Let Me Entertain You

By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

It may be that when we no longer know which way to go we have come to our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.
–Wendell Berry

It’s all really confusing, isn’t it? So much suffering reported in the news, so much conflict. So many different ways to look at things. What is seemingly good is juxtaposed with what is seemingly bad, and yet things change so quickly we can’t be sure about any of it. What we consider the most awful sometimes works to good, like pictures of the lifeless body of a three-year old Syrian child that broke the immigration bottleneck, catalyzing the civilized world to open their hearts — and their border crossings — to hundreds of thousands fleeing violence in their homelands.


Those who have confused their infotainment with actual facts — you know: Obama is a Kenyan, the government is preparing concentration camps for conservatives and gun owners, the Constitution is really a religious document and all the founders were Christians — continue to scald those around them with disinformation campaigns, which should make us all suspicious when someone speaks in absolutes. Talk about a mind that’s baffled!

In Kentucky, Kim Davis has emerged from confinement and will go back to work this coming week, although her counsel has told press she will not betray her principles. It’s worthy of note that not all Republicans stand with Mrs. Davis, even some over at FOX who think she’s gone a bridge too far. At this point, the only righty candidates embracing her cause are Huck and Cruz, fighting over the photo ops and evangelical voters.

The judge has forbidden Davis to stand in the way of her deputy-clerks issuing licenses, making it clear if she should try, she will face the music. Many following the story think that Davis will end up in jail once again. Anticipating that prospect, Oath Keepers have gathered, pledging to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” That includes, it seems, the federal judge in Kim’s case. They intend to protect her from law enforcement, if need be, and their spokesman’s statement sets the stage: “This judge needs to be put on notice that his behavior is not going to be accepted and we’ll be there to stop it and intercede if we have to.” Home grown terrorism, armed and dangerous.

Will we finally notice that not all jihadists follow the Prophet? Some of these ‘patriots’ target anything federal, like the building in Oklahoma City. Do we need another shoot out with the fed in order to get a clear picture of the hostility and resentment from which Donald Trump is feeding?

But take heart, my dears. There are other voices being heard. In case you weren’t one of the five million viewers that tuned in for Stephen Colbert’s Late Show premier, you might want to check out this little snip on Trump-binging. I will never think of an Oreo in the same way (although the cookie seems to have shape-shifting properties, having morphed into a racial identity at one point, and occasionally serving as illustration of middle-age responsibilities, balancing care of both children and parents). While he peppered his show with fun and puns and all things Colbert, he also told a somewhat befuddled Jeb Bush there was “zero percent chance” he would vote for him. He was smiling when he said it. I think we can all agree Stephen hasn’t lost his political edge.

In fact, his new venue is giving him a broader base of response — one he has confessed his mental health had begged him for over the years — and giving us a larger view of not just the man, but his progressive view. Stephen’s quest for authenticity gives us not just a left-leaner — and as with the Stephen-charactor of yore, one willing to welcome all political positions to the floor — but one that’s unafraid to speak up for the things that inform that position.

On his third show, Colbert interviewed Joe Biden, getting straight to the heart of Joe’s emotional dilemma in entering a presidential race while still steeped in personal loss. Instead of moving quickly past Beau’s passing, Colbert urged Joe to speak to both his grief and how his faith had sustained him. Biden felt the love, aware that Stephen had also suffered personal tragedy. He lost his father and two brothers in a plane crash when he was 10, leaving his mother with nine kids to raise alone. Those who were expecting Colbert to back off from pressing Biden on his sorrow, or play it for laughs, were surprised by the pathos of the conversation. In that moment, viewers learned a number of things: how likeable Joe is, and how deep his grief, which has led to endless speculation about the possibility of a run today. We’ve also discovered that Colbert is a man of deep faith who recently referred to himself as a “devout Christian.”

Colbert nailed the Trump issue with his Oreo bit. We’re all jonesing for another hit of his bullying buffoonery, knowing that the next will be the stuff that gives shock jocks wet dreams. And how can we stop, when he tops his last example of poor behavior every time he opens his mouth?

Ben Carson, when asked to describe the differences between Trump and himself, mentioned his own dedication to his faith in God, and belief that of himself, he does nothing. Trump, who has said that he’s never asked God for forgiveness, bristled — because he does, under every circumstance. He relied on his usual answer in the face of implied criticism, that the adversary “doesn’t know me,” although lack of personal information never stopped HIM when he was throwing an insult. Then he grudgingly admitted that Ben, hard on Trump’s heels as a front-runner, was an “okay doctor.”

Okay? The guy may be deeply conservative and religious, which I routinely reject as presidential material — not to mention, as my son pointed out, much too tranquil (and black) to make the final cut — but he’s also the brilliant neurosurgeon from Johns Hopkins that successfully separated conjoined twins at the head. A little more impressive than okay, Donny. Maybe that’s why we can’t look away, we’re waiting for somebody — ANYBODY — to put this bully in his place!

Still, the Oreo response to Donald has become beyond tiresome even if we can’t seem to quit, and it works against us. Even CNN — infamous as one-trick-pony on topics that grab headlines, like missing planes, etc., running to tedium — has had an internal rebellion about covering the blowhard 24/7. Staff have complained to the boss, CNN President Jeff Zucker, that they’d like to move on to something else. Huffpost Media writes:

As John Sides at The Washington Post has pointed out, the media’s obsessive coverage of the reality TV star is precisely the reason he has risen in the polls.


CNN has basically provided Trump with hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, of free advertising.

Of course, Trump thinks he should be the one who’s getting paid. “Jeff is a friend of mine, but if I didn’t get ratings, he would not have all Trump all the time,” he recently told The Hollywood Reporter. “He should pay me a fortune, right? They should all pay me for this. I’m doing this for nothing.”

Trump knows no shame. And that, I suggest, is by design. This was also the week when Trump told Rolling Stone (and the world) that Carly Fiorina was, basically, unattractive by attacking “that face,” over and over, adding, “Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that the face of our next president?” Subsequently, he went on “The View” and told Joy Behar that he didn’t insult Fiorina personally, it was her ‘persona’ he went after. When asked by FOX’s Greta Van Susteren why he’d been so rude, Trump admitted that “Some comments are made as an entertainer and as everybody said, as an entertainer is a much different ball game.”

As an aside, Sarah Palin has been hot on Trump’s heels trying to establish herself as his most useful political groupy since this all began. The above statement from The Donald — vague, poorly structured and, certainly, counter-intuitive to his bid for being taken seriously as a candidate — has that same rambling ‘word salad‘ trait that Palin is famous for. These are people who have narcissists personalities, enamored with themselves and entirely comfortable with who they think they are. They seem bewildered that they aren’t universally appreciated for their brilliance.

So that trait — confidence born of little more than pathological self-interest — is what has captured the zeitgest of the hour, appealing to frightened women and threatened males, the majority of them white. protestant and ‘of an age.’ Both of these people are lauded for their authenticity, which seems to mean a stream of consciousness mentality that allows anything to fall out of their mouths as soon as it takes shape in their brain.

At least Trump admits, with his ‘entertainment’ commentary, that some (if not most) of what he says is bullshit. Can’t say the same for the Hillbilly from Wasilla who advised immigrants of the need to “speak American” here in the homeland. Her coziness with the Trumpster has even Glenn Beck “embarrassed I ever supported her.” Best to remember that The Donald was, among other things, a reality show host. Sarah has tried it and failed, several times, and Glenn has ‘lived out loud’ for longer than I care to examine. Birds of a feather, preening and crowing, squabbling within their own flock, looks like.

The age old question to those with power? Why do you want it? I think we know why most politicians want it, why Sarah and Donald and Cruz and Huck want it. There are others out there with power — media power — who use it in an entirely different way. It’s easy enough to consider the fruits of their labor to see how worthy they are of our trust.

Take Jon Stewart, who played the scruffy umpire in Stephen’s very entertaining lead-in this last Tuesday. Jon’s “Daily Show” was pivotal in passing the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act in 2010, a badly needed response to the physical problems suffered by almost all first responders at the Towers. The 2010 Congress dragged its feet as these brave Americans died off, but Stewart wouldn’t let it die. The bill was finally passed but is now soon to expire, and there seems little interest in Congress to renew it, nor a peep of objection when it was diminished by 90 million as the Republicans decided sequester was best for America.

With no show at his disposal, Jon will still shepherd a critical renewal measure, walking the halls of Congress on 9/16, urging legislators to stand by those who stood by them. He enlisted New York’s Senator Gillibrand to join him, inviting her to one of his last episodes of “Daily” to promote the visit. Very few legislators are on board at this point and if that doesn’t sit well with you, you can urge your member of Congress at this link. I doubt there’s a politico who hasn’t used the phrase “remember 9/11” to their advantage. It’s time to pay the piper and do what’s right for those still suffering health crises and economic loss.

There are other entertainers out there, too, doing good for others. If you’ve wondered where Michael Moore’s been these many months, you have a treat in store. Those at the Toronto International Film Festival enjoyed the premier of his newest offering, Where To Invade Next. Mike calls this his “Happy Movie.” Not what it sounds like, this is a close look at policies around the world that are not just successful for their citizens, but — Mike hopes — dupicatable. They include progressive options like free college, terrific and inexpensive school lunches, expansive women’s rights, humane incarceration and more.

Much as “What do you want the power for?” is a telling question, “What have you done with it?” is a better one. Colbert took a pay cut to become part of the nightly conversation, waving a progressive banner while waking up the sleepers. Stewart continues to be a voice for betterment, and time will tell where he’ll decide to put his talent, but bet on it — he’ll be appearing again soon. Moore is still asking us to think, and making it easier by providing all the information we need.

We American’s adore being entertained. We have a love affair with the silver screen, a habit with the boob tube, and now an obsession with whatever techno-whatsis hits the market. We pay a price more dear than money, these days. The price we’re paying at the moment is confusion and disconnect from what is ethical in favor of what is trendy. For the moment, Gordon Gekko’s mantra, “Greed is good,” has occulted Mr. Smith’s altruistic attempt to bring humanity to Washington.

We’d do well to consider that almost all of what we see around us is configured as entertainment, and we are defined by what we ‘take in,’ what we are addicted to, and what we believe about the world. If the voices we’re listening to are false, then that’s what we become. There are entertainers like Trump and Palin and Beck, car wrecks on the information highway we can’t look away from, and then there’s entertainment like that provided by the others we’ve discussed today.

“The mind that is not baffled is not engaged.” Evolution is a messy business, and a mind that is ‘made up,’ like a bed that can’t be slept in, isn’t useful when we need it. Stay open, intuit what is worthy and create more of it! I still have my button from the ’60s that says, “Relax. It’s just a movie.” It is, and since it’s the one you’re going to put your name to, create with passion and respect and love — entertain the best and leave the rest.

6 thoughts on “Let Me Entertain You

  1. Geoff Marsh

    Brilliant, Jude. You are so good, so perceptive, so aware.

    Keep Jude online. Subscribe to her Fix My Computer fund, a much-needed assist for deliverance from confusion. Donate as much as you can afford to judeshere@ yahoo.com via your PayPal account. Thank you.

  2. Barbara Koehler

    Egads, thank you for quoting Kentucky’s Wendell Barry Jude. It will dilute the dreadful image of Kentucky that has developed since Kim Davis became famous. I think you are being kind by calling these times “confusing” and not just plain madness. But that’s at ground level only isn’t it?

    You have pointed out the dichotomy of seeing a tyke’s body washed up by the sea bringing about a breakthrough in the apathy regarding the reason for his even being in the sea. You have seen how alchemy works and explained it to us. If we can just hang on to that understanding we will not all go mad.

    Thank you too for noting how comedy and comedians provide healing through laughter and how they, the comedians, point out the absurdities in government, politics and in certain powerfully rich people. And now we have a real jokester running for office. Doesn’t he do the same? Making fun of his competitors – in the crudest way of course, is a kind of burlesque comedy.

    Is it not possible then, that, like the dead 3-year old pulled from the sea, Donald Trump will turn out to be just the catalyst for change our election process needs? It is very hard to be objective about this. I try not to be too fearful that there could be enough people who would vote for him in this country. Then I remember that transiting Neptune (madness) in Pisces (the Sea) squares U.S. natal (Sibly) Uranus (shocking) in Gemini (yadda yadda) while he, Neptune, also conjuncts the U.S. Ceres (she was robbed of something she cherished) in Pisces (the Sea).

    We are in this cycle of extreme pressure on our emotions, individually and culturally. It manifests as culture shock; this confusion we are experiencing with the changing events that surround us. The comedians and other entertainers are doing their best to get us through this insanity. Thank you so much Jude for bringing this observation forward.

    Surely, once we get through the 3rd-in-a-row super moon (October 27th) which will conjunct the discovery degree of Chiron the Healer (3+ Taurus), a degree that will quincunx (adjust) Saturn (government) at 3+ Sagittarius, who is sesqui-quadrate (squarish) Uranus (shocking) at 17-18 Aries, who in turn will quincunx Venus (values) at 17+ Virgo; she who will oppose Chiron the Healer at 17+ Pisces at that Super (full) Moon. Mars at that October full moon will be at 20+ Virgo, the same degree as tomorrow mornings Eclipse. Surely we are sane enough to make it through that.

    Don’t leave us Jude!

  3. marilyn

    The first bus full of refugees arrived in Germany today under police escort. However, I hope that what came today will not be repeated in the next bus coming. 90% of the bus riders were males. I hope they are not splitting up families, leaving the women and children behind. If this is the situation, then the males will seek out jobs and then send payments home to their families. Leaving the governments less to supply those still in camps back home.

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