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Notes on Some Wine-Review Books: Cabernet Sauvignon


California Cabernet Sauvignon—specifically Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon—became “branded” in the public’s mind much more quickly than any other wine in history. How this happened was relatively straightforward, although that does not make the accomplishment any less noteworthy. The grape has been grown in California since the mid- or late 1800s and there are records of its wines winning awards in Europe more than a century ago. But Cabernet really hit the international Big Time after the 1960s.

By then, jet travel, international trade and famous wine critics had become part and parcel of wine’s economic milieu, so that it was far easier for a wine to build up a global reputation than it had been in, say, the 1700s, when Bordeaux ever so slowly became coveted. One factor, seldom-cited, that contributed to Cabernet’s budding reputation was the intervention of another Britisher, the wine merchant and bon vivant, Harry Waugh, whose “Wine Diaries”—a series of memoirs he wrote beginning in the early 1960s—were enormously influential among a small but important group of wine influencers. Harry (everyone called him by his first name) was a delightful man, Edwardian in his fusses and manners. I traveled with him through Washington State in the early 1990s, at a time when, already quite elderly, he was a bit gaga (I mean no disrespect), in a sweetly doddering way. Our hosts, the state’s Wine Commission, asked me to “keep an eye on him,” so as to make sure he did not wander off somewhere and come to harm during our travels throughout Washington’s extensive wine country. By then, I already owned most of his Diaries; his writing style—laconic, deadpan, completely without fluffery, as modest as its author—influenced my own a great deal. But Harry’s contribution to Napa Cabernet Sauvignon was in spreading its glories to his compatriots in Europe: the merchants, nobility, business titans and writers of London, Paris and Bordeaux, who first heard of, and tasted, Heitz, Louis M. Martini, Beaulieu, Robert Mondavi, Freemark Abbey, Charles Krug, Inglenook, and other Napa Valley glories, through Harry’s good graces. Premium wine requires a cult of aficiendos to bring it to acclaim, and Harry was the seed germ of California wine for that international jet set.

My introduction to California Cabernet Sauvignon was not from Napa Valley but from a decidedly less august place, Monterey County. In the cold winter of 1979-1980, while living in an unheated apartment (I was a struggling student) in the foggy southwestern part of San Francisco, I bought a 1977 Almaden Cabernet from that Central Coast region. Monterey did not have a good reputation as a wine region, nor Almaden for a winery. Yet the bottle was cheap, and so I decided to make my very first-ever wine note with it. I remember sitting down at a little writing table with the bottle and the wine glass beside me and writing, my fingers frigid in that chilly apartment, that review (I no longer have it), which was the genetic forebear of so many others to follow. I do not recall what I wrote but that is unimportant. What counted was that I did it—focused on the wine, gathered my thoughts, sniffed, swirled, tasted, retasted, resniffed, reswirled, retasted, all the while struggling to find the words to describe what my senses were experiencing.

From my reading, it had become evident that Cabernet Sauvignon was the important wine in California, and Napa Valley the important place to grow it. Not long after that, I made my first trip to the valley, in the company of my cousin, Maxine, and her husband, Keith. We went—I recall it distinctly, because, more than 30 years later, I was to go to work for its parent company—to Freemark Abbey, where an amusing incident arose that illustrates the truth of the old slogan, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” I knew of Freemark Abbey’s pedigree and was intent on tasting its very finest Cabernet Sauvignon. The lady at the tasting bar offered me a glass of something labeled “Cabernet Bosché.” I turned my nose up. “That is not Cabernet Sauvignon,” I insisted, suspecting trickery. “Yes, it is,” she insisted. “Then why is it called ‘Cabernet Bosché?’” Perry Mason was closing in for the kill. “Because ‘Bosché is the name of the vineyard,” in the commune of Rutherford. “We named it ‘Cabernet Bosché’ to honor the vineyard. It is our very finest Cabernet Sauvignon.”

But stupid me was not to be put off. No, I said, I want to taste Cabernet Sauvignon; so the very nice lady gave me a glass of the winery’s regular Cabernet Sauvignon.Well, that is how one learns, through mistakes. Years later, when I worked for that parent company, Jackson Family Wines, and they asked me to put together a museum for a new visitor’s gallery they were constructing at Freemark Abbey, I came across, in old files that looked like they hadn’t been accessed for decades, the original paperwork for the use of the Bosché vineyard’s grapes. Someone initially decided to drop the accent aigu on the final “e,” fearing it would be too much for Americans. Someone else—one of the winery’s founders, as I recall—argued to the contrary; and the accent aigu was restored, as well it should have been.

My early tasting notebooks nonetheless contain very little fine Napa Valley Cabernet, for the simple reason that I couldn’t at that time afford it (it has always been expensive). The first one I did review that you could call upscale was Clos du Val’s 1978 Cabernet Sauvignon, which I had in the summer of 1986. I recall nothing of the circumstances of my acquisition, nor did I record the price. Perhaps I bought it at the little wine shop on 24th Street in Noe Valley, where I was then living. Clos du Val, founded by a Frenchman, Bernard Portet (whose father, I believe, had worked at Latour or Lafite), was located in the Stags Leap District of the valley, on the Silverado Trail, and had a reputation for being more “Bordeaux-like” than other Napa Valley Cabs, which is to say, lower in alcohol and as a consequence less ripe, less lush, but perhaps more ageable. I liked it well enough, but it didn’t bowl me over, and I wrote “I just wish I had waited another 4-5 years.” The tannins, you see, made the wine hard. I have since tasted plenty of Clos du Val Cabs, including old vintages up to twenty years of age, and I think that tannin problem, and a certain rustic nature, always bothered me. Bernard wanted to make a more linear, elegant wine; so did most of the other Europeans who established wineries in Napa Valley. I remember, with delight, when Jean-Noel de Formeaux (who was Belgian, I think, not French) began his Chateau Potelle project, on Mount Veeder. He told me he found most Napa Valley Cabernet to be “like Tammy Faye Bakker,” the T.V. evangelist’s wife, famous in her own right, who painted her face with scads of rouge, eye shadow, eye liner, fake spidery lashes and goopy, smeared red lipstick; it all made her look rather like a drag queen. Jean-Noel’s (“Jonny Christmas”) point was that in his view Napa Valley Cabernet was freakishly overdone in every respect. He wanted, he explained, his wines to be more like the sleek, pulled-together women of Paris and the Bordeaux quai and less like poor, satirical American Tammy Faye, no longer with us but whose memory lives on in certain breasts.

Another Clos du Val instance comes to mind which suggests an approach to blind tasting, and how sometimes success in guessing comes not necessarily from what you taste but how you deduce. This was around 1995. Somebody put together a tasting of current-release Napa Cabernets at the old Hawthorne Lane restaurant, then one of the trendiest in San Francisco. At the end, our host announced a special contest: we would taste a single wine, wrapped in a brown paper bag; whoever identified it would win dinner for two at the restaurant.

The tasting had been of Napa Valley Cabernets, so I assumed, for better or worse, that the “blind” wine would be of the same genus. I at once knew it was older, from the color—orange around the meniscus, or rim—and the aroma, which had matured into the “bottle bouquet” of an aged wine. Yet it still contained hard tannins, and a fair amount of acidity. I estimated it to be around 18-20 years old. Hmm. Who was making wine like that in Napa Valley in the 1970s? Only one winery came to mind. It was a good, ripe wine; the 1978 vintage was famous for ripeness. I guessed 1978 Clos du Val. I got two out of three points right; the blind wine had been the reserve, not the regular, and so I did not get the dinner for two. Unfair, I thought. Sic transit gloria. But it was satisfaction enough.

Countdown to Election Night!


I’ve made my plans for election night. I refuse to watch it on T.V. alone—it’s going to be too gut-wrenching. So I’ll go up to Lauren and Fernando’s place. I’ll bring a bottle of Aperol, the Italian liqueur I’ve been enjoying lately, which is similar to Campari but a little sweeter, and also some Perrier to mix it with (over ice, of course). And a snack: maybe pizza. Then we’ll settle in.

I’m nervous as f**k, as is every Democrat in America. This could go either way. It could go in several different directions at once. Judging from my conversations with folks, everybody seems to anticipate some kind of chaos, with the most general expectation being that Nov. 3 and the following weeks or months will bring an unprecedented period in American history. Of course, it’s possible that all this catastrophizing is simply that; the election will go off smoothly, whoever loses will concede to the winner, there will be no explosions in the streets, and that will be that.

But if you believe that rosy scenario, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

Every time it looks like Biden is a shoo-in, something happens to make me worry. A new poll appears that shows Trump winning the general election. Or a poll showing the Senate remaining out of Democratic control. Or a new report on Republican/Supreme Court voter suppression. It’s interesting to speculate on what happens if Biden wins but Republicans (and McConnell) retain Senate control. It’s a lot more emotionally satisfying to think of Biden winning and the Senate flipping. First thing I would do, were I the new Senate Majority Leader (presumably Schumer), is to institute proceedings to expel McConnell. The U.S. Constitution allows that. Article 1, Section 5 says

“Each House [of Congress] may determine the Rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member.”

The thing is, we Democrats have a powerful thirst for revenge. (Most of us, anyway. I sure do.) After what McConnell did to Merrick Garland, he has to be made to pay. Expulsion would be the minimum. Just throw his sorry, chinless ass out. We also want revenge on Trump himself and on his children. All of them. The most satisfying outcome would be for a complete Democratic takeover. Then both Houses of Congress could begin their investigations—into Trump’s taxes, his violation of the emoluments clause, his using the presidency to enrich himself and his family, the collusion with the Russians and everything else. Congress could vote to release the entire Mueller Report to the public, and all the other “secret” documents Trump’s lawyers have been fighting to keep private. Then, too, the civil lawsuits against Trump and his family could be filed—the sexual assaults, the hush money payments, the Chinese bank accounts, the tax dodging, the crooked real estate deals, the whole sordid private life of a disgusting man. I don’t want to hear anyone issuing any Rodney King-type “Can’t we all just get along?” pleas, and that includes Biden, who sometimes, in his urge to unite the country, seems a little too anxious to let criminals off the hook. While we’re at it, the House can expel Devin Nunes (assuming he wins re-election, which he’s almost certain to). He represents one of the reddest parts of California, the inland area of Fresno and Tulare counties, which is 72% white (including “Hispanic”). Nunes got nearly 58% of the vote in 2018, and despite his violent malpractice during Impeachment (when as the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee he transmitted secret developments personally to Trump in the White House), his agricultural base loves him because they’re terrified of “the situation in Los Angeles” spilling over into their idyllic little inland enclave of white middle-classness.

Thing is, if I lived in a tranquil non-urban setting, I’d probably be a little paranoid about the problems of the urban areas (like Oakland) coming into my neighborhood. But I like to think I’m smart enough to understand that you can’t build a wall around Fresno (or anyplace else) and expect to shut the rest of America out. We’re all in this together, to quote a much-overused but accurate saying, and if America can’t figure out what to do about poverty, then we’re just going to continue to drift apart into separate, non-equal constituencies. This may work for the short haul, but not over the longer one, and we’re already seeing how brushing off this problem of unequal income has taken a terrible toll on America. Folks in truly rural areas like the Dakotas, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming—the reddest of the red states—may think they can throw up an electrified, barbed wire fence around their perimeter, but they can’t. Not forever, and not even for much longer. It is true that white people are going to have to make some sacrifices in order for us to “form a more perfect union.” But people of color have been making sacrifices forever. It’s time to share the burden. Look, I’ve been listening to a lot of country music lately, and although I’m a city guy through and through, I “get” it. (Charlie Daniels is basically the musical distillation of Trumpism.) But a C&W song is one thing; governing is another. You can’t just take drug dealers and hang them from a tree in some Georgia swamp. That’s called lynching.

Well, we’ll find out soon enough who wins and what happens. Six days. Go Biden/Harris, go Blue Tsunami, go all you Democratic challengers to Senate Republicans. Just as I continue to have hope for Gus, so I have hope that this Republican nightmare will be overthrown, and we’ll be able to get on solving America’s problems.

What Biden should do with a reactionary, radical Republican Supreme Court


The first thing Biden should do as president (should he win) is to announce that he will not permit a cabal of rightwing religious fanatics on the Supreme Court to tell Americans what they can and cannot do.

Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the United States Supreme Court has the power to undo what the Congress has done. The relevant clauses in our Founding Document are found in Article III. There, Section 1 simply says “the judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court.” It does not specify what “judicial power” means. Section 2 defines the scope of the Supreme Court’s oversight: foreign treaties, disputes between states and so on. And that’s it. Nowhere does the Constitution come even close to saying that the Supreme Court can overturn or nullify a Federal law, such as those permitting same-sex marriage or a woman’s right to choose to terminate her pregnancy.

Why, then, do we assume the Supreme Court has that right? Because of the “doctrine of judicial review.” That stems from an 1803 SCOTUS decision, written by then-Chief Justice John Marshall, in a case called Marbury v. Madison. The details of the case don’t matter; what is of relevance are Marshall’s words: “It is emphatically the duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to particular cases must, of necessity, expound and interpret the rule. If two laws conflict with each other, the Court must decide on the operation of each.”

“Emphatically the duty…”. That makes judicial review sound like it was always there in the minds of Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Franklin and the other Founding Fathers, but it wasn’t. The country automatically assumes that because Marshall said the Supreme Court could invalidate Congressionally-approved, Presidentially-signed laws, it could.

But Democrats can follow the Trump playbook in challenging any and all precedents. Trump invented that game; Democrats were caught by surprise. How could he do that? They asked. He could, and he did. Now, if they take power, Democrats can do the same thing. Who says Marbury v. Madison was handed down by God carved onto stone tablets? It wasn’t. It was something this country followed for a long time. Soon, it will be time for a change.

If Coney Barrett is confirmed this Monday (of course, she will be), the future of the Affordable Care Act, of Obergefell (which legalized gay marriage) and of many other laws we thought were decisive and here to stay, will be at risk. Normally, we might say, “Well, I don’t like these Republican Justices, but that’s our system. We have to respect their rulings, and then try to elect Democratic Presidents who will uphold our values.” But these are not “normal” times. In fact, normalcy ended when McConnell blocked Merrick Garland’s appointment to the Court by Obama. That was the most flagrant, egregious thing the Senate has done in my lifetime concerning the Supreme Court; with that declaration of war, McConnell said in effect that all precedent had come to an end. Democrats therefore—if they take power—are fully justified in playing by those same, Republican rules.

Let us suppose, as seems likely, that shortly after the election, the Supreme Court, now with Coney Barrett, overturns the Affordable Care Act. Trump, if he loses, will still have two months in office, so we can expect him to indulge in a frenzied cycle of rulemaking or executive orders by which he will quickly and thoroughly dismantle Obamacare, throwing up to 30 million Americans off their healthcare insurance. The Congress will be in a tizzy, with both sides holding hearings, screaming bloody murder and accusing the other side of bad faith. The result of that turmoil will be that very little will get done concerning healthcare by the time Biden takes the oath of office, on Jan. 21, 2021. That’s when he should announce, in his very first presidential statement, that, while he fully intends to honor Marbury v. Madison and uphold the Supreme Court’s authority, he will not throw tens of millions of Americans off their healthcare immediately, because to do so would cause havoc and be ruinous to the national security.  Instead, Biden should say he is immediately ordering the relevant Congressional committees to begin studying a replacement for the (now illegal) Affordable Care Act.

That process will take a lot of time, maybe a year. In the interim, Biden should declare, via Executive Order, that he is continuing the Affordable Care Act in all its details, until such time as a replacement law is enacted. That will mean (a) Obamacare will continue uninterrupted, and (b) Republicans will howl that Biden is attempting a coup against the Supreme Court. Let them howl. There will be nothing they can do about it. The Congressional committees, now led by Democrats (let’s assume Dems retake the Senate and keep the House) can take their time. Whenever Republicans complain, Democrats can reply that it’s important to get a replacement law right, and for it to be in compliance with whatever the Supreme Court found wrong with the Affordable Care Act. In such a way, President Biden can sidestep the Supreme Court without actually defying it. I think the American people would understand that, and support him.

Of course, Governors in red states might say that they are supporting the Supreme Court decision and immediately ending Obamacare. That’s fine. Let them. That’s for the citizens of Alabama, Oklahoma, the Dakotas, etc. to deal with. When Granny loses her dialysis, when Junior can’t be covered by his parents’ healthcare insurance, when the death rates start climbing, they can ask themselves if this is what they expected when they voted Republican. We will then have a completely unsustainable two-tiered system of healthcare in America; full resolution of the issue will have to be punted for another day. But in the long run, this is not a good issue for Republicans.

Why would any decent Catholic remain in that church?


The LGBT community is understandably upset about Coney-Barrett’s impending entry onto the Supreme Court.

A well-known Christian/Catholic fanatic, Coney-Barrett will join her fellow haters, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, in forming a solid triad that would punish homosexuals and take away all of their hard-earned rights. Nearly as fanatical are Neil Gorsuch (who’s shown signs of having a bit of compassion and sense of justice) and the Chief Justice, John Roberts, who despite a reputation for fairness, wrote a shockingly hateful dissenting opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), the SCOTUS decision that legalized same-sex marriage. Roberts—a professed Catholic like most of his Republican colleagues—had the gall to write that “government” had a compelling interest in preserving man-woman marriage. He implied that children cannot be reared by same-sex couples, and used the tired old conservative slur of comparing same-sex marriage to “polygamy.”

Well, this is a perfect example of Catholic Justices obeying orders from the Vatican. The Catholic Church continues to peddle their official hate policy in declaring homosexuality “intrinsically immoral.” This, despite the Pope’s remark, “Who am I to judge?” when asked about gay relationships, and despite the embarrassing and humiliating fact that the same Catholic Church is going bankrupt because it’s had to pay so much money to victims of rapacious pedophile priests. If ever there was an organization that was morally unfit to pronounce on gay issues, it is the Catholic Church.

So the fear is that when the religious fanatic, Coney-Barrett, gets on the Court, one of the first things she’ll do is try to overturn Obergefell, thereby removing a right that has already been granted to Americans. This possibility, or likelihood as the case may be, is causing mounting concern in LGBT circles. People rightfully fear a return to the bad old days of persecution. Will gay people still have the right to marry? Will they be able to adopt children, visit their spouses in the hospital, be included in wills? For that matter, will Coney-Barrett move to remove all protections from gays? Will homophobic employers be able to fire gay people at will simply because they don’t approve of their “lifestyle”? Will landlords be allowed to evict gay people just because they hate them?

These are legitimate questions. It is, of course, useless to try to argue with the likes of Coney-Barrett, Alito and Thomas. They have, not so much “minds” capable of rational analysis, but a hardcore accretion of personal resentments and calcified religious superstitions. There’s nothing more frustrating with arguing with a bible thumper, because they’re convinced that “god” is on their side. It says in the bible that homosexuality is wrong. Never mind that it also says adultery is an abomination (hello, Donald Trump and Jerry Falwell Jr.), that striking one’s parents and violating the Sabbath (as, for instance, by driving a car) deserve the death penalty. These bible thumpers conveniently ignore those shocking stupidities and focus selectively on the bible’s gay injunctions.

Gay people, and the people who love them, must therefore figure out what they’re going to do when and if Coney-Barrett brings her sexual psychopathy to the Court. The first thing that comes to mind is that we’re going to take to the streets in massive numbers, and it can’t be just a one-time “Defend Gay Marriage” march in American cities. That would receive widespread media coverage, but would be forgotten the next day as the avalanche of Trump-related weird news continues unabated. We’re going to have to take to the streets in every town and city in America, especially in conservative parts of the country, and most particularly in the places where evangelicism rules. We’re also going to have to take this to the Catholic Church. Churches are going to have to be picketed on a regular basis, services disrupted, acts of civil disobedience committed. If someone says, “Why are you picketing the church when it was the Supreme Court that made gay marriage illegal?” we answer, “It was fanatical Catholic gay bashers on the Court who made this decision. We’re simply bringing the fight to those who started it, a sclerotic religious cult that has been killing ‘witches’ [read: Lesbians and gay men) for centuries, while their nasty priests feed off little boys.”

It must be super-difficult to be Catholic these days in America. Most Catholics, I would hope and expect, are “liberal” in the sense of understanding that gay people can’t be kept in the closet anymore, that they are entitled to the same rights as straight people. Catholics are split pretty much evenly when it comes to political party affiliation, with about half claiming to be Republican and half to be Democratic. I suppose the Republican Catholics have no problem condemning gay relationships and would be happy to see gay people persecuted the way they used to be. We can write off those conservative Catholics; they’re beyond reasoning with. But what of the 48% of American Catholics who vote Democratic? They must have a conscience. They understand how wrong it is for their church to say gay people are “immoral” simply by virtue of whom they love. And yet they continue to support this overbearing church, tithing their money to it, going to services, having their children baptized. What would it take for millions of these fair-minded Catholics to cut the cord? I know how much they love their church, and the fear of being separated from it must be torment. Still, by remaining part of the Catholic Church, they succor and support an organization only slightly less vicious than the Taliban when it comes to persecuting gays. If I were Catholic, I’d quit the church. I wouldn’t want to be associated with such hatred and hypocrisy, and I think that God would forgive me, since the Catholic Church has nothing to do with God any longer, if it ever did.

He’s freaking out


He’s really desperate, isn’t he? Trump, I mean (obviously), reading the same polls as you and I or, possibly, reading his private internal polls, which might well be even worse for him than the public ones. He sees himself losing in every swing state—and possibly losing in such rightwing stalwarts as Texas! He sees, moreover, “his” Republican Senators looking at a blowout, a Blue Tsunami that will give both Houses to President Joe Biden. And then, Trump is looking, post-presidency, at the very real threat of prison time, not to mention the collapse of his tottering business empire, and the ruination of the only people on earth he cares—a little—about: his family.

Of course, this is why he’s so maniacally driven on getting the arch-Catholic Coney-Barrett confirmed. She is, in his estimation (and you’ll pardon the pun), his trump card on the High Court. He’s gambling (I’d say “praying,” except that he’s an atheist) that “his” Republican Justices will exonerate him from anything and everything. They’ll award him “his” presidency after a “contested” election in which no one but he and his acolytes is contesting anything other than the legitimate result. Looking back to 2000, Trump believes that the Republican Justices signaled, for all time to come, that justice be damned, they’re going to protect the hand that fed them their august office; and if it was true in 2000, imagine how truer it is today, when not jurisprudence but religious (that is to say, radical Catholic) ideology rules the benches.

We’ll see. Supreme Court Justices have the decided advantage of holding office for life. They may have made certain, ahem, private assurances to the President during their interview process; but once on the High Court, they can do whatever they wish to. Even fanatics like Coney-Barrett, Alito and Clarence Thomas may feel the glint of Honor in their bones. (Well, probably not Thomas, but you get the idea.) There is thus no absolute guarantee that the Supreme Court will give Trump a victory, should he lose the election decisively and fairly. But there is also no guarantee that Trump will lose the election, or that Biden will win it, despite the polls. So we still have go vote, if we have not already done so,

Trump’s hopes are dwindling but in his head there are a few things that could revive them. He could win the Nobel Peace Prize, just days before the election. (I don’t think he will, but you never know.) He could announce a vaccine for COVID-19. He can brag about some putative “victory” in Afghanistan or someplace else. With luck, none of these things will occur before election day or, in the case of the Nobel, ever. Even without those bragging rights, Trump can still hope to convince some wavering, mentally unstable voters that “Crooked Hillary” remains a menace, that Biden and Obama must be “indicted” for committing the greatest crime in U.S. history, that Democratic Governors like Whitmer and Newsom are unConstitutional threats. All of this is nonsense, of course. Nobody could possibly believe any of it, except pervs like the Proud Boys (it annoys me to have to capitalize those words), and how fortunate it is that Trump’s own F.B.I. thwarted the treason which the Wolverine Watchmen (another forced capitalization) planned to pull off in Michigan. Republicans will, of course, echo Trump’s tweet that since it was “his” F.B.I. that busted the plot, how could he, Trump, possibly have aided and abetted it? But this, too, is nonsense. All it does is reassure us that at least a part of the F.B.I. is still doing its job, not propping up a criminal President, as is the man whose Justice Department runs the F.B.I., Robert Barr. But then, Trump loathes the F.B.I.’s director, Christopher Wray, whom he just accused of being a part of the “Deep State” along with Hillary, Biden and Obama.

Trump always seems to have done the lowest, basest thing possible, than which there can be nothing lower or baser, until a day or two later, when he manages to be even more vile. Can he seriously be contemplating launching a civil war? Of course. He has maniacs–white men all–like Stephen Miller, Sean Hannity, Steve Bannon and Franklin Graham whispering in his ear. “This is the time to do it, Mister President. Strike while the iron is hot.” His two male older spawn, Eric and Donald, Jr., also are urging him to “do it,” and waiting in the wings to step in should he falter. Field Marshall Donald Trump, Jr.! There’s a howler. I can see the Ruritanian Generalissimo now, bedecked in Kaiser Wilhelm-style military garb, complete with golden sashes, medals and ermine-lined red cape, a gilt sword in his hand—the same hand that slaughtered great innocent beasts on the plains of Africa. But what shall the “Heil Trump” gesture be?

It’s fun for a satirist to have this First Family. The late night talk show hosts are having a marvelous time. But beneath the fun-poking is genuine alarm. Trump told the Proud Boys to “Stand by.” We, too, have to stand by. Arms at the ready! Shore leave canceled! Keep your powder dry! We may be called upon soon to be heroes.

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