ManiacalProfessor

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

 

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 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.

My Maniacal Rant, Chapter Three, Part One

“The New Style”

For the first installment of my maniacal rant for 2017, I’d like to write about how I’ve grown and stagnated as a writer and teacher, and ultimately how I’d like to progress before the conclusion of this first year of the American Apocalypse:

On day one of our composition classes this semester, I told my students that I’m less concerned about mechanical error and formatting mistakes in their papers than I am interested in emphasizing the sentence style, paragraph coherence, and overall content, unified by an argumentative thesis throughout the structure of the essay as a whole.  I know good spelling, complete sentences, and formal tone are important for writing good essays, but they are certainly not the most important things.

Robert Pirsig wrote in his magnum opus, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, that the “thing that depressed him was prescriptive rhetoric…the old slap-on-the-fingers-if-your-modifiers-were-caught-dangling stuff. Correct spelling, correct punctuation, correct grammar. Hundreds of itsy-bitsy rules for itsy-bitsy people.  No one could remember all that stuff and concentrate on what he was trying to write about.”

Pirsig’s on to something here. Many students constrain their writing voice because teachers have drilled into students’ heads that writing is about following the rules. I might suggest that good writing is more about breaking the rules than following them.

I’ve learned that, perhaps, the most important things about writing are 1) being honest with yourself about what you write, 2) scrutinizing everything you read and hear as an argumentative claim, and 3) writing without fear because of whomever may read it, whether it be family, friends, or co-workers.

The first item requires a life-long journey of learning about one’s self, as we fashion an identity that allows us to communicate with one another more clearly and comfortably. Most anguish about writing comes from not having enough confidence to express authority about controversial topics. For many young college writers, it’s potential anguish about speaking openly in disagreement against political ideas, religious rules, and argumentative subjects learned from elder family members, high school teachers, or supervisors at their local starting jobs. Becoming a better writer means to write openly and honestly without fear of repercussion from others, and learning to communicate with honesty. To be colloquial, I’d say I’ve learned that to write better, one must shovel through a lot of bullshit to get at the truth of the New American Rhetorical Situation.

The second item requires a writer to read texts, to become an authority on all the content about us in this complicated world. In this age of Trump, there is much potential argumentative content which is available about which to write. That’s a mouthful, but it’s absolutely necessary to pay attention by reading more…by paying attention instead of ignoring politics and religion, thereby allowing people in positions of authority to retain bad ideologies from both American institutions.  Self-identifying as a writer at a very early age, I’ve maintained some tendencies that have been beneficial, including voracious reading of literature, the news, and popular culture.  Sampling as much language as possible is ultimately the best way to become a better writer and speaker, and this has become an academic mantra.

The third item is a recent thing I have learned about myself, and it concerns my own personal stagnation as a writer. I have written to this point in my life with respect for my fellow Republicans and Christians, although it has been a waning respect. This past year’s election has seen the cessation of any modicum of respect from this writer for Republicans, since they aligned with Donald Trump. For eight years, I have seen a steady stream of propaganda from the Fox News network, based on invalid logic, hate speech, and drummed-up emotional fear, which my family and neighbors digest with regularity. Fox News contributors like Sean Hannity, Mike Huckabee, Laura Ingraham, Ben Carson, and Mike Pence have draped themselves in crosses, demanded to be voices for good Christian Americans, and distorted the goodness of Christian ethics through illegitimate argument. Some white American Christians sleep with their fundamentalist Bible under their heads, hoping that Jesus will come back and take them to Heaven while all the liberal infidels are left behind to suffer for their prodigal sins. This is unhealthy behavior, yet it’s drilled into our children’s heads in the White American church. I know this because it was drilled into my head, coming from a family that attended church too much and often targeted schools and teachers as being the environment and agents of the secular evil responsible for the end of blue-collar America. Facebook has been an eye-opener, as I have read the most appalling arguments, many of which come from people I love, who fostered me, and taught me about life, about what I thought it meant to be a good man. Unfortunately, I’ve been reviewing past conversations and revising opinions about what it means to be a good American citizen and Christian today.  It’s discouraging and revealing, especially since many of those people do nothing but complain about what I write…

So, a new style must be adopted. In order to become a better writer and teacher, I must stop filtering the content of what I write and say through the sieve of false conservative ideology, based on the old-person voices in my head from those who voted for Donald J. Trump, the voices that have tried to say it’s okay to discriminate based on ill-defined subjective arguments using concepts like sin, evil, and promoting violence, the voices that promote prejudice and avarice, the voices of those who are constantly trying to tell me I’m wrong, the voices that attempt to repress me based on their own false sense of offense, while attempting to counter-explain ethics and morality back to a diligent student, teacher, journalist, rhetorician, and philosopher, all of which are societal roles consistently belittled by Republicans.

I no longer give those voices power in my rhetoric. I hope to evolve as a better ethical professional as a result.

Scott C. Guffey, M.A.

My Maniacal Rant, Chapter Two, Part Nine

When we step out of the white noise and take a look from outside the media fish bowl, we can see that this election is not that hard to figure out.

This is not about being loyal to a party, or conservative versus liberal; blue-collar versus white-collar; or city versus country discussions lost to the rhetorical void of infuriating, frustrating American deadlock.

This is a vote for a moderate or radical President.

Trump’s going to throw a temper-tantrum from now until November 8th, which is guaranteed to continue after the election. He’s going to throw all kinds of shade and drum up anti-Hillary sentiment to the point of violence. The only thing moderate about Donald Trump—if you consider human fallibility to be a trait that needs moderation—is his tendency to snort on camera when he’s thinking, “Holy Shit! I’m really doing this!”

Clinton’s going to step aside, act cool, and hope nothing radical happens…like if she decided to scream at Trump on stage at this last debate, as I wanted her to do…because then Trump would inevitably shout, “See!! She IS a screaming harpy! Let’s not put her in jail! Let’s scream, ‘BURN HER!’ like they did in that Monty Python movie!!!” Laughter, applause, and a lynching follow…

Look. I get it. Hillary Clinton doesn’t inspire confidence, but Donald Trump is obviously the radical choice, and those choices almost always have consequences.

I’m not going to ask you to go out and vote, like most people seem to be broadcasting, most specifically at the youth, for whom I can testify are terrified at the “adult” government. I perfectly understand how much stamina it’s going to take to stay politically aware and go out and vote on November 8th.

Stay home if you want to. I’m willing to bet the ones who go out to vote are the Americans with the strongest feelings, understanding, and conscience for American values…

…and the one thing I retain from my religious upbringing: You gotta have faith!

Scott C. Guffey, M.A.