Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Thoughts on the President's Nightly Campaign Rallies

There is--in the wider culture, that is, the culture existing outside the walls of my quarantined existence--a debate underway. On the one side are those who believe that the White House Press Corps and the cable news networks are obligated by their craft to cover live each night the 90-120 minute press conferences conducted by the White House. On the other hand are those who believe that these 90-120 minute circuses are simply Trumpy campaign rallies, and by covering them live as they do, the media are providing the President with tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars worth of free media. I fall into the second category for those who are curious.

Now, there are clearly people who fit in neither of these categories, but nowhere do I say that this debate includes all Americans. There are those who simply don't care, which astounds me. And there are those who think the rallies are wonderful and why would the press not cover them? This repulses me. So I'm not talking here about either of these two groups.

I'm talking about two groups of people who have differing views on the role of the media and their obligation--if any--to cover all of the President's appearances.

One of the things that occurs to me as I wade through this is the correlation between those who believe the press has a duty to cover these events and those who believe the press treat the President unfairly in these events. Lotta overlap here. The crew at Commentary magazine and specifically in their podcast --- fall into this category. They've become more Trumpy during the course of this pandemic (especially John Podhoretz and Noah Rothman), expressing utter amazement that anyone would suggest that the press not cover these events live, at the same time deriding the press for the "gotcha" coverage thereof, as if they are supposed to do as the President asks and ask nice questions framed in the manner he desires, while avoiding any reference to the utter failure of leadership for which he was responsible throughout the entire month of February and the farrago of lies, inconsistency, and incompetence that has dominated his nightly performances. The President veers from being a petulant child to a volatile monarch, talking over reporters and insulting them at every turn--but woe betide a reporter who stands there and unwaveringly continues to ask their question --especially if----SHE IS A WOMAN!  The nerve.

On the bright side there is some evidence that these nightly exercises in Trumpenproletarian group masturbation---carried live--- are having a deleterious impact on the President's standing with voters. Joe Biden's relative silence these days is chalked up by some to be a sign of there not really being much he can do, what with the country being locked down and all (which is also hurting his fund raising). I see it differently. I think old Uncle Joe is sitting there in his Delaware villa watching the President shoot himself in the foot every night and thinking about Napoleon's dictum never to interrupt one's enemy while he is making a mistake.

And so as I think about this subject, I reluctantly come down on the side of the press covering it as it is, in no small part because I believe in Napoleon's wisdom too. That and a naive hope that the size of the Trumpenproletariat has reached its zenith, and that Trump's nightly tantrums are convincing those who held their nose for him in '16 because of Hillary's odiousness,  that doing so in '20 is unthinkable due to Trump's. We can hope, anyway.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Congress Should Thoroughly Vet the Navy Secretary Nominee

I have a piece up over at the Commander Salamander blog urging the Senate Armed Services not to rush to confirmation on the Navy Secretary nominee.  See it here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Am I Allowed To Say That I Am Enjoying This?

Yesterday marked the one month point in The FerryBridge Farm COVID-19 Quarantine. The four of us are healthy, and we've each adapted in our own way. I was thinking this morning about each of  us, and the challenges of our individual adaptation. Because I get in trouble when I talk about the Kitten and the Kittens, I won't cover their situations, or to be clear, my perception of their situations. I'll stick only to myself. And I am here to tell you that putting aside the mental load that this virus has dealt me (worry about the health of those I love and other humans in general, financial and business considerations, more time to consider how corrupt, malevolent, and incompetent our President is, toilet paper and Shake and Bake supplies, no sports), when I sum it all up, I'm here to say that I am really, really enjoying myself.

Ok. I get it. You are reading this and saying "McGrath is an idiot. How can anyone enjoy being restricted to their home wondering where their next square of TP is coming from?".  Well, I have an answer for you. About four months ago, The Kitten and I had some married friends over. He lived in the same dorm as I did first year at UVA, and she was The Kitten's roomie at boarding school. During the visit, we began to talk about retirement, and I revealed that my plan was to work for no man's money after my 60th Birthday, and if things went right, I'd maybe even stop before then. Bertha (name changed to protect the innocent) seemed not to accept that I would be able to stop at such a relatively young age, that I would get bored, that I would need to feel more vitality to be happy. I contested her at every front. She then said, "ok, describe for me what your average day in retirement is going to look like."  And I did.  You know what?  It sounded a HELL of a lot like the way I am spending my days these days. With the exception of the actual paid work that I do in spurts throughout the day--either on the phone, skype, or at the computer--the Q-Life and the R-Life have a lot of overlap.
Don't tell anyone, but I am not unhappy.

I wake naturally between 0630 and 0730 after eight hours of (CPAP enabled) blissful sleep. I feed the dogs and grab some joe on the way out to my garage office/mancave. I spend a couple of hours reading the news/playing around on social media. I have some more coffee. I practice my trumpet. I write a few hundred words in my novel. I do 30 minutes on the treadmill at 17 degrees incline, 3.7mph.  I have some more coffee. I reach out to friends on Facebook video messenger. I read, professionally and personally. I walk the half mile round trip to and from the mailbox to check for mail.  I do Zoom meetings with other navalists. I do Zoom meetings with friends. I have been skipping lunch, but I go find my the Kitten/Kittens and sit around in conversation with them, sometimes while they are eating. I read some more. I record a trumpet piece on Facebook. I screw around on social media some more. I make a grocery order, or I review a grocery order already begun. I question myriad items on the list that are not fit for human consumption or that I have never heard of. I bother The Kitten.  I blog. Then I bother the kitten some more. I leave the ManCave/office/fitness center because late in the afternoon, my fitness oriented daughters each seem to need 2 hrs apiece in it. I sometimes nap. I read some more. I make dinner, usually only for myself but occasionally for me and the Kitten (the Kittens do not eat as they were trained, and now seem only to consume legumes). I have my last coffee of the day.  I binge some TV, sometimes in the ManCave (after the Kittens have vacated it), and sometimes with The Kitten. Lights out at 2200.

I am a man of routines and my days are nothing but a series of routines. What day it is, is almost immaterial, except for some days have routine items associated with them. It is blissful. I don't have to drive anywhere, but I do get to look at my lovely cars. I certainly don't have to drive 150 miles round trip to Washington several times a week.

I can honestly say that -- putting aside for a second the horrors of a global pandemic -- the sacrifices being asked of me to "flatten the curve" have not been sacrifices at all. They've given me a glimpse of my future, and I am looking forward to it.

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