About greg

Just another bozo on the bus.

hard put and desperate

I like Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. He’s a solid Democrat of the old school. He’s a nice guy with liberal beliefs and has, as far as I know, always tried to do the right thing. So would somebody please take him aside and slap some sense into him?

Wait. I’ll do it.

First off, Chris, those people across the aisle? They’re not your friends. Not really. They may be nice to you, they may laugh and joke with you, they may even say they agree with you, but don’t think they’re your friends. Down at the bone, they’re Trump Republicans. They may disagree with Trump, they may actually despise him, but they’re going to do what he wants. Trump Republicans support Trump, period.

Second — and Chris, I shouldn’t have to tell you this — they’re not going to respect tradition. They’re not going to respect precedent. They’ve shown you that repeatedly. What in the hell makes you think they’d start respecting those things now? What they respect is the exercise of raw political power.

And finally, because they’re not your friends and because they’re not going to respect tradition or precedent and because at this point they only respect political power, they’re not going to be persuadable. They’re just not. A few may be willing to agree that it’s wrong to rush a SCOTUS nomination through 43 days before election day (votes are actually being cast right now, for fuck’s sake), but Chris, they’re not motivated by respect or friendship; they’re motivated by the only thing they fear more than Trump: losing their election.

I hate to say this, Chris, I really do. But right now the only way to get Congressional Republicans to do what’s right is to use their own tactics against them. Do it reluctantly, but do it. Let them know that if they replace Justice Ginsburg before the election, you’re going to go Outlaw Josey Wales on their ass. Tell them that, and mean it. Follow through on it.

Don’t waste your time trying to persuade Trump Republicans. Instead, persuade your Democratic colleagues in the House to go Josey Wales with you. And let Trump and his Congressional co-conspirators know you’re willing to burn the motherfucker down.

If they hold a confirmation hearing, Democrats in the Senate and House should walk out. Walk right the fuck out, and don’t go back. When they want to pass the next continuing resolution in order to fund the government, tell them to piss up a rope. Start another round of impeachment hearings in the House. Impeach Trump again. Hell, impeach Justice Kavanaugh for lying to Congress. Launch an investigation into how Kavanaugh paid off all his debts before his confirmation hearing. Investigate the Russian bounty on troops in Afghanistan. Investigate the Trump family’s alleged financial crimes. Investigate and call witnesses and don’t do a damn thing else until the election.

I really hate to say that. I can’t think of anything more corrosive to effective governance than deliberate sabotage by one political party. But that’s just it. That’s exactly what Republicans have done since Obama was elected. If Democrats win in the 2020 election — if they take the White House and the Senate — then we can try to return to some sort of normal governance. If Democrats lose — if Trump remains in office — then normal governance will be dead. It’ll be four more years of fighting a losing battle against authoritarianism.

The Josey Wales Way is a lousy way to run a government, even for 43 days. But as Granny Hawking said, Josey Wales was “a hard put and desperate man” and that’s where we are as Democrats. Against the blatant power grab of a hurried SCOTUS nomination, J. Wales might be the best chance we have. Because things are looking bad, and “when things look bad and it looks like you’re not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. ‘Cause if you lose your head and you give up then you neither live nor win. That’s just the way it is.”

EDITORIAL NOTE: I don’t know if I’ll feel this way tomorrow. But this is how I feel today. Republican hypocrisy and double dealing will only get worse if we try to play by normal rules.

the difference between grief and mourning

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead.

The grim and sorrowful constellation of thoughts and emotions we’re experiencing right now, that’s grief. The word comes from the Old French term grever meaning “afflict, burden, oppress,” which is from the Latin gravare, which meant “to make heavy.” Grief is heavy; it weighs us down.

The outward expression of grief, that’s mourning. Mourning has a more complex origin. It comes from a Proto-Indo-European root which, because of linguistic convention, is usually written as *(s)mer. It refers to the act of remembrance, reflection, recollection. Mourning is how we use our memories and understanding of the dead to gradually reduce the awful weight of our grief.

Grief is what we feel; mourning is what we do.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead, and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about that. Our grief is both personal and communal. We grieve for what she means to us personally, we grieve for her family and friends, we grieve for what her death might mean for the concept of equal justice under law in the United States. It’s good that we grieve; it’s right that we grieve.

But our grief is less important than how we mourn her — how we collectively express our grief and how you as an individual will express your grief. Is making RBG your Facebook icon enough to lighten your grief? Will wearing your Notorious RBG t-shirt alleviate your grief? What about voting, will that help? What about getting others to vote? Volunteering to drive others to the polls? Donating money or labor to a candidate? What about calling both of your senators on Monday, and asking them NOT to vote on a successor to RGB’s seat until after the election/inauguration? Will that do it?

Here’s a True Thing: your grief is your grief. Nobody gets to tell you how to express it. Nobody gets to tell you the proper way for you to mourn. Nobody gets to tell you how much you have to mourn or what that mourning should include. Nobody gets to tell you what RBG would want from you. Mourn her in your own way.

But mourn her. Right now, it’s enough to grieve. Right now, it’s okay to give into your grief. Let yourself fully experience your grief. Then start actively mourning.

Obscure and Semi-inappropriate Addendum: That Proto-Indo-European root *(s)mer is also the source of the name of Mimir, the Norse god who guarded the Mímisbrunnr, the Well of Wisdom. Mimir, not surprisingly, was known for his judgment, his sagacity, his knowledge. None of that, unfortunately, prevented him being beheaded in the battle between the Æsir and the Vanir (don’t ask; we’re talking Norse mythology, so it’s complicated). After the battle, Odin found Mimir’s body and collected his head (as gods do). He did some sort of god-thing to Mimir’s head so he could tote it around with him and continue to get Mimir’s advice.

Metaphorically, we can do the same with RBG. We can carry our memory of her around with us. We can ask ourselves ‘What would RBG do?’ and then try to do it. That’s proper mourning, right there.

russian ratfucking

It never stops, does it. Last week yet another whistleblower filed a complaint with yet another Inspector General accusing the Trump White House and Trump-appointed agency officials of yet another abuse of authority by censoring yet another report outlining ongoing attempts to interfere with the 2020 election by Russian intelligence agencies.

This time it was Brian Murphy, the Principal Deputy Under Secretary in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis. Before he went to work for DHS he was a Marine and an FBI agent. Not what you’d call a ‘liberal’. He was ordered “to cease any dissemination of an intelligence notification regarding Russian disinformation efforts…because it ‘made the President look bad’.” Murphy objected (because Russia was running a disinfo campaign) and complained to his superiors. He was subsequently demoted.

There are very few core principles in the Trump administration, but included in them are the need to protect Putin and to deny Russian ratfucking of the 2016 election and the upcoming 2020 election. You have to wonder why that’s so important.

Who appears to be in charge here?

In May of 2018 I suggested that Trump’s insistence that the FBI ‘infiltrated’ his 2016 president campaign in an effort to ‘spy’ on it and entrap his campaign staff into breaking the law was a matter of ignorance rather than complicity. I was giving him the benefit of the doubt. I thought perhaps he simply didn’t understand that the FBI, by opening a counter-intelligence investigation into his campaign, was trying to protect him from some of his campaign staff who were in wildly inappropriate contact with Russian intelligence agents and/or Russian criminal elements. If the FBI hadn’t attempted to find out what the Russians were up to, they’d have been derelict in their duties.

What the FBI discovered was a series of attempts by Russian intelligence operatives to penetrate Trump’s campaign. Sadly, those attempts were actually welcomed by some campaign members. Not only were they eager to accept material that had clearly been stolen from Democrats by Russian intel agencies, they never considered reporting it to the FBI. Worse, when confronted by the evidence, those staffers lied about it. Lied repeatedly, and actively hampered the investigation. That’s a clear demonstration of guilt.

Who seems to be subordinate here?

By July of 2018, after the weird and horrifying Helsinki summit, I was far more willing to believe that Trump’s currying to Russia wasn’t just a matter of ignorance. I began to accept the probability that Putin had something on Trump himself — some sort of kompromat. I figured it was likely something to do with money laundering and/or criminal conspiracy rather than something personally embarrassing (like the alleged ‘pee tape’). In any event, it looked less like stupidity from inexperience and more like cooperation and complicity with Russian influence agents. I couldn’t think of any other probable explanation for his behavior at Helsinki.

By January of 2019, I was ready to accept that Trump was, in fact, a Russian intelligence asset. Not a ‘spy’; Trump lacks the emotional stability and the skill set required to be a spy. But he has a personality that makes him exceptionally vulnerable to Russian exploitation as an asset: he’s emotionally needy, he’s driven by greed and ego, he’s at least immoral if not amoral, he’s both shameless and easily insulted, he has no real sense of loyalty or patriotism, he has no qualms about cheating and assumes everybody cheats, and he’s willing and able to lie about anything. Trump is easy to manipulate.

Who is in control here?

The sad fact is, willing or not, since he took office Trump has furthered Russian interests and increased their international presence, and at the same time damaged US interests and surrendered US leadership on the world stage. He’s created a wedge between the US and NATO — to Russia’s benefit. He’s given Syria a free hand to commit war crimes — to Russia’s benefit. He’s withdrawn US influence in Iraq by abandoning the Kurds, allowing Russian troops to assume control of military bases and stations built by the US military. He’s essentially legitimized Russia’s illegal seizure of Crimea. He’s fought against and/or failed to impose sanctions against Russia despite bipartisan support in Congress. He’s refused to acknowledge, let alone act on, reports that Russia has paid the Taliban bounties to kill US troops serving in Afghanistan.

Domestically, he’s been willing to disregard the collective opinions of the US Intelligence Community on issues like Russian interference in the US election, and accepted Putin’s claim that Russia wasn’t involved. He’s not only undermined the efforts of the FBI and CIA to disrupt Russian interference, he’s appointed agency administrators who have leaned on their agencies to mute any criticism of Russia.

Who is most confident here?

I’m NOT saying Trump is run by Putin or Russian intelligence agencies. They don’t need to run him. On his own, he’s brought chaos and exacerbated existing divisions in US society. Russia helped him get elected (and are trying to help him stay in office), but after that all they had to do was stand back and let Trump be Trump. It was a low-cost, low risk, high reward black op — almost certainly the most successful and cost effective black op in modern history.

The idea that the President of the United States might be — and probably is — a Russian intelligence asset should be absurd. It should be laughable. Sadly, it’s not. The evidence keeps mounting up. It’s entirely possible — and, again, this is shocking for me to say — it’s entirely possible that if Trump is re-elected, representative democracy in the US may come to a crashing halt.

Lawdy, I hate saying that. I hate that it’s actually necessary to say it.

hocus pocus hoax

Let’s just acknowledge this reality: anybody who seriously uses the phrase ‘Russian hoax’ can be immediately disregarded. Doesn’t matter whether they’re referring to the Mueller investigation or just generally talking about Comrade Trump’s insidious machinations with Russia, if they say the terms Russia and hoax together and mean it, anything else they say can be dismissed.

I know, I know. That sounds extreme. And it is. Under normal circumstances, I’d argue against a policy like that. But the phrase has been in use long enough that anybody who offers it as a serious explanation for Trump’s various scandals has lost all credibility. In fact, the notion that there is such a thing as the Russia hoax is, itself, a hoax.

Okay, wait. We need a tangent here. A big meandering tangent taking us back to the 17th century and a guy named Thomas Ady. Ady was interested in witches and witchcraft. Not in the standard 17th century ‘How to Catch a Witch and Do Terrible Things to Her’ way, but in a more intellectually rigorous way. He wrote a couple of books to expose of the various bullshit techniques used in that time to identify and convict alleged witches. He also wrote that what passed for ‘magic’ or ‘witchcraft’ was mostly either natural phenomena or trickery.

In his book A Candle in the Dark he wrote about “common Juglars, who go up and down to play their Tricks at Fayrs and Markets.” He spoke about one such person:

[M]ore excelling in that craft than others, that went about in King James his time, and long since, who called himself, the Kings Majesties most excellent Hocus Pocus, and so was called, because that at the playing of every Trick, he used to say, Hocus pocus, tontus tabantus, vade celeriter jubeo, a dark composure of words, to blinde the eyes of the beholders, to make his Trick pass the more currantly without discovery.

A ‘juggler’ back then was an entertainer who performed tricks of dexterity and sleight of hand. Not just the sort of toss juggling we see now, but also ‘magic’ tricks. The name by which this one most excellent Juglar performed gave us the term hocus-pocus as a sort of ‘magical’ invocation. And hocus-pocus is where the term ‘hoax’ comes from. A hoax is deliberately creating a malicious fabrication and convincing people to believe it.

Comrade Trump’s entire career has been built on a foundation of hoaxes. The hoax that he was a good student, that he was a successful entrepreneur, that he was a financial genius, that he was a savvy businessman and a brilliant negotiator. His history suggests none of that is completely true, and much of it is a lie.

Perhaps his greatest hoax has been convincing his followers to believe that secretive Deep State government officials and career federal law enforcement officers (most of whom are lifelong Republicans) in conjunction with leaders of the Democratic Party collaborated to create a massive cabal designed to thwart the improbable presidential campaign of a failed businessman and reality television showman. He’s convinced his followers that these three groups, despite their long-standing ideological differences and hostility, came together in the short time after his nomination but before the election and agreed to impede his agenda by waiting until after the election to accuse him of colluding with Russian intelligence agents.

Now that is some serious hocus-pocus, right there. That’s a hoax on a galactic scale. Anybody who believes that — anybody who is capable of believing that — is somebody whose opinions can dismissed. Normally, I’m willing to entertain almost any argument if it forces me to support my position. That’s healthy, I think. But there comes a point at which you just have to accept that verifiable evidence doesn’t matter to Trump’s most faithful followers.

He said he pulled a rabbit out of his hat. I believe him. Why would he lie about that?

Let’s go back to Mr. Ady for a moment. He had to deal with the 17th century version of Trump supporters.

[T]hey ingage me to answer to a story, which they would compell me to beleeve, or else to goe see where it was done; but if it happeneth (as often it doth), that I make it appear by Scripture, that it is absurd or impossible…or that I shew them the story, in any of the afore said Authers, who have been the Authors of many vain fables, then they presently fly to another story, as vain and absurd as the former, and that being answered, they fly to another, saying, Sir, what do you answer to this? in which manner of disputes I have heard sometimes such monstrous impossibilities reported and affirmed to be true, (for they had it by credible report) as would make the Angells in Heaven blush to hear them.

This morning Comrade Trump is frantically trying to defend himself against the revelations in Bob Woodward’s soon-to-be-released book. His defense is full of ‘such monstrous impossibilities…as would make the Angells in Heaven blush.’ I don’t believe in angels or heaven, but I do believe in an open exchange of ideas and views. However, that sort of exchange is no longer possible with anybody who, at this point, believes in the ‘vain fable’ of a Russia hoax.

a constant cascade of calamities and coincidence

The thing about Comrade Trump and his Constant Cascade of Calamities is that they come at us so fast that we don’t have time to process any given scandal because there are two or three other scandals slamming into us. Not only that, but we have scandals nestled inside of other scandals like Russian matryoshka dolls. The result is we exist in a perpetual state of calamity-shock.

What? It’s a coincidence. Could happen to anybody.

Here’s an example. Last week we learned that Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf…okay, wait. According to the Government Accountability Office, Wolf was not a legitimate Acting Sec. DHS. Why? Because his predecessor, Kevin McAleenan was not legitimately appointed as Acting Sec. DHS. Why? Because his predecessor, Kirstjen Nielsen, bungled the paperwork attempting to change the rules governing temporary appointments to ensure McAleenan (Trump’s pick for the gig) would get the Acting position. BUT even if Wolf had been legally appointed to the Acting position, he’d still be invalid since he was appointed under the Vacancies Act, which clearly states an Acting secretary can only serve for 210 days from when the position was made vacant, and Wolf has been doing the job for more than 250 days. Two weeks ago Trump said he’d officially nominate Wolf for the Sec. DHS position — but he hasn’t actually done it.

Okay, so last week we learned Chad Wolf had personally blocked publication of an unclassified DHS memo reporting that “Russian malign influence actors” would be trying to interfere with the US election by “denigrating presidential candidates through allegations of poor mental or physical health.” This, of course, just happens to be one of Trump’s primary arguments against Biden. But it’s probably just a coincidence that Trump’s DHS chief buried a memo that showed Trump was using a campaign attack also being used by Russian intelligence agencies.

What? Shit happens, what’s a guy to do?

But wait. Last week another unclassified DHS memo was leaked to the news media. That memo reported that in March “Russian malign influence actors” began “spreading disinformation” about the absentee and mail-in voting system. The memo stated “Russian state media and proxy websites…criticized the integrity of expanded and universal vote-by-mail, claiming ineligible voters could receive ballots due to out-of-date voter rolls, leaving a vast amount of ballots unaccounted for and vulnerable to tampering.” The Russian proxy websites also claimed “vote-by-mail processes would overburden the U.S. Postal Service…delaying vote tabulation and creating more opportunities for fraud and error.”

And hey, guess what. Comrade Trump has also been attacking the integrity of voting by mail, saying it increased the potential for fraud and would overburden the USPS. Another shocking coincidence between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence agencies.

What? How should I know? These things happen.

Speaking of coincidences (and the Constant Cascade of Calamities), Louis DeJoy, Trump’s hand-picked Postmaster General, has made significant structural changes to the US Postal Service, which…okay, wait. It needs to be said that DeJoy was supposed to divest himself of financial conflicts of interest before accepting the Postmaster General gig. But he apparently still retains a stake in XPO Logistics, which has charged USPS about US$14 million in the past 10 weeks for managing transportation and providing support during peak times. It also appears that DeJoy became influential in GOP circles (and therefore a candidate for positions in the Trump administration) by urging his employees to donate to Republicans and attend political fundraisers at his home, then manipulating the company’s finance and payroll systems to give ‘bonus payments’ to employees who donated to help reimburse the cost — which is what folks in the law enforcement biz call “a crime”. DeJoy is being investigated for this now.

Anyway, DeJoy implemented significant structural changes to the US Postal Service which has resulted in delays in mail delivery. Which, coincidentally, is exactly what Trump AND Russian intelligence malign influence actors said would happen.

A suspicious person might think all these coincidences aren’t all that coincidental.

What? I mean, come on, what? Would I do that?

BUT — and this is the important thing — all of those nested matryoshka scandals were just one part of the larger matryoshka scandal that included the ‘Troops are suckers and losers’ scandal and the 190,000 Covid-19 deaths scandal and the roughly 29 million people unemployed scandal and the Trump advising voters in North Carolina to vote twice scandal and the withholding of funds to ‘anarchist jurisdictions’ scandal and the fake camera store owner in Kenosha scandal and the ‘planeload of Antifa’ scandal and the scandal about the 600 loans totaling $100 million of the Paycheck Protection Program that went to companies that are barred or suspended from doing business with the federal government. And those are just the scandals I can remember. You know, from the last week.

It’s been like this for nearly four fucking years. The Trump Administration has been beating the American public senseless with their coincidental Constant Cascade of Calamities. And he promises, if re-elected, to keep it up for four more years. At least. MAGA, and all that.

suckers, losers; it’s a mug’s game

Oh, come on, was anybody really shocked? Comrade Trump thinks people who join the military are suckers and losers — is that actually a surprise? Since the day he stepped into the Oval Office, Trump has shown his disregard for the military and military culture.

It’s not just that Trump dodged the draft during Vietnam; lots of rich white kids did that. I don’t hold that against him. Most draft dodgers didn’t brag about it like Trump, but that’s small beans.

No, Trump’s feelings about the military were apparent in the way he sneered at John McCain for getting ‘caught’. I mean, it doesn’t take any great skill for a fighter pilot to get shot down, but it takes character to deal with all those years as a POW. I’m okay with Trump disagreeing with McCain’s politics (I do too), and I’m okay with mocking him for being a showboat as a politician. But you don’t get to mock his suffering, especially if you’ve evaded military service yourself.

Trump’s feeling about the military was apparent in the way casually sneered at the family of Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed during a suicide attack in Iraq. In the way he forgot the name of Sgt. La David Johnson (who was killed in an insurgent attack in Niger, and whose body was left behind) in his condolence call to the widow, in the way he said this about her husband’s death: “It’s what he signed up for.” It was apparent when his Trump Foundation publicly raised money for a veterans group but failed to failed to actually give that money to the group until the New York Attorney General began an investigation into the misappropriation of the funds. It was apparent in the way he interfered (against all protocol) in the cases of at least two soldiers accused/convicted of war crimes.

Other world leaders braved the mist to honor the dead at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery.

And, of course, his feelings about the military were apparent in 2018 when he bailed on attending a ceremony at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, which holds the bodies of more than 1800 US Marines who died during the battle of Bellaeu Wood. Trump claimed the weather that day prohibited his helicopter from flying; he also said the Secret Service was reluctant to drive him the 40 miles to the cemetery for security reasons. And yet Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel were able to attend the ceremony despite the rain. So was Trump’s own Chief of Staff, John Kelly, who was driven there by his staff.

But not Trump.

Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly braved the mist to lay a wreath at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery.

A year earlier, on Memorial Day in 2017. Trump accompanied Kelly, to Arlington National Cemetery, where Kelly’s son is buried. According to reports, Trump looked at the long lines of white headstones and said to Kelly, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?”

And there it is. That comment is perfectly on-brand for Trump, and it explains his feelings about military service. Trump views the world in purely transactional terms; he sees every interaction (at least with those outside his family) as a negotiation, an exchange in which somebody gains and somebody loses. Every interaction — what’s in it for me, what’s in it for them, and what do I need to do to come out on top?

If that is, in fact, Trump’s worldview (and I see no reason to doubt it), then of course he’d see the troops as suckers, as losers. There’s no tangible profit in serving in the military. You can make a fortune selling stuff to the military, but putting on a uniform? Following orders that could get you killed, and for a ridiculously low salary? That’s a mug’s game.

Me, I’m a mug. So were both my brothers. So was my father and many of my uncles. I don’t like playing the patriot card, but we’ve paid our dues. Which is something nobody named Trump has ever done.

EDITORIAL NOTE: We’ve got less than 60 days to the election. Do your duty. Vote. Vote early. Vote, but just vote ONCE.

knuckles dobrovic is slightly dislocated

The whole Knuckles Dobrovic thing began in 2013 when I reluctantly and grudgingly realized there was some artistic value to Instagram. I created the Knuckles alias as a way of investigating Instagram without having my name associated with it. I thought it made sense back then, but sounds really silly now. So I started putting a thing on a glass-topped table on the deck and photographing it. It became a project. Things on a Table. I did that for about a year.

Eventually I started an Instagram account using my real name, but I’d grown absurdly attached to the name Knuckles Dobrovic. I decided I’d keep that account and us it strictly for photo projects. Because I tend to over-analyze things, I came up with some basic parameters for all future Knuckles projects: 1) it’s got to be simple (which means I won’t have to do a lot of planning or a lot of post-processing), 2) it’s got to be organic to my life (which means it’s something I can photograph during the course of an ordinary day — whatever that is), 3) it’s got to have at least one intellectual component (which is more accurately described as a pretentious bullshit element), and finally, 4) it’s got to be able to keep my interest over time.

After ‘Things on a Table’ I turned to Double Exposures of My Feet on the Earth and then to the Hundred Appropriated Google Street View gig. When that was finished, I felt no hurry to find another project. Some idea would eventually roll up in a ball and get my attention. That’s how these things work, mostly.

Yeah, no, not this.

Then, of course, Covid-19 showed up and parked its fat ass in the center of our society. At some point I decided the next Knuckles gig should reflect the strange new Covid reality. I tried a 16:9 moody landscape concept. Broad landscapes as a way of dealing with an increasingly closed in life. But no. Besides, it felt too similar to the Google gig. I also tried reworking a lot of old unseen street portraits in a high contrast are-bure-bokeh-ish style. The idea was to remember life without masks, but do it with a harsh, garish, blurry aesthetic that was sort of alienating. But, again, no. I really like that style, but no. Not now. Maybe someday I’ll come back to that.

Yeah, no, not this either.

But I kept noodling around semi-randomly. Taking new photos and playing with them, looking at old photos (which is something I almost never do) and smooshing them around a bit. Then one restless night I took an old photo of some lawn chairs in a suburban yard, diddled with the color a wee bit, digitally sliced it in thirds, then re-arranged the pieces.

Okay, this might work.

I liked it. It was a mundane, familiar scene but it felt a wee bit out-of-sync. It felt somewhat disjointed and almost (but not quite) unbalanced. Which is sort of how the world seems right now. So I tried with another photo. A bar that wouldn’t be seeing any customers this year.

Yeah, okay, this is starting to work.

The bar was still exactly as it was before the pandemic, but now it was just a tad off-color and slightly dislocated. Which seemed like an obvious title for the gig. It seemed like the approach would be elastic enough to use for almost any sort of photographic style. Landscapes, interior shots, still lifes, street photos.

Okay, that’s it. It’s a project.

It wasn’t until I took a rather busy photo of last year’s Planned Parenthood book sale, chopped it up, and re-organized it that I became confident the gig would probably work. I’ll almost certainly continue to use some old photos in the gig, but I expect I’ll be shooting a lot of new stuff with half an eye on the Slightly Dislocated idea (but only half an eye; I don’t want to be searching for material). I expect I’ll be stopping my bike sporadically to shoot something like this:

Slightly Dislocated — goal

This project may, of course, turn out to be awful. It may become predictable or repetitive, it could turn out to be dull–for the viewer or for me. Hell, as unlikely as it seems, the pandemic might come to a quick end (yeah, that’s not going to happen) and the entire concept of Slightly Dislocated may become out of date. I’ve no idea how long I’ll keep this up, but for now I’m having fun with it.

people in the dark shadows

I watched most of Comrade Trump’s interview with Laura Ingraham last night. It was surreal, even by Trump standards. We expect him to tell lies and exaggerate stuff, but lawdy. Y’all should watch it for yourselves and make your own judgments, of course, but I’ll say it once again. Lawdy.

I’m going to ignore most of the exaggerations and lies. I’m going to ignore the claim that Portland, Oregon has been “burning” for decades, and the claim that he “solved” Kenosha (whatever that means), and the claim that if Biden is elected “you would have riots like you’ve never seen,” and the claim that there were “horrible race riots” during the Obama years (there were two in eight years), and the claim that “one company is giving hundreds of millions of dollars [to BLM],” and the claim that he’d signed an executive order that punished folks with “ten years in jail if you knock down a statue or monument,” and the claim that he’s done more for African-Americans “than any president in the history of our country, except for maybe Abe.”

I’m going to ignore all that and focus on what I consider the craziest claim made in the interview. Comrade Trump claimed Uncle Joe Biden is “a weak person. He’s controlled like a puppet.” Ingraham slid right by the irony of Putin’s puppet claiming Biden is a puppet, but to her credit, she asked who was controlling Biden. This was Trump’s reply:

“They control him. People that you’ve never heard of. People that are in the dark shadows. People that you haven’t heard of. They’re people that are on the streets. They’re people that are controlling the streets. We had somebody get on a plane from a certain city this weekend, and in the plane it was almost completely loaded with thugs wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms with gear and this and that. They’re on a plane.”

Ingraham was sort of goggle-eyed at that. But she asked where this was taking place, which was a valid question. Trump said,

“I’ll tell you sometime, but it’s under investigation right now, but they came from a certain city, and this person was coming to the Republican National Convention, and there were like seven people on the plane like this person, and then a lot of people were on the plane to do big damage. They were coming for–this was all — this is all happening.”

That’s NOT your basic Trump exaggeration; it’s NOT your basic Trump lie. It’s flat out batshit crazy conspiracy paranoia. People nobody has ever heard of, people in the dark shadows, controlling Joe Biden, sending a a cadre of gear-laden thugs in dark uniforms on…well, apparently on a commercial flight to DC.

“…thugs wearing these dark uniforms, black unforms with gear…”

Like any reasonable person, I went to FreeRepublic to see how those patriots responded to Trump’s claim. The first report on Freep included a link to this video clip on Acyn Torabi’s Twitter.

Initially, the posts were skeptical about the report. Some of them didn’t believe Trump would say something that loopy. When a lot of Freepers couldn’t access the video, it sparked another instant conspiracy theory.

— Apparently twitter blocking going on — by Cold Heart (Legalize Hydroxychloroquine)
— OK twitter is censoring this! UNREAL! (I’m not surprised) — by RandFan (3C)

But once it became clear that Trump DID, in fact, say this, most Freepers quickly fell in line. Of course there was a plane full of thugs in black uniforms.

— He sounds like he is describing a plane filled with Antifa, which makes sense since they are going from city to city. by CaptainK (‘No collusion, no obstruction, he’s a leaker’)
— As much as I do believe, a 3rd party or parties, are using the riots to bring down this country, I don’t believe a majority of Americans will accept that idea – yet. And shouldn’t be talked about – yet. by 11th_VA (Don’t Be a thug, if you can’t take a slug)
— He is talking about a terrorist organization most likely tied to Barak. by bray (Pray for President Trump)
— Trump said it. I believe it. That settles it. by Governor Dinwiddie (Guide me, O thou great redeemer, pilgrim through this barren land.)
— Trump says nothing without solid knowledge. Name once when he’s been wrong. by getitright (Finally- a president who offers hope!)
— I Heard days ago about antifa going on planes to different states funded by soros by Sarah Barracuda
— [W]e have a world-wide pandemic which is probably a hoax, riots all over the country and the world which were ostensibly kicked off by “police brutality” which turned out to be a hoax, mandatory mask ordinances except when rioting, not to mention murder hornets, hurricanes, massive wildfires, and the US government dropping huge hints about aliens and UFOs. There is no such thing as a conspiracy theory anymore. by fr_freak
— As far as a planeful of ANTIFA NAZI’s traveling interstate to cause mayhem at the RNC convention being investigated by the SS and FBI are very believable to me. by phoneman08 (qwiyrqweopigradfdzcm,.dadfjl,dz)
— I remember seeing an old photo of Soros and a younger Obama in the same room. by RealVirginia

I was only mildly surprised by this response. After all, a lot of these folks believed (and many still believe) Hillary Clinton organized a cannibalistic Satanic child sex-torture ring and ran it out of an underground series of tunnels and bunkers beneath a DC pizza parlor. That’s a solid platform for believing Uncle Joe is a puppet for a cabal of dark shadowy rich perverts who fly BLM-Antifa shock troops all over the nation on…okay, I’m still having trouble with all of this happening on commercial airlines.

Whatever happened to black helicopters? I mean, if you can build an underground network of Satanic sex bunkers under the nation’s capitol, surely you can afford a black helicopter or two.