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Category: Politics

Tic Talk
The presidential campaign is flowing freely now. All the deadwood of failed candidates has been carried away by the current. Only Bernie remains, but he’s hung up on a snag and can’t pull free. The political theater plays on, but the plot is set, and things will likely continue this way on through to November when this river will finally empty into the great inland sea of politics-as-usual.

There will be new events, but they will mostly be reoccurrences of old ones in a slightly different form. Polls will rise and sink. Vice Presidential picks will be floated, only to disappear beneath the waves. Surrogates will paddle gamely along in their support craft, and the presumptive nominees will do their best to navigate the treacherous rapids of unfavorability.

There will be a few surprises, to be sure, but the campaign from here on out promises to be mostly predictable. Consequential, but boring. For that reason, I have decided to focus on bits of flotsam in the stream that have no bearing on the outcome and no importance in either the grand or the infinitesimally small scheme of things.

This week, the topic is gestural tics, one from each candidate. Both examples are meant to communicate positivity, but I find myself obsessing over them, and not in a good way.

First, we have the Hillary bobblehead nod. It was on display again yesterday during her joint appearance with Elizabeth Warren. As Warren gleefully tore into Trump, there was Hillary off to the side, her lips curled in a serene smile — and her head bobbing rhythmically. It’s a nod of agreement, but there is something about that slow, persistent rhythm that concerns me, something eerily robotic.

With Trump, it’s his oddly inappropriate thumbs up. Instead of using the standard, Facebook-style gesture with the thumb fully extended above the fist, he holds his thumb close to the fingers, with only the last phalanx upturned. I can’t help but feel that he is qualifying his enthusiasm in some way. Worse yet, he has a tendency to point the thumb not up, but directly at his audience. It seems less like a friendly gesture than a threat to maim — or perhaps to hook an unsuspecting fish.

Now, I am not saying that Hillary Clinton is a political Roomba with a glitch in her programming. And I don’t think that Donald Trump wants to gouge out your eye (unless there’s a buck in it). I am not even charging them with insincerity in their gestures of affirmation. Insincerity is, after all, a given in politics.

No, I’m writing this as a thank you to the candidates. If I didn’t have their funny little mannerisms (and their physical appearance in general) to make fun of, I’d be stuck here on the riverbank with only my morbid fascination with the collapse of western civilization to keep me amused. I’m sure they’ll forgive a little gentle mocking if it will hold off the existential despair.
NRA or No?
Are you a member of the National Rifle Association?

By the way you just tensed up there, I’m guessing that you are. But please don’t worry, this is not personal attack. I just want to ask you a couple of questions.

I’ve seen numbers showing that 75% of the NRA’s membership support universal background checks for all gun purchases, even at gun shows and those made through the internet. Are you part of that majority? Despite your interest in firearms and your deep respect for the Second Amendment, do you understand the need for a free society to keep guns — especially weapons of war — away from people with a predilection for murder? You know – bad guys and crazy people?

The leadership of the NRA does not. They spend millions of dollars, including yours, to fight the expansion of simple background checks.

Which brings me to my last question: Why are you still a member?
We're All in This, but Not Necessarily Together
Banning Muslims from entering our country is an intriguing idea, but I am forced to reject it. I say this not because such be a response would seem ignorant and panicky, but because it’s not ignorant and panicky enough.

For one thing, why stop with Muslims? I know next to nothing about Zoroastrianism, for instance, but what better reason do we need to ban its followers? As far as we know, they could be up to anything. Same goes for Babis, Bhaktis, and Bahais. Not to mention Boris, Behmenists, Badimos, and Bushongos. And then there are the Bathousists, Bimoists, Bezhuists, and Baltic polytheists. And that’s only one letter of the alphabet!

No, it’s just too risky, especially when you consider that every one of these religions must have at least one follower who has bad chemicals squirting through his brain and who might do something awful using his religion as a justification. The world is positively teeming with homicidal nutjobs, and we have to protect ourselves somehow.

The ban will also have to include Christians, I’m afraid, as well as atheists and agnostics. Bottom line, if they’re foreigners, they’re potential terrorists. Sure, we could build a wall, but wouldn’t an impenetrable dome would make more sense?

And while we’re at it, we need to get rid of a lot of the people who are already here, even if they’re full-fledged citizens. Funny accents are a tip-off, as are unpronounceable names. Anybody who looks kind of squirrelly should go, as should people wearing inappropriate expressions on their faces. No one can be trusted.

I suppose we could take the position that, in a democracy, we shouldn’t give into the temptation to act in the same way that a tyrant would. We could accept the fact that our responses to threats must come within the rules we have set for ourselves. We could recognize that simple answers are not available to us if we want to keep this system. We could admit that it takes hard work and careful thought to settle on a righteous course of action in a free society.

But screw that. Why not just go with ignorant and panicky?
Okay, I’ll admit it. I was hoping for 1236 — hoping that, on the first ballot in Cleveland, Donald Trump would end up one vote short of the number needed for nomination. It now looks like that won’t happen.

I wanted the full backstabbing, frontstabbing, smoke-filled circus, and 1236 would have gotten us there. I was willing to spend psychic energy by actively rooting for that outcome. If it had happened, I know that my karma would have been entangled in the ghastly spectacle, and I no doubt would have paid a steep price for it in my next incarnation.

But I would have been content to spend a full lifetime as a tapeworm inside the colon of Newt Gingrich — as long as I could witness such an event. But it is not to be. Trump is the presumptive nominee.

May the Cosmic Oneness have mercy on us all.
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No "new normal" for me, this shit ain't normal.
~ MS, Truckee