Small Town Crank: Lost in the Madhouse

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In his classic postmodern short story, “Lost in the Funhouse,” John Barth begins his tale with a simple question: “For whom is the funhouse fun?” Indeed, once you enter a funhouse with it’s circuitous halls of concave and convex mirrors, reality is anything but stable, comfortable and predictable; instead it is by turns hilarious, stupefying and grotesque. People appear impossibly short and fat, then reedy thin and sky high, shapes shift, outlines are blurry, and reality disappears into an infinity of reflections. The real world itself becomes lost inside distortions of the funhouse.

Similarly, the triumph of the Trumpian dystopia is a constant and unsettling cleaving from reality, it’s engine is a brilliant duplicity machine of misinformation and careening bankshots of b.s. Just this week, intellect-manqué and professional dimwit, Donald J. Trump has had a series of spectacular victories in his wide ranging and multi-front War on Rational Thought.

For one, look at the scorched earth stupidity in the wake of the monstrously tragic wildfires in California, some of the deadliest disasters in recent history. Where some in positions of leadership might take the opportunity to comfort and console the bereaved and newly homeless, dynamo Donny had a better idea: find someone to finger. “Forest mismanagement,” he railed on Twitter, was to blame for the carnage and he was prepared to cut federal funding to the state of California. Clearly not one in his team of “the best” informed him these were not forest fires, which occur in the forest, but actually in fires in urban areas with houses and movie studios and people, all going up like gassed up Duraflames.

To look at it another way — which is to say, tedious and factual — the state of California only owns 2 to 3 percent of the forest, it is the federal government that owns more than 50 percent of the forested land, including the area near the Poe Dam where the Camp Fire is thought to have originated. Yes, Trump cut funding to forest management, where the fire started, which can only mean…big pivot…Jim Acosta is a real jackass!

Yes, as everyone knows, Jim Acosta of CNN was tossed out of the White House Press Pool for putting an intern into a Boston Crab hold, followed by a Brainbuster and a Moonsault: it was some serious WWF craziness. The White House had the video to prove it, which may or may not have been doctored by Nobel Laureate Alex Jones of the InfoWars web menace.

People, if you can imagine, reacted negatively to this characterization of events, because, uh, truth. So, the original karate chop narrative changed; Jim Acosta was subsequently said to have been bounced because he was not nice to his fellow correspondents in the press pool. Yeah, bad little Jimmy, bad! And who doesn’t recognize how much Trump cares about being nice to press people? Maybe that will not hold water. The story will change when Sarah Huckabee reveals that Acosta stole someone’s Chobani yogurt out of the press room refrigerator. Is there even a pressroom refrigerator? Who cares, it would just be more of this administration’s brutish playacting that spins fables that congeal into alternative realities.

This cynical approach was on Technicolor display in Paris, where the Sulker-in-Chief was a pity party of one amidst a legion of leaders there to honor the brave men and women who fought in the World Wars. Trump could not make it to the cemetery at Belleau for a memorial event because it was too “wet.” Yes, our fearless leader was stymied by some precipitation and chose not to honor the 2,000 American marines who died fighting at Belleau. He tried to assert that there was “almost zero visibility” and his security detail would not let him go by road. Funny how everyone else made it there.

That French President Emmanuel Macron had the temerity to criticize Trump’s doctrine of nationalism really put him into foul fit.

One might think that with a 17 % increase in hate crimes this year with its climate of synagogue shootings, Kroger aisle attacks on blacks, and Wisconsin Prom Nazis, the president back down from the rhetoric of (white) nationalism.

But he is a man that prides himself on never backing down. That said, he does not do a very presidential job of standing up. Rather than engage Macron, he pouts, stews and lashes out in a social media hissy fit. Rather than engage in reasoned debate or diplomatic protocol, he instead hides behind Twitter to launch petty assaults, acting like a rat-faced brat with a peashooter. “They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!” the bone spurred draft dodger hilariously e-screamed.

For whom is the funhouse fun? It does not seem that even Trump is enjoying this infinity of unrealities and deflections and lies. He veers from one catastrophic day to the next, all the while exhibiting the sullen belligerence of a wolverine with hemorrhoids. The bubble-like administration that surrounds him and amplifies his lies is like a combustible dirigible, untethered to facts in a Mobius strip of mendacity. John Barth again: “This can’t go on much longer; it can go on forever.” Some funhouse.

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