Let Us All Eat in Peace

As regular readers of this publication are well aware, we’re not fond of President Donald Trump, nor are we fond of any of his administration officials, except for a few who are frequently on Trump’s bad side. Still, we wouldn’t refuse any of them service at our restaurant, in the off chance we had one and the even more off chance Trump or any of his administration officials happened to walk into it, nor would we attempt to boo any of them out of any public space we somehow happened to share.
That’s just our old-fashioned Kansas conservative way, though, and it seems a number of more well-helled and up-to-date liberal types in Washington, D.C., and Lexington, Virginia, disagree. White House senior policy advisor Stephen Miller and Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen were both recently heckled by numerous fellow diners and driven from Mexicans restaurants in Washington, Nielsen was later awakened by an angry crowd chanting outside her home before dawn, and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her party were asked by the owner of restaurant in Lexington to leave. In the all the discussion that ensued from all the brouhaha some leftward media expressed solidarity with the hecklers, and California’s Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters got some headlines by urging her followers that no Trump administration be allowed to gas up their car or buy groceries or eat a restaurant meal without harassment.
As much as we dislike Trump for our own old-fashioned Kansas conservative reasons, and have to admit that his urging his followers to punch out protestors and promising to pay their legal bills and other vulgar utterances have also debased the civility of our public discourse, and despite the chuckle we got out of a late-night comedian saying that it takes some serious chutzpah for either Miller or Nielsen to visit a Mexican restaurant, we’d rather both sides of America took time off from these dreary debates for mealtimes and grocery-shopping and theater-going and other previously sacrosanct moments of a human being’s life.
The venerably pre-Trump conservative magazine National Review agrees, and so does the old-fashionedly liberal editorial board of the The Washington Post, as well as most of the the rest of mostly apolitical America. Still, there’s clearly more than a few on both the left and right fringes of the political spectrum who seem to be itching for a fight.
The aforementioned Waters has been a racialist demagogue since before even Trump got into the game, and first became nationally-known by encouraging the constituents in her ever-shifting district to continue the Los Angeles riots of 1992 until some Korean immigrant shopkeepers started effectively firing back with semi-automatic weapons, and after all these years we’re even somewhat less fond of her than Trump. Her more or less clarion call for mobocracy are not uncommon on the leftward edges of the political spectrum, too, and that’s one reason we’re still old-fashioned Kansas conservatives.
Meanwhile, the racialist demagogue Trump has “tweeted” back at the “low-IQ individual” Waters that he’s got plenty of his own supporters who are also itching for a fight. Several of them have already egged the Red Hen Restaurant that denied Sanders service, except that they mistakenly egged an entirely innocent restaurant of that name in Washington, D.C., rather that the admittedly guilty one in Lexington, and one way or another that fight the farthest fringes seem to be itching for will likely end badly.
The good news is that both National Review and The Washington Post are calling for a political time-out during eating and grocery-shopping and theater-going and family and sleep time, and that most Democratic and Republican politicians agree on this point. Somehow, the center might hold.
Still, longtime readers of this publication know our recurring nightmares about the last days of the Weimar Republic in pre-Hitler Germany, when the Commies and the Nazis were brawling it out on the grimy streets of decadent Berlin. We’ve always figured that in such incomprehensibly dire circumstances we would seek asylum elsewhere, but in this mean old world we don’t know where we might have found it. When we challenged a post-Trump Republican friend of ours that he would have defended iconic Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt’s decision to turn back the St. Louis ocean liner full of Jewish refugees, he admitted he would do so even now knowing with the 20-20 hindsight of history that it condemned all the passengers to concentration camp deaths, and that if by historical chance we’d needed the chance we would have also been passengers on that voyage, and given her racialist demagoguery and the demographic make-up of her district we’re sure Waters would have gone along with it as well.
At this point we’re willing to let the “Trumpanzees” and the “lib-tards” brawl it out on the decadent of streets of America, at least as far as possible away from our surprisingly serene streets of Wichita, Kansas, and hope that the center will hold, and our daily meals will at least be peaceful.

— Bud Norman

That Unsettling End of the Weimar Republic Feeling

For some time now we’ve been fretting that there’s a certain unsettling end-of-the-Weimar-Republic feel to America’s politics, and watching the gruesome video accounts of a recent bloody brawl between the far-right and the far-left on an ordinarily pastoral portion of Los Angeles’ public parks only heightens our anxiety.
So far as we can tell the far-left is more culpable for this most recent incident, as even such a genteel institution as The Los Angeles Times is obliged to report that even such a genteel institution as the Los Angeles Police Department admits that the far-right had gone through all the onerous chores of getting a permit and was peaceably assembling when the far-left showed up with large sticks of wood and sharp knives to commence the melee. Many of those originally peaceable far-right protestors were self-described Nazis, though, while many of the stick-and-knife-weilding far-left counter-protestors were self-described communists, so just like all those end-of-the-Weimar Republic brawls we would have preferred that some providential asteroid had brought some just retribution to the whole sorry lot of them. Providence always takes it own sweet time about these things, however, so this seems likely play out for at least another election cycle.

The cycle of violence has been going on for a while now, and although the left has always seemed more culpable there’s plenty of blame to go around. We recall the ’60s when the Weather Underground was a terrorist threat, and the ’70s when Woody Allen in “Annie Hall” was joking about how brickbats were a more effective response than op-eds to Nazi rallies, and of course how the current President of the United States was an unapologetic friend of the Weather Underground’s apologetic terrorist leaders, not to mention all those brutal assaults on everyday Americans who who showed up at the presumptive Republican presidential nominees rallies, and although that violence largely negated the story we’re obliged to admit that the presumptive Republican nominee truly did promise to pay the legal fees for anyone who roughed up the peaceful protestors at his rallies.

So far the presumptive Democratic nominee’s rallies have been free of violence, and there’s no evidence that she’s at all responsible for the violence that has plagued her presumptive Republican opponent’s rallies, and we hope this situation will somehow persist until Election Day. Still, there’s a certain end-of-the-Weimar-Republic feel to the whole thing, and we’re hoping that providence will prevent it.

— Bud Norman

American Politics in the Mud and the Blood and the Beer

America’s politics had already started to resemble a particularly lively episode of “The Jerry Springer Show” or some other ratings-grabbingly confrontational reality show, but over the past week it has started looking more like a late Weimar Republic-era beer hall in one of the angrier neighborhood of Munich. There’s been a long slow slide into this muck, and at this point there’s plenty of blame to go around.
The violent disruptions that have recently taken place at campaign rallies for Donald J. Trump, the self-described billionaire real-estate-and-gambling-and-professional-wrestling-and-reality-show-and-scam-university mogul who is currently the frontrunner for the nomination of the Republican Party, are by now familiar tactics of the left or the liberals or the progressives or whatever else you want to call the peace-and-love-and-sensitivity side of political spectrum. Our first inklings of political awareness came watching the fuzzy black-and-white images of Democratic Mayor Richard Daley’s quite forcefully responding to the sometimes peaceful and sometimes violent Democratic protesters outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, which was widely cheered on by many of the Republicans and the rest of the war-and-hate-and-insensivitity side of the political spectrum we were leaning toward, and was by far the most ratings-grabbing reality show of that memorably confrontational year, and although things had seemed to simmer down somewhat for a while since then it’s been popping up in our news-reading ever since.
Being admittedly obsessive about our free speech rights we have kept a careful eye on any reports of campus speakers being shut down, or gatherings of people with common political goals being disrupted, or newspapers having their circulation disrupted, or internet pundits having their punditry censored by hackers, or handicapped black people assembling with others to petition for redress of their grievances being beaten by racist thugs, or tax-payer paid professors associated with journalism departments calling for “some muscle” to remove a pesky reporter, and we have long noticed that it’s almost invariably people on the peace-and-love-and-sensitivity side of the political spectrum who are doing the bullying.
The peace-and-love-and-sensitivity side of the political spectrum retains this side of its censorious nature even when it obtains power, as we have also repeatedly seen. Somehow President Richard Nixon emerged from the conflagrations of our childhood, but was brought low just five years later by revelations that he’d had something to do with the bugging of a a Democratic official’s phone and had suggested using the Internal Revenue Service to harass his opponents, but the mot peace-loving and exquisitely sensitive sort of president can bug pretty much everyone’s phone and actually use the IRS to harass his political enemies and it goes largely unremarked. The current “Hope and Change” president has repeatedly castigated his political opponents for wanting dirty water and dirty and inviting them along for the ride to his utopia only if they sit in the back of the bus, and exhorting his supporters to punish their enemies and get in their faces and if they bring a knife you a gun, and threatening to talk “truth to power” to the almighty Fox Network, all of which was either ignored or celebrated by more adulatory media, and yet he assures those same media he surely bears no blame for the rise of the likes of such a shock jock insult comic as Donald J. Trump.

Those sorts of idiots who have beset Trump’s rallies probably would have been there even without seven years of Obama’s outrageous rhetoric and disastrous policies, however, they’d be at the rallies of anyone who was leading the Republican race, and they’ve even been at the rallies of both Democratic contenders, so there’s still plenty of blame to go around. You can point to a failed educational system, for one thing, especially when the fellow who stormed the stage with an incoherent rage during one of Trump’s incoherent rages turns out to to be the very peace-and-love-and-sensitivity son of a public educator, as well as the general idiocy it has caused. You can certainly point on such organized peace-love-and-sensitivity groups as MoveOn.org, which has helped organize the out-of-control protests at Trump rallies, and until we get a full-throated denunciations of these acts from self-described socialist and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who may or may not be the front-runner in his party’s race, we’ll also suspect him. You can point to that ’68-era terrorist Bill Ayers, who helped launch the current president’s unlikely career and was boasting about shutting down Trump’s free speech. You can point as always to certain media, who always fall for one certain line of authoritarian garbage but not another, and somehow manage to ignore more sensible alternatives. You could point to a reality show and professional wrestling and us-versus-them and betting-on-the-come but otherwise peace-love-and-sensitivity-and-free-sex pop culture that has lately supplanted the accumulated wisdom of western civilization, and we believe you’ll see something to blame in that direction as well.
What’s most unsettling about this latest go-round of leftist or liberal or progressive or whatever you want to call the peace-and-love-and-sensitivity side of the political spectrum’s thuggery is the apparent eagerness of so much of the rest of us to get right down in the mud and blood and the beer and commence the brawl. Trump has long relished the “at least he fights” reputation his bold “tweets” have earned him, and he expects a similarly bellicose attitude from the people pledging allegiance to him. Throughout a series of escalating attempts to disrupt his rallies he has urged supporters to “be a little more violent” and maybe “he should have been roughed up” and if anyone suspects a tomato throwing “knock the hell out of them” and “in the good old days they’d rip him out of that seat so fast” and “don’t try to hurt him, but if you do I’ll pay your legal bills,” and “I’d like to punch him in his face.” One of Trump’s supporters, prior to the past weekend’s escalated disruptions, did punch a protestor in the face as he was being led by police out of the building, and Trump is thus far unclear on whether he’ll pay for the legal bills, such legal matters always being long-drawn out by Trump, but so far there’s been no full-throated denunciation. This all comes as Trump is trumpeting his ability to unify the country, but at this point even his most mythical deal-making powers seem sufficient to pull that off.
The pony-tailed 78-year-old who punched the already-under-arrest protestor was arrested on assault charges, but proudly told a television news camera that he’d do it again and “maybe next time we’ll have to kill him,” but he looks to be one of those previously uninvolved voters that we’re supposed to be grateful to Trump for bringing into the party. He explained that the protestor had extended a middle finger at the crowd, and “wasn’t acting like an American,” but we can’t the times that we’ve read and heard Trump supporters saying that they support him because his candidacy is intended as that very same gesture.
Nor does Trump offer any indication that he’d be any less censorious and authoritarian when in power. He’s publicly promised that his press critics would “have problems, such problems” if he became president, he’s described the peaceful Tiananmen Square protests as a “riot” and the Chinese government’s mass-muderous response as “strong,” and he’s spoken a brand new truth to power against the almighty Fox Network, which is now apparently a left-wing organ.
Perhaps there’s nothing to do at this point but bring that gun to the knife, or the nuclear weapon to whatever V-2 rocket they produce, and perhaps the only solution at this point is to burn it all down, as many Trump also come right out and say they hope to do, but we’d like to think there’s still some hope for an appeal to reason.
At this point we have cast in our lot with the candidacy of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and we still hold out hope he offers something better than getting down in the mud and the blood and beer. Although we concede that certain media will convince a certain portion of the public that he’s a crazed beer hall putsch nutcase, at least they won’t the video footage to prove it. We’d urge you to take a look at how Cruz handles those occasional disruptions that come with politics even in the best of times, and how a friendly invitation to talk about ideas and the skills of a former national collegiate debate champion and oft-successful Supreme Court litigators handles their noisy sloganeering, and consider the chance that America might yet respond to such a campaign. We know that such dry policy wonk stuff doesn’t fare well against the professional wrestling and reality shows and peace-and-love-and sensitivity stuff, but these days nobody has a majority market share, and we’re too old to be down in the mud and the blood and the beer.

— Bud Norman