The History of the Royal Gardens

Self is reading about all the wonderful improvements made to London’s public parks by Charles II, James II and William and Mary.

  • “Each royal generation tried to outdo the one before.” — England’s Magnificent Gardens, p. 26

Reading that sentence, self can’t help being reminded of the “improvements” inflicted by Melania on Jackie Kennedy’s beloved Rose Garden. It would seem she was driven, not by a wish to outdo her predecessors, but by a wish for VENDETTA!

Back to England’s Magnificent Gardens: The improvements made by the various monarchs did not come from “their own money. That came from the government of the day and, ultimately, from all the nation’s taxpayers.”

Darn it! WE the people probably supplied the funds for Melania’s hack job — with our tax dollars!? Didn’t Omarosa say in her book that Melania was not a victim, she was always in control? She knew how to get her point across. In fact, this Master of the Passive Aggressive didn’t just use gardens to make a statement, she also used fashion! Who can forget the green military style jacket (vaguely reminiscent of Fidel Castro’s garb) she wore to almost everything during The Former Guy’s last year in office? Or what about the blood-red Christmas trees that looked more like they belonged in Handmaid’s Tale or Halloween Kills?

Stephanie Grisham in her book corroborates Omarosa: yes, Stephanie says, the First Lady was very very passive aggressive. And SHE TOOK IT OUT ON CHRISTMAS. (Melania was probably thinking, I’m miserable as First Lady. I’m going to do the White House Christmas decorations in RED, like the inside of a bordello! Because I don’t like Christmas! Christmas is off the table! Christmas is nuts! I’m going to destroy Christmas!)

Self wonders where Melania learned how to be the Queen of Passive Aggressive. Was it something she picked up in Slovakia? Or later, when she was accompanying the Donald on his private jets? Or was it something she was born with?

When TFG had to entertain, she left him very much to his own devices, which is why he had to improvise with take-out from McDonald’s. Maybe they fought earlier, and this was her revenge.

Melania for the win!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Salon Magazine Interview with Harvard Prof Steven Levitsky

Dean Obeidallah conducted this interview for Salon (published 13 October 2021)

We did have elections as an escape hatch, and we used them. And it’s a damn good thing we did. We would be much, much worse off had Trump managed to retain the presidency and stay in power for four years. The fact that we sent him to Mar-a-Lago is very important, and shouldn’t be understated. Now that said, I don’t predict things accurately very well. One thing I did predict, I knew would happen.

I knew that Donald Trump would not accept the results of the election. What I did not anticipate is that the vast bulk of the Republican Party would go along with it. And of course, I didn’t anticipate anything remotely like Jan. 6. So yes, things have gotten much worse, because not only has the Big Lie taken hold among the vast bulk of the Republican Party, to the point where you can’t be a member of the Republican Party in good standing if you don’t adhere to the Big Lie.

And they’re acting upon that, right? They are now taking steps in various important states — Texas, Arizona, Georgia — to make it easier to overturn an election. So I think there’s a good chance that the Republican Party, not just Donald Trump but the Republican Party, tries to overturn the results of the 2024 election. And that is, again, a worse place than we were a few years ago. But we would be even worse off had Trump remained in power.

You can read the full interview here.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: The Economist, 3 July 2021

“Claiming to be winning while actually losing . . . Caught between their primary voters and loyalty to the constitution, most have concluded that, unless the Capitol is under siege, the best course of action is simply to stay silent.”

— Leaders, The Economist, 3 July 2021

The Dakota Pipeline and the Standing Rock Sioux

In 2016, protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline attracted worldwide attention. The oil pipeline was designed to run from North to South Dakota, across Iowa, and into Illinois. The Standing Rock Sioux objected to the pipeline’s path on the grounds that it violated treaty rights and threatened the tribe’s water supply, grave sites and sacred land. Thousands camped out at Standing Rock to try and stop the project . . . In December 2016, the Obama administration blocked construction of the pipeline’s most contested section.

A month later, newly inaugurated president Donald Trump reversed the decision. By June 2017, oil was flowing. In the tumultuous first year of the Trump administration, the media moved on. In September 2017, Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman David Archambault II, a hero while the spotlight was trained on the controversy, was voted out of office.

— Chapter 10, Oak Flat: the Fight for Sacred Land in the American West

This is a fascinating book, as self keeps saying. She hopes she can finish it tonight and return it to the library tomorrow, because it’s way overdue and someone’s put a hold on it.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

More About Daddy, the Trump Supporter

Hugely enjoying Ayad Akhtar, let her tell ya. Self, too, is trying to understand the mystique of The Former Guy.

Here, Akhtar continues to try to de-construct his father’s support for DJT:

I think Father was looking for an image of just how much more his American self could contain than the Pakistani one he’d left behind. I think he wanted to know what the limits were. In America, you could have anything, right? Even the presidency? If an idiot like Trump could get hold of it, couldn’t you? Even if you didn’t want it? After all, the idiot apparently didn’t want it, either. He just wanted to know he could have it. Or maybe the emphasis there needs to shift: he wanted to know he could have it.

— p. 23, Homeland Elegies

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

2016 Redux

Homeland Elegies brings self back to that time of innocence, pre-Former Guy, when we thought all he was good for was palaver.

Father: He’s not going to win . . . You’re smart enough to know that. He doesn’t even want to win. He’s trying to send a message.

Ayad Akhtar: I thought you said he was trying to start a channel.

Father: Same thing.

AA: He’s running for an election he doesn’t want to win so he can start a channel to send a message?

Father: The system is broken . . . I’m saying he won’t win, so you should calm down.

— pp. 18 – 19, Homeland Elegies

And then he did win.

Self still remembers how, on the evening of Election Day, she took Caltrain from Palo Alto to the City, and the packed train car was full of anxious buzz buzz buzz. She finally asked the young woman next to her what was going on.

The young woman said: “Trump’s winning. I’m scared.” The woman held up her cell. Polls on the East Coast had just closed, and the numbers were shocking.

The next morning, when self turned on her cell, the first message was: Your representation has changed. Then, a long long list of newly elected candidates ending with: The President of the United States: DT!

That night, the smell of pot was stronger than usual from the apartment above. Self remembers there were people hanging out on the fire escape, and she could distinctly hear their conversation: “Can you believe he WON? What’s going to happen NOW?”

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Sentence of the Day? No, Sentence(s) of the Day!

Puerile pleasures, that’s what Father was learning again — we all were — and Trump was our tutor. I really can’t imagine that my father, this man I know and love, whom I still admire in so many ways, I can’t imagine he didn’t sense something was amiss. But somehow, he just kept looking the other way, seeking some worthwhile reason for the widespread abasement.

pp. 16 – 17, Homeland Elegies

If you want to laugh, dear blog readers, especially after seeing hashtag JoeIsaPedo trending, then Homeland Elegies is the book for you!

When Daddy Is a Trump Supporter: A List

A breakfast place in Waukesha where we were the only nonwhites enjoying brunch for the weekend after Trump entered the race with those infamous remarks about Mexican immigrants being rapists and murders. “I don’t know what you’re so worked up about. He’s a showman. He’s drawing attention. He doesn’t really mean it.”

The mental contortions he performed to make sense of Trump’s nonsense, which made me wonder if he was going senile. “Everything he says about the media is right. It is rigged. Rigged to make money.”

For a thoughtful man — at least one who’d evidenced instances of thoughtfulness with reassuring frequency over the years — the man seemed to be turning into an imbecile, his hodgepodge views like mental flatulence, one fetid odor after another.

Homeland Elegies, by Ayad Akhtar, p. 16

Why did no one prepare self for the delight.

And to think she was reading such depressing books before! Homeland Elegies is exactly the mind-cleanse self needed, especially after the garbage of 35 GOP Senators blocking a bill that would have investigated why they were threatened by a mob on Jan. 6. (Keep threatening us, mob! We like you, we really, really like you!)

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

First Ayad Akhtar: HOMELAND ELEGIES

Reading a book is something like going on a blind date: you don’t know if it’ll be a hit or a miss. It’s not you, I promise. You begin with hope.

Abundance, for some reason, did not work out.

Self is starting Homeland Elegies, which opens with a timeline which gives much prominence to various “encounters with Trump” and includes “diagnosed with syphilis” (2015).

Opening sentence:

  • My father first met Donald Trump in the early 90s, when they were both in their midforties — my father the elder by a year — and as each was coming out from under virtual financial ruin.

Well, you certainly got self’s attention, Mr. Akhbar.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

The Birth of the Birther Conspiracy

44 remembers the exact date.

It was Feb. 10, 2011, during Trump’s speech at the CPAC convention that year.

p. 675, Trump at CPAC:

  • “our current President came out of nowhere . . . The people that went to school with him, they never saw him, they don’t know who it is. It’s crazy.”

It’s not like 44 goes around dropping exact dates of when this or that person said something negative about him. And the book ends at 705 pages. Yes, Obama did indeed serve up this nugget, a mere 30 pages from the end.

You don’t think 44 has a score to settle? Self thinks he has a score to settle.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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