Lying down with dogs…

A couple of days ago, I wrote about a friend of mine who posted on Facebook about how flabbergasted he was that some people think racial relations have improved under Donald Trump’s “leadership”. My post was written when the discussion was “young”, and one “friend” had referred to liberals as “libtards”.

I’m not really a fan of namecalling, even if I’m guilty of it at times. I especially don’t like it when people namecall folks they don’t even really know personally. It’s one thing if you have personal experience to back up a derogatory moniker, and quite another when you just lump everyone into a group without knowing them. I don’t think it’s right to call Republicans “rethuglicans”, either. I know some very decent people who identify as conservative. I know some pretty crappy people who say they’re liberal. I, myself, don’t really identify as either. On some issues, I’m extremely liberal. On others, I’m a lot more conservative. I guess I’d call myself a “centrist”.

Anyway… that discussion blew up a lot over the past couple of days. One fellow– I probably knew him when I was a teen, but I don’t really remember him now– insists that liberals want to “run his life”. He got into it with a woman I’ll call Lisa who seemed quite reasonable to me, and not just because I happened to align more with her politics than his.

The original poster, a black man who describes himself as a “monster of a man” at 6’6″ and 255 pounds, able to bench about 400 pounds, wrote about how he’s noticed that much smaller white men feel emboldened to insult him. Now… I do know the original poster. We went through school together from the fourth grade. He’s a great guy, but he’s right when he refers to himself as a “monster of a man”. He’s a very big guy– was so in high school and no doubt remains so today. And yet he gets dirty looks when he’s having dinner with white women.

The original poster’s friend, a guy I’ll call Matteo (since I don’t know anyone with that name), says he’s not a racist. He says he treats everyone the same. However, as soon as people find out he supports Donald Trump, people label him a racist. He doesn’t like that. And, he laments that the people calling him a racist aren’t people of color, but “brainwashed” white people, some of whom were posting in that thread.

In fairness to Matteo, I can see why it frustrates him that people assume he’s racist for supporting Donald Trump. However, I can also see why people would draw that conclusion, based on Trump’s very well known racist proclivities. There’s an old saying… if you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas. Well… I lie down with dogs at every opportunity and have never had a flea problem, but you get the drift. If you align yourself politically with someone who makes a point out of tasking immigration authorities to hunt down, detain, and deport anyone who is deemed an “illegal” (undocumented) alien, people might assume that you agree with said politician’s views. If you’re alright with the “illegals” being caged like animals as their children are ripped away from them, people might assume that you are racist.

For his part, Trump himself claims that he’s the “least racist person in the world”. And it’s true that he has hired people of color, married (white) women from European countries, and probably does treat almost everyone the same– except for those he either wants to screw out of money or literally screw. But once those people aren’t useful anymore, he treats them the same, too. I don’t know, maybe there’s a certain “fairness” there. It’s really just people from “shithole” countries Trump doesn’t like. He’s ready to embrace any hot looking Norwegian or Swede who wants to move to America… especially if they’re also female and wealthy. Nah… Trump has had plenty of racist allegations and accusations pinned on him, and the record shows that he discriminates openly.

So Matteo apparently ignores all of this and thinks Trump is a swell guy. If he’s truly not a racist, I’d love to know what about Trump excites him. Is it because he’s someone who has gotten a couple more bucks in his paycheck? Is it because Trump seems plainspoken? Does Trump seems like a “regular guy” to him? Actually, Donald Trump is not like your typical country boy. He grew up wealthy, attended expensive, private schools, and has never worked an honest day in his life. But because he’s a “Republican” (for now, at least) and claims to be against abortion, he’s a “great American” and the “best president” we’ve ever had in the United States. Very fine.

So the OP, my big black friend, explains that because Matteo is a white guy who has never experienced the kind of racism that he has firsthand, he says Matteo doesn’t understand his perspective. Matteo takes exception to this and launches into a strange argument using cancer as his example. He says he can have a negative opinion about cancer even though he’s never had it. He says he can have a negative view of rape, even though he’s never been raped. And by that standard, he can “understand” racism, even if he’s not black and has never been called by that well-known derogatory term that is no longer suitable for print.

That’s when Lisa– someone else I probably met sometime but don’t remember now– jumped in and tried to explain things to Matteo. Her explanation was very reasonable and well thought out, and she correctly pointed out to Matteo that equating cancer to racism is invalid, since ANYONE can get cancer. It’s not an affliction that only affects a certain group of people. I would also say the same about rape, although women are much more likely to experience rape than men are. But if you’re a white person, you will never be black. If you live in the United States or another place where people look at others differently due to the color of their skin, you can’t have the perspective of racism that someone who is a member of the minority has. Now… if you go to a place where white people experience racism due to their skin color, maybe you can have an inkling. But that’s not really how it is in most parts of the USA.

Matteo went on about how it’s the media’s fault that people think life is so bad. He says the media has convinced everyone how much it sucks to be in the United States and that if we’d just stop letting the media spoon feed us reality, we’d see how Trump is making America “great” again. And now, I must stop and interject.

At this point in time, I have at least four white, female, college educated friends who are searching for work. Each of these women has put out at least a couple hundred resumes and, yet they report that they have each only scored a handful of interviews. Two of these friends went as far as to put up GoFundMe campaigns because they need immediate help with their bills and/or keeping their housing. I keep hearing– indeed in that very thread I’m referencing– about how awesome the economy is and how unemployment is at an all time low. If that’s true, why are four of my college educated friends– women whom I know are intelligent, talented, and hardworking– struggling so hard to get work that pays enough for them to support themselves? Where are these “good jobs” with “good benefits”, where qualified people are considered regardless of their age, sex, and whether or not they have children? Why are Bill and I donating money to my friends who have just been laid off at Christmastime and are terrified of being kicked out on the streets? There but by the grace of God go any of us!

Getting back to Matteo and his claims that America is on its way to being “great” again… Lisa, the OP, and Matteo discussed more and the thread soon devolved into a comparison between Republicans and Democrats. Matteo brought up that Democrats were behind the Ku Klux Klan. Here’s the direct, unedited post that led me to write today:

The problem I think you really have is political. The democrat party thinks of African Americans as nothing but a vote. All talk and no action. The political plantation, if you will. Only a liberal would think advancement is a bad thing. If you could get over your political self for a moment you might understand. You guys put politics above all including race. After all you guys founded the KKK and opposed the civil rights act. You want to control people’s lives instead of improving them. Obama said you would need a magic wand to bring back manufacturing jobs (not dead end jobs) and guess what…Trump is bringing back those very jobs. It is YOUR party that plays the race card to divide. The liberal media makes stuff up to promote division and tension. (DICLAIMER: YES RACISM EXSISTS IT HAS AND PROBOBLY ALWAYS WILL TO SOME DEGREE) but your political side does nothing but make it worse. I can actually site time after time where the left has blatantly made stuff up! I am not accusing you of this, but I am damn sure accusing your party of it. Pure EVIL!

Hmmm… and yet Republicans are all about getting in bed with conservative Christians, pushing the anti-abortion agenda to get votes. Republicans are all about doing away with programs that help those who are stuck in poverty get ahead. They are all about denying rights to women and people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered. Quite a lot of them are pretty racist, too. I know this because I am related to them, grew up around them, and I’ve heard how they talk and seen how they behave. That’s not to say that there aren’t liberals who are racists or just want to get ahead somehow by pushing an agenda that is palatable to certain groups. I just think Matteo really fails to see that his arguments do go both ways… even as he points out that they go both ways. He doesn’t seem to see the big picture.

However… I am a firm believer that people should be allowed to vote the way they want. I didn’t jump into this discussion myself, because I find arguing with people like Matteo to be a waste of time. It’s 90% white men who take the attitude that racism isn’t a problem in the United States, and that Republicans are all about not letting the government get too big and interfere in other people’s lives or, more importantly, ability to make money on the backs of less advantaged people. They are all about pulling one’s self up by the bootstraps, even if the bootstraps are hopelessly broken or dry-rotted. Well… despite Matteo’s protests, I do think Trump is a racist. I do think many people who support Trump are more racist than they’d like to admit. I think most people have some racist proclivities deep down, but it’s especially bad among white, conservative, southern men who are all too ready to embrace the false idea that Trump pushes– that they are the “real victims” of discrimination.

In 1989, Trump said he would rather be a “well-educated black”… because they have an “advantage”. Boy… this is exactly the attitude my friend was referring to! It’s a shock that in 1989, a man with Trump’s supposed “education” would be referring to people of color as “the blacks”.

But, in fairness to Trump, some Republicans are starting to turn on him. They see that he’s not someone with whom they want to be aligned. They don’t want to “get up with fleas.” I can’t say I blame them, although flip-flopping to get ahead is such a political thing to do. Trump should know, since he did it himself.

movies, nostalgia, silliness

Moving Violations…

A couple of days ago, I shared an article from USA Today about how rude it is to recline your seat on an economy class flight. It generated a spirited discussion. Personally, I rarely recline on flights. The little bit the seat goes back doesn’t affect my comfort enough to make it worthwhile. I also hate it when people do it to me, so I don’t do it to others. And yes, I do think it’s rude to recline, especially on short flights, and especially when you don’t have any regard for the person sitting behind you. I mean, if someone asked me if I minded if they reclined, I probably wouldn’t say it did. In fact, I would appreciate the consideration. But if they stay reclined when I’m trying to eat, I would not think much of them.

I realize I’m short, though, so I don’t have too much of a problem with leg room. Also, even though I’m definitely not a small person, I can fit in the seat without spilling over. In Europe, I usually fly business class anyway, simply because I hate the whole experience of flying and want it to be as painless as possible. I’m going to be flying on Sunday in business class, while Bill will be in coach. He’s flying on his company’s dime, while I’m flying on ours.

Anyway… that thread got kind of contentious as we remembered experiences we’ve all had on flights. I’ve run into a few people who were total jerks on the plane. For instance, I remembered this one guy who was reclined in my lap for hours. I finally had to get up to pee, but his seat back was craned back, so I had to contort my body to get into the aisle from the window seat. I grabbed the top of the seat for balance and he gave me the stink eye. So I glared right back at him. Dude, if you’re going to be leaned back into my lap for hours, I’m going to have to wake you up when I have to pee. And then I added this…

Civilized, I know… I also need to watch The Help again.

The thread continued, and I was suddenly reminded of a somewhat obscure film from 1985. The film, which was made by the people who brought us the Police Academy movies of the 80s, was called Moving Violations. I saw it in the theater twice, accompanied by our neighborhood pervert, Mr. D., who used to show me porn magazines. For some reason, my parents didn’t think it was odd that a middle aged man was so interested in hanging out with their pre-pubescent daughter, but I digress.

Moving Violations is a super cheesy film, but it remains a guilty pleasure. It starred Bill Murray’s younger brother, John. John tried hard to sound like his brother. I thought he was funny when I was 12 or 13 years old. I now see why his film career was short lived. I still love this movie, though, even though it’s pretty lowbrow.


Anyway, Moving Violations did have some pretty funny moments in it that are still funny in 2019. One of the women in the movie was the adorable Nedra Volz, also known for playing the housekeeper Adelaide on the popular 80s era sitcom, Diff’rent Strokes. In Moving Violations, Nedra plays Mrs. Loretta Houk, who is pretty much blind. She finds herself in all kinds of crazy situations, like the one below…

Those of us who were around in the 80s will remember Clara Peller, who got very famous as Wendy’s pitchwoman. She used to yell, “Where’s the beef!”

Because Nedra’s character, Loretta, was so blind, she got in trouble for driving her car on the tarmac at the airport. She, and a bunch of other hapless nitwits, end up having to take driver’s education dispensed by the most uptight asshole cops ever. It seems clear that they will never pass the course and will spend the rest of their lives taking public transportation. In Loretta’s case, the rest of her life wasn’t that long, but still…


As I was reading the comments from my seat reclining thread, I was suddenly reminded of the scene in Moving Violations in which Loretta and the rest of the motley crew of would be drivers are trying to study for the driver’s exam. They’re a bit depressed at what seems to be insurmountable odds at getting their licenses returned to them. Loretta is not just depressed; she’s drunk! And when John Murray’s character, Dana Cannon, rallies the group’s spirits and revives them with the spirit to fight back, Loretta yells, “Yeah, fuck him! Rip his nuts off!”


Suddenly, I wish I had this film on DVD, though someone has thoughtfully uploaded it on YouTube. I may watch it today, as I struggle to get through the next few days.

I hope if I make it to Nedra’s age, I’m half as cool and funny as she was. I fear I’m already taller than she was, although not by much. Glad I was around in the 80s, too. I like to think of that time when the United States was still kind of “normal”.

As for flying… I think we could all stand to be more considerate and empathetic. If you’re in coach class and you need to recline your seat, at least be polite enough to see if the person behind you is eating or using their tray table. Otherwise, you might find yourself in an unpleasant altercation with a stranger and a meeting with a tight-assed cop like the one on Moving Violations.