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A Trumpian Thanksgiving

Presidents traditionally refrain from making news on Thanksgiving Day, but of course President Donald Trump is not a traditional president. While the rest of the country was feasting with family and friends and giving thanks to God for it all, Trump was making the day all about himself with a variety of newsworthy outbursts, and when asked what he was grateful for he replied, “I made a tremendous difference in our country.”
Trump started the day with a “tweet” wishing a “HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY TO ALL!,” which except for all the Trumpian capital letters is the sort of anodyne statement that most presidents would have settled for, but after that he started seeking attention.
There was a phone call to all the men and women in the military currently deployed overseas, which would have been a nice gesture if he’d limited himself to some fulsome thanks and best wishes, but Trump is not one to limit himself. At one point Trump asked one Naval officer if he preferred the old steam-powered system or the newfangled electromagnetic system for catapulting fighter jets from an aircraft carrier — he’s long made clear he prefers the steam-powered system, and seems quite confident that his expertise in the matter is better than the admirals’ and their experts — and was clearly disappointed when the officer bluntly endorsed the electromagnet method. At another Trump asked yet another officer to endorse his trade policies, and was once again clearly disappointed when the officer replied that he hadn’t noticed any trade problems in the part of the world he’s current patrolling. There was a couple of times when Trump asked questions about troop deployments that arguably revealed sensitive information to the world, and inadvertently suggested that Trump doesn’t know such important information.
Trump also renewed his war of words with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the judiciary in general, and of course lobbed a few more verbal grenades in his ongoing war of words with the press. He reiterated that he doesn’t believe the Central Intelligence Agency’s report that it assesses with “a highest level of confidence” that Saudi Arabian dictator Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of an American resident and Washington Post journalist, and is more inclined to believe the dictator’s assurances the he feels even worse about the slaying than Trump himself. He threatened deadly force against a large group of asylum-seekers heading toward America’s southern border, and then threatened to shut down the entire border with America’s second-biggest trading partner, and then reiterated a threat to shut down the American government if the soon-to-be Democratic majority in the House of Representatives doesn’t give him billions to build a wall along the entire border. There was more than the usual number of misstated facts, too, about everything from the CIA’s assessment about bin Salman to the number of jobs that Saudi Arabia funds in America and how bad the economy was in the last days of President Barack Obama and how well it’s been doing since Trump was elected.
Despite his busy schedule, Trump fit in a round of taxpayer-funded golf at his opulent Mar-a-Lago resort in warm southern Florida, as well as a what sounds like a delicious meal of turkey, ribs, Chilean sea bass, Florida stone crab and beef tenderloin. He’ll probably need the recreation and repast, as there’s no longstanding tradition against presidents making attention-grabbing news on Black Friday. God and football hogged all the attention Thursday, and Trump can’t rightly object that today will be mostly consumed by crass consumerism and Wal-Mart riots, but we expect he’ll continue to attempt to dominate all the news cycles through Christmas.

— Bud Norman

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Happy Thanksgiving, A.D. 2018

Why at the hell on earth or in hell are e you here today, or anywhere else on the internet? Today is Thanksgiving Day, when you get a day off from the day’s news and a rare chance to reflect on all the rest of it, for which you can mostly be thankful for to God.
Better you should eat some turkey and drink some wine and be merry. for tomorrow we might die, as the Good Book suggests. Embrace yourself in the warmth of family and friends, and go ahead and watch some football if you’re so inclined. Tomorrow brings another dark and cold and dreary business day until the Christmas celebration of Christ’s birth, and we’ll be back on the glum job of noting it, yet no matter what comes in the next year this is as good a time as ever to be thankful for the best of life on God’s blessed Earth.
To all those who drop in even on days like today, we wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and a happy whatever other holiday your might celebrate at this otherwise miserable time of year.

— Bud Norman

An Early Start on Thanksgiving

A dear old friend treated us to a Coors and some chicken tenders at one of the rough and tumble Delano district’s swankest joints on Tuesday, which led to a chance encounter with an entire family of old and dear friends, which led to one of the family’s talented musicians participating in a fine jazz concert at a cigar bar over in the Old Town district, where we had another Coors, and with Thanksgiving coming up we arrived home in too good a mood to give the day’s news more than a cursory glance at the news.
There was plenty of it, of course, and as usual much of the news provided plenty of opportunity for grumpy old Never-Trumpers such as ourselves to bash President Donald Trump. The stock markets had another dreadful day, and although that’s not necessarily Trump’s fault it leaves him with nothing to brag about. There was yet another embarrassing story about the apparent con man Trump has at least temporarily appointed to run the Justice Department, apparently to stymy the special counsel investigation into the “Russia thing.” According to a report in The Washington Post senior White House advisor and First Daughter Ivanka Trump has reportedly used a private e-mail server to conduct government business, which is at least somewhat similar to what led to all those “lock her up” chants about Democratic presidential nominee at Trump’s still-ongoing campaign rallies. According to another report in The New York Times, Trump did try his best to have Clinton locked up, which strikes us as a pretty damned banana republic kind of thing to do. He also once again dismissed the conclusions of the nation’s intelligence communities and accepted the assurances of a friendly dictator, n this case making it clear that America would let the Saudi Arabian dictator get away with the murder of a legal American resident.
As tempting as it was to pile on, we decided to give it all just that brief sneering mention. Better for now to warm ourselves in the soothing flames of family and friends, and embrace the holiday spirit of thanksgiving and glad tidings to all men and the dawn a brand new and unsullied year that make the cold and darkness grayness almost tolerable. Besides, those damned Democrats will have a majority in the House of Representatives installed in early January, and we expect that all of their nosy investigative committees will eventually make sufficient hay out of all the scandals.
We’ll even go so far as to acknowledge that Trump handled the nation’s endearingly weird longstanding tradition of the annual “turkey pardon” ceremony quite well, and note that even The Washington Post agreed, despite the snarky headline. This year’s updated “turkey pardon” decided which of two turkeys would be spared the Thanksgiving dinner ax by an internet vote on the White House web site, and Trump couldn’t resist a couple of jokes about the loser demanding endless recounts, and obvious allusion to the Florida and Georgia midterms, but everyone agreed it was it uncharacteristically good natured. Should Trump decide to go with the folksy nice-guy shtick instead of his usual “lock her up” tough-guy persona we expect his poll numbers would improve, no matter what direction the stock market indices might go, but no amount of holiday cheer can make us hopeful about that.
Even so, we’ll try to pay less attention to the news today and tomorrow, and be thankful to God for family and friends and an abiding faith in the endearingly weird traditions and institutions that have made and thus far kept America great. Friday’s forecast calls for another cold and dark and possibly snowy day in this atypically cold and snowy autumn we’re having around here, and by then we’ll be recovering from a Thanksgiving Day’s L-triptothan hangover and get back to brooding about the latest news, but until then we’ll wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving for all the good stuff.

— Bud Norman

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Politics and Other Family Matters

Politics has always been a topic best avoided at family gatherings, but we’ve lately noted that’s especially true these days. The subject of President Donald Trump and the current state of the Republican party and conservatism in general is especially fraught for our conservative and Republican yet Never-Trump selves in our dealings with certain members of our conservative yet more loyally Republican family, but we’re pleased to say it’s not so acrimonious as it seems to be for Arizona’s Republican Rep. Paul Gosar and at least six of his siblings.
Gosar is up for reelection in Arizona’s reliably Republican fourth congressional district, where his brothers Tim and Gaston and David and his sisters Jennifer and Joan and Grace are all currently starring in a widely-aired campaign television ad for Democratic challenger David Brill.
We’ve not paid enough attention to Arizona’s fourth congressional district race to have any idea who the hell this Brill fellow is, and for all we know he’s one of those far-left Democrats we’ve always opposed. Gosar says that his siblings are “six angry Democrats,” and that “These disgruntled Hillary supporters are related to me by blood, but like lefties everywhere they put political ideology before family,” adding the “hashtag” of “#MAGA 2018,” and for all we know that explains the family dynamics. Even so, everything we know of Gosar suggests he’s one of those far-right Republicans we look askance at in these Trumpian times.
Gosar’s six dissenting siblings might well be a bunch of Hillary-supporting angry Democrats, for all we know, and we truly share his distaste for that type, but for all we know they might also well be old-fashioned Republicans such as ourselves who will carry party loyalty only so far. If so, and if that Brill fellow turns out to be one of those more-or-less reasonable Democrats, we’d probably take their side at what will surely be an acrimonious family Thanksgiving dinner
Back here in Kansas’s fourth congressional district we’re faced with a tough choice between a Trumpian Republican and the sort of left-of-center Democrat we’ve always voted against, and we’re seriously considering voting for the centrist Democrats in the state’s gubernatorial and our neighborhood’s county commission races, and we’re planning to talk mostly about the University of Oklahoma’s Sooner football team next Thanksgiving. The family is all conservative and Republican, which leads to all sorts of fraught conversations these days, but at least we’re all on board with the Sooners. The Sooners are undefeated and firmly ensconced in the top-ten ratings and still very much in the running for a national championship this season, but the last couple of wins have been hard-fought against mediocre competition, and there’s no telling what we might be all giving thanks for on that hopefully friendly family Thanksgiving..

— Bud Norman

Happy Thanksgiving

Our usual habit here is to lament what’s going on in the news, with whatever wit we can muster, but this is no day for that. Today is Thanksgiving, and we’re going to give thanks for everything that’s going right in the world.
We advise you to do the same, and enjoy some good food and the company of family and friends, and steer the conversation away from what’s going on in the news. Thanks for dropping by, though, and Happy Thanksgiving.

— Bud Norman

Thanksgiving Day

All the bad news of this annus horribilis notwithstanding, there’s still much to be thankful for. The weather’s been mostly great around here, the Wichita Wingnuts took their baseball season to the decisive game of the American Association’s championship series, the Wichita State Wheatshockers are off to an unexpectedly hot start in this suddenly chilly basketball season, some great old songs are playing on our new car’s old-timey cassette player, there are still a few righteous souls left in American politics, and we’re still free to grouse about the rest of it.
There’s family and friends, too, and we plan to spend the day sharing good food and convivial conversation with them, and to take time out to give thanks to God for such blessings. We urge you to do the same, and to momentarily ignore the worst of the latest news while you listen to some favorite old music or watch a favorite sports team, and to have a very happy Thanksgiving.

Wishing You a Happily Apolitical Thanksgiving

Perhaps the most peculiar tradition that has been added to Thanksgiving in recent years is the annual spate of essays advising readers how to deal with any political discussions that might arise during a family get-together. Mostly it’s liberal writers and the Democratic Party itself offering debating tips for like-minded readers about how to deal with any crazed right-wing uncle’s or cousin’s objections to Obamacare or a few hundred more thousand immigrants from the Middle East, but occasionally even conservatives will weigh in on how to deal with the left-wing kinfolk’s irrational support for an obviously failed Obamacare system or a flood of refugees from the most insane part of the world, and in every case we think it’s all bosh.
As perhaps the most crazed right-wing cousins of our mostly Republican extended family, one of our favorite dinnertime rants is about how those darn leftists want to politicize even the most personal aspects of our lives. “The personal is the political,” according to the wisdom that feminists passed down to the rest of liberalism, and thus the movie theater and the concert hall and the art gallery that once addressed themselves to the broader human condition are now more narrowly concerned with the latest diktats, those beery sexual encounters between libidinous college students now require consent forms, the well-intentioned opening of a door for a differently-abled person of another color and indeterminate gender is now fraught with potential for some micro-aggression or another, the jokes the guy at the next bar stool tells must now be carefully scrutinized before being laughed at, and even the family gathering for Thanksgiving dinner is seized as an opportunity to harangue that dissenting Uncle into submission.
Well, we’ll have none of that, and an extra helping of the white meat turkey slathered in gravy instead. As much as we appreciate the efforts of the fine folks at the American Enterprise Institute, we’ll ignore their well-considered points to rebut those buttinsky liberal relatives and instead endeavor to steer the conversation toward local sports teams and a piece of that tempting pumpkin pie. We’ll focus on family, food, and football, and all the rest of those still somewhat apolitical things we have to be thankful for. There’s little talk about the politics that will yield any thankfulness at the moment, so we’ll stubbornly insist on at least one day of the year to gratefully contemplate the many blessings that stubbornly persist elsewhere in this mostly wonderful life.

— Bud Norman

The Calm on the Day After

By longstanding tradition there is no news worth writing about on the day after Thanksgiving, and this is probably for the best. Between the lingering soporific effects of the turkey and the noisome distraction of the disconcertingly premature Christmas music that is already on the radio it would be difficult to deal with a real issue. The networks and newspapers will make do with sordid tales about the Black Friday shoppers rioting at the local mall, and the anti-coroporate moralists will recoil at the sight and the economists will be watching to see what it portends for the all-important holiday season in the retail sector, but otherwise the most significant news is to be found on the sports pages.
More ambitious pundits will seize this opportunity to run something so profoundly all-encompassing and not tied to a specific story that it has long been in the drawer awaiting a slow enough news day, or perhaps something they came up with in a moment of holiday-inspired reflection, but we have neither to offer. The most interesting thing we’ve come across is the estimable Gertrude Himmelfarb’s reflections on Matthew Arnold’s 1869 treatise “Culture and Anarchy,” which contains some fascinating observations on the Hellenistic and Hebraic traditions in western civilization, but the jokes it suggested were too earthy and ethnic. An early winter has chilled our ambition, and although we could come up with something sympathetic about the stranded travelers at the snowbound airports or something sarcastic about global warming we’re too darned cold to muster the effort. A snowstorm and a holiday and the presence of heavily armed National Guardsmen seem to have quelled the rioting in Ferguson, and unless the Justice Department is inclined to further placate the mob with a civil rights prosecution we’ll be glad to have heard the last of that story. The president’s outrageous executive action to legalize a few million illegal immigrants will soon be back in the news, but until the Republican congressional majorities are sworn in early next year there won’t be much to say about it except that we’re still outraged. Around there are plenty of worrisome developments rom China to Russia to the Middle East, but except for the Islamic State being on the verge of another major victory in Iraq and Iran getting another six months of nuclear weapons developments there is nothing to vie with those Black Friday shoppers for news space. Economic mediocrity and Obamacare and assorted political scandals are still afoot, along with the usual misbehavior in the entertainment industry, but nothing that violates the longstanding tradition of no news on the day after Thanksgiving.
Give thanks for that, and let drowsy sense of gratitude linger for another day or so, and stay away from those Black Friday sales. Real issues will intrude through the Christmas music soon, and the same old battles will still need to be fought, and it might help to be rested.

— Bud Norman

Happy Thanksgiving, 2014

This is no time for our usual glum assessments of the latest developments in our political and economic and cultural life. Better you should enjoy the pleasures of family and friends and food and football, and give thanks that the politics and economics and culture haven’t yet regulated them away.
As we take stock of our own situation, we find ourselves mostly grateful for the blessings that derive from those last redoubts of life free from the great collective enterprises. We are thankful for the loving support of our family, the steel-forged friendships of our old companions, the comforting diversions of long-ago individuals stretching the great expanse between William Shakespeare and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and the small kindnesses of strangers we encounter on the streets. All of these occur on a fundamentally human level, joyously separate from politics and economics and culture and the rest of our usual concerns, and the rest of humanity’s endeavors should only seek to sustain them.
We give thanks, too, for the sunsets that fall over the Little Arkansas River, the memories of hot summer nights and the promise of more to come that sustain us through through the coldest days of winter, and to the God whose mercy and love created these miracles and inform the love and mercy we receive from our family and friends and all those kind strangers. We have our complaints with the rest of it, and will get back to that soon enough, but not today. Happy Thanksgiving.

— Bud Norman

Black Friday, White Christmas

Thanksgiving is over, even if the leftovers are likely to last another week or so, and the Christmas season has now officially begun. We take a back seat to no one in our gratitude for the birth of Jesus Christ, but this strikes us as a bit too much Christmastime.
The celebration of our Savior’s birth begins ominously enough with something called Black Friday. This now-familiar phrase is meant to have a positive connotation, as it refers to the black ink that retailers are hoping to use to write down the profits made from the first day of the Christmas shopping season, but it has an undeniably sinister sound about it that that more accurately conveys what the event has become. By now it is an annual tradition for the Drudge Report to scream out headlines about the mayhem in America’s shopping malls, with harrowing tales of maniacal shoppers assaulting one another in the store aisles and riots breaking out over the bargains being offered, and it seems a most inapt way to honor the arrival of the Prince of Peace. It’s far more frightening than anything that occurs on Halloween, which is about the time when the big retail chains start running television commercials with a Christmas theme to promote their Black Friday sales, and it winds up causing a full two months of holiday cheer that is simply too much to bear.
We wish all those stores plenty of black ink today, and dread the drop in the stock market that will surely occur if the figures prove bleak, even if the Federal Reserve announces that the quantitative easing will continue into the next millennium, but we’d rather that people approached Christmas with a more relaxed and reverential attitude. For at least the next two weeks or so we intend to go about our business as usual, and remained focus on such seculars matters as the great lump of coal in the national stocking that is Obamacare, and only then turn our attention to the spiritual issues that are supposed to inform the season. Any more than that would test the faith of even the most pious Christian, especially if he spends the time punching out other shoppers in pursuit of the latest gizmos at some green-and-red-bedecked shopping center.
Our week of Thanksgiving has been spent far from our prairie home in the Philadelphia area, where our parents remain endearingly Okie even after a couple of decades in the big bad city, and except for an opulent evening at the astonishingly fancy-schmantzy Green Room of the Hotel DuPont in nearby Wilmington, Delaware, it’s been a happily low-key week of reminiscing and family togetherness and genuine thankfulness. We highly recommend it to anyone as a good way to spend a holiday, especially a holiday that celebrates the impoverished birth of a man who once chased the money-changers from His father’s temple.

— Bud Norman