A few last thoughts from A Christmas Carol (posted 12/24/20)

I hadn’t intended to write another column before Christmas, but I just finished listening to A Christmas Carol again (as I mentioned yesterday), and after a day spent with Dickens and his beautiful prose, I can think of no greater Christmas eve gift than sharing a few choice quotes from him.  I’ve chosen four in particular.

Like all great writers and thinkers, Dickens’ work contains thoughts that have political implications, but he also transcends partisan politics.  As an example, two passages stood out to me as required reading for political partisans on both sides of the aisle.

As free-market conservatives, our side can sometimes become so enamored with the many financial – and yes, IMHO, ethical – blessings of a properly functioning market that we overlook (or even deny) the temptation of greed, in all of its corrosive immorality.  Scrooge is an obvious stand-in for an obsessive capitalism untethered from Christian ethics.

The quote that we should all meditate on is a pretty familiar one.  It occurs after Marley’s ghost first confronts Scrooge, who notes that Marley was always a good man of business.  ″‘Business!’ cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. ‘Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!‘”

As a landlord who frequently hires and works beside tradesmen, and who serves tenants, I am going to remember that line: the cost overruns on work done, and the late rent payments by stressed-out tenants are merely “drops of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business.”

As our “fellow passengers to the grave” (thanks, Mr. Dickens!) our leftist friends, in their pursuit of (what I hope for their sake they perceive to be) beneficial ends, are prone to over-estimate their own wisdom and competence, and blithely take it upon themselves to run the lives of those they govern.  As a logical consequence of that view, they exempt themselves from the rules that they force upon others.

Sometimes this tendency just means becoming condescending micro-managers of all areas of public life, for which they should be thrown out of office with great force.  But sometimes it means making life-and-death decisions for those under their thumb, as when Chinese leftists use a one-child policy to force abortions by the millions, or when leftist judges release violent criminals who go on to murder innocent citizens. 

Or when, just last week, leftists in the CDC try to sneak their racialist agenda into decisions on how to distribute the Trump vaccine (the MAGA-cine, I suggest we call it), steering it first to less at-risk minority members, because the resulting deaths among more vulnerable white citizens would be morally acceptable.  Because racial justice.

For those leftists who have lost their moral compass, Dickens has a rebuke.

This quote comes when the Ghost of Christmas Present is lambasting Scrooge for his earlier sneering that the poor who would rather die than go to a workhouse should do so, and “decrease the surplus population.”  

“Man,” said the Ghost, “if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered what the surplus is, and where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be that in the sight of Heaven you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child.”

Take that, Paul Ehrlich and George Soros and Margaret Sanger!

But of course Dickens is beyond parochial politics.   He can evoke the depth of regret and the heights of happiness in a few, pitch-perfect words.

He does the former when Marley’s ghost explains the chains that hobble and torment him in the afterlife: “I wear the chain I forged in life.   I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.”

He does the latter in this quote about Scrooge after his transformation:  “He went to church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of houses, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed that any walk— that anything— could give him so much happiness.”

Finally, two more musical notes:

First, I recently came across the Petersons’ version of “O Come, O Come Emanuel” and “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” in one mash-up.  The two songs work great together, with the elegiac somberness of the first giving way to the joyous animal spirits of the second.

If you asked me what I expect to be the soundtrack in the corner of heaven containing my dad’s raucous Kentuckian side of the family, these two songs would be in there somewhere.  Because as much as I love Handel, and Tom Petty, and Tom Waits, and a hundred others, the Platonic ideal of essential music is this:  three beautiful young female singers, two guitars, a mandolin, a banjo and a violin.

On this, I will brook no disagreement.  😊

Second, on the subject of the modern version of the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God:” as I mentioned yesterday, Luther’s archaic language aside (“and though this world with devils filled/ should threaten to undo us”), his lyrics feel absolutely current to me. 

As I listened to that song again, this point was driven home afresh, when I heard these lines: “for still our ancient foe, doth seek to work us woe.”

Did anyone else read the words “our ancient foe” and NOT think of Imhotep Pelosi? 

I didn’t think so.

Okay, I can’t plummet from the heights of Dicken’s large-heartedness to my own juvenile need to make a cheap joke about Baroness Botox, and end a Christmas eve column there.

So, one last Christmas thought from me to you, courtesy of Charles D.

“For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.”

Now get out there and wassail, CO Nation!

“Though the world with devils filled/ should threaten to undo us.” After a tough year, it’s Christmas (posted 12/23/20)

It’s hard to describe the schizophrenic nature of this holiday season for me.  Many have noted how our  country seems to be dividing into two camps, with less and less in common between them, and they’ve predicted something akin to a civil war coming.

I’ve resisted those predictions, finding in them the kind of exaggeration and doom-mongering that routinely shows up, especially among older people: the kids these days… everything’s going to hell… in my day, no one would have put up with that.  And so on.

But after this year, it’s not so easy to dismiss the grim signs that our civic bonds have actually been getting objectively, demonstrably more frayed.  The leftists are getting more and more extreme, and more rigidly totalitarian. 

I am obviously biased, but I don’t believe that conservatives are becoming more extreme, or even  moving much to the right, let alone the far right.  We still want the same things we’ve wanted since the Founders fought for a revolution: lower taxes, and more individual freedom, and a less over-bearing and oppressive government.  We value individual freedom, and the constitution, and a colorblind society.    We don’t want to force our will on the leftists who hate us; we just want them to leave us alone. 

Yes, we mourn the damage they’ve done to the places they control.  They’ve turned once-proud cities – beautiful San Francisco, the Motor City, the City of the Big Shoulders, Baltimore and Philadelphia and dozens of others – into filthy, dangerous combinations of the economic vibrancy of Venezuela, the urban beautification of Mogadishu, and the political bullying and corruption of old East Germany.

That’s unutterably sad.  But they seem to be happy with it, as they continue to vote for more of the same.  So what are we to do?  As anyone who has loved an alcoholic or addict knows, we can’t want healing for them more than they want it for themselves.  They will need to hit rock bottom, and we hope to be able to help them when they reach that point.

But in the meantime, we can’t enable them, and we can’t support their habit.  Their extremists seem to be driving their party, and they’re a toxic combination of spoiled rotten, and spoiling for a fight.  And I don’t think they’re going to be happy with the results when they get one.   

Having said all of that, I think Dickens had it right: it’s the best of times, and the worst of times.   Every time I watch a little media or social media that reflects the left’s worldview, and then return to my own life, I feel like I’m getting the bends. 

In their world, Joe Biden is sentient, America is evil, and rioting is good for you, but going to church will kill you.  Also, there’s no reason that spending months banging Fang Fang in a hot-pillow joint running by the Chinese Communist Party should keep you off the Intelligence Committee.

In my world, Christmas carols are playing, and we’re trying to love our neighbors and our enemies, and America is a great nation, who just came up with a vaccine that will save many millions of lives around the world.  (Quick sanity check, from my world: communists came up with a virus that killed millions; we came up with a vaccine that will save millions.  You’re welcome, world!)  My daughter – the newly minted nurse – got her first covid vaccine shot last week, after which she went right back to saving lives, and being the apple of my eye.  (If I weren’t such a classy gentleman, I’d say something like, “Suck it, medical geniuses and talking heads of the MSM, who spent the last 6 months mocking Trump and assuring us that that was not possible!”)

I went down to the Sarasota area over the weekend to visit with extended family, and had a great time.  I sat on the beach for a while, and had some good conversation, and whipped my cousin at cribbage.  I ate some great Greek food for the first time since college; I had chicken souvlaki, and that flaming cheese with brandy on it that I can’t remember the name of.  (I want to say “boom-chakalaka,” but that’s what Bill Murray’s platoon yelled in Stripes.  So that can’t be right.)

I also tried ouzo for the first time.  And the last time.  Because hard liquor that smells and tastes like liquorice is just not right.  C’mon, Greeks – first Dukakis, and now this?!

On the drive down and back, I indulged in one of my favorite Christmas traditions: listening to the late Frank Muller reading Dickens’ The Christmas Carol.  Muller’s voice is perfect, and Dickens is amazing, of course: funny and wise, and continually rewarding the reader with apt images and deft turns of phrase.   

Most of his work benefits from the length and depth of the novels , though reading them requires a commensurate time commitment.  But the Carol is concise, and note-perfect, and I find myself saying favorite lines along with the narrator in a way that I often do when re-watching favorite movies, or some bits of Shakespeare or CS Lewis, or other core favorites.

And nothing gets me into the Christmas spirit more.  I’ll watch several versions of the Carol on tv in the next several days, and I still won’t be tired of them.

I’ll end with one more musical note – and I beg the indulgence of the non-Christians among the CO Nation, for all of the happy Christ/Handel/Dickens talk of late.  (But I have done my best to throw in some “Wang Dang Sweet Fang Fang” jokes lately too, just to earn a few points for range.)

Though it’s not a Christmas song per se, I’ve always assigned “A Mighty Fortress is our God” into the stodgy, old, organ-heavy school of church music that I don’t love.  But when running through a lot of Christmas hymns on Youtube, I came across a contemporary version by a 7-piece group playing in a beautiful church at Cedarville University. 

If you like that sort of thing, the video is worth a watch.  Keeping in mind the caveat that with music, lyrics tend to feel dead on the page compared to when they are when sung, one particular verse really spoke to me, partly because of the dissonance of Luther’s old-fashioned language delivered in a contemporary context:

“And though this world with devils filled

Should threaten to undo us

We will not fear for God has willed

His truth to triumph through us.”

After this year of malevolent riots, frightening pandemic, dishonest politicians, and a bitter election marred by transparent sleaze and bad faith, lines about a devil-filled world threatening to undo us feel like they’re ripped from today’s headlines! 

But I’m holding on to the hope of those last two lines.

Though I’ve said it before, I want to thank you all, COers.  In a tough year like this one, the opportunity to share my thoughts and hear yours has been a consolation and a joy, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that.

If you should find yourself watching any political coverage in the next few days, and feel agitation and rising blood pressure, please take my advice.  Grab your remote, search the listings for one of the many versions of A Christmas Carol, and change the channel.

Then settle back and let the words of a great writer banish the ghosts of Biden and Pelosi, and replace them with the ones you remember so well from Christmases past.

“Marley was dead, to begin with…”     

Merry Christmas, CO Nation!

Thoughts on Christmas, and Lefty Krampi (posted 12/14/20)

One of the many contributions to Christmas traditions made by the great German people – about which, more below – is the dark twin of St. Nicholas known as Krampus.  He’s a demonic-looking creature, with cloven-hooves, horns and fangs, and while St. Nick passes out toys to the kids who have been nice, Krampus punishes the kids who had been naughty. 

I don’t know if I’m the first to notice this, but I think the lefties who get elected to national office usually think of themselves as a bunch of Santa Clauses, when they are in fact a horde of repugnant Krampi.  (And if you ever got the chance to see Repugnant Krampi open for Black Sabbath in the early 70s, you know what a treat that was!)

They start out promising toys and treats for the citizens they see as dependent children – “Have some free college and free healthcare, and abortions and reparations for all!” – but the mask soon slips, and their big bag of toys turns out to have been filled with a whole rain-forest’s worth of monkey’s paws. (Three paragraphs in on this one, and I’m already all over the road with the odd references.)

Free college turns out to be an immiserating grievance study degree and terminal unemployability.  Free healthcare turns out to be obscenely expensive, and men have to pay for pap smears while women wait 5 trimesters to get in to see an obstetrician, and every treatment is rationed, and in the meantime, take two leeches and call the ER in the morning.

Abortions are a recipe for regret and loss, and reparations would be the seeds of needless and unjustified racial enmity and social devastation, were we ever foolish enough to start down that road. 

One question I go back and forth on is, “To what extent are the lefties aware of the damage their policies do, and will do?”  On the one hand, most of my Dem friends are primarily well-intentioned, though they are subject to the same temptations to self-delusion and demonizing their opponents as we all are. 

On the other hand, it beggars belief that they can remain unaware of the results of their policy prescriptions, after they have been tried and so thoroughly failed, all around the world.

Their battered-voter syndrome relationship with socialism is just one case in point, with the Chinese spy story being just the latest example.  It’s not just Eric Swallwell who couldn’t resist the lure of that Wang Dang Sweet Fang-Fang.  (I know.  That’s one of my least favorite Ted Nugent songs too, but I’m not mature enough to resist a joke when it’s teed-up like that!)

One leftist influencer after another has gotten starry eyed over one horrendous socialist dictatorship after another. You can go all the way back to shortly after the Soviets started their doomed experiment in repression, starvation, and murderous, progressive good intentions, and you’d already find American leftists lining up to defend the growing socialist death tolls.

Walter Duranty got a Pulitzer for praising Stalin’s glorious leftist vision, while managing not to notice millions of rotting Ukrainian corpses stacked up all over the countryside.  Later, Communist spy Alger Hiss — despite having the name of a Dickensian villain, and reams of evidence against him — never fell out of the left’s affections.  Hanoi Jane did her photo op with the Viet Cong, and one actor and celebrity and leftist pol after another has pimped for Castro; one of them narrowly lost the Dem presidential nomination in each of the last two election cycles, and another is currently running for Senate from GA.   

January 5th is the 11th day of Christmas, and we all must do everything we can to encourage the voters of Georgia – and whoever is in charge of aggressively poll watching (as much of a grim joke as that seems to be right now) – to counter the socialist Krampus, and save the Senate.

In one last political note, Joey Gaffes continued his DiMaggio-esque string of consecutive teleprompter sessions with at least one howler of a faux pas, this time when he was announcing another cabinet pick.

Saith the Slurring Scrantonian, “For Secretary of Health and Education Services, I nominate Xavier Bakeria… Busherra, excuse me.”

In that one moment, Biden went for the gaffe hat-trick, making three errors in one sentence.  A sentence which was – this seems almost cruel to point out – written for him on a teleprompter!

First, there is no department called, “Health and Education Services” (he meant health and human services).

Second, Bakeria is either:

  1. A dance craze from the 90s which featured hip-wiggling young women, synthesizers, and repetitive chorus of, “Hey, Bakeria!”
  2. One of the portly Italian minor characters whom Tony Soprano had to kill in Season 4 – I think his first name was “Bobby.”
  3. An STD common among Chinese honeytrap spies; there’s a topical ointment that should clear that right up, but you don’t want that genital bakeria going untreated!

The person Biden was actually nominating is Xavier Becerra (pronounced “buh-ser-uh”).

The third error was when Biden took another shot at it, calling him “Busherra.”  Which sounds like a reference to the time when either Bush 41 or Bush 43 was in office: the Bush era.    

Of course, the main issue is not whether Biden mangled the nominee’s name — that’s going to be happening A LOT!  It’s whether the nominee is a good pick.

Spoiler alert: you know he’s great, because he’s been the Attorney General of California for three years, and that place is running like a well-oiled machine! 

I mean, if the machine in question is engineered to produce wild fires, brown-outs, bankruptcies, rampant crime, and the flight of as many productive people as can get hold of an outbound U-Haul.

So, yeah.  Biden is picking his dream team, and it looks like it’s going to be Krampi, all the way down!

On a more Christmas-y note, I’d like to thank CO nation.  In your reactions to last column’s request for recommendation for Christmas music, you all came through, reminding me mostly of old favorites that I’d forgotten (Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Mannheim Steamroller, the Wyndam series, and more), plus a few that were new to me (the Piano Guys, and various versions of old favorites that I hadn’t heard). 

In the course of starting to work those into my Christmas rotation this year, I remembered a few other favorites of my own.  Sting had an album of atmospheric, winter- and/or Christmas-related songs called “If On a Winter’s Night,” that’s worth a listen. 

Another favorite is not specifically Christmas-oriented: it’s a duet in front of the pope, sung by what looks like a Russian orthodox priest and a young girl, singing the Lord’s Prayer in the language of Christ.  Which – though I think of Him speaking in King James-era English — is actually Aramaic.   The young girl is beautiful, with a sweet voice, but when the male singer comes in… I get goosebumps every time.   

Though I was raised Baptist, I joined a Lutheran church when I met my Norwegian-descended wife, and I’ve come to love a lot of the ritual of our church, none more than when we sing Silent Night by candlelight each Christmas eve.  My favorite part is that we sing one verse in German.

Because there is no greater gulf between a song’s message and the language of its singing than the gentle sweetness of that hymn and the dulcet tones of… German!  You haven’t heard audible cognitive dissonance until you’ve heard the harsh, back-of-the-throat, vaguely Beowulf-ian consonants of “Stille… NACHT!  Heilige NACHT!  Alles schlaft, einsame WACHT!”  

But I have a soft spot for most things German — sure, there are a few blots on the record, not the least of which is a certain socialist worker’s party we could all name – and not just because my mom’s side of the family is German. 

Many of our Christmas traditions owe a lot to Germans, and earlier pagan, Germanic types.  The Christmas tree is Germanic, as is the snow globe.  The advent calendar is another German contribution.   In addition to the advent calendar on our wall, and the one with little chocolates in it, last year my wife started another Simpson Christmas tradition by getting me an advent “calendar” consisting of various small bottles of wine for each day of December leading up to Christmas.

Because of my iron discipline and the fact that the bottles are portioned out by date, I am enjoying them all, without risking the possibility that I’ll end up stumbling around and slurring my speech like Biden announcing his new Attorney General pick.

Finally, six years ago tonight, my dad died.

I know, that’s a whiplash-inducing shift in tone.  And it sounds like the start of a Christmas tale involving spirits and moral lessons, like a variation on A Christmas Carol (which I’m going to write a little about in my next column).

And I guess it sort of is, though without any momentous drama.  I had the great gift of spending a lot of time with him in his last months, and being alone with him at the moment of his death, my mom having gone to bed just a few minutes before. 

And it happened like I imagine it would have happened for the reformed Scrooge: very peacefully, as a fitting coda to a life lived gratefully, and with a calm assurance of where he would be waking up, and that he would be mourned by a lot of people whose lives he’d touched.   

Until he saw them again.   

Because I’m too much the sarcastic, snarky type, I can’t end a column with anything that sweet.  So I’ll just say…

Avenatti/Bobby Bakeria 2024!

Christmas music recommendations, plus Fang Fang! (posted 12/9/20)

Two weeks from today is Christmas, and that always makes me happy.  We’ve finally got some cool weather in north Florida, and my wife and I have put up the tree and decorated the house.  (There’s a new pic up of Stately Simpson Manor at Martinsimpsonwriting.com, if you’re interested.) The youngest daughter got back from her first semester at college. (Is it unseemly bragging to mention that she got a 4.0 GPA in her first semester? It is? Fine.  I’ve got two smart kids, so sue me.)

This season always makes me nostalgic for my Illinois childhood, and the snowy winters that are easy to romanticize when you don’t have to live with dirty snow and sleet that hangs on until the end of March.  These days I always make at least one 4-day weekend trip up to see some snow and some cousins each winter, and I am already looking forward to that. 

In the meantime, I’ve got a two-computer-screen set-up in the home office, and I always have a video playing on the second screen of a winter cabin with snow falling outside and a fire in the fireplace.     

Music has always been a big part of this season for me, too.  I know that many in CO nation are not Christians, so if this stuff bothers you, please skip down a few paragraphs and join me in the secular mockery and good cheer…

If you are a Christian, or someone who loves good music regardless, I have a few recommendations –and hope that you all will have a few for me, because I always love coming across good music.

First, old school stuff:  if you like classical and don’t love Handel’s Messiah, there’s something wrong with you.  We always hear the Hallelujah Chorus excerpt, and there’s a good reason for that: because it’s freaking amazing!  I swear that if I didn’t speak English and heard just that chorus, and someone asked me what that piece was about, I’d say, “Christ, obviously!”  

I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for a 10-year-old flash mob performance of the chorus in a mall food court, which you can easily find on Youtube.  Turn that one up loud.

(By the way, do you notice how, whenever anyone in public is blasting out music, it’s never any good stuff?  It’s always some subliterate, bass-heavy monstrosity with the n-word assaulting your eardrums.  Just once I’d like to see somebody driving down the road blasting some Handel or Bach!)

I also love the old carols – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Come, All Ye Faithful – preferably done by a brass quartet. 

For some cool, quirky versions of old carols, try Sufjan Stevens and his odd banjo and acoustic guitar versions of “O Come Emmanuel,” “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” “Come Thou Fount,” “I Saw Three Ships,” and, “Once in Royal David’s City.”   He also introduced me to a 17th century French carol called, “Bring a torch, Jeanette, Isabella.”  His version is really odd, and sounds like it was recorded on a cell phone in the stairwell of a concrete parking garage.  But I love it anyway.

Two years ago when I was looking for some snowy scenery videos, I came across a contemporary singer named Audrey Assad.   She’s got a beautiful voice, and the first videos I found were beautiful, too.  I’d recommend starting with “Abide With Me” and “Even Unto Death,” but a particular favorite of mine is “I Shall Not Want.”  (Joe Biden can tell you: the palmist gets a co-writing credit on that one.)   

But with all of the good memories associated with Christmas, I know that this is also a very sad time for many people.  Nostalgia can be a lot more bitter than sweet, if you are reminded of better times — and  loved ones — that are gone.  My dad died 6 years ago next week, and that has given this season a little bitter to go with the sweet, for me.

This year, politics has added some bitterness to the season as well.  As much as I wasn’t a fan of Trump at first, I came to really appreciate his governance, and his persistence in the face of a relentlessly hostile and petty media.  To see how much good he did in his four years, and to see him (as it appears now) replaced by the Scranton Shuffler is indeed a bitter pill to swallow.

But I think there are real reasons for optimism, even in politics, as we head into 2021, and I’ll be writing about those in coming weeks.  At this time of year especially, I’m reminded of our tendency to invest too much meaning in politics, and to give it too much power to affect our mood, and our view of the world. 

Yes, our politicians have too much control over our lives.  And especially if you live in a blue state where they are especially relentless, you may have to move.  But we all need to maintain an internal locus of control to the extent we can, and realize that our actions in our house are going to affect our lives more than decisions made in the White House. 

Yes, it would be nice if our politicians weren’t a hindrance and an obstacle.  But as obstacles go, they’re pretty pathetic.  Some of them seem truly malevolent – the ghouls running Planned Parenthood, the racists among BLM, the nihilistic thugs in Antifa – but mostly they’re just small people, and boneheads, and broken in ways that, but for the grace of God go we.   

We should be praying for them.  But also doing everything we can to thwart their efforts.  And part of doing that – luckily for me – is mocking them.

So let me end with a story that came out this week, and that you are probably already following.   It’s a story about a Chinese spy and alleged honey-trap seductress who goes by the name Fang Fang.  (She’s the spy so nice, they named her twice!)  She is supposed to have had affairs with two Midwestern mayors.

Which proves an axiom that doesn’t require proof, at this late date: men are stupid. 

Because at least two lumpy guys staying in budget motels and driving city-provided Ford Focuses looked in the mirror and said to themselves, “You know who would really go for my dad bod, and my mayoral clout from running a town she’s never heard of?   An Asian cutie half my age!”

But the icing on this commie-in-a-cocktail-dress story is that ol’ Double-Fang also had her hooks into Democrat numbskull and laughing stock Eric Swallwell.

Let me just put my wizard hat on, and I’ll predict what was on the phony dating site profile that she used to snare Swallwell:

  • A picture of her in a schoolgirl outfit with a short skirt, making a peace-sign gesture, for some reason.
  • Description: “I’m a sweet, submissive Asian girl, looking for a big American man who understands that America is a terrible country that needs to be fundamentally transformed.”
  • Turn-ons: Low IQ, flatulence
  • Turn offs: mean people, integrity.’
  • And that worked.  On a US congressman! 

And that worked. On a US congressman!

So be of good cheer, because that’s what we’re up against.

Avenatti/Fang-squared, 2024!

Leftists don’t live by their own WuFlu rules, & AOC throws a tantrum (posted 12/7/20)

Look, I know that we’re all trapped in this unsettling political interregnum, waiting for what looks like a verdict from the electors saying that Biden is the next president.  And then for January 5th, when we are all praying that both – or at least one, please God! – of the GOP senate candidates defeat the horrible Democrat choices, thus holding the senate, and allowing us to thwart the worst of the damage that Democrats will be able to do over the next two years.      

But as grim as our political situation may temporarily be, I am going to live up to the name of this FB page, and point out some reasons to be optimistic, during this season of eternally renewing optimism.

First, elected Democrats are promising to give us plenty of fodder for mockery and schadenfreude, and to give voters many reasons why they should be thrown out in 2022 and 2024. 

Consider the many high profile Dems who have already been caught piously forbidding the deplorable regular people from eating out, or enjoying a holiday, or getting their hair done, or leaving the house… right before they’ve been caught doing all of those things, to the disgust of every sentient constituent.

Governor Ken Doll in CA gets caught at a fancy French restaurant (What did you expect, a Texas style steakhouse or BBQ joint?) living it up in mask-less frivolity with… wait for it… several top-level CA health officials, who had recently scolded normal people for wanting to eat out. The day after Newsom sucked up the snails, San Francisco Mayor London Breed went to the same Le Doucherie – which is a fake French word that I just made up, but which I think sums up the hypocritical leftist clientele at that place quite nicely.

(By the way, if I were trying to come up with a name for a horse to run in the fifth race at Churchill Downs, I could do a lot worse than “London Breed.”)

Austin Mayor Steve Adler (from guess which party) recorded a message telling the little people not to leave their homes… from Cabo San Lucas, where he’d taken a private jet to attend a wedding!  He actually said the words, “Now is not the time to relax.” 

From Cabo San Lucas!  One of the most relaxing places on earth.  (If he had a single honest person working for him, that person would release a correction: “What Addled Adler meant to say was that it’s not time for YOU to relax.”)

The mayor of Denver (guess which party!) who outlawed indoor dining was also caught dining indoors, and without a mask.   San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo (guess!) dropped a pre-Thanksgiving tweet admonishing the plebes about letting their masks down, and eating with others. 

Beginning the a-hole count down now:  3… 2… 1.

Annnnnnnd the next day he had Thanksgiving dinner with 7 family members from 5 different households.  He issued a written apology noting that CA rules permit only 3 households at a gathering. 

In his defense, he’s a Democrat in charge of a municipal budget.  So you can’t expect him to know the difference between 3 and 5.  Or the meaning of humility.  Or his Schumer from a hole in the ground. 

Mayor Beetlejuice of Chicago has already been caught – after doing a PSA telling citizens that it would be the height of selfish vanity to go out for a haircut – when she went out and got a haircut.  And everyone who has seen the mayor immediately thought, “You went to someone who cuts hair – for money, as a profession.  With a straight face. — and you came out of there with THAT?  Did you not have a pair of rusty scissors, or a reciprocating saw, or a weed whacker, or perhaps a scarred and dull hatchet, or scythe?” 

Second, the likely president (shudder) Biden is going to take second place to no one when it comes to providing us with mock-worthy material.

For example, you may have heard that he has already tapped Jen Psaki — Not like that!  Get your mind out of the gutter, those who have heard Tara Reade’s story, and assume that Biden is as piggy as he is alleged to have been before! – as his press secretary.

Hilarious side-bar: the MSM has been falling all over themselves praising Biden’s all-female communications team as, and I quote, “the most diverse team ever!”

For the second time in a month, let me refer to the Princess Bride: “You keep using the word “diverse.”  I do not think you know what it means.”

Note to whoever is taking messages for Joe, as he naps in a shawl, dreaming of that time he bested Corn Pop in a bicycle-chain fight:  Picking an entire staff of gyno-Americans means that your staff has no more diversity than would an entire staff of phallo-Americans.  Especially when, intellectually speaking, their thought processes could be no more lock-step and blinkered than that of Hillary when they attached those huge, black blinders on either side of her head when she cantered out of Wellesley with a degree in leftist group-think, with minors in agit-prop and Alinsky studies.

Anyway, Biden picked Jen Psaki.    Now I happen to know – because I am a worldly, sophisticated type – that Jen’s last name is pronounced “sak-ee.” As in, “Please give me your largest bottle of sake, because it looks like Joe Biden is going to be president, and I need some strong drink to drown my sorrows.” 

In other words, the “P” in “Psaki” is silent.

I know that you see where I’m going with this, so I’m just going to cut to the chase.

In a few weeks, Biden is going to clump out of his basement in his boot – which he’s only wearing because he totally broke his foot while vigorously wrestling with his dogs, not while he was doing that “old man shuffle” across the floor and fell down, then lay there like a Mitch McConnell on his back, feebly wailing, “someone help me up!” until his Jamaican care-giver showed up.  And he said, “Jill, is that you?” 

And she said, “No, Mr. Biden.  It’s me, the person who keeps rescuing you when you wonder into a corner and can’t get out, and who also looks nothing at all like your elder-abusing wife who insists on being called “doctor” even though she’s not a real doctor.” 

Where was I?  Oh yeah: cutting to the chase.

Just before Christmas, Biden – not trusting himself to read a holiday message off the teleprompter – will introduce Jen thusly, “Here’s Jen Paki, with a reading from the Palms.”

Okay, I had planned to move this column in a more uplifting direction, but I just read a story about AOC that I MUST comment on.  So I’m going to save my  more uplifting thoughts for a new column in a couple of days, as I turn to: the greatest tweet of December! (so far)

Earlier this week, AOC was throwing a tantrum about the high cost of college, and how it’s not fair to expect that college students or their families pay for college.  Or for health care, either!  And her car is two years old, while all of her friends’ parents bought them new Beamers, and her parents don’t know what it’s like when all of your friends are so judge-y.  And yes she WILL get that tattoo and those piercings, because you’re not the boss of her! And as soon as she gets back to her swanky, taxpayer-provided DC townhouse she’s going to play her music as loud as she wants, all night long!

As you might guess, a bunch of people more mature than her – i.e. anyone over 12, and about half of those between 5-12 – pointed out that she was being an entitled brat.  And also that it might have been better if, when she first started stomping around and pouting this way when she was still an actual child, her parents had unsnapped the back of her footie PJs and tanned her behind and sent her to bed without supper.   

Also, some critics may have mentioned that her work experience before going to Congress and trying to create an educational system from the ground up was as a waitress and bartender.  And that when you ordered a scotch and soda with a twist from her, you were equally likely to get a Pine-sol and Listerine with a lemon lifesaver in it.

And that’s when Seething Sandy unleashed this beautiful tweet:

“Republicans like to make fun of the fact that I used to be a waitress, but we all know if they ever had to do a double they’d be the ones found crying in the walk-in fridge halfway through their first shift b/c someone yelled at them for bringing seltzer when they wanted sparkling.”

Beginning entitled a-hole countdown:  3… 2… 1

Annnnnnnnnd everyone over 30 blasted her relentlessly. 

Joni Ernst mentioned that she had worked on the biscuit line at Hardees… when she wasn’t working on her family’s hog farm, or on construction jobs.  Also she spent some time running convoys in a combat zone in the military.   Michigan rep Paul Mitchell cited “working numerous doubles in Respiratory Therapy where a mistake could result in death.” 

Dana Loesch’s husband (lucky dog) said, “The actual physical laborers you want to have pay for everyone else’s college tuition would like to introduce you to physically difficult jobs. You have no idea what those words mean till you have done hot tar roofing.”

My personal favorite reply came from Chris Manning: “I waited tables for 3 years. It’s not a physically difficult job. Digging trenches for sewer lines in the 95-100° summer heat was a difficult job. Pouring concrete and laying block in the summer in Phoenix was a physically difficult job. Waiting tables was cake. Sit down Sandy.”

After a day to think about it, the best AOC could come back with was this:  “These Republicans who are defensively rage-tweeting “But you’re wrong! I worked my way to pay through college!!” don’t realize they sound like folks who speak of the days when Hershey bars were 5¢ at the general store.”

Said the ditz who enthusiastically supported Bernie Sanders, who was bumming penny candy from strangers outside the Nickelodeon when he was her age, and who still waxes nostalgic over the good old days when the Bolsheviks were giving what-for to the Mensheviks.

This is going to be an interesting two years!

Avenatti/Beetlejuice Bowl-Cut 2024!

Biden cites the book of Palms, Obama writes his 3rd autobiography (posted 12/1/20)

As my favorite month of the year starts, I am still experiencing a lot of angst about the prospect of a possible Biden administration, and mostly limiting my exposure to media, as I try to focus on the important things in life. 

And yet what little I’ve seen of the news tells me that the left is determined to provide us all with plenty of fodder for mockery and verbal abuse.

For example, you may have seen Joe Biden’s Thanksgiving message, in which he definitively answered the question, “Hey, is Joe Biden a Biblical scholar, or what?”   (Spoiler alert: the answer is “or what.”)

In an otherwise nice enough – and even touching – bit of an anodyne holiday message, Biden provided a little Thanks-gaffing, when he referred to the “palmist.”  Actually, what he said was that, “We can prosclaim the palmist… [long pause] … with the palmist who wrote…”   And then he went on to cite the 28th Psalm.   

First, we all know that the “P” in “Psalm” is silent, and the “s” is pronounced, and Joey Gaffes went the other way.  But I get it: English is weird.  A “p” can be silent (psalms, pneumonia), and so can an “h” (honor, homage) and even a “k” (knight).  The same word can be its own opposite (sanction means to approve of, and to condemn).   

Brett Favre can spell his name “fav-ruh” and yet everyone will pretend that that “r” comes before the “v.”  It’s a crazy language.

But c’mon man!  You’ve got two “p” words in the same phrase, and you whiff on both of them?

Also, before I forget, did anyone hear “palmist” and immediately think of a Jeffrey Toobin joke? 

No?  It’s just me?  Fine.  I get it: you’re all soooo much more mature than me.

Anyway, I’m not a medical professional, so I’m not going to prosclaim that Biden is mentally deteriorating before our eyes.  Because “prosclaim” is not a word, and that would be crazy talk.  But the guy’s got some issues.   

I’m not arguing that this new gaffe is the end of the world, or gives deep insight into Biden’s soul.   But it does give us one more example – following several million others – of the way the media treats the lefties that it loves vs. the conservatives that it hates. 

Trump was no divinity student himself, as was obvious when he referred to “two Corinthians.”  But you may remember that he was roundly mocked for that, by a bunch of lefties who despise the kind of deplorable evangelicals who take the Bible seriously in the first place.

So will Biden be mocked for not knowing how to pronounce one of the most famous books of the Bible? He will not.

Because, in the words of the Psalmist (in the Martacus translation):

“The MSM is Joey’s shepherd; he shall not be mocked.

They maketh him to lie down in his basement, and ignore his still intellect.

They restoreth his electoral viability; they leadeth him through the primaries for their ideology’s sake.

Yea, though he walks through the valley of the shadow of dementia, he need fear no tough questions; for the MSM art with him, their social media and bias, they comfort him.

They preparest before him a bouncy house to protect him from his GOP enemies: they anointeth his empty head with a mask; his manufactured votes runneth over.

Surely good news and censorship shall follow him all the days of the election: and he will dwell in the White House for ever.  Or at least until Comma-la pusheth him aside.”

Please feel free to embroider that and hang it in a place of honor in your house.

In other news, the other half of the disastrous Bama/O’Biden administration has come out with yet another memoir, and it’s as obnoxious as you would expect. 

By the way, do you remember when Barry repeatedly referred to the “Marine Corps” and “corpsman” as “corpse” and “corpse-man?”  Remember how the MSM lambasted him for knowing less about our military than the average 4th grader who watched Hogan’s Heroes and part of Band of Brothers? 

Me neither.

But back to Barack’s book, “America Continues to Let Me Down,” or “You Americans Weren’t Worthy of Me,” or whatever the title is.  (Life is too short to spend even 10 seconds to look that up!)

This is Obama’s THIRD autobiographical book.  The first two were written before he had accomplished much more than becoming a corrupt Illinois state senator, and then an empty-suit US senator for 10 minutes.  So naturally, after having served as a mediocre, race-baiting US president, he had to write a third navel-gazing tome. And it comes in at a staggering 1, 567 pages! 

I can’t vouch for the accuracy of that page number.  But I’m sure that if you were forced at gunpoint to read it – the only way I can imagine reading it (and even then, I’d really consider whether death by gunshot was such a terrible option) – it would seem to be at least that long.  I read several pages of excerpts from it, and they all seemed about 100 pages each.

Anyway, consider this: I’m about the same age as Obama, and my life has been the stuff of legend.  Just the story of how I closed on the hottest wife in Christendom with no more than my pedestrian looks and job prospects – by itself – could be a bestseller!  Not to mention the tales of my exploits in house renovation, Wonder-Dog ownership, epic-daughter-siring and multiple almost-successful campaigns for People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” competitions.

Heck, just gathering my Cautious Optimism columns into a series of leather-bound volumes would make more of a contribution to human progress than all of Obama’s banal, mendacious speeches, put onto DVDs and given to the Queen of England in the worst example of diplomatic gift-giving protocol since the Greeks gave the Trojans that stupid horse.     

And yet I haven’t written even a SINGLE memoir! 

Anyway, it’s not surprising to see that at this stage in life, Obama has still learned nothing about the world outside himself.  His creepy memoir, with its race-baiting America hating and ignorant smugness gives yet more proof – as if any were needed – of what a small-minded, petty little man he is.  And how unfair it is that Trump’s outward bluster and disdain for his opposition got him branded as an uncivil, barbaric Orange Hitler, while Obama’s smoothly glib manner gave a paper-thin sheen of class to the seething anger and contemptuous pettiness that has always had a prominent place in his character and thinking. 

So Obama continues to be terrible, and Biden continues to melt like the Wicked Hillary of the West when hit with a bucket of agua.  But how are the down-ballot Dems behaving?

Hold onto your hat: like utter morons!

Consider the case of many high-profile Democrats’ reaction to last week’s righteous killing of evil scientist and father of Iran’s nuclear program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.  (As in, “that assassination team really Fakhriz’ed him up!”) 

Any reasonably well-informed American knows that the Obama-Iran nuclear deal was a third-degree cluster-friend.  It involved giving the jihadi freaks running that malign theocracy billions of dollars and free reign to pretend that they’d delayed their nuclear development, while actually going full-speed ahead with their nuclear efforts to achieve their dream of wiping out the state of Israel.

So when the Israelis conduct this amazing raid right out of a Tom Clancy novel, and give evil Mohsen F his “Mohsend-off“ (boom!), the only acceptable reaction from an American politician would be to open a bottle of brown liquid and launch into a raucous celebration to a medley of, “The Ride of the Valkyries,”  the 1812 Overture, and “Hava Nagila.”

But how did the Democrat brain trust react?  Always-wrong Ben Rhodes, up-talking jihad-enthusiast Ilhan Omar, and Chris Murphy (for whom Murphy’s Law was named, I’m guessing) all criticized… wait for it… Israel! 

And John “Worst-CIA-Director-Ever” Brennan – still not emotionally recovered from Trump’s excellent droning – “so beautiful!  Totally justifiable strike!” – of Iranian terror leader Qasim Soleimani – snarled that, “This was a criminal act and highly reckless.  It risks lethal retaliation and a new round of regional conflict.” 

Think about that!  After decades of being threatened with annihilation by a violent jihadi neighbor, Israel pulls off an incredible, targeted strike against a strategic nuclear mastermind, and our Democrats are outraged at Israel.

Ugh.   These people don’t deserve to be in charge of a highway clean-up program or a lemonade stand, let alone US foreign policy!    

Okay, so maybe this column was a little more righteous anger than Righteous Brothers.

But we still live in America, and Christmas is coming, and my next column is going to be a lot more upbeat.  In the meantime…

Avenatti/Soleimani… um, Fakhrizadeh… make that Ilhan Omar 2024!

Random pre-Thanksgiving Thoughts (posted 11/23/20)

Today I answer the eternal question: how do you write a column about current events after you’ve spent about 10 days assiduously avoiding any events that could be considered current? 

First, start with the strength of 10 men, because your heart is pure.  Which I happen to have.  So, check.

Next, add in a dusting of iron willpower and discipline.  Which I sort of have.

Thus, I’ve tried to contain most of my net browsing lately to watching videos of happy and non-political things.  Like couples making birth announcements or twins announcements to their families.  And faithful dogs welcoming their masters back from long military deployments.  And people giving obscenely large tips to servers at restaurants, and adult kids surprising their parents by paying off their mortgages, or giving an aged dad his dream car.

All of those are good for making you appreciate life.  Also drinking a little scotch or bourbon – neat, because I’m not a savage — watching some football, eating a good meal, and walking a wonder dog.  Though not necessarily in that order. 

But on reflection, there’s not really a bad order for those.  So go nuts.

Finally, realize that you can never be completely unplugged from current events, because sometimes a tv can blare some unwanted news as you are passing through a room, and before you can shoulder-roll into the next room, scaring the cats, even as you stick the landing.  

Or your computer can betray you, and on your way to looking up the score for the Ravens-Patriots game or checking the weather forecast, a pop-up can assault your senses with, “AOC said Something Stupid Again,” or “Pelosi Won’t Give up the Speaker’s Gavel until the Dems Pry it from her Cold, Mummified Hands,” or “Biden Tries to Leave Transition Meeting, Gets Stuck in a Corner, Janitor Finds him when he’s turning out the lights.”

And you find yourself right back in “2020: The Year of Endless Groin Kicks.” 

I still need a little more distance from this election to have any super-cogent thoughts about it.  But I do have a few semi-philosophical musings, for what they are worth.

First, it’s a cliché because it’s true: this too shall pass.  If (as seems nauseatingly but almost certainly the case) Biden does take office in January, he immediately becomes the lamest of ducks.  He doesn’t seem a day over 120, with the mental sharpness of Howard Hughes when he was in his “walk around the penthouse wearing tissue boxes for shoes” phase.  When he steps down – my money is on “keels over” – Comma-La steps in.

In terms of political skills, she’s a human toothache, and will not wear well.  And the fratricidal warfare between the ultra-left and the far-left power bases will likely produce the highest deservedly-injured-bad-guy-body-count on both sides since the Iran-Iraq war.  As long as Cocaine Mitch still has the Senate – please God, in the name of all that is good and holy! – he can sit back in turtle-y sanguinity and watch the impotent rage on the other side, and wait for the mid-terms.

Second, we’re likely to get a vaccine shortly, and that should finally end this enervating twilight that we’ve been suffering through in our public life.  We should do our best to be sure that Trump gets credit for enabling this amazing accomplishment, even as the MSM does their best to pretend it was brought to us by socialized medicine.  I first thought of insisting on calling it “the Trump Vaccine,” but then Andrew Klavan quoted one of his listeners with “MAGA-cine,” which sounds pretty cool.  

So spread the word: the Flu Manchu has been whipped by the MAGA-cine.

Third, I’m heartened by the number of Americans who are resilient, and who resist the creeping leftism in their communities in ways various and sundry.  I like it when Californians tell their governor that he can stuff his Thanksgiving restrictions, and when Americans all over the country respond to leftist gun-grabbers’ disdain and hatred by buying guns, and then defending themselves by shooting Biden voters who break into their houses.

And I love it when hard-working taxpayers get fed up and move out of kleptocratic blue states, leaving behind an increasingly immiserated stew of the base that far-left national Dems have been cultivating: the untreated mentally ill, violent felons, racial arsonists, malevolent trust-fund Antifa body-piercers, professionally useless grievance-studies graduates, and the terminally work-averse.    

Trendsetting great-escapers include the entire crew at the Daily Wire (leaving CA for TN and FL), Joe Rogan (leaving CA for TX), and CO (leaving IL for FL).  One of my favorite recent examples was described by Jerry Powlas in the American Thinker; he is leaving Minneapolis after almost 50 years.  His closing lines are a gem of clean, clear writing: “We are moving out of the state to a town so small that you have probably never heard of it.  We are moving to a state where the governor respects the Constitution and the Bill of Rights within it.” 

“No, I’m not flaunting this.  There is no challenge in my words.  But where we are going, nobody wears masks.  And everybody has guns.”

Amen, Jerry Powlas!

Fourth, the MSM has so exposed and beclowned themselves that I think it’s going to be difficult to put that bad-faith genie back in the bottle.  Their credibility ratings are lower than they’ve ever been – right down there with pollsters, climate change predictors, and Harvey Weinstein.  And I feel like I should apologize to Harvey for sticking him in with that group. 

They looked like snarling, partisan Quislings in the run-up to the election, and when their sleazy Orwellian mendacity resulted in an undeserved victory, they’ve spent the aftermath looking like a hundred Toobins caught mid-Zoom-meeting. 

Neither of which are good looks, to say the least.

Speaking of polling, the geniuses at the Cook Political Report (by no means the worst of the bad lot of pollsters) had rated 36 house seats as either “solid Democrat,” “likely Democrat,” or “lean Democrat.”  The GOP took 7 of those.  Even better, guess how many of the 27 house seats the Cook Report rated as “toss-ups” were won by Republicans?

Try all 27!    How’s that for a Princess Bride moment?  “You keep saying ‘toss-up,’ but I do not think you know that it means.”

If there were any justice in the world, in three months the folks at the Cook Report would all be short-order cooks in the same tavern where AOC would be screwing up drink orders.

I’m encouraged that outlets like the Daily Wire and the Blaze and Parler are stepping up to try to fill the gap left by the betrayal of free speech and thought by our media giants.  And I’m more grateful than ever for little oases of clear thinking, good conversation and good cheer like the one we’ve all found here at Cautious Optimism.  So raise a glass to CO and to each other, and toast to better times that are already on the way!

And what better way to end a scattered, semi-coherent column like this one, than with a stupid joke that I find funny anyway:

A guy goes to a zoo, only to find that the place is nearly empty.

The only animal he eventually finds is a small dog.

And he suddenly realizes that it’s a shih-tzu.

Avenatti (he’ll be tanned and rested!)/Divisive, Far-Left Loon-to-be-named-Later, 2024!