For those of you who missed last night's second Republican Presidential primary debate, what you missed was a whole lot of the candidates bashing Trump, Biden, and each other. At one point Chris Christie,
...called Donald Trump "Donald Duck" for ducking out of the debate. (Groan. It was kind of funny, though).
Aside from the trash-talking, it was frequently kind of hard to latch onto what any of the candidates were saying - or trying to say - what with everybody all up in each other's grilles, interrupting each other, talking all at once, ignoring the moderators and not letting each other take their turns.
Really, the whole thing was pretty rude.
However, amidst the verbal food fight, there was one high point and one seriously cringey low point, said low point being brought to us once again by the silver-tongued Chris Christy, assisted by the silver-haired Mike Pence.
The candidates had taken a break from trashing Trump and Biden to trash teachers' unions. It was during this segment that Chris Christie, wanting, I suppose, to get in a double-hitter against both Biden and the teachers, said that Joe Biden couldn't be trusted on education because he was sleeping with a member of the teachers' union.
Now, I imagine I'm not the only one who needed a moment to get it: Aw, geez, he's talking about the President sleeping with his wife, Jill!
After hearing that I kind of wanted to cover my eyes and ears and go "La, la, la, la, la," and soon wished I had, because what followed was so much worse: Mike Pence, instead of mercifully steering us away from that icky moment, rather enlarged upon it, saying, “My wife isn’t a member of the teachers union. But I’ve got to admit I’ve been sleeping with a teacher for 38 years and, um, full disclosure.”
If only he hadn't added that um, full disclosure!
I'd love to be able to block out that whole "old folks sleeping with each other" episode (as would, I'm guessing, everybody else who watched it) but, alas, the media have glommed onto it and now the ewwy details are everywhere you look.
And yet, for as much as the candidates spent most of the evening throwing (metaphoric) rotten tomatoes at each other, still there was one high point amidst all the splatter that I thought was actually kind of nice.
It came about towards the evening's end. On the podium in front of each candidate was placed a paper and pen. The candidates were then asked to write down which one among them they would like to see "voted off the island."
Now, this was perhaps a rather mean question, but, in fairness, considering how rudely the candidates had behaved all evening not only towards each other, but towards the moderators as well, the candidates probably had that question coming.
Their response, however, was a surprise: in a sudden coup of solidarity, the candidates refused to answer the question. Nobody wanted to throw anybody off the island. I, for one, was grateful to see - and impressed by - this gesture of civility.
Oh, well, Chris Christie (of course) did write down the name of one of the candidates he'd like to see thrown off the island. But it was Donald Trump. So I guess that was okay.
It's so rare to unfold the front page of the morning paper and see something heartening. The opposite is more the norm. And yet there it was, last Friday in the Columbus Dispatch, a photograph of a moment of peace and solidarity amidst an on-going war that seems to have been going on forever.
But in fact the major hostilities have only been going on for around thirty years. I'm talking, of course, about the long-term animosity between Congressional Republicans and Democrats, which would normally prevent the Senate leaders of the two parties from publicly agreeing about anything, much less being seen in a photo together.
The war was set off sometime in the 1990's by then Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich,
...whose first order of business when his party won back the House of Representatives from the Democrats and he subsequently won the House speakership, was to name the Democrats as the enemy, to paint them as evil, unpatriotic, radical, traitorous, and never to be associated with. It was Newt Gingrich who declared war between Congressional Republicans and Congressional Democrats and painted a hyper-partisan line in the sand between them.
By Gingrichian fiat, Democrats and Republicans were no longer to eat lunch together in the Congressional dining rooms. They weren't to meet together behind the scenes for dinner, drinks, and cigars to grind out compromises. They weren't supposed to compromise at all.
And so it's been a take-no-prisoners war ever since. Instead of legislating together, the two parties mostly skirmish in a constant game of capture-the-flag.
Still, once in a rare, thankful while a truce is declared, as happened during a visit from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, whose country is suffering terribly under the horror of a real war waged against his land and people by a monster aggressor,
...as opposed to the senseless political and ideological war that's tearing our country apart.
And so the leaders of the Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats, Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, were able to lay down their arms and come together in support of President Zelenskyy, walking with him on either side as they entered a meeting of Democratic and Republican Senators,
...where President Zelenskyy was given a warm and respectful welcome by both sides.
Funny how it took a war to generate a moment of peace.
I've spent the past six-and-a-half weeks off my feet, housebound, with another week-and-a-half to go until I receive the verdict on whether or not my fractured first metatarsal, surrounded by the still slightly swollen landscape of my foot,
...has healed enough for me to return to the wonderful world of walking.
"I don't know if I could handle this as well as you've been doing," a friend recently said about my extended non-ambulatory condition. "How do you keep your spirits up?"
To which I replied, "I play my ukulele."
It's been five months since my trip to Hawaii where I semi-impulsively bought a ukulele and fell in love at first strum. (see post from 5/9/2023, https://www.ailantha.com/blog/i-ukulelist)
There's so much about the ukulele that I love: its sweet, bouncy, cheerful sound; the smallness of it; the tingly pressure of the strings against my fingers.
I love the hard work of conquering the chords. I love singing along with my playing.
I love the two ukulele groups I discovered and joined (and now greatly miss) here in Columbus, The Buckeye Ukulele Society,
...and the Licking County Ukulele Club.
And those are just the things I love about the ukulele that I can verbalize.
My sister jokes that the ukulele is my spirit instrument, but I joke that it's my crack cocaine: once I start playing I can't stop. A half hour of practicing is nothing; an hour flies by. I get lost in it. I only know it's time to stop when my hands start aching. Or when it's time to do something else. Except, of course, these days there's not much else I can do.
And yet these days, when I'm admittedly among the least productive of human beings, playing the ukulele somehow gives me a feeling of productivity. Even if it's only music that I'm producing.
And not that it's even good music yet, nor may ever be: if I wished to be a virtuoso ukulelist (and they are out there - I've met a few right here in Columbus, Ohio) I probably should have started at least fifty years ago.
But I guess it doesn't matter. While I wait - and hope - for time to heal my foot, my ukulele heals my spirit.
Funny that a small wooden box with a wooden neck and four nylon strings could have such power.
WARNING: This post contains "U"-rated images (that's between "R"-rated and "X,"-rated, but a little closer to "X"), and is NOT intended for viewing by minors, such as those who will be attending the Christian Texas Youth Summit next week where Lauren Bobert was scheduled to speak but probably isn't anymore.
In fact, more than "probably," thanks to ultra-conservative, self-proclaimed born-again Christian Republican Congresswoman Bobert's rude, lewd, and wildly disruptive behavior that got her thrown out of a Denver theater last week during a family-friendly performance of the musical Beetlejuice.
Alas, Lauren Bobert's performance was not so family-friendly. During the show (which the not-quite divorced Bobert attended with a date, a bar owner named Quinn Gallagher, pictured below being removed from the theater with his disruptive lady friend),
...Bobert racked up multiple complaints from those sitting around her - not to mention yards of surveillance video footage - for, among other things:
When a pregnant woman sitting behind her asked her to please stop vaping, Bobert turned around and snapped, "No!"
Standing, singing, dancing, laughing, and clapping
...and, according to her aggravated neighbors, not necessarily along with the music or at the appropriate times.
Taking pictures on her phone
...which, along with being annoying, is, of course, illegal, being against copyright law.
...in which Congresswoman Bobert participated both as fondler - two, handed, even,
Oh, what the heck, here's some video if you really want to see it.
And then there was her defiance and rudeness to the security personnel who found themselves in the unenviable position of having to escort her from the theater,
...and whom she regaled with a nasty backhanded gesture.
Now, there has already been considerable commentary on Lauren Bobert since her theatrics in the theater. Republican TV host Meghan McCain called her trash. Far-right Republican commentator Ann Coulter called her an embarrassment and a bimbo. Apolitical commentator Howard Stern called her a disgrace to this country (which is quite the burn coming from Howard Stern).
And, for all we know, Lauren Bobert may well be all of the above. But even if she is, I'm not so sure that would explain her behavior at Beetlejuice.
Has it occurred to anybody besides myself that the Congresswoman looked like she was high? I mean, now she's singing, now she's dancing, now she's snapping pix, now she's laughing, now she's up to her torso in a fondlefest. And think of it: if Lauren Bobert and her beau were that inflamed with desire to feel up each other's body parts, why wouldn't they have just discreetly left the theater and zipped over to the nearest hotel? Unless mayhaps they were too strung out to remember that once you're out of high school the theater is no longer the place for heavy - in this case really heavy - petting.
And then there's the video footage of the merry couple laughing and dancing after they've been ejected from the theater.
Good golly, who laughs like that when they've just been kicked out of a theater? In their shoes I'd have been mortified and even more terrified that my mother would find out. But then, I've never been high.
In any case, I believe an investigation needs to be made into whether the Congresswoman was under the influence of an illegal substance that night, with the appointment of a Congressional Investigative and Hearing Committee.
Afterall, Lauren Bobert has made it common knowledge that she owns an arsenal of guns.
And everybody knows that it's a crime to own a gun while you're on drugs.
Really, Kevin McCarthy? You've actually started the process of impeaching President Biden? Seriously?
Based on...what? But of course, that's a rhetorical question, because we all know what you you based your impeachment inquiry on. You based it on the fact that you're scared witless by a bunch of of noisy little Houseflies to whom you sold your soul whose calling is not to serve their country,
...but to stay constantly in the celebrity spotlight alongside their celebrity-addicted Lord and Master,
...who, it turns out, has been pressuring his disciples to do unto Biden as was done unto him.
And so, in an attempt to appease the appeasers with extra whipped cream and a cherry on top, you, Kevin McCarthy, have appointed not one, not two, but three Congressional committees to investigate the President and his family for evidence of...something. Never mind that Republicans have been digging to China and back for the better part of a year searching for anything that might resemble a high crime or a misdemeanor on Biden's part and all they've come up with are empty shovels.
And so, while the country burns and floods, while the military goes unfunded and the government is on the verge of a financial shutdown because of the refusal of Congressional Republicans to carry out their sworn duty, you will at least make sure that there's a top-of-the-line impeachment inquiry merrily rolling along against Joe Biden.
But, Kevin McCarthy, you know what the punchline to all this is? It's that even though you've sold your soul and sold out your country and your President to the disciples of Trump, they're still not happy with you and threaten to oust you anyway, and most likely will.
Seems nobody likes a gummy worm.
Yesterday, after a month of being mostly, in the medical lingo, non-ambulatory, I returned to my podiatrist for a checkup on my stress-fractured, moon-booted foot (see post from 8/19/2023, www.ailantha.com/blog/i-invalid-part-one-four-insults-and-an-injury).
Now, I had spent the past month sitting, around,
...and knee-wheeling around,
...while my beleaguered mate Tom took over the housework,
...and waiting on me, and I felt oh, so slothful, guilty, and not altogether sure that I really should be doing all this non-ambulating.
It's just that it seemed so counterintuitive - I mean, is it not common knowledge that no matter what one's physical or medical condition, one needs to be up and around and moving, moving, moving? That everybody needs to be exercising all the time? That sitting is the new smoking? In which case I had become a three-pack-a-day sitter.
The more I sat, the less sure I felt that the doctor had meant that I should stay off my foot all the time. After two weeks of internal conflict and agita, I called the doctor's office to make sure I wasn't sitting around too much. I talked to the nurse, who assured me that, no, I wasn't supposed to be on the foot any more than barely necessary.
"You're using your knee scooter to get around, right?" the nurse asked me.
I sheepishly replied that I didn't like the knee scooter so I'd sent it back.
"Well, then, you better not be walking around," she said. She then explained to me that the boot wasn't meant for walking as usual; it was just to stabilize my foot, and every step I took would cause the bone to separate, working against healing. "You do want to be using a knee scooter," she not-exactly-scolded me.
I thanked the nurse, hung up the phone, got on Amazon and ordered myself another knee scooter.
After another two weeks of sitting, being waited on, alternately thanking and apologizing to Tom (who suggested that I start calling him "Jeeves"),
...and, despite the nurse's assurances that being off my feet was the ticket, still feeling vaguely guilty and anxious, it was finally time to go back and see the podiatrist. I was re-x-rayed, and as the doctor studied my foot, gently probing here and there, I nervously yammered on about how I hadn't been out of the house in a month, how I'd spent every day sitting or lying around, how I used my knee scooter, all the while fearing that he was either going to tell me that I'd taken a few steps too many and the foot wasn't healing or laugh and say, "Good Lord...you sat around all day? And you actually didn't leave your house for a month?!"
But as it turned out, the doctor gave me snaps for being such a good patient. He said that because I'd stayed in the house, stayed off the foot, and used the knee scooter, my foot looked really good at this point in the healing process and he predicted that if I kept up this same regimen the foot would be all healed and pain-free in another month.
And so, after having spent most of the past month feeling like I was doing something wrong and decidedly low on self-esteem, I suddenly felt like:
The doctor said that because my x-ray looked so good I could wean off the boot, wearing it for half a day for the next week, then the following week I could go back to wearing tennis shoes full time.
"But I should still stay off my feet for the next month?" I asked him, just to make double sure.
Then I asked him one more time before he left the exam room. His reply didn't change.
And so for the next few weeks I'll be sitting, lying, and, when necessary to get from the couch to the chair, wheeling around, reminding myself that it's okay to be non-ambulatory, doctor's orders. I just hope I don't get addicted.
I received the following comment from a friend on my post from 8/25/2023 on the first Republican debate (https://www.ailantha.com/blog/my-takeaways-from-the-first-republican-debate):
If someone feels a need to wear a flag pin, they automatically lose favor with me. I hate blatant expressions of supposed insincere patriotism.
My friend Sheila was referring to an observation I made in that post that all the candidates on the stage wore Trump-style blue suits and red ties, as well as flag pins on their lapels,
...except for Nikki Haley, who eschewed both the signature Trump look and the flag lapel pin,
...which I deemed a bold fashion move.
As for Sheila's comment...I agree in principle that wearing a flag, or any symbol, doesn't necessarily mean that one represents what that symbol is supposed to stand for.
Which reminds me of the time years ago when one of my daughters went on a high school spring break trip to Italy. Before she left she asked me what I'd like her to bring me back.
I described for her the delicate little black and gold filigree cross on a chain that I bought many years ago while in Florence but lost a few years later. Here I am wearing that cross.
My daughter brought me back the closest thing she could find to what I'd described: a rather large black crucifix edged in silver.
Though this was a far more ostentatious piece of religious representation than I felt comfortable wearing, it was, after all, a gift from my teenaged daughter, who'd been thoughtful enough to seek it out for me during her trip. And so, to show my appreciation to my daughter, I started wearing this big black and silver cross on a chain around my neck.
Everywhere I went people would comment on my cross. Strangers with benign expressions on their faces would approach me and make mention of my cross, their comments often reflecting their assumption that, because I was publicly displaying such a big, showy Christian symbol, I must therefore be an exemplary Christian. People sometimes asked me if I was a nun. An elderly back gentleman once came up to me and said, "I walk with the Lord and I can see from your cross that you do, too." It was at that moment thought to myself, Geez, I could be a Heil-Hitlering Nazi psycho serial killer! I could be a total cheating fraud, a lying, self-serving, no-conscience con artist! I could be dishonest, disreputable and disgusting, but all I have to do is I wear this over-sized cross and people automatically think I must be a good, decent person!
After that encounter I removed my Italian black and silver cross from around my neck, placed it in my jewelry box, and there it has rested for nearly two decades, never to be worn again.
And now when I see some of these politicians sporting flag pins on their lapels I assume they're doing so because wearing a flag pin works the same for them,
...as wearing that cross could have worked for me if I'd wanted to use it to my advantage.
In truth, it doesn't matter to me one way or the other whether a politician wears a flag pin. But I believe we should all beware of assuming that what someone wears on the outside shows what they wear on their heart.
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BTPN7NYY
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
The Book Loft
of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library
I am a traveler just visiting this planet and reporting various and sundry observations,
hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.