GOT MY HEAD SPINNIN’ ROUND (Segue of the Day: 7/21/16)

This has been one of the more entertaining weeks in the history of politics. I probably should have live-blogged the whole thing because that’s the only way I could have kept up. Every time I thought I had something I could hook a post to it was immediately replaced by something I was sure was better, only to be replaced in turn by something else.

By way of example: Andrew Sullivan, who has been live-blogging, actually posted the difference in the 19.7 misery index from 1979 ( that’s inflation plus unemployment for those who may have forgotten as I had) and now (5.3) exactly as though the current number were real (the government has been fudging, i.e., manufacturing, happy thoughts about inflation since the eighties and the old unemployment hodge-podge, which has been tinkered with since the Kennedy years, has, of necessity, been put on steroids by the Obama administration…but you knew that).

I thought surely I couldn’t beat that and was all ready to post something about Sullivan being exemplary of the triple terrors of modern intellectual life:

1. The Brits (Christopher Hitchens and David Thomson being other prime examples) who recognized their own country was headed down the toilet a generation or two back and hightailed it to America in order to lecture us on how much better off we’d be if we were more like…them!

2. The Beltway crowd who have never had to personally deal with the economic effects of “the Reagan Revolution,” said revolution having made their own little bubble in the Wall-Street-to-D.C. corridor wealthy beyond belief at the expense of the entire world (and from whence both the Clintonian and Trumpian Final Solutions have now sprung full-blown).

3. The “intellectual” who changes his mind constantly and calls anyone who doesn’t manage to keep up with the latest twist a fascist.

Sully’s back!

What could beat that?

Well, I only had to wait an hour, so I’m going to get this in before the crick in my neck gets straightened out by the next head snap.

After Ted Cruz’s stupendous bit of political theater last night, he was the talk of the morning shows. Morning Joe‘s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski had one of Cruz’s fired-but-loyal lieutenants on to discuss whether Cruz’s unwillingness to let his followers drink of a Trump endorsement after he had led them to the very edge of the unholy water was “personal.”

Of course the lieutenant (I didn’t catch his name but it hardly matters, anyone of his class would have done as he did) denied this was any part of Cruz’s motivation. He insisted it was a matter of principle and Mika, who has, in the past, all but called Cruz an ax-murderer, jumped in to second his emotion.

Within a matter of minutes, Cruz was on all the major “news” channel, speaking to his Texas supporters (who lacerated him, incidentally) attempting to explain himself. When asked why he had broken his “my word is my bond” pledge to support the Republican nominee, Cruz said he wasn’t in the habit of supporting anyone who insulted his wife (Trump called her ugly) and his father (Trump suggested he might have hung out with Lee Harvey Oswald, which the press, still clinging to the Warren Commission after all these years, insisted was the same thing as accusing Cruz the Elder of plotting to kill JFK…the extent to which these people simply don’t keep up is often stupefying and the best explanation for how Trump has been able to so easily and consistently cut them off at the knees).

About two minutes after that, somebody on the set of Morning Joe, who had been monitoring the Cruz speech on another channel (after MSNBC cut away), told the Cruz lieutenant what Cruz had said.

Then somebody else on Morning Joe said…”Sounds kind of personal.”

Awkward silence. Sheepish smiles. Nods all around.

Let’s move on.

The one pure delight of this otherwise Sturm und Drang moment has been seeing the media gatekeepers and their a-hole buddies in the “consultant” class continually shocked by their own inability to craft, manage or even comprehend the new narratives.

Just because I sense Chaos coming (even if I can’t predict its form) doesn’t mean I’m looking forward to its arrival. Quite the opposite. That’s why I have to take the occasional smile where I can find it.

Got my head spinnin’ round?

Let’s keep it unsettling, shall we?


The Oswald File (Michael Eddowes, 1977)

My Kennedy assassination reading tends to follow a pattern:

See something that looks kind of intriguing (usually for cheap in a used book store or antique shop). Take it home and begin reading it that night, always in breathless anticipation–will this be the one that solves the mystery once and for all!

Get about half-way through within a day or so….Then look up the author and find out just what breed of crackpot I’ve run across this time ’round.

Eddowes probably wasn’t a crackpot–he was a lawyer who had been instrumental in getting England to outlaw the death penalty.

No, he was a pen for hire (by one of the right-wingers who was himself suspected of being involved in the plot to kill JFK–I tell you this stuff gets deep some times), put on the case to throw suspicion back on the Russkies.

And–perhaps because he began to believe his own hype–a fine, readable job he did, at least until it all bogs down in minutiae and disorganization and, yes, the usual unanswered questions and gaps in the author’s own logic at the very end.

Still, these things are worth reading because I always learn something about mindsets.

And I must say his points about Jack Ruby have made me determined to find out if there is a good biography anywhere existing of that eternal fly in the non-conspiracy ointment.

Last Summer (Evan Hunter, 1968)

The first I’ve read of Hunter (either under his own name or his nom-de-plume, Ed McBain). I’ll definitely want to read more. This is creepily effective in the manner of Patricia Highsmith. The ending was a bit of a let-down in dramatic terms, but that might have been the point: gang-rape as simply another act of modern banality. If so, I can’t say the ensuing decades have proved him wrong.

Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho (Stephen Rebello, 1990)

I frankly read this in anticipation of the movie Hitchcock, of which it is the principal source. The movie was pretty good. The book is better than good, a clear-eyed, unpretentious, supremely integral job of assessing the film as art, personal and mass psychology, and popular phenomenon.

And it did nothing to dispel my sneaking suspicion that Hitchcock’s reaction to Vera Miles’ astringency-into-madness performances in the premiere of his television show and The Wrong Man remains the undiscovered–and probably undiscoverable–country of his late career genius (where three of his four final more-or-less consensus masterpieces, Vertigo, Psycho and The Birds, arrived out of far left-field and cut a swath modernity has been wandering about in ever since–helplessly as it were).

Whether we would have got there without him is one of those questions each of us must figure out for ourselves. I say yes–we humans are an excessively heedless and ungrateful lot–but I’ll very carefully thank you for not cutting my throat if we chance to disagree!