So what in the world just happened here?
That's the question of the moment as we struggle to get our heads around the latest head-snapping episode in the bizarre presidency of Donald Trump.
I'm here to say goodbye to Stephen King.
This is an open letter to all of you privately disgusted Republicans.
It's prompted by the fact that in the last few days, two of your colleagues have come forward to share with us your angst.
Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays.
A few words about walls. Unsurprisingly, the one Donald Trump is trying to build on the southern border -- the one he swore Mexico would pay for -- has proven, like most things he touches, an embarrassing failure.
So I guess "OK Boomer" is a thing now. And I gather I'm supposed to be offended by it. Certainly, some people seem to be.
When, at Mamie Till's insistence, the coffin was opened, she saw her son's right eyeball sitting on his cheek, dangling by the optic nerve.
Let that single grisly detail stand in for all the rest. Let it speak to the savagery two white men unleashed upon the body of a 14-year-old black boy named Emmett Till.
The beam from his flashlight reflects off the glass, so we can't see what he saw. But in a sense, we don't need to see what Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean saw to know what he saw, peering through that window. He saw something fearsome, a threat to life and limb. All this in the person of Atatiana Jefferson, a 28-year-old black woman, who was actually doing nothing more sinister than playing video games in her bedroom with her 8-year-old nephew.
I was maybe 10 years old when this happened.
Mom is driving, I'm in the back seat. It's night. She's trying to cross Vermont, a busy L.A. thoroughfare, from a side street. Southbound traffic is jammed, but a guy in a truck makes a hole and waves us through. We've almost cleared the intersection when a car, speeding northbound, clips us. We go spinning up over a low brick wall onto somebody's lawn. My head smacks the window hard enough to crack it. And I remember thinking -- I may have even screamed it -- "This can't happen to us!"
You may, if you are old enough, recall a TV actor named Foster Brooks.
What if he's right?
Granted, no militias are massing. No declarations of separation have been read.
So one is tempted to dismiss Donald Trump's recent evocation of America's great 19th-century rupture as just more bushwa from a human bushwa machine.
Only the ball bearings were missing. The reference, for those who don't know, is to Humphrey Bogart's performance as the emotionally unstable Captain Queeg in the 1954 film "The Caine Mutiny." In a pivotal scene, Bogart vividly etches the captain's mental disintegration, rambling on the witness stand about strawberries and tow lines and the supposed lies of his subordinates. All the while he toys, ceaselessly, unconsciously obsessively, with a handful of ball bearings.
With apologies to Stevie Wonder, for whom it was once an album title, nothing is "hotter than July." July was the hottest month.
Our subject today is a word.
It seems to be the word of the moment, at least on the political left. One can hardly read an opinion page or watch cable news without confronting this tiresome term, this irksome idiom.
In 1879, on the road leading into Dodge City, there stood a sign. "The Carrying of Fire Arms Strictly Prohibited," it said.
As recounted in the book "Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America" by Adam Winkler, the gun control ordinance was the first law passed when the city was organized in 1873. Nor was Dodge unique. Many other western towns, Wichita and Tombstone among them, had similar laws.
"I am tired of the dying," said Greg Abbotton Sunday. And well he should be. The Texas governor was in Odessa, in the western part of his state, to preside over a mass shooting there: seven dead, not counting the shooter, and 22 wounded, one of them a toddler.
"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."
So says Dick the Butcher in Shakespeare's "Henry VI, Part 2."
We meet, my friends, in the face of evil.
You'd think it would be the one thing we could all agree upon.
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