Month: June 2017

A Defense of Morning Joe

I remember back when I didn’t watch morning news programs. I just didn’t care much, and the cheesy, corny interaction of morning television news hosts wasn’t really my cup of tea. Of course, Trump changed all of that when he rode down the escalator. It became necessary to include a morning program in my daily intake of news to “figure out what the hell is going on,” to throw Trump’s words back at him.

Of course, we American shoppers have three premium options at the 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week cable-news grocery store (Is this metaphor using a brick-and-mortar store as an example, or online-delivery? Besides the point. Sorry…). However, three hours of daily television is a lot of intake, so I could only commit to one show. I gave New Day a try, but CNN generally isn’t my cup of tea for the above-listed, first-paragraph, second-sentence pair of adjectives. I had watched some of Fox and Friends in the past, but mainly for the typical outrage value, or the daily comic performances by the threesome on the couch…

…That leaves Morning Joe. I have to admit that prior to the 2016 election and all of its highs and lows…I must admit that I could not stand Joe Scarborough. I thought he was too damn smarmy then, and the truth about it today is that I still think he’s smarmy. I’ve just grown to love that smarmy-ness, and today I must write in defense of my morning news show, considering Trump’s audacity and a solidifying malcontent coming from those voters who defend him.

I’ve been getting up at 5 am to watch Morning Joe many mornings for the last two years, and I’d vote for Joe Scarborough for President in 2020, in order to save the Republican Party from its own blind loyalty to Donald Trump and his gutter-politics. I figure I’d jump on Brent Budkowsky’s bandwagon from his article at The Hill. It is an intriguing idea. Maybe Mika could run on the Democratic ticket, and the “loser” could serve as Vice-President, in addition to being First-Lady or First-Gentleman?

I must admit that Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski (and Willie Geist, the legendary Mike Barnacle, Mark Halperin, John Heilemann, and so many more wonderful, intelligent characters) have created an appreciated daily sanctuary for intellectual discussion, rational argument, and authentic faith-in and love-for this country. It is my daily dose of personal sanity. I am informed and educated by Morning Joe, and this show is greatly appreciated by this blog-writer (even though Joe can be quite mocking of my ilk).

This morning’s episode—the day after Trump’s vicious Tweet attack at Mika during the conclusion of yesterday’s show—made me so proud of the cast of Morning Joe. This morning’s episode made me a bit verklempt several times, and I appreciated both the first-hour-segment, with its defense of Joe and Mika without their presence, and the second-hour-segment when Joe and Mika appeared (during their vacation) to defend the country-at-large.

In the first hour, Willie Geist moderated, perhaps, the most difficult panel of his life, because of the obvious friendship between him and Joe and Mika. Think about it: Geist co-chairs on a show where the President has attacked his dear friends, and he must maintain his composure for the duration. I am in awe of Willie Geist’s professionalism. Katty Kay and Donnie Deutsch engaged in a necessary back-and-forth about gender throughout the show, with a rational Katty balancing out an out-of-sorts Donnie (My wife didn’t think his comments were particularly productive. I agree, but I’m still glad Donnie gave Trump what-for!). Harold Ford, Jr. looked stunned and hurt, and I’m not used to seeing him that way. Jon Meachum provided good humor and sharp historic insight, per usual…but I think I became most emotional when Heidi Przybyla spoke with such power and dignity and read a “real person’s” words…her father’s words. He reached out to his journalist daughter to speak to Mika, since she just lost her father:

“Mika, why is it that Trump is always commenting on how he sees women? Maybe women need to start speaking out about what kind of a man they see in him.”

It’s a good question and statement, and Heidi Przybyla’s father speaks for me, too. My first thought yesterday when I read Trump’s Tweet was, “Good God, this woman’s father just died, and Trump’s gonna tweet this crap at his daughter a couple weeks after he’s buried?!” I clearly and recently remember when Mika returned to the show after Zbig Brzezinski passed away, and her bravery and composure to report at such a high level about her father’s legacy, importance, and compassion for America is ample reason for pride, patriotism, and admiration. Donald Trump sullies the country when he acts so callously to Mika Brzezinski, but it especially sticks in my craw that the President of the United States cruelly treats the daughter of an American treasure, Zbigniew Brzezinski, in public in such classless fashion…and according to Republicans, we’re supposed to believe in Trump’s “patriotism?” I don’t care if he won the election or not. When he acts like this, it delegitimizes any of Trump’s claims to being a man of the American people. He gets to stay in office whether I have any say-so or not, but I’ll be damned if I give such a man as Trump my allegiance. I love my country, and I’ll be damned if I celebrate such a President.

In the second hour, when Joe and Mika joined the desk, I was struck by how well they handled all this nonsense. I was especially shocked to learn how Trump had brought up Mika behind closed doors with members of Congress, and how he brought up bleeding in private to attack Mika, prior to this Tweet, which again used bleeding as an insult to a woman (Who does that?! I know some guys with no taste or scruples, myself included, that have traded some dark and nasty humor, and I don’t recall anybody going to the whole “you’re a girl and you bleed, so screw you” shtick). The story about Trump conspiring with the National Enquirer to personally attack Mika and Joe’s family certainly brought more distress…and I suspect that will be investigated as a potential crime at some point also…I mean, think about it: The President called his buddy at the Enquirer to send goons to stalk Mika’s kids in order to get Joe to call and give an apology to the White House for bad-mouthing him on the show?! Seems like blackmail or extortion to me. Did anybody tell Donald Trump that Joe has a Juris Doctorate degree?

This stupid Tweet of Trump’s doesn’t really seem to be particularly useful for attacking Morning Joe either. He’s lying when he says he doesn’t watch or care about Morning Joe, obviously, and Trump seems to think access to him is sought by all, since Joe and Mika were spurned three times. Boy, Trump, for being such a self-proclaimed rhetorical warrior, your insults don’t seem to carry much weight…or make any sense. Today’s Tweet simply confirms that, yeah, you probably did try to use the National Enquirer to get at Joe and Mika, ya moron…

If we’ve learned anything from this latest Tweet, it did confirm that Trump has a go-to descriptor for women who incur his wrath: bleeding. Complete allegiance is necessary from women from whom Trump wants fealty; otherwise, the third-grader “women are gross and bleed out of wherever” line gets used as his go-to gotcha attack. What a child our President is.

Without repeating all of the valid points and claims of this morning’s MSNBC broadcast, I’d like to challenge an ongoing premise of Morning Joe’s hosts (and the title/thesis of their Washington Post article): Donald Trump is not mentally ill. I understand that Joe and Mika (and Donnie) knew Trump before this iteration of Donald Trump as Dictator of America, but this is part and partial of Trump’s history and modus operandi: Trump makes people like him by pretending to be a swell guy, then he stabs them in the back when they cease to be useful to him. I understand it’s disappointing to learn that Trump is capable of putting on a nice face, and then later showing his true colors…but I don’t necessarily think it’s dementia. Can’t a guy just be a jerk, without going to the whole “it must not be his fault that he’s a jerk” response?

I have the utmost respect for Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, and I respect their desire to try to keep this from becoming a schoolyard brawl. I do, however, appreciate Donnie Deutsch’s desire to call Trump names in return (and Donnie’s insults are right: Trump’s a detestable pig). I don’t think Trump is capable of learning, until he does have his reputation thoroughly shattered on the global stage…and even then, who knows if he’ll quit Tweeting nonsense to the world?

So, in conclusion, Trump may dismiss all-things-not-Fox-News as fake, but the Maniacal Professor proclaims Morning Joe as The Great American Morning News Program. Long live the King and Queen of daily sanity, and all their friends who hold them up every single morning. Cheers to you all, and God bless your American contributions.

Scott C. Guffey, M.A.

My Maniacal Rant, Chapter Four, Part Five

To be clear, the maniacal in my title does not mean I think we, as Americans, need to be actual maniacs to get our point across to the public. The word’s a brand, a rhetorical device, a contrary descriptor for the word professor. I take on a maniacal tone, but I don’t want anyone who reads my blog thinking I would like to see violence on Donald Trump, or any of his supporters, or any member of the Republican Party. The whole point of my philosophy is to find a reduction to this escalating violence.

This shooter today in Alexandria, Virginia, was an anti-Trumpist, and I want to condemn him (the shooter) with every fiber of my being. Anytime a person stops using their words and commits violence in the name of any ideology, it needs to be condemned.

Republicans were purposefully targeted. I know I’ve written some harsh things about the party in recent years, but I’d like to let Republicans know I still love you because you are American. It’s frustrating, but family is family…and we need an end to this dysfunction.

Scott C. Guffey, M.A.

The Maniacal Professor

My Maniacal Rant, Chapter Four, Part Four

Today, the ghost of Confederate general Stonewall Jackson possessed Jeff Sessions in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, as the Attorney General stonewalled America with Southern drawl and Southern defiance, disseminated liberally throughout the afternoon’s testimony. He made up new legal privilege—apparently, Sessions can anticipate the President’s use of executive privilege, if he believes it’s in his client’s best interests, within which we can also identify Jeff Session’s client as Trump instead of the country…because now Trump gets to claim executive privilege without actually claiming executive privilege. See! Trump’s bullet-proof!

We cannot keep playing this dangerous game. A White Nationalist killed two brave men in Oregon, stabbed another, and scarred two young girls in the name of hate. He appeared before a jury and started spouting about how his anti-Muslim ideology was American. This was a terrorist attack within our borders, and there was weak condemnation of this attacker from the White House, considering the fervor and passion Trump can potentially create with a wave of his tiny Twitter fingers.

Trump excoriated the Mayor of London in the wake of a truly gruesome terrorist attack. Is it “ridiculous” to assume Trump had targeted Sadiq Khan because he is Muslim, and therefore Khan represents the perfect Twitter-fodder for Trump’s ravenously anti-Muslim base? How horrifying to realize the answer.

Trump’s all over the map on foreign affairs lately. His love for Saudi Arabia likely inspired appalling ISIS attacks within Iran’s borders. It’s possible Trump thinks this is a great success because now Shiites are killing one another, and he can potentially claim political value out of created wars in which Muslims kill Muslims. Again, how horrifying.

This game Trump plays, where he’ll let you know when he’s good and God-damn ready…it is a waiting game in which he hopes dumb, ol’ America will just simply forget and move on to the next atrocity. If anything, he thinks of America as being infested with Kafkaesque Gregorian liberal worker cockroaches, and Trump’s the exterminator!…and Oh! by the way, on that note, let me just thank Fox News for not letting me down and never turning down the volume on your hatred of liberal America. Kudos!

We need to see through this farce, and speed up this lame reality show. Let’s stop stonewalling and get to the truth of the matter. This administration is doing damage by the day, and all Trump seems to offer is “Trust me. I’m going to make America great again!” This huckster still can’t have over 30 percent of Americans bamboozled, can he?

Sigh. At least Joe Maddon finally figured out a lineup that will produce runs for America’s team, and just like last season, the Cubs have been the perfect distraction to avoid overexposure to the horrors of Trump tonight. I’d like to shout out my allegiance to my country and my baseball team and my solution for the first:

Go America!

Go Cubs!

Go away Trump!

Scott C. Guffey, M.A.

The Maniacal Professor

My Maniacal Rant, Chapter Four, Part Three

I tried to water my lawn today to forget about all the bullshit I’ve been experiencing lately. There’s something about a nice green lawn and pretty, colorful flowers that appeals to me in this sad age of Trumpism. The problem was the temperature’s 95 degrees in Indiana today, and my water pressure’s low at the spigot, so I have to start early in the afternoon to make sure I get most of the yard. I spent a good amount of time thinking about deep stuff this miserably hot afternoon as my weak sprinkler dribbled on those crusty, crunchy yellow blades of grass…thinking about life in this country during this post-Comey testimony, pre-Sessions testimony American condition of tension and uncertainty.

It’s been about a month since I submitted final grades from the past spring semester, and I’ve been worrying about my lack of an income and Trump’s effect on my country. These two things may be mutually exclusive, but I can’t help but find the connective tissue, much like a floundering fish who has stuck itself on the shore, gulping air desperately while flopping on sun-dried mud…i.e., a situation of its own making.

I’m particularly frustrated because the mistakes I made while teaching last semester have become glaring to me while I reflected in the intolerant heat today. According to student evaluations I read weeks ago, I had a minority of students who became frustrated because I opposed Trump openly in the classroom.  I’m still not sure if I did the right thing. Should I have lightened up on my criticism of Trump, or should I have opposed him more stringently? I watched my cheap sprinkler slowly struggle this afternoon, and I managed to focus on the good stuff I did this past semester, like how I showed my students good, valuable humanist movies like Jeff Nichols’ Loving, Denzel Washington’s Fences, and Robert Redford’s Ordinary People. I remembered how a few prized students let me know how much they appreciated viewing those literary films in their college classroom. I smiled for a bit, but eventually I came back to wondering what the hell is happening in my United States of America at this awkward, contentious moment of dealing with a President who’s mentally-deranged.

Trump’s sucking the air out of the whole damn country right now, and considering his environmental policies, he’s definitely affecting the world’s young people’s chances to enjoy a good breath of fresh oxygen in the near future, no matter where they happen to live…

I don’t know if Jefferson Beauregard Sessions the Third is going to do the right thing tomorrow or not. He’s either going to admit that Trump told him to collude with the Russians, or he’s going to stonewall the Senate committee like Dan Coats and Mike Rogers did last week. Either way, this agony continues. Trump’s unapologetic to a fault, and the Republicans are willing to follow Trump in order to disgrace and dismantle the Obama legacy…unfairly and unjustly, I believe.

There doesn’t seem to be shit that anti-Trumpists like me can do except shake our fists and protest this rampant populism. The approval rate wavers from forty percent to thirty-three percent for Trump, but that doesn’t exactly represent a drop in his popularity. He’s still the tops for so many of my neighbors. These frustrating Mid-Westerners; these enabling Trump voters; these anarchists; these racist misogynists; these Breitbart Nationalists; these greedy, avaricious, selfish ‘Merican bastards and bitches, all of these Americans who still fit well into Hilary Clinton’s Basket of Deplorables: They all like what Trump is doing to the country, and they especially like how frustrated journalists, scientists, and teachers are at this painful American moment. They like how angry and frustrated I feel right now, and I feel my resentment for them continue to grow, despite my desire to love my American neighbor.

This American government sucks to high Hell. I hope Sessions does the right thing tomorrow.

Scott C. Guffey, M.A.

The Maniacal Professor