Starfish

My genius father invented this game when he was barely 30 years old. I know you’ve never heard of it–how could you have, unless I’ve mentioned it before and have forgotten about that?–but, for myself and my two siblings, it was epic.

Picture the scene: You’re a young dentist with a thriving practice–not to mention being the head of dentistry at UC Berkeley–and exhausted on your day off or your down time; all you want to do is, say, sit quietly and read. Maybe quaff a cold one. But you have three kids ranging in age from seven to two, so that’s out the window.

What do you do?

Invent something–anything–that’ll buy you a few precious moments of peace.

Starfish.

“Ok–here’s the game. I’m going to put this record on and you three will lie there on the floor and listen. Get comfy, because you can’t move a muscle during the music. Only during the changing of the record. If you move even a finger, you’re out. The winner gets a cookie. And no secret tickling each other. Spread out.”

Who doesn’t want a cookie?

The pitch went something like that, but to the three of us it was a supreme challenge of discipline.

Now, here’s where Dad’s genius was practically diabolical. Would he ever play a kids’ record, such as some Alvin and the Chipmunks offering? Of course not. He might as well have had us running around his feet for all that screeching entailed. Instead, he played music he liked. Which he knew he could read listening to. And in those days you could stack on a good record player maybe two or three LPs–long playing–(album side) records on the turntable. The Loving Spoonful. Diana Ross and the Supremes. The soundtrack of the musical “Company.”

Of course, he never played anything like the Count Basie Orchestra. We saw them in concert at the Visalia Fox last Friday, and I doubt anyone was still in their seat for two seconds over the course of two hours. And then the orchestra invited all the high school band musicians in the audience up for a chat after their performance. Clearly against the rules of Starfish. But clearly a very classy move. The stage was jammed with kids. And it was obvious the Basie orchestra was heartened to receive them.

But I digress. I was transfixed by Dad’s music.

Much as the Democrats have thus far been during the 34 hideous months of a clownwork orange. Their eyelids have been peeled back and they’ve strapped themselves into their duty, unavoidably witnessing all this unprecedented horror without being able to do a thing about any of it.

Much as the Republicans have been now, collectively, hiding their heads in the sand during the current impeachment inquiry. I guess it is perfectly hunky dory to seek dirt on a political opponent from a foreign government. Which is why our Dear Leader also called upon China to uncover dirt on the Bidens. He was trying to normalize it. To make light of it. To somehow mitigate the impeachable offense he’s already committed by soliciting Ukrainian meddling in our forthcoming 2020 election.

To shift the beam of inquiry upon them–Ukraine–when, in 2016, it was really Russia who meddled in our election.

Those who actually drafted, wrote and ratified our Constitution must be twisting in their graves. Every one of them.

After all, impeachment is not necessarily dependent upon a crime having been committed to be enacted upon by the House. It is a political process, and was drawn up to involve the betrayal of public trust or an oath of office.

I think it is safe to say we have arrived at just such a juncture–and the president has, himself, confessed to it via the “rough transcript” he released of his telephone conversation with Ukraine’s president. “Quid pro quo” is a no-go. It is irrelevant. It is also a big no-no, and will make things worse for the president if it can be made to stick, but the betrayal was nakedly displayed by his asking for help in collecting dirt on the Bidens in the first place.

Make America Great Again? By asking a former Eastern Bloc Soviet client state–formerly part of the USSR itself and inconsequential to our own security in any manner you care to parse it–to do something your campaign committee is apparently incapable of? Weak. No–desperate.

This man has the entire apparatus of state at his disposal and this is how he has chosen to deploy it.

Imagine if, during our Civil War, Lincoln sought southern dirt on a potential political opponent. Imagine FDR back-channeling the Nazis to stay elected four terms. Picture Ronald Reagan making a back-room agreement with Iran to liberate our embassy hostages in a cagey deal to include the sale of missiles, the proceeds of which would then be secretly funneled to bolster Nicaragua’s Contras.

Oh–right…

Make no mistake: we are always at war–every nation, that is–if not overtly, physically, then philosophically. Economically. There is constant competition among nations, and because of this it is not necessarily a good idea to invite a rival to your backyard barbeque. Your national process. Your elections.

Which is why the current impeachment inquiry is a good thing. It’s a conversation, as a country, we need to have. Regardless of the political outcome, we all of us need to come to grips with the process and reach some semblance of agreement so that we may proceed forward in a more unified manner. I am not saying Trump’s presumably inevitable impeachment will be a bridge across our massive divide. There will always remain those firmly rooted on either side. It is clear, though, that the country as a whole needs to take action, and impeachment is the constitutional mechanism by which we can achieve some kind of remedy.

Otherwise, we are all just playing Starfish.

 

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