Education

Oh My God!

I was watching Morning Joe this morning, and the crew focused on the news story about how Rod Wheeler was suing Fox News because they used him to perpetuate a propaganda piece about how a DNC staffer who was murdered, Seth Rich, was accused by Fox News members—most prominently, Sean Hannity—to be the man who leaked e-mails to WikiLeaks instead of the Russians. All of the members on the MSNBC set had solemn looks and used words like “cruel” and “malice” to describe the acts of the Trump-approved Fox News Organization.

I don’t like using the word “evil” much as a descriptor, but I couldn’t help thinking that Fox News is evil. It’s not the first time I’ve thought this about Fox News, but yesterday’s revelations from Rod Wheeler are quite damning. I thought, what could they possibly be reporting about this morning?

I switched over to see what the chuckleheads at Fox and Friends were reporting this morning, and the following is an unofficial transcript of a segment they ran called “Cabinet Bible Study.” I’m not including much commentary because I think the words speak for themselves, as far as why my disgust and disdain for Fox News grows exponentially:

Fox News Girl with Over-sized Diamond Earrings and Perfect Teeth: They’re some of the country’s most powerful people, and now they have been gathering at the White House for God, making history as part of the President’s Cabinet Bible Study. So what’s behind the spiritual awakening at the White House? Here, to weigh in on this is Chief Political Correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network and host of Faith Nation, David Brody.

[The two exchange niceties.]

Fox News Girl: So, tell us what’s happening at the White House. They’re having a Bible study every week?

Fox News Boy Who Thinks He Speaks for All Good Christians, But All Must Support Trump: Every week at the HHS Building! Cabinet members, twelve of them, which is the majority of the Cabinet, is attending! These are evangelicals, Christians, uh, Mike Pompeo of the CIA, you’ve got Ben Carson, Rick Perry, Tom Price, the list goes on.  You know, Mike Pence is planning to drop by. The invitation is open for the President as well, so…but he’s getting the notes from the Bible Study! So it’s pretty fascinating! Our White House correspondent broke the story! Pretty, pretty fascinating!

G: Is this the most evangelical Presidency you’ve seen?

B: Oh, a hundred percent! I don’t think there’s any question about it.

G (interrupting with skepticism): More so than George Bush, number 43?

B: Yes, and uh, uh, uh, there are no qualms about that, but I know there might be some pushback for some evangelical leaders, uh, in that George W. Bush era, but if you talk to evangelicals privately, the dirty little secret is they’re getting more access and facetime with this President than George W. Bush, the evangelical President. There’s, there’s not even a question about it. It’s kinda like a factory in the sense that all of the folks just kinda keep coming in and out. It’s like a shuttle bus going into the White House from evangelicals, and it’s interesting because I actually e-mailed an evangelical leader the other day, and I said, “Hey, there’s a couple of evangelical leaders at the White House today! What’s going on there?”  You know, trying to get it as a source, and a guy says to me, “There’s always evangelical leaders! Every single day!” And that really is the case (Nods affirmatively).

G (solemnly): Compare this White House when it comes to Bible study and the Evangelical Movement to the last administration.

B: Well, I mean, look, there were Bible studies up on Capitol Hill, and there’s still Bible studies, Democrats, Republicans together, and you know, I know that President Obama took his faith very seriously, and I know he took pushback in evangelical circles, so there was some of that, but this is much different because this is a President, President Trump, who encourages the evangelicals and the Bible studies and the Cabinet meetings. It’s interesting because if you talk to evangelical leaders when they’re around this President, they say this President has a lot of peace, that he wants to be around evangelicals, that he’s at ease with them. (Starts to nod up and down) It’s, it’s a very, uh, interesting dynamic (Nods more vigorously).

G (smiling brightly): Well, I know that many of us need faith. It makes us better people, and that’s exactly what I’ve got and my friends have gotten from Bible study, so I think this is a great thing. Thank you so much, David, for being with us. (Slight pause for transition) The Dow opening at near-record territory this morning as President Trump touts a golden message…

Advertisements

Hell Week

Our country treads water furiously as Trump clings heavily about Lady Liberty’s neck, trying to keep his head above water as America drowns beneath his considerable weight. A better analogy probably involves a torture rack with bound arms and legs slowly being stretched out of their sockets, with Trump gleefully smiling beneath a Sith-lord hood as he turns the over-sized wheel slowly and daily.

This is not a surprise. It’s what happens when white, working-class men and their women put a miserable old man with money and all-around awful person at the helm of our great country. The rural Christian community, backed and supported by Fox News, has successfully distorted American Goodness to such awful lows…

Let’s recap the week: 1) We started with the laughable excuses coming out of Jared Kushner’s public report, many of which wouldn’t be acceptable from one of my students turning in a late paper with some half-baked excuses like, “I didn’t read the whole thing, and who reads the entire thing anyway?”  or “Gosh, I hit that pesky SEND button before I finished what I was doing. Sorry, teach. I won’t get any points deducted because of that, right?” 2) Trump aggressively Twitter-attacks Jeff Sessions, by suggesting he pay more attention to Hillary Clinton’s server (which was apparently the only thing not hacked during the election of 2016), because “Lock Her Up!” never gets old. This whole Russia thing seems to really be getting underneath the Orange Menace’s skin. Reminds me of Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart. 3) Trump decides it’s time to ramp up his efforts to warp the minds of American children by glorifying himself instead of the country in front of the Boy Scouts. 4) He continues his self-defeating assault specifically on members of his own damn party. His game? He pressures Senators about the nebulous repeal of the Not-Quite-as-Dead-as-Trump-and-the-Majority-of-Republicans-Think Obamacare Law, and provides no coherent antidote of his own. All he’s got is blowing hot air, and the Republicans are slow to realize it. Contrition for Democrats and admission of Obamacare’s benefits are needed to fix the healthcare system, and neither appear to be on the horizon… 5) Trump reaffirms his allegiance to the American Christians who think he’s the Messiah by banning transgender people from their Godly-appointed American Armies.

This is only Thursday morning. I’m sure as I write this, there is another crisis about which many of us will wring our hands, and some of us will applaud.

This may not be a surprise to me, but it still is so very painful to see Trump degrade my country with so much vigor and support. The most painful thing is the applause and laughter when he proclaims himself to be so damn great, and his fans capitulate every single, infuriating time! It’s more painful when it’s our children, who will likely think it’s okay to be so vainglorious and overbearing. Our children may now validate the consistent belittling of good rationale, grammar, and spelling, and the young students may give up entirely on reading complicated texts or thinking beyond the surface layer of most arguments. Our children are learning that the way to money and power is to be a popular bully, who gets more outrageous the more he is enabled by the other wannabe bullies who cheer him on…It’s no surprise, but there’s a lot of pain in my bleedin’ American heart.

Scott C. Guffey, M.A.

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 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

 

My Maniacal Rant, Chapter Four, Part One

As simply as I can express, within this American moment,…

There is some evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and this stubborn, ignorant President works against American interests throughout every Tweet, rally, and international meeting. Every. American. Day.

The Republican Party invited Trump within their avaricious party, most eloquently expressed by the Fox News network each insufferable day, because Trump was perceived as a winner against the Black President. Trump is a liar, pure and clearly, and there’s no way of changing that perception for sixty percent of Americans at this date. The other forty percent of America seem to buy the Fox News propaganda about “anything’s better than Obama.”

[Maniacal Professor’s Note: The morning after I published this blog-post, Roger Ailes, of Fox News died. I am no fan of his network, but out of respect, I have revised this essay, taking out some of the more inflammatory language toward Fox News and Sean Hannity.]

Personally, I masochistically keep waiting for a potential Messiah to arrive and save us from Trump, while simultaneously realizing that any simple idiot is more capable of being President than Donald Trump. Yay America!

Within America, we are many, many partisans who are tired of both parties and may be considering an alternative to the traditional political parties in 2018 and 2020. There’s a thirst for progressiveness within the citizenry, whether it’s a preference through liberal or conservative leanings. This coming movement may be mostly about social issues in the future (not the economy, which has become an ephemeral ghost of Ayn Rand’s worst nightmares!), and there’s certainly a potential for young voices within the American political process to speak, asking for compassion for our neighbor, rather than judgments based on the place of our American neighbor’s birth.

America’s not about your personal heritage. It’s about your individual contribution to the future of this country.

Trump has affected America negatively, but the product of his machinations remain to be determined, whether it be for four hard years of hard, practiced journalistic attention, or it be throughout an impeachment trial during the summer of 2017 that threatens to tear the country apart ideologically…

The Republican Party needs to find some compassion within their social policies, and the Democratic Party needs to cease their ideological purity, especially within the collegiate, legalistic, business-istic, and journalistic professional communities. America needs this to happen right now, for the little guy, not the investor.

My country is slightly in turmoil, yet I inherently know those who read my silly, little blog: All of you still love your country; you don’t want to leave your home and keep fleeing to an imaginary Utopia. We want to smile at our neighbor, not shoot our weird-looking neighbor with a gun for being nosey, or boisterous, or looking at someone’s woman, or whatever the fuck we keep insisting on the need to shoot each other all the freakin’, fuckin’ time….

Simply, I know America is more neighborly than judgmental. We are more agents than conformists. We Americans do not think sinister plots upon our neighbors, throughout the fifty states; instead, we hold up and help our helpless neighbor, not grind his chin to the dirt.

Trump is assuredly a mere speed-bump in American history, not a catastrophe. America will persist, despite Trump, and that’s worth investing some patriotic faith into our American institutions. It’s important to do so as American citizens, proud of our system of sharing wealth and community improvement.

This thesis, as inspired tonight after having watched our Congress slowly admit Trump’s liabilities, makes this turmoil, for me, a bit more digestible. I thought I’d share my thoughts on this highly turbulent evening, with love and hope for the future of the American people, within this very personal blog post.

Scott C. Guffey, M.A.

Class Conclusion Spring 2017

To my students of the spring 2017 semester:

The first thing I’d like to say to you is congratulations. All of you produced college-appropriate Research Papers, and thus, every one of you passed the class, most of you with flying colors! It was a long reading process, per usual at the end of the semester, but your papers were interesting: some were provocative, some were contentious, and all were effectively argumentative and expository. I often admit to people that the main reason I like teaching college classes is I learn as much from my students as they may learn from me. Your arguments are worthy of consideration, and that’s ultimately what I ask students to produce in my class. If you have any questions or comments about your evaluation (or if you can’t read my writing…I get a bit scratchy when I have 300-plus pages of homework to grade in a week), then feel free to ask before you leave today.

I ‘d like to offer some revelations for you: My students, I want you to know, that I came this close to breaking my contract in January and walking away from the teaching game, all because of Donald Trump becoming the President.

It’s difficult to explain it; it seems like forever ago, but at the end of last semester, I felt deflated, realizing what the daily grind would be like during Trump’s first trimester as President, and I had just finished a few classes that had some defiant, Trump-loving students in them. I didn’t think I’d be able to maintain the necessary decorum, and I wasn’t sure I actually wanted to be a teacher in Trump’s America, where schmaltz and bullshit are the order of the day. This is hard for most of the people I know to understand about me, but try to imagine what it’s like to teach rhetoric in a society that devalues the nature of language every day. At any rate, I was having quite a few second thoughts about teaching in January.

Here in May, I can tell you that I am very glad that I did teach these classes this semester because you students are such interesting people, and you are, mostly, receptive to my methods. I learned a lot about myself by opening up a bit more to these classes; I’m usually more withdrawn and anxious, but this semester, I managed to relax a bit more and be myself. I took some chances with lectures this semester…not that every speech landed, but I think the majority of them were still solid. I took a more improvisational approach than acting from the meticulous notes I worked from in the past. This semester, I was more honest with my students, and I think, perhaps, these qualities may have been a benefit to you.

I always fall in love with my students, without exception, and that’s also why I was nervous about starting another semester this past January.  In my mind, a good teacher invests in his students, and for me that requires getting to know them as people. I’m glad I did, and I thank you for investing equally in me.

So, in our final day of class, I wanted to leave you with some thoughts, little lessons that you won’t find in your textbook, but I think these are valuable and worthwhile to tell. Some are based on the Nicomachean concept of moderation, some are simply good-natured, and all are things I’d like my students to think about after we conclude this class:

  1. Be honest, in all things. The second we start stretching the truth with others is the second we start having to keep track of the lies we tell. Seriously, though, as a writer, I’ve learned that honesty creates good rhetoric, as I mentioned on day one!
  2. Learn how to have conversations with others…Seriously! Stop looking at your phone, and learn how to talk to people.
  3. Try not to devalue yourself. There are all these messages in our media that tell us we’re not good enough, that we need to look, talk, and act certain ways to be valuable (usually by spending money on yada, yada, yada). Don’t fall for the marketing game, and stop worrying about what other people think. You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and people will like you! (Understand, I devalue myself ALL the time! This is something I’m working on.)
  4. The line, “When they go low, we go high” drives me nuts! In case anyone noticed, it didn’t work. John Dickerson went on a self-righteous tear a few weeks ago about swearing, stating that since Trump swears, that doesn’t mean we sink to his level. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and such. If I were going to suggest a tired, old cliché, it’d be “fight fire with fire.”
  5. Play the long game, but live in the moment. I try to use patience in all things, and I sometimes stop what I’m doing and just stand, look, and breathe. Stay where you are, look around, and take a gulp of fresh air. The other day I came to some conclusions about this summer while White-Crowned Sparrows, Purple and Gold Finches, a few CatBirds, some beautiful Red-Breasted Grosbeaks, and a fifteen-inch Hairy Woodpecker ate from our feeders, all within an hour’s time. Some may call it a waste of time, but I wouldn’t give back that hour for anything.
  6. Be kind to your neighbor; however, do not be so kind as to be taken….This is a tough one. We Americans definitely need to be more neighborly, but the American illness seems to be all about grifting and tricking others. Everybody’s selling something, including the President! Simply, it’s a tough living out there, and you need to be aware that people may take advantage of you in this country…and usually the one who waves the flag, fears for the children, or thumps the Bible more than everybody else, that person is definitely selling you something.
  7. Also, be careful not to let the people closest to you prevent you from becoming a better person. This is not the case for everyone, but some need to understand that sometimes our loved ones are not giving us the best advice. Family is a helluva thing; we are bound to one another, and we feed emotionally off each other. We hurt one another to feel pain ourselves, and family is often the dominant thought running through our minds when we let them wander.
  8. As such, we need to actively maintain our relationships with those with whom we are closest. Understand this, with all the complicated concepts we study here in college, the absolute hardest thing to do in your life is keep peace and solidarity with those with which we choose to coexist and cohabitate. See the above item for an explanation as to why….
  9. Here’s a personal favorite: Money is not the most important thing in our lives. America just makes it seem that way, especially in Trump’s America. If you haven’t seen Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue from this Monday, then check it out to get a good example.
  10. Without qualification, always celebrate life. It’s too damn fleeting and fragile to not elevate each other because we are all, very simply, alive.

This is my letter to you at the conclusion of the semester, so if you could perform one final writing for me, then please today write me a letter letting me know what you thought of the class…and again, please be honest. I know that some of you do not appreciate my unorthodox tactics, and I know that I often am very preachy…I try to be preachy, believe it or not, after reading you those ten life lessons!…I do ask, however, to consider why I say and do the things I do, and how it may have affected you positively or negatively. I’d also like you to consider some things, such as the textbook, the ICWAs, the Writing Projects, the Additional Readings, the library visit, any specific day that bothered you, the films we watched in class, my appearance, my lectures, my writing…anything, just please be honest, and write me a letter. I will eagerly go home tonight to read them, so I can see if this class worked out for you or not, so thank you in advance for being honest in your evaluation.

Again, I wish you congratulations, and I hope you all can breathe a happy sigh of relief today. Have a happy summer, and if you can, in a fleeting moment here or there, remember our time together. Thanks.

Scott C. Guffey, M.A.

My Maniacal Rant, Chapter Three, Part Four

After review of the Sunday news shows, I am struck by the amount of times I heard “Mister Trump,” when for years, I did not hear “Mister Obama” out of the mouths of most journalists from 2008 to 2016. I’m pretty sure how I feel about that observation, but I’m also certain about how most television analysts shy away from mentioning race as a factor in all Americans’ lives, in addition to the lawyers, teachers, and doctors in rural and suburban America who do the same in their day-to-day. So, it’s an item of little note…

I also understand how hard it is to be a journalist in this day-and-age. Today, we’re the enemy of our American neighbor, as Trump disseminates like seed down the row.  The journalists on TV, however, need to step up their game.

This past Thursday’s press conference provided so much exposure of Trump’s fallacies and fallibilities, yet the TV journalists still treat Trump as if his media presence gives him legitimacy. At some point, journalists are going to have to get aggressive and stand up to Trump’s bullying, and all of us are going to have to realize that Trump supporters are not interested in the good of the country.

We all have to stand up to this Trumpism, or we are going to become an oppressor nation…or more importantly, an aggressor nation, which would certainly produce World War Three unequivocally.

The three items I would have liked to see paid more attention to this Sunday on the shows:

1) Russia has taken an aggressor stance against America since the Trump pressor, and this is certainly because of what Trump said at the press conference. Beyond Trump blaming the media for changing Russia’s mind about a reset, Trump cavalierly mentioned, “The greatest thing I could do is shoot that ship that’s 30 miles offshore right out of the water.” This flippant remark was not mentioned much on any of the Sunday shows (or much of the MSNBC, CNN, or Fox News shows since Thursday), but it should be the biggest red flag out of all of the mush out of Trump’s mouth. I guarantee it was the statement that got Vladmir Putin’s attention, and it’s the kinda thing that is antithetical to the whole “Russia can be our friend” bullshit.

2) A Jewish reporter asked a perfectly reasonable question, and he was berated without much of any defense from American news outlets’ best journalists. Jake Turx of Ami Magazine asked a legitimate question about how Trump will deal with anti-Semitism. I suppose Trump’s answer tells me that America will ignore anti-Semitism, belittle any mention of it as an unfair question, and continue to promote old-school, White-American Denialism of discriminatory practices by Americans to the bitter, undying White-American end. You know, status-quo for our country!

3) Donald Trump continued his disparaging treatment of black citizens by his treatment of April Ryan. People, there’s just too much evidence out there of how racist Donald Trump is to continue to believe him when he says he is “the least racist person” you’ll ever meet. Come on. He’s a white supremacist. This news item gained a lot of attention in the major media broadcasts, but every member of the media is still afraid of calling this spade a spade.

Please continue to resist this Orange Tyranny. Speak out against this oppression within the Free States of America. Do not believe that we live in carnage. Believe that we live in harmony with our neighbor.

Resist.

Scott C. Guffey, M.A.

My Maniacal Rant, Chapter Three, Part Three

Once again, this should be simple to figure out, yet it seems so difficult to state bluntly about what happened here: America elected a Russian sympathizer as President of the United States of America.

This is probably because white-America thinks an alt-right, autocratic dictator would be better than the black, leftist humanitarian he replaced; also, women have no place at the head of American government, especially when the female candidate advocates Planned Parenthood, fair pay for all Americans, peace with our neighbors, and government-sponsored healthcare.

Putin had some good approval numbers here in America during the 2016 Presidential election, even with such obvious evidence of Russian journalists and political opponents being killed at the Kremlin’s doorstep, with the LGBT communities of Russia being oppressed and violated, and with strongly-mouthy female rock-stars jailed unreasonably as propaganda for a misogynistic government.

It should be obvious that Vladmir Putin wants to restore the Soviet Union…and perhaps a bit more.

The rumor is that Putin has a sex-tape with Donald Trump doing untoward business with a couple of Russian prostitutes.

My reaction is, “Who the fuck cares!”

We, as objective-minded Americans, have Trump clearly speaking on A/V recording, saying very clearly that he is a misogynist. The excuse of locker-room talk didn’t cover that Trump comment for me during the campaign, and I suspect all of the Americans who remember that bullshit may empathize with the following rationale:

I fully suspect a video exists of Donald Trump appearing within the same room as pornographic activity, and I further suspect if this video leaks into the American media, then nothing significant will really happen because of the leak.

His loyalists have already said, “So what? I’m not electing the Pope.”

Putin has nothing over Trump’s head. These two men have just found fellowship as ideologues who want to take over the world and plaster a white man’s name across the planet…kinda like Benji Netanyahu, who decided today to court the New World Order’s Boys’ Club for the benefit of a one-state Israel that creates second-class citizens of Palestinians.

We need to stop ignoring the state of our political system, America. If you’re a resident or consumer of these United States, then the events of the next year are highly relevant to your everyday American life. Don’t try to convince yourself otherwise, or you will be oppressed soon.

Here’s my American method of staying sane, as a 43-year-old Irish-American, Northwest-Indiana college instructor, who has tentatively managed over 100 college courses for over a decade now:

  • Do no harm to others.
  • Be patient in all things.
  • Never lose your temper.

Trump violates all of these edicts. He wants to be Vladmir Putin. He wants to be dictator of the United States of America. He wants to rob us of our liberty. He wants to bully his way, with the media’s help, creating a large wound through the concept of American democracy.

Just ask Trump’s 31-year-old Nazi counselor, Stephen Miller, who proudly shouts that Trump shouldn’t be questioned by other branches of American government, using the proper Nazi vocal inflection in all four Sunday news programs this past weekend.

If you’ve a problem with me invoking Nazism, then I’ll remind you that Adolf Hitler ran a political party.

Trump wants to rob Americans of their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I’d love to call myself a conservative Republican again, but the damn Republican Party keeps backing this Orange Fool…

Yet, the Democrats in my life keep insisting that existing policies are the way to go!…

So, as an independent moderate, who cannot wait for a third American party, who thinks absolutism is the true cancer of America, who feels more and more compelled to speak up in this American Apocalypse…

Resist.

Scott C. Guffey, M.A.

My Maniacal Rant, Chapter Three, Part Two

The rhetorical gymnastics being played right now are astonishing. This should be pretty easy for all of us to figure out, if we’ve been paying attention to Trump.

He’s doing exactly what he said he was going to do.

He made a big deal during the campaign about needing to ban Muslims, specifically, to the point of reading his policy in Presidential style during the campaign. Rudy Giuliani admits it’s a legal trick to disguise it so this Muslim ban will muster its way through the courts successfully. Sean Spicer said today it’s not even a travel ban, just extreme vetting. Now Trump can tell his Christian supporters, who can’t wait to start a war with Muslims, that he got his ban, while the media fights with Trump about using the term “ban.”

During the campaign, Trump also doubled-down on the idea that the Central Park Five were guilty, even though extreme vetting proved to be horribly, horribly incorrect in that tragic case. Police officers extremely-vetted five random kids into prison sentences for crimes they didn’t commit…and Trump still thinks they’re guilty because extreme vetting has to work.

Trump still believes in torture, although he’ll “defer” to the specialists! I’m assuming that he’s going to give the thumbs-up to torture behind closed doors and attempt to keep the reporters in the dark about it…at least until he feels safe enough to wheel one of his unlucky nay-sayers onto a television stage, strapped immotile, upside-down to a flatboard, ready to demonstrate to America how water-boarding is effective and keeps America safe!

He wants us to think Obama’s to blame because our last President designated these seven countries for extra scrutiny with visas and green cards, but we all know Obama would never have approved of this executive order. It’s also okay for Trump to do this because Obama did it himself to Iraq!…even though, there was a terror attack on a military recruitment station in Kentucky that called for the action. Trump cannot point to any such recent terror attack. In fact, every terror attack used to defend this executive order has been performed by terrorists NOT from any of the seven countries on the list! Trump’s going to have to stand up on his own two feet, and stop pointing to Obama for the mistakes Trump makes.

Trump wants us to believe that he’s protecting us by detaining members of the seven countries and putting them under the hot spotlight of good, old-American gestapo police-questioning in order to find the bad guys…like some God-awful buddy-cop movie. And why not? It seems like most Americans think that’s how America’s supposed to be: like in the movies! You know, where all the Muslims are trying to kill America’s white people! Ah, I remember the good old days when it was the Ruskies trying to kill America’s white people in the movies.

A lot of Americans are stupid enough to cheer him on because he’s fulfilling campaign promises that will come back to bite them in the ass. We are paying for the wall, he did start a trade war with a bordering country, and Steve Bannon will be in charge of the military! In fact, I’m being kind. It’ll be ass-rending, not just a little bite.

There’s also a lot of Americans, like me, that are just as stupid. I stupidly continue to try to make logical sense out of Trump’s agenda, when he told us exactly what he’s going to do for the last year and more: He’s going to take over this country and fix it in his image.

I am most chilled because he did say he was going to kill family members of the terrorists, and that’s one of the first things he did in Yemen with Seal Team Six (as if he wanted to mimic Obama’s surprise attack of Osama bin Laden). An eight-year-old girl, daughter of a terrorist, shot and killed ten days into Trump’s presidency.  One of our Seals was killed too.

There are 5,000+ soldiers in Iraq right now, partnered with the people affected by this ban. I doubt they even care about the whole “religious test” as much as they care about all the times Trump is caught saying we should have taken all the oil, and who knows, maybe there’ll be another chance to do it right!

Trump’s doing everything he said he would do, so I am most scared for my country’s soldiers right now, stationed in Iraq.

Mr. Trump, you are endangering lives, and you can protest about protecting us all you want. You are endangering people. Get it in your head, Mr. Trump. You don’t know more than the generals.

This country–indeed, this world–is not your play-toy, Mr. Trump. If you’re looking to start a war and are testing the waters to see who you can trust before you go full-on military state with America, then, sir, you are going to start losing your legitimacy quickly with every American. You already lost it with me, but I promise you this, when Americans start dying, sir, we, as Americans, do not fall back in line. Maybe the Democrats in Congress are looking to fall back into line so quickly, but my brand of American does no such thing. We fight when we need to, and there are plenty of Americans who did not vote on November 8th that would like to contribute to the conversation at this moment.

Mr. Trump, slow it down, and start listening to the people, or we will revolt…and I will be happy to be a part of it.

You don’t scare me, Mr. Trump. I look forward to the eventual insulting tweet; in fact, here, let me write it for you:

This is the problem with America: mouthy teachers who should be doing what they’re told. The Maniacal Professor’s a fool. Sad. Maybe he should be waterboarded.

Scott C. Guffey, M.A.