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The Day of Atonement

A few days before Halloween Megyn Kelly got the Michael Myers/Jason Voorhees/OJ Simpson treatment from her fellow journalists at NBC. Multiple stab wounds from the masked and unmasked for the "crime" of condoning the painting of face to flesh out a Diana Ross costume when a teenager dresses up. Michael Jackson probably would have understood what she was trying to say to her daytime TV audience, but he's dead, so there was no one in America who could spring to the little ladies defense and besides we're talking about defending the application of Blackface so who in 21st Century America has any (I mean even the most remote) experience with that? The only people I could come up with are Ted Danson who wore it when celebrity roasting his then girlfriend Woopie Goldberg(1993) and Neil Dimond who wore it in the opening sequence of his infamously horrible remake of "The Jazz Singer"(1980). I think those are the only two examples of "blackface" I've ever seen in my entire life which spans 56 years and I've been around - I haven't been living a sheltered life in the hinterlands.  So when I got the Apple News alert on my iPhone that Megyn got fired I started scrolling and skimming through the story until I got to the screen grab which I captured and have inserted in this blog post. The photo at the top is one of Megyn (post Trump transformation) making a very public apology for the comments that got her in trouble and the photo at the bottom is an web ad for the new Spike Lee Joint titled "BLACKkKLANSMAN" which chronicles the "true story" of a Afro-American FBI agent who infiltrated the Klan in the 1970's (actual events occurred in '71-'72 but Spike set his movie in '79-'80 to play up the Regan angle). Now the top photo of Megyn really doesn't do justice to the apology because though it does capture the anguish of the moment the full video needs to be watched and digested to appreciate the irony of the photo at the bottom of an FBI agent posed in front of an upside down black and white American flag (i.e. defaced and in destress).
So NBC forces her to grovel like a dog, sit there crying like sap while a studio full of rubes give her a standing ovation and then, the next day, they fire her - total humiliation. That's NBC for you but in the same frame, inserted by some soulless AI algorithm, is an advertisement for a movie about how the FBI (and other law enforcement) has been crawling up the KKK's ass and busting up that organizations nefarious racists plans for the past 50 years. The Klan is so stupid that even a black guy can infiltrate the club and arrest them but Megyn Kelly can't promote the idea of a white kid (or Asian or Hispanic kid) painting their face to emulate a black person because it's "racist." Is this what they call progress?

As a cinephile I must point out that two of the most influential films in American movie making are D.W. Griffith's "The Birth of a Nation"(1915) which is about the formation of the KKK and Al Jolson's "The Jazz Singer"(1927) which is about a Jewish Cantor who throws it all away in the pursuit of fame as a black faced thespian. These two movies started rattling around in my mind and current events like the Squirrel Hill synagogue massacre and the migrant caravan/invasion played out in this context leading up to November 6th - Election Day. My observation is that the pre-1932 America was a very different place than the America we live in today but the strains of xenophobia, racism, anti-semitism and other (new) social pathologies like sexism and homophobia live on and, in a strange way, these sins are almost worse. I say almost because as a practical matter, which is to say the day to day experience of most Americans, these "isms" have no institutional and only marginal cultural support in the way they did back in the day when the KKK was marching on the National Mall or Woodrow Willson was holding a private screening of "The Klansman" at the White House. Those days are long gone but something worse (if that's possible) has taken it's place and that something can be summed up in one "joke" delivered by Her Highness while talking about civility in politics during a discussion with Recode co-founder Kara Swisher.
Several points come to mind:

A. Corey Booker and Eric Holder don't look alike and I dare say that I could identify each of them at 100 yards but I couldn't help but think about the reactions of each principle who served as the butt of this joke. Because Senator Booker appears to be emotionally unstable and pretty touchy on the race thing I imagine that Hitlery really hurt his feelings but I have to think that Holder, who's carried water for the Clinton's since the early 1990's, is pissed off.

B. Sympathy for Ms. Swisher who spent the interview tossing softballs at a woman who was undoubtedly her preferred candidate in the 2016 election and was rewarded with an off-hand accusation of racism. Her cowering riposte of "well done" over the howling laughter was sad in comparison to what should have been delivered with steely eyed firmness - pregnant pause allowing the audience to settle, "you know what? Fuck you!"

Thinking
C. The timing of this politically incorrect quip is what sticks and to understand what I'm saying it's important to know the context of this joke because it was delivered after HRC had been talking at length about how the Democrat party has been the welcoming home of American kooks (the good kind) from it's founding and that in the post civil rights era the party has opened it doors to kooks of every race, religion, sexual orientation and nationality now that the party is boarder-less and ubiquitous and eternal. This unprecedented inclusivity and tolerance is what's driving the incivility on the Right which is personified in the character of Donald J. Trump and as a kind of exclamation point to this line of reasoning Ms. Clinton laid down a joke that I honestly believe would have never entered president Trump's mind and if it had would have never crossed his lips if only because it would have confirmed the worst accusations leveled against him by the likes of Corey Booker, Eric Holder and Hillary Clinton. And it is here, at second number 13 in the clip, where you see the former First Lady formulate the joke and deliver!!! in a nanosecond. The raw short cut in her mind and the comedic alacrity to land this joke (ruthlessly I might add) on an unprepared sycophant while disparaging two important political supporters shows you the real woman and buried in THAT tortured, befouled and abused muck is the truth.
"May all the people of Israel be forgiven, including all the strangers who live in their midst, for all the people are in fault.
O pardon the iniquities of this people, according to Thy abundant mercy, just as Thou forgave this people ever since they left Egypt.
The Lord said, 'I pardon them according to your words.'" 
One of the most poignant scenes in "The Jazz Singer" is when Mrs. Rabinowitz goes to the theater to beg her son Jakie (AKA Jack Robin) to sing Kol Nidre at the temple on Yom Kippur in place of his ailing father, the Cantor, who has disowned his wayward son. When Jack's mother shows up he is in black face getting ready for a dress rehearsal and she does not recognize him - she can't see her own beloved son due to the mask he's applied to his face. She can't see the real person and a very difficult either/or question is posed in this moment: Is her perception so biased that she can't recognize her schwartza boy or has Jakie Rabinowitz melted so thoroughly into caldron of America that he's been fundamentally transformed into Jack Robin? Either Jack is still Jackie but his mothers "blindness" prevents her from seeing what's right in front of her face or Jackie is gone and vanished into the black void where he lost his family, religion and history. For those who've never seen the film I will not spoil the ending but to say that it plays out a uniquely American schmaltz which postulates that both options are true which is, of course, a lie (but it's a lie with a lot of utility).


On November 6th I was manning the GOP election tent at my local voting precinct from dawn to dusk and while setting up the pop tent in the pouring rain at 5:30 AM was difficult the breakdown on what had become a beautiful fall evening was not bad at all. Handing out sample ballots and issue rack cards to my neighbors is fun and one of the best parts, for me anyway, is the look of utter shock and incomprehension on the faces of friends when they realize that I'm a Republican. Being a Right Wing Francophile gives me tremendous license in my personal dress, comportment and language (even my philosophy) which, to the lazy observer, would peg me as a Left Winger so I've grown accustomed to the misunderstanding. I'm very congenial with the (D) tent which was positioned beside mine and I love to watch voters roll into the polls and guessing their affiliation. The Donkeys get a lot of traffic and kibitzing about politics by concerned citizens and not too few kooks in their hippy garb while the Elephants usually just get a thumbs up by passers-by signaling their approval. Over the course of the day not one person had a nasty word for me save one - early in the day, at about 6:30 AM, a proper and erect gentleman wearing a suite and bow tie stopped at my table and declared that "we" needed to "take back our party" and that "I" would never get his vote until "our" party had expelled the odious POTUS who's inappropriate campaign style - mocking the disabled for instance - was causing him such discomfort. A text book #NeverTrump goof I really enjoyed my opportunity to inform him that "his" party was gone and he'd have to start thinking of himself as a Democrat from now on. That didn't make him very happy but I must say, better him than me.

Yes, this is the KOTCB post election blog posting and it's been in limbo waiting for the Democrats to finally allow Florida to certify their votes and call the race for Senate which is something they've stalled for almost two weeks. Why? Is it because they didn't know who won? No. Maybe they thought they could dig up enough votes to unearth and reanimate the smiling corps of Bill Nelson? No. Then why put America's Flaccid Penis through the torture of a Broward County recount again when everyone, including and especially the #FakeNews who dutifully reported it as a legitimate thing, knew what the final result would be? Answer: They were stalling. Buying time. Freaking the fuck out because DJT now had 52(!!!) GOP Senators + a VP named Mike Pence as a tie breaker which means that Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins can go pound sand for the next 6 years while the MAGA agenda gets its 50 + 1 votes in the worlds greatest deliberative body. Flake and Corker are gone and everyone else is pretty much on board - even Romny - and we've still got a special election in Mississippi on Nov. 27th which is going to make it 53 GOP Senators and that is just enough to make the #NeverTrump/Democrat Deep State Swamp burn.

Trump knew what the final score would be on Nov. 7th and started the day with a very entertaining announcement and press conference where he gave the #NeverTrump GOP loser congressmen the kiss-off and then called the #FakeNews media rude and stupid. Later in the day he fired Jeff Sessions and installed Matthew G. Whitaker as acting AG and that appointment is what kicked off the Florida recount charade in order that the Democrats might plan a counter attack to the looming justice which might lop off their heads at any moment. Whitaker is not part of the DC Swamp but he does know the Clinton crime machine like the back of his hand and he's the perfect hatchet man to file all the indictments (already prepared) against the high and mighty - then step out of the spotlight and let the new AG prosecute the crimes. And so, We the People wait. We wait for the Democrats to make up their mind while they delay (using recounts) and delay (using the courts) and delay (choosing their leadership) but they will, at some point in the near future, have to finally make their decision because the Day of Atonement has arrived. They must decide to accept and work with the MAGA agenda or to #Resist and tear the nation apart. The Whitaker appointment is Trump's way of saying, "if you choose resistance I will nuke your world so think about this long and hard."

Defeat is not an option. The election, despite Dem pickups in the House, was not a Blue Wave because the margins of victory in most races were razor thin. The House majority is tight and filled with "moderate" Dems who probably want to be re-elected in 2 years.  Trump holds the indictments of HRC & Co. over the Dems heads and the choice is to work with Trump as a legitimate POTUS and heal the breach or... civic chaos. Why are the stakes so high? Well, if Trump had lost in 2016 (like he was supposed to) the Republican party would be dead today having devoured itself with resentment and recriminations while HRC racked up legislative victories and SCOTUS appointments. But Trump won(!) and his racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic supporters are still supporting him 2 years later so if Trump goes down then everyone on his side is going down with him because the purge will be violent and merciless - this isn’t a Nixon in ‘74 situation. Examples will have to be made of Trump’s supporters to have the proper impact on the electorate and the Dems would be supported (with glee) by the #NeverTrump scum in the GOP. Every MAGA patriot knows, somewhere in the back of their mind, that they collectively said, "screw the vig" in 2016 and let it ride with all their chips on The Elvis from Queens. There is no substitute for victory because the alternative is desolation.

He's white
Which brings me to what is surely the most misunderstood and slandered masterpiece in American film history in which a freed slave named Gus is lynched by the Klan as punishment for his unrequited love. D.W. Griffith did not cast Sidney Poitier or Denzel Washington in this role but chose a very caucasian Walter Long masked in black face which means the KKK hung a white man. Get it? The lessons contained in of "Birth of a Nation" are many but one is that when the civic order collapses and the republic fails a dirty democracy can not save society, and in fact, democracy makes it worse because the majority is given power to oppress and terrorize the minority. Contemporary critics object to D.W.'s racial stereotypes of newly liberated black slaves (not so much his stereotypes of Northern and Southern whites) and the explicit "racism" depicted in the Klans formation - a formation the movie justifies as absolutely necessary to ensure self preservation (talk about transgressive art! - this movie could never be made today). But the focus on race misses the larger point that cultural ruin, which for better or worse is what the reconstruction South was left with, turns people one against the other and forced multi-culturalism doesn't alway look like a Pepsi commercial. The waring parties must be brought together either through dialog and established political processes or, failing that, at the end of a rope through terror because people will not accept the "new normal" of  chaos.

The most important thing that happened on November 6th was that the election happened at all. Trump had not set up his dictatorship (yet), George Soros was not in a concentration camp, Americas women were not marching around in Handmaidens Tale outfits (except those who wanted to), Immigrants were still coming to America, Black people could still vote, everything went along just like it always does and We the People are sovereign. Now is the time to put away the weapons, cool the rhetorical excesses, extend a hand in friendship and get down to the business of Making America Great Again together because that's the only way it's gonna go from here on out. The Democrats must cut loose the #NeverTrump scolds who started the fierce animosity to this national renewal in the first place and let them collapse into the gravitational pull of unification. The atonement has already begun.


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