Dueling Jack-in-the-Boxes

Watching Vice President Pence and Speaker of the House Ryan hop up and down from their seats, smiling broadly and clapping furiously behind Mr. T as he read his speech to Congress, made me think about how this whole buffoon-as-POTUS mess we’re in is largely (“bigly”?) about them. By “them”, I mean the leaders of the Republican Party.

Sure, Democrats didn’t turn out and vote like they should have. Sure, Hillary’s baggage and Bernie’s farther-left message were unpalatable to many. Sure, Putin contributed to Hillary’s demise by spreading lies about her. Sure, DT tapped into the mad-as-hell, populist movement and got more mileage with it than anyone expected. Sure, FBI Director Comey’s bad decision-making just before election day was also part of the finish-line surprise. Sure, sure.

But it’s these fellows (Pence and Ryan) and the other elected Republicans, popping up at regular intervals, with painted-on smiles, looking like they were hypnotized and instructed to be jack-in-the-boxes every time the President uttered a secret word that are starting to irritate me the most.

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POP go the weasels.

They let this guy hijack their political party.  They looked the other way as he spoke time after time to screaming, chanting, racist, hateful crowds — encouraging  anger, accepting bigotry and inciting followers to act in repulsive and violent ways.  Well, at first they looked the other way, but now — even as he has gotten both wackier and more powerful — they unabashedly praise him.

During the early part of the campaign, Pence and Ryan, along with many other Republican leaders, did not seem to BE like DT. Neither of them really seemed to LIKE him, either. One would think he must to be personally abhorrent to many of them. So the fact that they now think that having this guy in the White House is acceptable (even popping up and applauding for him) is evidence that somewhere along the way they sold their souls in order to get some kind of personal gain in return.

Of course, the state of the union-type speeches like we saw last week are always hyper-partisan events, and of course, the party leaders always stand up and sit down in response to their President’s words. But we’ve never had a president who is this bizarre before. Somehow, this past week, the hypocrisy of these guys showing such enthusiastic support for this particular man seemed to leap from the TV screen. No, it popped from the screen.

It also makes me wonder if maybe, deep down, they’re not that different from him after all.  And that is a disheartening thought.


Hey, nostalgia-lovers, need a break from all heavy stuff in the fake, lamestream news? Remember Readers Digest, sitting right next to your toilet, where you could read a “serious”, two (tiny) page article and then turn the page and find some third-rate humor to help you relax and do what needed to be done?

Remember a time when boys dreamed of driving race cars, when girls wanted to be princesses, when the American flag stood for something important, when winter was cold and snowy, when real men showed their love for wild animals by shooting them, when meat was a big part of everyone’s diet, when public art was not even a term yet, and when people with disabilities were either mocked or ignored?

Ah yes, the good old days — “Life in These United States”.

Here’s my version of that — a photo from each day of Week #9 of 2017.


(2/26/17)  A race car driver and a princess take a little break from their hectic schedules to watch one (short) video about cars and another (equally short) video about a princess. (Gender bias note: 1.They were equally interested in both of the video subjects. 2. Otto sometimes enjoys wearing a dress, but Svea is far less interested in wearing traditionally male-oriented clothing.)


(2/27/17) Ain’t that America?  I experienced visual sensory overload at SR Harris fabric warehouse in Brooklyn Park.  It’s an enormous building, consisting of several aisles like this one, packed floor-to-ceiling with deeply discounted fabrics. It was comforting that the star spangled banner yet waves o’er the land of the cheap and home of the merchandise made by the underpaid.

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(2/28/17) Usually still in the depths of snow, we ended February in Minneapolis with bike rides, golf course openings, and splashes of green.


(3/1/17)  Hey — remember February?  Well, today was snowy and windy.  This is a look into the Thomas Sadler Roberts Bird Sanctuary on the north side of Lake Harriet.

Here’s more info about the Roberts Bird Sanctuary . “The Sanctuary, which includes wetlands and woods, was founded in 1936 and renamed in 1947 for Thomas Sadler Roberts (1858-1947), Minneapolis physician and self-taught ornithologist, who is considered the ‘Father of Minnesota Ornithology.’ “  Dr. Roberts became interested in birds as a teenager, and began journaling about the different types of birds he saw.  In those years, cameras were uncommon and most birdwatchers were hunters (as was he).  What I think is cool about him is that he retired from his medical practice at age 57 and became a professor of Ornithology at the University of Minnesota.  He helped found the Bell Museum of Natural History, and many of his specimens became part of the museum’s collection.


(3/2/17)  At Roger and Cindy’s suggestion (see last week’s photos) we stopped at Hackenmueller’s Meat Market in Robbinsdale.  It’s a great, old-style meat shop that will bring back memories for anyone of a certain age.  Roger grew up nearby and remembers the sawdust floors and meaty aroma of this place from way back when. And yes, we bought meat.


(3/3/17) These utility boxes are an example of two things,  1.) Brightly colored original art encouraged by the City of Minneapolis to cover up these kinds of ugly streetcorner structures, and 2.) Beautiful art by kids, inspired by a nearby large rabbit sculpture on Minnehaha Parkway.


(3/4/17) This is a freeze frame from a video I shot today of Doug Westendorp and his friend Kara, performing a song that Doug wrote about his son Aaron. The song, (and hopefully more of Doug’s music) will be in the film I’m making about Aaron.   See my blog post about that project here. Doug wrote “Carin’ for Aaron” when Aaron was a baby — born with physical challenges so severe that Doug and his wife Krista had to fight 24 hours a day to just keep him alive. Aaron is now 31 years old and doing great.