Republicans’ Last Chance (opinion)

Cartoon of chaotic dog walk

Republicans’ Last Chance

Or, advice from an observer














As to politics, I believe in doing what works and not doing what doesn’t work. Human society has never been able to figure out why this principle is so difficult, rather than so easy, to act on. In the current and probably ongoing crisis, of ideology, ecology, and economy, I support the social welfare state. I’ve said before that with a growing global population and finite resources—and America not entitled to more of the world’s share of clean air, clean water, of rocks and minerals, meats and vegetables, etc.,—than any other nation, there is no more sensible way of keeping our people healthy, able to have valuable brainstorms, produce valuable industry, live independent of caretaking.

But here are some strategic thoughts for the Republican party, and the stock-market privileged, before it’s too late. (Though there’s pretty much zero chance they’ll save themselves.)


If the Republicans were to vote with the Democrats for conviction and removal of the president; afterwards to forge on and remove Mike Pence (not a useful candidate: tainted by corruption, hopelessly tepid and uninspiring, a little weird…and a suck-up) also by impeachment, then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, next in line, would take over. Republicans may recoil like demons exposed to holy water at this thought, but Pelosi is unlikely to want the job, probably quite prepared to yield to the winner of the 2020 election.

During her short tenure she can reverse the Trump tax cut. The recovered funds can be used to pay down the deficit Trump has run up past a trillion dollars in just one term. She would reverse the environmental reversals, restoring safety and future health (future tax savings) to Americans. She would replace Mike Pompeo (and Betsy DeVos) and begin stabilizing our foreign policy, mending fences with NATO, the EU, the Middle East.

All that would fit a Republican narrative of patiently repairing our broken government, stabilizing and mending our own divided national relationships, while still letting the changes be chalked up to a Democratic administration—and taking credit for the benefits. A moderate candidate positioned to win the Republican nomination could win the presidency, and though he would have a time choosing, he might even pick a woman running mate (given the field, an inverse proportion formula based on megatonnage of hairspray, hair dye, and makeup, should be the best hope of finding a Republican woman not offensive to women).

If, “later in the summer” it were possible, after the Democrats had spent many resources on Joe Biden, a deadly blow could be struck by suddenly pitting him against a vanilla moderate like Mitt Romney. Everything Biden can offer as a middle-of-the-road enticement to wavering conservative centrists who hate Trump, Romney would draw off, all anti-Trump rhetoric become moot. But a pretext rising after tomorrow’s opportunity is squandered, of having neither Trump nor Pence on the ticket, is a great unlikelihood.


The Scary Voter


It’s a persistent rightist talking point that people who get handouts ought to work for them. In fact no one more than the current Republican voter agitates so much to have things given, and home delivered.

The flame of revolution sparks itself in the young, who can’t lose because they haven’t gained. And, in those who have tried to solve their problems, tried to use what the system allows; found, having exhausted every avenue, only scorn and refusal from their country’s leadership.

“You shall not pass” is a great slogan; but the corollary is, “Not on your road, but on mine.”

People driven far enough will pave their own street; then take to it remove the hated obstruction.

But…the rural American county has for generations sought a Boss Man. The Boss Man voters aren’t frustrated by refusal, because their sense of problems exists independently of solutions. What frustrates them is change. They use change and adapt to change; they have computers and cell phones, pay their bills online, buy flatter, cheaper TVs…and many, many products made in China. What ails them is often not describable or definable, on any grand scale of the social, economic, and cultural, but is expressed as a collection of peeves. The peeve-enumeration in this magical environment where the Man, if he’s the right man, holds the power to dispense with all, to return the voters to world of their childhood TV shows, can grow like any wishlist to a Santa Claus.

If he’s not the man, the system these voters favor and prefer doesn’t change; they simply move en masse to the next, more attractive Boss Man. (And who doesn’t suppose a younger, faster-talking demagogue couldn’t seduce away the Trumpers in a trice?) That’s apparent from the fact that the president can rally his voters with petty themes of dishwashers and light bulbs; and that the abstraction of Things That Are Going to Happen…One Day, is a necessary ingredient. The banality of evil is the human capacity to live so much of life as a theoretical self. You are a good person because you intend to be good, because you’re confident that when you’re weighed in the balance, you’ll turn up right. Our minds are built that way; every day we plan the future thing, and at length we often accomplish it…

We take the eventually true, the capacity for this to be so, for present truth. Where then do we draw the line between the way we see ourselves, accounting for what we’ve done today, what we did yesterday; and the way we see ourselves, accounting for intentions? We do great evil when we tolerate the doing of evil by others.

If Trump’s voters tried, they would find themselves disturbed by his predations (of many kinds), but to try, to construct pro and con arguments on evidence and logic, is to cease being magical. Support of the Boss Man is ritualistic. (What else, when people say they could never vote for a Democrat; yet feel persuaded, for one, that an appallingly overpriced system of health care is free enterprise, and would be unbearable “socialized”?)

And of course, the list of what Trump condemns at his rallies, in terms vaguely suggestive of promised fixes, has grown through his presidency. Rural white voters, dependent on Disability and Medicaid, Workers’ or Unemployment compensation, or who work at jobs in precarious local economies, are not going to take to the streets in a new “civil war” because their dishwasher peeves them.



Republicans’ Last Chance

















(2020, Stephanie Foster)



My Blog Week: January 12 to January 18

A black cat, nicknamed Nortie, who serves as Torsade's site ambassador.

All the Latest from Torsade!











Cartoon of Red Riding Hood and Wolf

Cartoon of the Week: There’s Hoods and There’s Hoods





A Word on the Week


Oil painting of figures and volcanic lakeTo Ask the Question





Tomorrow, best of luck and safety to the people of Richmond, Virginia. The planned rally suggests a wish to instill fear in Republican senators, just as the impeachment trial is set to begin Tuesday. 


When stories about the Souleimani killing began to seem unmeshable, and the intelligence to support them unproducible, the president stated his reason for ordering the strike didn’t matter. To attendees at a Mar-a-Lago fundraiser, he apparently recited a sort of countdown of the event: “Sir, they have approximately one minute to live, sir. Thirty seconds, ten, nine, eight…”

The same article (Middle East Eye, 18 January 2020), quotes him on his administration’s deficit-heavy spending, “Who the hell cares about the budget? We’re going to have a country.” (Make sense of that if you can.) And there’s a new book out, A Very Stable Genius, reported to offer untold examples of Trump’s cognition, on display in various clashes with his own “best people”.

Is Trump impaired? A lot of speculation exists as to what psychological syndrome his behavior represents. He seems unable to process evidence and information to derive a reasoned conclusion. He notably, in speaking with reporters, shies away when asked to draw an inference, or access a fact, and accesses instead his repertoire of stories and repeated phrases…lately being very repeaty at listing names and numbers. His ways of walking and moving are unusual, stiff and veering, tilting forward, tilting side to side. Is this a neurological condition? Is the syphilis question more than a parlor game? Pooh-poohers of the rumor, I’ve found, are using specious arguments, which does add interest. And to debunk bad argumentation is not to cast aspersion.

First the disease has to be diagnosed, and this doesn’t happen as part of a routine health checkup. Then it has to be successfully treated. Confirming neurosyphilis requires a spinal tap—whether the president would go along with this, his partisans can imagine for themselves. Penicillin is used, but a regimen of penicillin shots is required to treat syphilis at the tertiary stage. The symptoms can mimic those of a number of other diseases and mental conditions, so misdiagnosis of a difficult and reluctant patient might easily occur. And of course, the president has a strange history with his doctors. He is not forthcoming to the public about his medical test results. 

Incidentally, penicillin can be purchased online, so one might speculate that in a boy’s club environment, strange conventional wisdoms could be passed around. Rather than bear the stigma, cure your own at home! 




On Monday, the seventh Mr. Boots poem, “Fight Me”, in which Boots threatens warfare with the red goldfish. Tuesday’s Impresario was part twenty-four, a day of combat and dissatisfying spectacle for the crowd. Wednesday, “Male and Female” a poem in the Jumping Off series. On Thursday, Frédéric Boutet’s “A Reputation” began; the blackmail victim threatened this time by family scandal. Friday, “Mince No Words” the seventh episode the The Folly‘s Battle Stations. Saturday, a reissue of “Where Fashion Sits”, from The Poor Belabored Beast
Images on my posts often have a link to related information (click first image), sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes in answer to a direct reference. Since people can be leery about links, I include them here: what they are, what sites they point to.





My Blog Week: January 12 to January 18


Fight Me (poem)
January 13


The Impresario (part twenty-four)
January 14

YouTube: Point of Grace, “Waiting in the Wings”


Male and Female (poem)
January 15

Poetry Foundation: Jacob Shores-Argüello, “Pilgrims”


Frédéric Boutet: A Reputation (part one)
January 16


Mince No Words: Seventh Battle Stations
January 17


Where Fashion Sits (poem)
January 18

Poetry Foundation: D. Nurske, “Excelsior Fashion Products”




Where Fashion Sits (poem)

Digital painting of thin posing woman



Where Fashion Sits


Are you the larval worm

In the larder

Every feathered pillow has this unseen delver

You feel yourself layered in tissue paper

Your rat’s race a peristaltic ripple of waxy flesh

Your crackling head a pin

The glue has brittled in the way of yellow cellophane

The leather soles peel and the toes point east

Where fashion sits

Glad rags with sleeves in prayerful pose

Murmur and drone, the noise of fingernails playing

Over a plastic comb

You may grow into this waiting life

You may pop from a shell casing and sprout wings

The tunnel may end in a coruscating light

You bore ahead jawing mechanistically

Your dreams are also crinolined

Greened with mold and raveled through

All that might be you had you lived to

wear these things


Is your skull embedded with the gravel of the road

Peppered with the commentator’s voice on the

endless screen

Are you an angel attenuated losing plumage

In the pitiless rush of the jet stream

Open your eyes… They wait there for the runner

Your legs jerk at the knees

And your face drains of color



Where Fashion Sits

Virtual cover for poetry collection The Poor Belabored BeastBuy Beast on Amazon















(2015, Stephanie Foster)



Mince No Words: Seventh Battle Stations



The Folly

Battle Stations





Mince No Words


Business is to be got to…Trout, though he’d offered pretext

Possesses so little of personal quality

While a monocled eye, unsuffering of fools, peers so expectant

The host shrugs away his first, introductory amblings

Though ahead he forages as much as forges…

‘You know, of course, that we are a Spiritualist circle

at the Folly, that Mrs. Tattersby…ahem…however’

It had looked to him as though Llewellyn thought to speak

‘Mrs. Tattersby, I say, is curiously a connexion of Atherleigh

She has gone abroad…’

A silence

‘Follow me to my library.’

An upstairs room well-heated, a view of the sea

Two armchairs in conversation placed to catch salt draughts

from the balcony. ‘Now we’ll mince no words,’ the colonel says

‘You mention Atherleigh. For a reason. I’ll have it.’

Curiously, the host rebukes himself

The very spot I put the fatal foot

No help. Truth the recommended thing, and none to tell

Falco’s name delivered them from the dead man Krug.

‘I should waste your time making pretence—

Llewellyn’s eye says, late for that

‘Fiona is a private woman, but these events

Are…were…have been, rather spectacular…

She finds the boy Leslie given into her care

I believe, in fact, they call him Wennie…from his second name…’

‘They may call him as they like, no doubt. Hardly to do with me.

Sir, you have said nothing to the point.

I suspect you are less the simpleton than you make out.’

Why yes. Why no. Never mind.

The point is a gamble, a desperate toss

Or not. Dare it…dare it…

What will they do, clap you in the stocks?

‘I don’t know the fellow’s Christian name…’



Mince No Words

Pencil and pastel drawing of woman and man feeling distressedNewtons















(2020, Stephanie Foster)



Frédéric Boutet: A Reputation (part one)

Oil painting of woman in forest

Frédéric Boutet

A Few Blackmails

A Reputation
(part one)















“Monsieur, a gentleman has come on the part of the Philanthropic Society of Paris.”

“Well, let him in,” said M. Blestat. He folded his newspaper, shook his cigar ash into the fire, and rose from his armchair.

Ushered by the servant came a shabby person, tall and pale, grey-haired.

“Monsieur, I have the honor,” he said with ease, and took the seat shown him by M. Blestat. “Charming home you have here. One of the loveliest in the city. Your garden is a paradise, a true paradise; your parlor, which I have just crossed…”

“Be so good as to tell me the reason for your visit,” Blestat interrupted.

“Thank you for recalling this to me. You are well, are you not, M. Théodore Blestat? Merchant, widower, fifty-five years of age, father of a young man of twenty-eight, M. Philippe. No, don’t be impatient, you will understand me. The Philanthropic Society, shall we speak of it no more…? It was for the sake of being received; it will serve for another time. Give me five minutes, you’ll see. You’ll see! Your son, my dear monsieur, is affianced to Mlle Claire Verralive. The engagement dinner was yesterday. The wedding will soon take place. A beautiful alliance, very beautiful! A ravishing young woman, a fortune, good family, and overall such respectability! M. Verralive, the father, is a man of another age. He is pure of heart, rigid in his integrity, uncompromising. His life is clear as crystal, his name stands in example…”

M. Blestat said impatiently, “I know as well as anyone the merits and just reputation of M. Verralive…”

“Then, my dear monsieur, what do you think of your brother Auguste?”

Blestat started and grew livid.

“My dear monsieur, merely to see you at this moment erases all doubt.” The visitor spoke with satisfaction, paused, and added: “Let us have a quiet talk. My approach may seem a little delicate, but my goal is in your interest, the avoidance of disagreeable tales. I ask only to be treated as a friend, and note, I am no more than an intermediary. The people who have sent me…they do not live in this city, they live in Paris…oh, well! They know your brother. They know…yes, yes, they know all. His history in Nantes, in Paris, and then, Bordeaux, the worst…the fakery, the fraudulent scheme, the trial, the sentence… That’s an old affair, twenty years past.





“After so long a time, one could believe all has been forgotten, above all when one has had a change of address, as you, when quitting Nantes and coming here. And then, he died in that place, did poor Auguste…not yet released. Yes, we could have believed it all forgotten. What’s to be done, my dear monsieur? There are some who remember, who choose this moment to send me to you—to say to you, M. Blestat, does M. Verralive know your brother was in the hulks? Have you told him? This is the first point. Now, if M. Verralive knows this, does he allow his daughter to marry your son? Hence, the second point. My dear monsieur, I tell you this at once. Nothing is more unjust than these scandals so long hidden, that reassert themselves to taint the innocent. Of course, you are honest as well, a perfect life, nothing to reproach yourself with. Your son is a young man off-limits. He does not enter into it. This is between ourselves, men of business. You get what I’m saying…wait, don’t trouble to answer. The truth is written on your face; one has but to read it. So, my third and last point…what price silence? Tell me your sum, I will tell you mine…that is to say, the one they would have me give you.  Since I am only an intermediary. “

There came a very long silence.

“Who are you?” demanded M. Blestat in a hollow voice.

“I was a witness, at the trial of poor Auguste. I even failed… In short, we were friends. He spoke to me of you, three or four times. Right or wrong, he felt you had abandoned him and he wanted you… By faith, I will tell you frankly I’d formed a bad opinion of you. It is understood…one is honorable, one does not wish to be compromised. But—devil take it!—a brother is a brother. Yes, you have a son you would like to shelter, I know. And poor Auguste was impractical. What do you want, he was a dreamer, like me. You…you are orderly, so much the better for you, my dear monsieur. My thoughts in recent days have returned to you. I find myself at a very bad pass. By chance in my researches I learned you were a big trader here. Friends I consulted advised a little syndicate, among ourselves, to exploit the idea. They found me the money…and here I arrived. I made a small investigation…this fell to my favor, just so. I waited for the suitable moment because of the marriage…and here I am. Now, since I see you won’t name your price, I will name ours: one hundred thousand! It is a round number, a sum unimportant to you. Unimportant, I say…you are very rich. No, I beg you, no discussion, my dear monsieur, only think! I will return to you tomorrow. You will tell me yes or no. If no, I will tell the little story of poor Auguste to M. Verralive. He will give me something for my trouble. And then, I will tell it in the town, as well. If it is yes, and I think it will be yes, as you love your son, and as you care what the world thinks, indeed…! If it is yes, I stop for a moment, and then I take my train. Everyone is content. The marriage is made, and you will never hear from me again. My dear monsieur, I give you my word of honor.”

He finished with a great air of seriousness. He waved easily, and left without waiting for an answer. His steps crunched on the gravel path and the gate of the garden rang as he closed it.

M. Blestat remained in his armchair. The cigar between his fingers extinguished itself. He was aghast.




A Reputation

Oil painting of woman in forestThe Ghost of M. Imberger (part one)
















(2020, translation, Stephanie Foster)