Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Build That Wall

 

Katie Waldman and Stephen Miller Wed at Trump Hotel - The New York ...If sometimes you wish you were a fly on the wall at Kellyanne and George Conway’s home, think what it must have been like earlier today at the Steven Miller household.  Fortunately, for us, Deprogramming101 has intercepted an email between Miller and his wife Katie.

FROM:  kmiller@vp.gov
TO:  smiller@whitehouse.gov
SUBJ:  Priorities
SENT: Friday, May 8, 2020, 2:05 PM

In case you hadn’t heard, your boss just told the nation I had tested positive for the coronavirus.  I guess that makes him a HIPAAcrit.  Fortunately, I am currently asymptomatic and should be okay.  However, the White House physician has asked that I isolate for at least 14 days though I’m considering extending my quarantine for at least a month.  And that includes from you.

I asked Rosita to put fresh linens, towels, your copy of 1984 and several back issues of The Daily Stormer in the guest quarters.  I understand it’s very comfortable.  At least that’s what Alex Jones told me during his last visit.

I know how excited you’ve been, using the pandemic to accelerate your anti-immigration agenda, but I wish you and that stable genius had spent a bit more time trying to figure out how to keep the virus from migrating from the West Wing to the Eisenhower Office Building.  Perhaps you can re-allocate some funding from the border wall to erect a 20 foot high barrier between our offices.

See you in June.  Don’t do anything illegal while I’m gone.  Like burning all the copies of the administration’s coronavirus guidelines.  You know, like I did with the student newspaper at the University of Florida when they endorsed my opponent for the student council.

Sleep tight.  Love,  Your All-American White Tigress

NOTE TO DONALD TRUMP:  This parody contains actual examples of sarcasm.

For what it’s worth.
Dr. ESP

 

 

Use Your Vein

 

Donald Trump, during his appearance at a Honeywell facility in Arizona, told reporters,  “You know I made the virus mutate.  In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I call it Corona Extra.”

Meanwhile, Trump campaign director Brad Parscale announced they would not be using the Rolling Stone’s “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” this fall because it might remind voters they haven’t received their unemployment checks, $1,200 stimulus payments or access to testing.  Among tunes considered as the theme for the 2020 campaign is the following (with apologies to Carly Simon).

You walked up to the podium
Like you had something worth talkin’ about
Your hair strategically across your scalp
Your UV tan, you did flout
You had one eye on the monitor
And watched yourself pontificate
And all the Trumpsters dreamed that you’d be their home boy
You’d be their home boy, and tell them
Use your vein
Fill it with Chlorox or booze
Use your vein,
Believe me, what could you lose?
Won’t you?
Won’t you?

POSTSCRIPT

During the Arizona presser, Trump was asked what Cinco de Mayo celebrates.  Trump answered, “Hmmm.  Heinz, Hellmann’s, Kraft, Duke’s and Miracle Whip.  Is that five mayos?”

For what it’s worth.
Dr. ESP

April Fools

 

With deference to David Letterman, I now present tonight’s TOP TEN list–April Fools when it comes to dealing with a global pandemic.

#10:  Every right-wing Trump sycophant who a la Sean Hannity said, “This program has always taken the coronavirus seriously and we’ve never called the virus a hoax,” nine days after saying, “They’re scaring the living hell out of people and I see it again as like, ‘Oh, let’s bludgeon Trump with this new hoax.’”

#9:  Georgia Governor Brian Kemp who claimed he did not know the coronavirus could be transmitted by asymptomatic carriers until March 31.  Either Kemp is an idiot, lying or, in contrast to most of us, turned off the television after Trump’s daily comments before Anthony Fauci and Deborah Brix took the podium to provide accurate and useful information about the pandemic.

Train derailment: Engineer said he was "suspicious" of nearby ...#8:  Eduardo Moreno, the railroad engineer who intentionally derailed a train in hopes of disrupting operations on the USNS Mercy, a hospital ship sent to Los Angeles to handle overflow from area hospitals.  Moreno told law enforcement officers he believed the vessel “had an alternate purpose related to COVID-19 or a government takeover.” Who says no one takes Alex Jones or Rush Limbaugh seriously?

#7: Texas-based Evangelical preacher Kenneth Copeland who urged believers to place their hands on their television screens to be cured of the coronavirus.  In what should have been a parody of Flip Wilson’s trademark “the Devil made me do it,” Copeland claimed, “I’m not the sick trying to get healed. I’m the healed and the devil is trying to give me the flu… or whatever else kind of thing he’s trying.”

#6:  Not willing to cede his standing in the Evangelical community, Liberty University president Jerry Fallwell, Jr. encouraged the school’s 5,000 students to return to  campus after spring break.  “I think we have a responsibility to our students — who paid to be here, who want to be here, who love it here — to give them the ability to be with their friends, to continue their studies, enjoy the room and board they’ve already paid for and to not interrupt their college life.”  Within three days, 12 students had symptoms of the virus and all students were asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.  Even agnostics have to admit, if there is a God, she does work in mysterious ways.

#5:  Jim Hoft, head of the conservative media outlet The Gateway Pundit, claimed the coronavirus is “a man-made biological weapon that was created by globalists and other nefarious actors in an attempt to depopulate the planet.”  Hoft is way beyond “gateway.”  He is clearly taking much more potent drugs.

#4:  Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who ironically chose April 1 to announce a state lock-down.  However, he gave Floridians 36 hours to host one more Coronavirus Party at the nearest sand bar before the effective date of midnight Thursday, April 2.

#3: Governor DeSantis earned another Top Ten by making “Attending services at churches and synagogues” the first exemption listed under essential activities not subject to the shutdown.  One cannot help but appreciate the irony this action was taken on April 1, a day that, in 2003, was declared National Atheists Day by a federal judge in response to a suit filed by the ACLU to have the federal government declare a non-religious holiday for atheists and agnostics.

#2: Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick who said, “No one reached out to me and said, ‘as a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?”  When asked if he was ready to set an example for other senior citizens in the Lone Star State, Patrick presented a letter from his doctor saying he could not serve as a model for others because he had bone spurs.

And the NUMBER ONE April Fool when it comes to dealing with a global pandemic is Donald J. Trump, who on April Fools Day said, “I think also in looking at the way that the contagion is so contagious, nobody’s ever seen anything like this where large groups of people all of a sudden have it just by being in the presence of somebody who has it.”

If only we had non-contagious contagions, as Louis Armstrong would say, “What a wonderful world this would be!”  Not to mention if we did not have to tolerate these and other April fools.

For what it’s worth.
Dr. ESP

 

Mental Distancing

 

It has been 12 days since the last post, but it is not for lack of effort.  There are several half-finished drafts of entries ranging from the illusion of U.S. oil independence to the inadequacy of the Hatch Act (restrictions on political activity by federal officials) to loss of another close friend.  The one thing I have made no effort to write about is the current health crisis.  Why?  Because I do not want to waste your time pontificating about something about which I know little or cannot add value to the conversation.  (Donald Trump, are you listening?)  Perhaps it is a corollary to Reinhold Niebuhr’s “Serenity Prayer.”

Dr. ESP’s Brevity Prayer

Grant me the time and clarity to opine on topics about which I actually know something,
the humility to step aside to make room when there are others who know more than I do,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Useful, but it did not explain my inability, for almost two weeks, to replicate the routine by which I could previously wake up, grab a mug of coffee, check the news, then sit down at the keyboard and knock out a new post in a couple of hours.  The topics were there.  What I was missing were the metaphors and connections between seemingly unrelated information that provided lucidity and insight or a different perspective on the subject du jour.

The answer came yesterday during a “just checking in” phone call to a cousin.  During the conversation, he mentioned how he had not been able to do crossword puzzles, something he would enjoy while practicing social distancing.  There it was.  Not only was the health crisis depriving us all of things we liked to do in groups, e.g. go to dinner with friends or go to concerts, it also had the capacity to rob us of the things we enjoy doing alone.  My problem was not writer’s block, it was total mental block.

In my book ImagineIt!,  I start the chapter about the physiology of creativity, titled “Your Creative Hardware,” with a quote from the late Erma Bombeck.

I have a theory about the human mind. A brain is a lot like a computer. It will only take so many facts, and then it will go on overload and blow up.

In hindsight, that was the case with my most recent blogging sessions.  Previously, when I was focused on the topic at hand, every keyboard stroke created an untraveled road map with many paths.  Each word or phrase was not an end, but a beginning of the next leg of a journey of discovery.  If I follow that thought, where might it take me?  What if I abide by Robert Frost’s recommendation and take the “road less traveled,” eschewing conventional wisdom for the counter-intuitive option?

It was now clear that even if the coronavirus had not infected my body, it had invaded my mind. To pick up on the road map metaphor, before I had a chance to get back on the highway, I had the urge to pull over and make sure everything else was okay.  Was there enough food in the house?  Had I contacted everyone who needed an update on a postponed activity?  Was my slight cough just the usual pollen allergy or something more serious?  As my brain overloaded, per Erma Bombeck, I stepped away from the car and never completed my quest.

But as we are more than aware from our experience with COVID-19, making the potential victims aware of the danger and expecting them to do everything they can to avoid contamination are two different things. And compared to what it takes to inoculate oneself from the mental effects of this pandemic, physical distancing is a six-feet-apart walk in the park.

On occasion in my Imagination and Entrepreneurship class at Miami University, I would ask my students to close their eyes and think about nothing for five minutes.  The goal was to get the class to leave everything else outside the room.  And as they practiced and became more proficient at the art of not thinking, the realized it was about personal control.  While they could not determine every aspect of their life, the could regulate the extent to which certain responsibilities or obligations invaded their personal time.

So, when you find yourself unable to focus on a task, even if it as inconsequential as reading a trashy novel, finishing a jigsaw puzzle or enjoying a movie, take a few minutes to check the mental distance between yourself and what’s happening around you.  Unlike social (aka physical) distancing, you are not dependent on anyone else’s cooperation.  It is solely between you and your own mind.

For what it’s worth.
Dr. ESP

 

A Moment in Time

 

During my final lecture at Miami University, I shared a series of moments in my life when I had a chance to interact with famous people in the fields of politics, entertainment and sports.  Each story began with the phrase, “I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to…”  The point was to encourage my students to look for and act on these opportunities as they are moments in time which make life interesting.  Most are happy memories.  Talking with James Earl Jones about how he approached a particular scene in “Field of Dreams.”  Facilitating a meeting between President Bill Clinton and Anatole Tshelov, chairman of the Association of Russian Governors.  An audience with Lee Kwan Yew, founder and first prime minister of Singapore.  Interviewing Meadowlark Lemon of the Harlem Globetrotters for my high school newspaper.

And no matter how distant in time, these events rush to the forefront of my mind when one of the principals leaves us.  You may remember my writing about my 1976 encounter with Muhammad Ali upon his passing in 2016.  Forty-three years could never erase my excitement as a free-lance photographer to literally be in the ring with Ali and Howard Cossell during the weigh-in before his championship fight with Jimmy Young.

Image result for cokie robertsYesterday, sadly was one more occasion which brought back a rush of memories, the news that Cokie Roberts had died at age 75 of breast cancer.  So what is my connection in this case?  It begins on the evening of October 16, 1972 at Rockville (Maryland) Country Club, the venue for a rally and fundraiser for congressional candidate Joseph Anastasi.  As a member of the campaign staff, I had helped organize the event which included an appearance by former Vice-President Hubert Humphrey.

I was standing in the clubhouse entry awaiting Humphrey’s arrival when I was approached by an employee of the country club who asked me if Tommy Boggs was present as he had a phone call.  I found Tommy and showed him where he could take the call.  When Tommy finished the call, he told me he had to leave and asked me to apologize to everyone for his absence.

It was not until the next morning, we all learned the emergency which precipitated Tommy’s departure was the disappearance of a plane in Alaska carrying his father, House Majority Leader Hale Boggs and Alaska Representative Nick Begich.  The plane was never found and Boggs’ death was officially declared in December of that year.  Hale Boggs’ wife Lindy won a special election in March 1973 to replace her husband as U.S. representative from New Orleans, serving until January of 1991.

So what does this have to do with Cokie Roberts?  Cokie and Tommy were sister and brother, two of Hale and Lindy Boggs’ four children.  And as chance would have it, several years later I was scheduled to fly back to Washington, D.C. from Denver when the flight was delayed due to weather.  And in a synchronistic moment, Cokie Roberts. also on the flight, sat down across from me.  At first, I just wanted to tell her I was a fan and appreciated her reporting.  But she asked about my trip and we struck up a conversation.  It was then that I mentioned the circumstances in which I had a small part in the events surrounding her father’s disappearance.  She then informed me she had been the one to call Tommy that night.

We never crossed paths again, but each time she appeared on ABC News or I heard her reports on NPR, there was this sense of affinity, this moment in time, when two people were unexpectedly connected.  As Carl Jung reminds us, these unanticipated, random intersections occur all the time and are part of life’s narrative if only we are vigilant observers.  And they DO make life interesting.  So it is with a special sense of sadness I say farewell to Ms. Roberts but am thankful that I had the opportunity for a brief encounter with her.

For what it’s worth.
Dr. ESP