MAN BITES DOG
That’s the classic example of what constitutes news. As compared to what is not news: dog bites man.
Republicans have been howling for five and a half years about the unrelenting “negative” media coverage of their fair-haired boy. (How dare you use his own words to make him look bad!?) But he has been unrelenting in biting so many dogs no man ever bit before, and that’s news.
All the while being the first President since William Mckinley, 125 years ago, without a dog. But McKinley did have critter friends: Angora kittens, roosters, and a yellow-headed Mexican parrot who could whistle “Yankee Doodle.” When Trump was asked, prior to taking up residence in the White House, if he would get a dog, he said he “did not have time” to keep a dog.
He should have gotten one and named it “Golf.” Bases covered. “The President spent time with golf today.”
MCKINLEY’S SUCCESSOR TEDDY ROOSEVELT
Made up for it. He was the White House pet champion, though Calvin Coolidge was pretty close and JFK was right up there.
Teddy had: 10 dogs including a St. Bernard, a retriever, Manchu the Pekingese, several terriers and a few mongrels; two cats, one named after a Mark Twain character; five guinea pigs named for two admirals, a doctor, a priest and a bishop; a garter snake his daughter named after her aunt; Bill the Lizard (probably a horned toad), for the Alice in Wonderland character; a Hyacinth macaw named Yale; a hen named Spreckle, likely for the sugar baron; Maude the Pig; Peter Rabbit; a laughing hyena, a gift from the Emperor of Ethiopia; a Shetland pony and another pony; a barn owl; a one-legged rooster named Fierce; Josiah the Badger; Jonathan the Piebald Rat; and Jonathan Edwards, a small black bear named after the American religious leader (an ancestor of Mrs. Roosevelt), eventually sent to the Bronx Zoo.
Who knew, with the current lack of even one First Pet, that the White House has sometimes hosted a menagerie?
Is this significant? Perhaps, as a measure of empathy, and humanity.
James K. Polk was the only other President to have no pets at all. But he hid his continuing purchase of slaves for his Mississippi plantation during his four years in the White House by using anonymous third parties. He increased his “holdings” by 19, at least 13 of them children, one boy only 10.
I hope I’m not making the case that there may have been a worse President than Trump. (Do you think he would jump at the chance to “own” slaves? He has a lifelong record of not paying people who work for him.)
Many will draw their own harsh conclusions just about a President who does not have a dog.
A WORLD TURNED INSIDE OUT
Though his minions echo his whining about a lying mainstream media, the truth is, many of the messes we must now try to dig our way out of can partly be laid at the feet of legitimate, credible media that went too easy on Trump, giving him a quick news cycle pass on countless debacles for which any other President of either party would have been crucified and impeached. (But the Donald doormat-GOP holds the final, reprehensible responsibility.)
Remember that disgusting opening campaign salvo, the anti-immigrant speech at the bottom of the escalator? “They’re bringing drugs … crime. They’re rapists…” Maybe most reporters thought it was so outrageous and unacceptable that it would fail on its own. But it didn’t, and the media was far too slow to call a fig a fig (Aristophanes).
So for five and a half years now, with only recent slow realization and change, most of the media has been reporting about every new dog Trump bites. But we have to remember, and it is so hard sometimes — that may be news, but it’s not the norm, and it’s not the reality.
HAVE FACTS BECOME FICTION?
No. But you might think so, from what you read and hear. That hospital worker who spoiled the vaccine doses did so because he was convinced it alters our DNA. Maskless demonstrators invade a grocery store and violently confront shoppers and workers because the virus is a hoax. Some yahoo shows up at a DC pizza restaurant firing an assault rifle, because he “learned” on the Internet that Hillary was running a child pornography ring out of the basement. And Donald Trump won the election.
I believe it is the biggest problem we now face. The biggest. The misinformation. The numbers of people who can’t tell fact from fiction. How do we function in a world like that? How do we make a better world? I wish I knew. But we will figure it out.
We have to remind ourselves that while far too many refused to wear masks and social distance for completely cockamamie reasons, millions more did, to protect their neighbor and themselves. Our politicians fiddle while America goes hungry, but thousands of volunteers across the nation keep food banks going.
Front line hospital workers have suffered unbelievably for nearly a year now, risking their lives, their families’ lives, and their own sanity as they try to comfort strangers who are dying endlessly, and needlessly, and yet they get up each morning to the same terrible routine. Don’t forget millions of postal workers, supermarket staff, police and fire, teachers and so many more. Millions of white folks continue to demand racial equality, alongside their fellow Americans of color. And many are persisting to end gun violence.
THAT’S THE REALITY
That’s the news. That’s America. The quiet heroism that goes mostly unreported. It may seem like we are surrounded by crazies, but the far greater numbers are the decent, generous, giving, sacrificing, everyday Americans.
We are the majority. And just like we finally emerged in Santa Monica to start to put an end to corrupt government, we can do the same for our nation. And our planet. We must.
KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR SCHOOL BOARD
They have been secretive about how they are spending billions of our tax dollars on their own ill-conceived plans for campuses and curriculum, and people are just now waking up to it.
By next year, if we don’t stop them, you 50,000 living Samohi alumni won’t even recognize the school you went to. Their plans, being pushed rapidly forward without taking into account real public input, are to level Prospect Hill and the historic, WPA-designed History, Art, English, Business and Business Annex Buildings there. Preserving and repurposing them would actually cost less than demolition and rebuilding. We must speak out and take action before it’s too late.
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 35 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at firstname.lastname@example.org