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Something big is happening with women right now, and it gives me hope. The #MeToo phenomenon, which started in Hollywood among the beautiful and famous, has now spilled out into the wider world. Three female U.S. senators shared their stories of harassment with the media yesterday. A cohort of Miss Americas have posted accounts of their experiences. More importantly, there appears to be a new willingness among the rest of us to talk about these things — with each other and with the world at large.

I’m still not sure where I fit into this movement, if that’s what it is. I can only say that these stories of abuse and humiliation and the leveraging of fear have had an effect on me. They make me feel uncomfortable. I presume they make others feel uncomfortable too, and I am beginning to think that this a time when we need to feel that way until the problem is solved.

What is heartening about these revelations is the mutual awareness, solidarity, righteousness, and resolve exhibited by these women. That is such an admirable and positive collection of human traits. Their response has its roots in the same fundamental tradition that undergirds all free societies: equality for all of us. To me, this unity represents one of the most promising forces for good at work in our society today. It opens a door that maybe, just maybe, might lead to a more enlightened society — something that this shrinking, increasingly afflicted planet so sorely needs.

That’s a lot of expectation to load on the back of a cause that’s just barely cleared the runway, but I can’t help myself. Tina Brown, a past editor of the New Yorker and other high-end publications, presented a compelling analysis of the phenomenon during an interview on Charlie Rose. She traced its genesis back through the Weinstein charges, to the worldwide Women’s March, and finally to the Access Hollywood tape. Brown thought that that incident, especially since it did not result in stopping Trump from being elected, was the proximate cause of the persistent outrage we are witnessing now. It goes back further than that, of course, including to the episodes around Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby, and Bill Clinton. By her reckoning, though, the “pussy-grab” video was the event that activated so many women to rise up and fight back together. But is this culmination of the history of the Women’s rights push strong enough to pull the rest of us along with it?

One reason that I am so hopeful about that possibility is that the women’s movement is the most purely egalitarian cause I can think of. I will dare to say that feminism itself is not just about equality for women, but for all of us. If anything can lift us up and transform us into a truly enlightened society, this is it.

So yes, I’d like to help, but what can a man do? We are certainly getting a clear picture now, for those who didn’t know already, of what we are not supposed to do. Ideally, men should already be there, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded. But what else? Finn Wolfhard, the 14-year-old lead of Netflix’ Stranger Things, may have given grown men a clue by firing his agent. The man is alleged to have committed sexual assault against two young men, so Wolfhard cut him loose. The point I take here is that I need to be willing to act, just as Wolfhard did. If it is in my power, I need to stop the jerks, or at least try. That is what so many of the men (and yes, women) of Hollywood failed to do when they had the chance. Shame on them, shame on us.

It is important to recognize that whatever we set ourselves to do, it will not be easy to reverse a culture that his existed since history began. Dominance, control, abuse, and cruelty toward women has been going on a long time. Subjugation of human beings in general, no matter what their gender, has been with us from the beginning, and it will take a whole lot of solidarity and resolve to put even a small dent in that kind of tradition.

But that shouldn’t stop any of us. Maybe my hope and optimism are misplaced, but if humans are destined to continue as a viable species, we’ll need a more holistic concept of what it means to be human. Focussing on gender or ethnicity or any other minor differences we might use to divide ourselves will only undermine our humanity. Every person is different, but so what? We are all parts of the whole. Time to get it together, people, and take a cue from the women. MeToo? UsToo!
Like a Rug
How do we know
When the President’s lying?
Always, it seems
And without even trying
President Moron
Yes, moron. I’m not saying that, mind you. I’m merely quoting Rex Tillerson, our current Secretary of State. Just to be clear, I am reporting that Donald Trump is a moron…according to the Secretary.

By some accounts, Rex even added the modifier “fucking.” That would get us to “Donald Trump is a fucking moron.” To many of us, this is not news. I just wanted to be absolutely sure that everyone knows the President is a “fucking moron” based on the opinion of someone who works closely with him.

“Moron” is a word that can get in the way of sober discourse. Name-calling doesn’t really help us find the common ground and mutual understanding we need to solve problems. In fact, it can often lead in the opposite direction. It is usually the last resort of someone for whom common sense and rationality are no longer working. Their frustration and anger spills out into the open. “Donald Trump is a fucking moron” would seem to be an example of just such a loss of control. It is certainly a chancy thing to say out loud about your boss.

Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee made a series of unusual proclamations of his own last week. First, he warned that our country was on the brink of chaos. Later, he said that the White House was being run “like an adult daycare center.” Though he did not say so directly, he seemed to be suggesting that the President is a spoiled-rotten toddler. That’s not quite the same thing as a “fucking moron,” but the two types do share some personality traits. Corker also said that the President is leading the United States “on a path to World War III.”

Drump is not Corker’s boss, but he is the head of the Republican Party. You don’t often hear a sitting President insulted by a respected member of his own party, especially from within the establishment wing of the G.O.P. Like the Tillerson diss, this one was high profile and very direct.

Recently, I’ve been asking people for a prediction: can you give me the exact date when the President will leave the White House, never to return? I’ve gotten a wide array of answers, ranging from this December to the end of his current term. For the record, my personal pick is February 22, 2018.

It’s hard not to let your hopes cloud your judgment here, isn’t it? I will say that the first and most popular answer I receive is “immediately.” I’ll admit I haven’t talked to too many Trump voters about this, but I’ll bet that at least a few of them are hoping for an early exit as well. Even if we screen out our personal pipe dreams, however, it’s not too hard to see that Drump’s political life expectancy is shrinking.

The comments of Tillerson and Corker are so stark, so unprecedented, that I am tempted to see them as bellwethers of a larger trend. Is it possible that more Republicans will find the nerve to challenge their leader? It would definitely take guts. After all, his base is their base, and if they stand up now they might take the fall later. I don’t know. Drump’s undoing has been projected so many times already, and all of those projections have been wrong.

Still, I get this feeling that things are moving. I know, I know…it’s probably just wishful thinking. But if the Rs in Congress finish the year with no legislation to show for it, then something will have to give. They don’t like President Moron any more than we do, and he is certainly doing everything he can to make a mutiny easier.

I’m sticking with February 22.
I’ve got to hand it to Kim Jong Un. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t hand anything to the North Korean leader. That’s too much crazy for me to get close to. But he should be credited for a particularly good zinger he got off as part of his pissing match with the Drumpster.

Like most people, I had to run to the dictionary to look up “dotard.” That’s pronounced DOUGH-turd. A dotard is a “weak-minded old person.”

As a weak-minded old person, I should probably take offense at this insult, but I do not. It was too nicely done. For one thing, it presented a mystery, which is always fun. I liked being forced to crack open Webster’s to solve it. More importantly, the term is devastatingly accurate. Drump, to my eye, is in the middle of a rapid mental decline.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Last May, there was a spate of professional opinion noting a dramatic decay in his vocabulary and command of syntax. Although those experts didn’t exactly say that his brain was turning to mush, I am a pundit and I can say anything. He’s losing it. Most of what he says is patently untrue, and the rest is gibberish. In fact, I see a man a step or two away from outright vegetable status. He’s a head of cabbage, almost, or a decomposing pumpkin who can still string a few words together.

Now, it should be noted that ordinary aging can bring with it a certain degree of decrepitude, both of mind and body. Words do not come to the lips in time to finish a sentence. Forgetfulness bedevils us at every turn. Mustard is harder to cut. None of us, it is clear, is getting any younger. There are, however, some strategies that can help. Taking on unfamiliar challenges, for example, can keep us sharp well into our 90s, or even beyond.

Drump is dealing with lots of problems he’s never dealt with before. That should be a hopeful sign. Such new situations require agile thinking and the need to stretch ones preconceptions — all of which is said to be helpful in fighting off brain rot. The problem is, he doesn’t seem to be very interested in unfamiliar thinking patterns. He’s so focussed on himself that nothing else can get through.

In fact, narcissism may be at the root of his rot. Raw animal cunning — coupled with an utter lack of compassion — is adequate when making a lot of money in real estate or conducting large scale frauds like Trump University. But that kind of “thinking” isn’t much help to your brain health. Drump is too self-absorbed to take part in multi-leveled thought processes or to entertain nuance. Furthermore, he doesn’t do crossword puzzles, try to learn a new language, or work on his fine motor skills. All he’s got are survival instincts honed by a lifetime of scamming, and that limited mindset is only exacerbating his deterioration.

And now, a group of prominent psychiatrists and psychologists has published a book that directly addresses Drump’s “malignant narcissism.” The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump projects some ugly, menacing outcomes for our President’s mental incapacity. He’s not just a dotard, but an isolated, uncaring paranoid being slowly eaten alive by his own egomania — a self-inflating balloon that will eventually explode and destroy itself and everything around it.

Kim Jong Un may have missed that last part. It’s easy to understand why he might be blind to the whole idea of malignant narcissism. Still, he got the dotard part right. And I am willing to hand that to him. From a distance, of course, in case he explodes.
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No "new normal" for me, this shit ain't normal.
~ MS, Truckee