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Hired pen since 1998. Email wiredgourmet at gmail dot com. Visit me at YT for coffee and a snack: https://www.youtube.com/c/wiredgourmet

The art of never learning

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The Trumpers have done it again; sensible people warned them, but they voted in defiance of all reason. Although they’ve watched Donald fail continually, and gracelessly — even tragically — they pulled that lever like lab monkeys dosing themselves with cocaine. Incredibly, Donald attracted eleven million more voters in 2020 than he did in 2016, for a popular-vote total of nearly 74 million versus 63 million four years ago.

Educated liberals like to say that his voters are stupid and mentally ill. That critique could not be more elitist or misguided. Our 74 million Trump voters are neither crazy nor stupid: they’re angry. The U.S. economy is a cruel hoax for many millions of our working poor. Those whose incomes are barely adequate, who will never earn a surplus no matter how hard they try, who occupy a permanent lane a few paychecks ahead of the bailiff and the repo man — those people hate the American economic system and the educated liberals in charge of it. …


The louche messiah

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As the Spring of 2016 approached, it became clear that the New Yorker Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee. Many struggled to explain this stunning development in rational terms. Only the most pious Americans realized that the will of the Lord was involved.

The people were much amused. Donald’s ideas and manner of speech were offensive, but the public found him unpredictable and entertaining. They were eager to hear what he might say next, so the news and social media overflowed with Donald. He offended entire groups with puerile insults: women, ethnic and religious minorities, and educated people. …


‘There goes my excuse for accomplishing nothing’

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A hot microphone caught U.S. President Elect Joe Biden lamenting the run-off victories of Georgia Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, who will now give his party a slim majority in the Senate.

“At least when Barack was president, we could blame McConnell’s obstruction for our utter failure to help the working class. He was such a perfect, textbook villain; no one noticed the snarling contempt we felt toward ordinary Americans,” Biden whined.

Vice President Elect Kamala Harris was in tears as she nodded in agreement. “We might have to disappoint our Silicon Valley and Wall Street sponsors with a tiny, symbolic tax hike, and perhaps a pittance more in the minimum wage,” she wept. …


A Kremlin miracle

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In the primary season of the 58th quadrennial US election, the Lord summoned Vladimir Putin to the Cathedral of the Dormition, to a secret chamber known but to a handful of holy men, and spoke to him, saying: Address the people of the United States and say to them, truly you are among the world’s great tribes, but you are threatened by Enemies both without and within.

And Putin spoke to God, saying: Lord, will they listen to one such as myself?

And the Lord replied: They will indeed. For you shall conduct a vast disinformation campaign with my help. You shall plant false news stories throughout the press, then quote those lies in subsequent articles. You shall gather an army of software bots to spread my warning throughout the World Wide Web, emphasizing the need of the American people for security from the Evil that pursues them. You shall assign ten thousand workers, and command each to send forth ten thousand bots on Facebook and Twitter, YouTube and Reddit, Snapchat and Instagram, warning every American of danger from the Children of Ishmael, my beloved worshipers, whom they are disposed to fear and despise without reason. …


A different kind of thinking

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Sister Miriam’s habit was a discrete presence with enough mass to stir up a breeze when she passed. It made a sound that you could almost hear, but never quite. The tunic was ankle length and she liked to clasp her hands behind the scapular, even as she walked, which lent her the illusion of treading on air. Despite the layers of heavy fabric, she appeared comfortable in every season, as if the habit generated a microclimate. She was my twelfth-grade English teacher, and she gave me a priceless insight into thinking differently through writing.

She liked to say, “I would teach if there was one” (notice that natural, trochaic groove). She proved it by tutoring me twice a week. She was the class head, with administrative duties on top of her teaching schedule, so she gave me the only time available: her lunch hour. Still, I always found her composed at her desk. She was never late; there were no breathy scenes on the stairs. She took pains to conceal any hint that I might have been an inconvenience. Sister Miriam loved her pupils. Helping us was as much her vocation as religious life. …


Giving him way more credit than he deserves

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We’re lucky to be alive, apparently. More than a week has passed since Election Day 2020, and, despite scores of expert predictions, there have been no organized, violent attacks against American voters or poll workers by right-wing extremists. It must be a relief to news junkies, because a few weeks ago the situation looked grim. Throughout October of 2020, in the run-up to election day, the mainstream media fired up its klaxons, warning us daily of likely bloodshed at the polls from armed militias loyal to Trump.

CBS News raised the alarm on 26 October with a piece titled Do armed right-wing militia groups pose a threat to U.S. presidential election? They interviewed an expert, so you can probably guess the answer to that question. …


45 Forever: a Murdoch-Bannon production

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Donald Trump will declare himself America’s “President-in-Exile” on Inauguration Day, a leaked memo shows. Far more than a stunt to steal the spotlight from Biden’s and Harris’s swearing in ceremony, the announcement will be followed by a 24/7 media blitz including online news items, video streams, social media clips and tweets, and broadcast TV segments.

Former Breitbart executive Steve Bannon, former Apprentice and Survivor producer Mark Burnett, Fox magnate Rupert Murdoch, and the president’s senior aides and family members are preparing to launch the “45 Forever” division of Fox News.

“This will be a chance for President Trump to re-introduce himself to the people of the United States through the lens of reality TV, a medium in which he is comfortable and has always been brilliantly successful,” a Murdoch aide wrote. …


The genius of Christian humanism

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Augustine and Origen and Thomas were extraordinary Christian scholars, but I’m convinced that Renaissance artists possessed a more truthful understanding of the faith. I would locate the pinnacle of Christian philosophy in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, when the most important theologians were painters, sculptors, and authors, not academicians.

What did humanists see that the scholars overlooked? First, Renaissance art exhibits confidence that God and humankind are united, that we are the same stuff. We are understood as God’s agents, his stewards. We make him complete: we are his eyes, and his ears, and his hands. We confront evil, alleviate suffering, enact justice, and protect the weak and vulnerable on his behalf. …


It’s time to confront reality

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George Orwell famously complained that the word “Fascist” had become meaningless. It was a curse that everyone applied to someone, just not the same ones. Groups that were so different they might have attacked each other on sight were called Fascists: Conservatives, Nationalists, Catholics, Communists, Zionists, Anarchists, you name them. “Fascist” has never amounted to more that a general term of abuse, although most people believe it has a precise meaning and are fairly sure they know what it is. Orwell joked that most people would accept “bully” as a synonym, and I’d agree. “Authoritarian bootlicker” works for me too. Now, let me assure you that the people you think of as Fascists probably are dangerous and ought to be stopped. …


The plutocracy would sooner nuke us than share

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Bad news, America: we will not be turning the tables. Corporations and billionaires are embedded in all things threatening — police, military, three-letter agencies. And let’s not forget the resources they command: multinational corporations, commercial banks, central banks, multinational insurance agencies, major pension funds, and investment banks and funds. They will prevail easily in the kind of workers’ revolution that many dream of as a last hope. Hell, they’ve defeated us already.

Consider the vast spending on surveillance and data-mining technology, and artificial intelligence, that flowed from the USA Patriot Act and a post- 9/11 mentality that permitted the integration of law enforcement, national security, intelligence, and military support agencies. …

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