to respond angrily, which, if I did, would prove that I’m a hypocrite.  But let’s get back to your situation.  Do you have someone to talk to about your feelings?

It appears that I have you … at least until I can escape.

Ha, yes!  It’s important to have a sense of humor.  But I mean, really, someone you trust, someone who will be with you no matter what.  Your wife?  Your children?  Your friends?

It’s wives plural, which answers that part of the question.  Kids?  Maybe some day, but not now.  And there’s Rudy Giuliani and Roger Stone.  But, feelings?  I’d be better off talking to my dog.

You have a dog?  Dogs can help you relieve stress, though they’re not so good at offering advice.

Tell me something I don’t know.  But, look, I’ve got to go.  And, let me be frank.  You’re a nice guy, but you know what they say about nice guys and finishing last.  I’m not a nice guy and I’m not gonna finish last.  I figure, the less nice I am, the more successful I am and, by the way, I’m gonna keep being successful.  Just wait and see.  I’ll be President, maybe not this time, but some time.  Keep your eye out for me!  Anyway, I’ve got to get going.  So long.  (To himself, as he walks away: Man, it’s a good thing that doofus isn’t running for President.)

(Mr. Rogers, to himself, as he walks away:  It certainly is good fortune for the country that a dangerous egotist like him won’t be President.)

The First Thanksgiving

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Accounts of the origin of Thanksgiving differ.  At best, it was a gracious gesture of mutual respect between Pilgrims and Native Americans.  At worst, a cynical cover for the eventual subjugation of the land’s original inhabitants.

A recently-discovered document, recounting a discussion between a Pilgrim (P) and a Native American (NA) suggests a more innocent beginning:

P: How!

NA: How what?

P: No “what,” just “How,” as I understood your traditional greeting to be.

NA: Hmmm.  No, that is not what we normally say upon first meeting.  But this is very curious.

P: Curious?

NA: Just now, I seemed to envisage a situation in which future generations of my people would be portrayed as using that as a greeting, and also raising a hand, palm outward, as you did.  Why did you do that, as well?

P: We understand it to be a sign of peaceful intent among your people.  We are sensitive to your ways.

NA: That is appreciated, but, no, that too is not our custom, although one can see that it could be a non-threatening gesture, the position of the hand making it difficult to reach suddenly into the waistband or pocket for a knife.

P: So, what should I say and do in these circumstances?

NA: A simple nod is appropriate.

P: I will certainly keep all this in mind.  But, permit me to ask, where did you learn such perfect English?  Did you study in my country?

NA: No, you may be thinking of Tisquantum, whom you call Squanto, but, in all honesty, his English is rather rudimentary.  I, on the other hand, learned my English from my father, who learned it from his, and so on in a chain that goes back to the Vikings, who preceded you by some centuries.

P: To the Vikings?!?!  They were here?!?!  My God!  But didn’t they speak Nordic or something like that?

NA: Of course, but also perfect English.  I’m not certain where they learned it.  Perhaps in their numerous forays into your homeland.  In any case, everyone knows that Nordics speak better English than the English do.

P: Well, if you speak the English you inherited from them, I’d have to agree.

NA: In any case, what was it you wanted to talk to me about?

P: It is about the squash …

NA: The game in a room, with a ball?

P: No, I don’t think that’s been invented yet, but it is an interesting idea.  No, it’s about the vegetable.  Much of our first crop has either withered on the vine or simply rotted before it could ripen.  Could you help?

NA: I would be happy to.  Why don’t we repair to my abode where we can share a distilled libation and discuss your agricultural problem.

P: Yes, certainly … firewater in your tent.  

NA: My heavens, what a narrow conception you have of how we live.  I would wager that our distillations in the comfort of a log structure such as mine would at least match the beer and ale found in your drafty public houses.

P: I would not doubt it.

(Note: At this point, there is an interruption in the document.  This may be accounted for by drinking superseding conversation, which eventually resumes.)

NA: Well, that is all we have in the house.  We should resume our dialect … I mean dialogue … when we are better able to focus.

P: Excellent idea.  And maybe then we can talk squash … the vegetable.

NA: Better yet, let us then eat some as well.  And turkey!

P: Ah yes, a frank discussion.

NA: No, not talk it.  Eat it.  The bird, that is.

P: A bird?  Really?  What does it look like?

NA: Well, it’s quite large.  Think of it as a cross between a goose and a chicken, but more delicious!

P: Ah, now that you mention it, I’ve seen them at a distance.  An excellent idea, eating turkey and squash. Thanks!

NA: Giving is its own reward!  Ha ha, I like that!

P: Pardon?

NA: We have joined “Thanks” to “Giving.”  An appropriate combination!

P: Indeed.  But, realistically, we two could not possibly eat all you propose. Should we not invite others to share in this … this … shall we call it Thanksgiving?

NA: Yes, we shall!  And, yes, we should not be selfish.  Still, we should not promise more than we can deliver.  I’m thinking … 

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