The Orange One …

… is off his meds again.

Somewhere, there is a psychology student earning a Ph.D. thinking about all this deranged behavior.

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Headline of the day

After Health-Care Debacle, Markets Worry Trump Is ‘All Talk, No Action’

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Dismal theology-related tweet for the day

Because, as regular Civil Commotion readers know: Y’all are no damn good, and your single-minded ambition in life should be the total annihilation of your self-interest and self-direction, and just doing as Holy Men tell you to do, because your self is evil.

Honestly: I marvel some days that these characters can find anybody to listen to them.

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Dining like Yoopers

I’ve no idea whether or not it’s actually true but, if you spend enough time in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, somebody will eventually tell you that it’s part of the U.S. because Benjamin Franklin had heard rumors of vast copper and iron deposits there, and so he drove a hard bargain with France to make certain they belonged to the new country.

Certainly, it is believable that Franklin had heard rumors. America’s aboriginals were mining copper from hand-dug pits on the Keweenaw Peninsula more than two millennia before Gilgamesh was written, more than three millennia before the Assyrian city-state system collapsed and the Jewish tribe formed-up, about five millennia before Jesus’ preaching drew a crowd. And, archaeologists have shown, they traded copper and silver with tribes in what is now Central America. They worshiped on the edge of Lake Superior at the famous rock outcrop now known as Miner’s Castle, and made-up tales to explain the northern lights, millennia before an Akkadian stoneworker chiseled the tale of AtrahasisGenesis’ antecedent — into a slab of granite.

It wasn’t until the mid-1800s. though, that Boston financiers decided there was real money to be made in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and once they got going they earned obscene amounts of money. On January 1, 1900, more millionaires lived on what is now College Avenue, in Houghton, Michigan, than lived on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

As was then a commonplace, the mining companies imported labor from throughout Europe and, especially, because they had experience working in deep hard-rock mines, tin miners from Cornwall. That labor rented company-owned homes on company-owned land, and they bought their food from company-owned stores; they earned less than $3.00 per day, and raised families in homes no larger than small apartments. They arrived poor, heavily burdened by the contracts they signed in order to work in the Keweenaw’s mines, and they died poor.

They ate poor, too. The Cornish miners brought with them something known as a ‘pasty’ — past-ee — a very dry meat pie that a miner could wrap in paper and carry in his pocket. Basically, it’s a thin bread-like flour-and-water shell over the cheapest (therefore, toughest) meat they could find, minced very finely so that the small rubbery pieces could be chewed, and rutabagas, a cold-climate tuber also used as silage. The miners got up while it was still dark, put one or two pastys in his pocket, and worked until it was dark again — six days a week.

With one thing and another, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I got back to the Upper Peninsula. There was a bit more shopping in the two college towns, but otherwise it is as solitary and breathtakingly beautiful as it was 40-years ago. It is still possible to drive for hours without seeing another car … seeing nothing but pines and wildflowers and wild animals.

There is this, too: The lowly pasty, the almost inedible poor-people food, thanks to some genius marketer, has been transformed into an exotic regional cuisine. Seriously: every 4-stool diner has a sign out front bragging about its pastys. USA Today even surveys its readers for the identity of the best place to get a pasty.

A pasty embraces everything we love about sandwiches: a meal in portable form. Although you could argue it’s not technically a sandwich, it’s got meat (or veggies) surrounded by pie crust (bread-like, right?), and that’s good enough for us! In fact, it was named by Zagat as the state sandwich of Michigan. With historical ties to English miners who immigrated to Michigan in the 1800s, many ethnic groups in Michigan adopted the pasty as a quick meal in the Copper County copper mines. Michigan has so embraced the pasty that there is an Annual Pasty Fest in Calumet every June.

As I said, some marketer is a bona fide genius. We students knew the dining hall budget was on its last legs when pastys were on the menu, and we went and got a cheap burger and fries at one of the town bars.

The modern iteration of the pasty is made with a much better cut of meat, and more and tastier additions, like carrots, onions, potatoes, garlic, on and on. It is still very dry, though, and served with brown gravy on the side.

Well, ever since, I’ve been telling Dawn that she should be getting-up before the sun rises and making a pasty for me. My complaining has done no good whatever, but it entertains me and causes her no distress.

What do you know? After the past few years of marveling that the humble pasty is supposed to be something special, my son John and a buddy — Mike, who loves to cook — came over to the house and made pastys today. They were good, too; I”m planning to have the two extra ones for lunch tomorrow.

Well done.

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The beginning of the end

So: After 8-years of no policy but nihilistic vandalism, the emptiness of the contemporary Republican Party is in plain view. And their leader is already a lame duck, because everybody with two eyeballs and a functioning mind is pretty sure that he’s a traitor who will be removed from office.

Quite the week in politics, don’t you think?

With all the plots, counter-plots, shady characters, big money, bluster and empty braggadocio … well, honestly, I haven’t enjoyed watching television so much since J.R. got shot.

My advice to Republicans:

  • First, get it fixed in your heads that conservatism and right-wing ideology are not the same thing. Conservatives … conserve, preserve the best of what is while building the future with pragmatic, forward-looking realism. Eienhower’s investment in computer technology was conservative, as was building the Interstate Highway System. Organizing OSHA and the EPA were conservative measures; wanting to destroy them because they cost money is right-wing ideology. On the same grounds, conservatives should embrace same-sex marriage. We do know that being gay is not mere wickedness, that it is a biological switch set before birth. Conservatives should enlarge marriage, then, and the stability it affords society; persisting in hating gays and trying to run them out of society, because Leviticus says so, is right-wing ideology.

  • Second, stop confusing mission and management. There is room for informed disagreement, for instance, about this EPA interpretation of the law, and that OSHA decision — but there should be no disagreement that their missions are needful. Conservatives should focus on better management; right-wing ideologues simply want to get rid of them because they interfere with profit.

    I will add — though it shouldn’t be necessary — that summary directives such as ‘eliminate two rules for every new rule’ are simply too stupid to discuss. Anybody who didn’t cringe when he learned of that Executive Order is a right-wing ideologue — not a conservative.

  • Grow the hell up. America has never been the fanciful Sunnybrook Republic of your imaginings, and only naive idiot children want to go there.

There is no nice way to say it: The election of Donald Trump was a national disgrace, the confluence of a Constitutional quirk with deeply anti-American notions. A Muslim ban? Seriously? Do Americans actually know so little as that about their own country?

We have forfeited for a generation or more the presumption that America, if sometimes misguided, can always be trusted to proceed with at least good intentions, for the election of Trump was nothing so much as the triumph of malice and ignorance. The good news — and I use that word with acute discomfort — is that, with Intelligence Committee members going around talking about ‘damning’ not-yet-disclosed evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence, there is solid ground for speculating that he will be removed from office. Since Trump is an empty man anyhow, and even the looniest Republicans — the nutjobs who think Putin makes good sense — aren’t going to want to stand too closely to him, his administration is destined to be ineffectual. So he governs, so to speak, with a recalcitrant party that is suspicious of him and a vastly larger public that frankly loathes him.

Only sixty-four days in … and the Trump administration is a clownish vaudeville act headlined by a preening buffoon.

There isn’t much to like about Mike Pence, either, and he is no more a conservative than The Donald. But he isn’t obviously mad, and nowadays that’s saying something. And he will probably be our president by this time next year.

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