BY VERN TURNER
One of my most faithful readers asked me to write something funny. She said she was tired of being depressed and my political musings were adding to her sense of helplessness and hopelessness. Needless to say, this reader is a progressive thinker, a Democrat and a very thoughtful, religious, caring and generous person. Almost all of us who fit into that category of “progressive” are like this fine woman. Heck, she even bought my books, so I am obliged to listen to her requests.
Now … the hard part. It’s hard to be funny when you are kicking and screaming. I wonder what Andy Rooney or Molly Ivins would be saying today. Would they have us rolling in the aisles, or weeping into our beer?
The late George Carlin would probably be saying something snappy along the lines of “ I told you a——s that this would happen. That’s why I don’t vote. I don’t want any responsibility for the outcome.” There have been many political humorists from Will Rogers to Bennet Cerf to Jon Stewart to Bill Maher. They were and are funny when rational people populate our political scene. Those politicians may have done stupid things, but hey, it was just politics. This time, it’s different, very, very different.
There has to be humor somewhere in the prospect of the orange president-elect proposing [as of this writing] Sarah Palin to head up the Veterans Administration. Well, that should solve the waiting times and overcrowding. Any sane and rational veteran will exit the VA as fast as he or she can get out of their clutches. I’m sure if she is chosen formally and accepts, the stand-up comics around the world will be overjoyed at the new material that just landed in their laps.
There’s more that isn’t so absurd. It’s actually downright frightening on many levels. First, there is the Steve Bannon appointment as chief strategist. Have you looked at this guy? He reminds me of the guys who stagger out of beer joints on Wednesday nights. From his ravings on Breitbart, it would seem likely that he did indeed do that. Funny people make it sound like Bannon was just part of the long con, designed to get the masses to vote against their own best interests while voting for their bigotry, hatred and xenophobia. Hilarious. But I digress … What else is there to do with this collection of gnomes?
To expand the bunch of cronies and swamp dwellers, allow me to list Steven Mnuchin [no, it’s not a misspelling] as Treasury secretary. Then it was Wilbur Ross for Commerce secretary. Gosh, I guess all that hedge-fund-managers-as crooks rhetoric from the comb-over mouth was just a joke, too. They will all be there at the next Goldman-Sachs alumni party.
What’s especially chilling to us old folks is the glassy-eyed stare of Dr. Tom Price, the newly appointed secretary of Health and Human Services. He has recently pledged, along with his Ayn Rand soulmate, Paul Ryan, that Medicare and Medicaid will be replaced with a voucher plan. How this is beneficial to anyone besides the rich and the richest doctors escapes me. Moreover, Ryan is still talking about privatizing Social Security.
So, a privatized health care system [remember how funny that was before the ACA, aka ObamaCare?] and a privatized social safety network is going to be better than what we have today, serve more people better and create millions of new jobs. Now that’s funny. It’s funny, in a tragic way, that it’s already been tried and ended up being smothered in scandal and incompetence.
How will the Trump-ites not repeat the same failed system? Well, Trump could actually offer the secretary of Housing and Urban Development to Dr. Ben Carson, who thinks faith healers should supervise science. Yeah. He said it. A medical doctor who thinks that his particular interpretation of God is the great overseer of science. OK. My sides hurt from laughing at this.
OK, Elaine Chao, aka Mrs. Mitch McConnell, actually has some credentials for Transportation secretary. I guess the swamp never looked so inviting to Donald as when it’s populated with the usual suspects and denizens. You can’t make this stuff up. Already, the people who voted for Mr. Bigot, as a swamp drainer, are having second thoughts and their own WTF moments. There’s more …
The selection of Betsy DeVos is the most un-funny appointment so far. She is all voucher schools all the time. Did I mention that the DeVos family, the founders of the scandalous Amway network, are also part of the Koch Brothers’ archipelago? Yup. Can you spell oligarchy?
Betsy’s sole purpose in life while living in Michigan was to dismantle the public school system and replace it with charter schools and a voucher system that has taxpayer money paying for private schools. Where I grew up, that’s called a racket.
In my book, A Worm in the Apple: The Inside Story of Public Schools, I summarize this scam, and how none other than Diane Ravitch has shown how corrupt and incompetent these charter schools are, or at least not any better than the underfunded public schools they were designed to replace.
Ms. Ravitch was George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind ramrod until she saw what a fraud it was. Her work since she escaped the Bush White House has been dedicated to overturning this egregious law and doing the right thing for public education. Trump and DeVos are dedicated to doing the opposite. This makes me weep like Puccini’s clown.
Perhaps the least laughable part of this “transition” is the appointments of very scary military people like Marine Gen. James Mattis [ret.] for Defense secretary, and the outspoken ultra-hawk, Gen. Michael Flynn as National Security advisor. Mattis needs to have Congress give him special dispensation since he’s only been retired three years – like that will make a difference. These guys never met a guided missile they didn’t like.
With an ultra-thin-skinned, narcissistic, paranoid, xenophobic commander in chief, what could possibly go wrong?
Jeff Sessions as Attorney General gives all those people of color and non-European ancestry a real belly laugh at their prospects for the future. Remember all those laws that doled out fair and just practices in the public domain? If Sessions has his way, you’ll be able to visit them only in a museum somewhere.
All one has to do is look at how Alabama runs its state government to get an idea about how flawed this appointment truly is. Get ready for some real, down-home prejudice and double talk about human rights. My African-American, Hispanic and ethnic friends and I are already chuckling at the potential laugh opportunities here.
Finally, there is the unbelievably hilarious victory lap tour that Trump is now taking to those states that helped him “win” the election. “Hey. Have you heard the one about some guy who lost the popular vote by over 2.5 million votes and claimed he won in a landslide? Yeah. I know. Well, this fool is going to be our next president.”
This tour would be more accurately labeled as the everybody stroke my ego, because I just don’t get enough homage, or ring-kissing tour. For those of us who have traveled to England or know English people, you know that the “ring” people kiss isn’t necessarily on a finger. Look at the widely published photo of Trump and Romney having dinner together to get the gist of this scenario.
Now, I’m tired of laughing. It’s time to get to work preparing for the next show and the next carnival event coming from the transition team. These people are a real barrel of laughs.
– Vern Turner lives in Marble Falls, TX and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer and The Smoking Section. His latest book, Racing to the Brink: The End Game for Race and Capitalism, is available through Amazon.com.