Warren Dunn

Friday Potpourii

I’m getting weary of David Brooks always stealing my best stuff. To be fully transparent, I am not accusing Mr. Brooks of actually stealing. Just being faster off the mark, like he did today in his column “The National Humiliation We Need”.

Two things in his column particular struck me: “It wasn’t Trump who went out to bars in Tempe, Austin, and Los Angeles. It wasn’t Trump who put on hospital gowns and told the American People you could suspend the lockdown if your cause was just.”

I doubt going out and getting snockered is “just.”

Just yesterday, I overreacted on reports of the skyrocketing number of Covid 19 cases in states that had “reopened.” I looked at photos of sun and sand worshipers shoulder to shoulder and said to Carole: “We gotta get them out of the gene pool.” Of course I don’t mean that, but, damn, you’d think folks were smarter than that. Either that, or human nature has asserted itself. After all, we are a social species. So, on mature reflection, I felt a little humiliated myself for being so dispassionate.

The second observation in his column that caught my eye and made me feel like ten cents worth of dirty ice was: “On the day Trump leaves office, we’ll still have a younger generation with worse life prospects than their parents. We’ll still have a cultural elite that knows little about people in red America and still send the message that they are illegitimate…”

Wow. That one really hit home. Maybe I overreacted again because I was born and lived in one of the reddest states in America and for years felt like I was the odd man out. I had a moment of real pride recently when less than a full house showed up for the Tulsa “rally,” which was really more of a wake. Still, we are a people who like our freedom and we don’t want anyone telling us how to live, even if it costs us our lives. We make up songs about how freedom-loving we are; it is part of our foundation myth. It isn’t entirely true of course. About 60 percent of Americans tie themselves to a mortgage that can last as long as thirty years. Perhaps they don’t realize that “mortgage” is derived from the French word for “dead pledge.” In other words, you are theoretically committed to a financial arrangement that could last until you are dead. That isn’t in my definition of “freedom.” Of course, if you can’t meet the payment because of sickness or job loss, and can’t flip the house, you could be part of a national economic meltdown. Each year, approximately 600,000 (or more, because these are old figures, before the Covid-19) declare personal bankruptcy to “free” themselves from debt.

So, Yes, Mr. Books, we have been humiliated because we couldn’t match what other countries have already done: get the virus under better control, if not eradicated. But I will try not to be so judgmental about my fellow Americans, even when they put me at further risk.

Final thought: Humiliation is sometimes the precursor of a change in attitude or belief. I wonder if America may not just be growing up. We’re still a young country, one that can look back just a century or so to a time when Men Were Men and Women Were…well, oppressed. To say nothing of a whole raft of minorities who helped build the country. Some progress has been made. There will always be those who resist change because it threatens privilege. But we keep chipping away at discrimination and brutality and ignorance and eventually we may get it right.

(This could have been entitled: Barber Shop Quartet.)

Only a hopelessly sexist would ever claim women go to the beauty shop to gossip, despite what countless movies and especially the Marvelous Mrs. Maizel might parody.

However, I know from personal observations that men go to the barber shop to pontificate.  An example:

For years I have been storing up barber shop stories I have heard during the 1,600 haircuts I have had since age three.  Today I am going to share just one of them, all about Mr. Trump and heard just before the Coronavirus hit.

   Mr. Trump has been called a con man by dozens of familiar faces and websites, among then Michael Bloomberg, Joe Lockhart, Joe Walsh, Michael Cohen, Philip Roth, Don Lemon, and Marco Rubio.

     At the barber shop, a middle-aged man who had been getting his hair cut at this particular barber shop for twenty or more years felt very comfortable saying that the President of the United States was a con man, then adding, “He’s also not very smart.”

     To which, the man in chair number 3, responded:  “You don’t have to be a very smart con man if your victims are stupid.” (I later discovered that particular observation was lifted from a website.)

     This led to a round-chair discussion of how you could identify someone who was “conned” by Mr. Trump.   In no particular order, (and heavily edited for both word selection and emphasis, if not for substance.)

     “Someone who says he is a great businessman.  With all the scams, bankruptcies, and failures that are a matter of public record, anyone who would claim he was a great businessman doesn’t read much and must base his statement on a television show.”

     “The biggest con he ever did was the tax bill.  The only ones who really benefited were already filthy rich and God knows I can barely afford this haircut.”

     “No, no, no, the biggest con is his claim that he’s tough on Russia.” It was universally agreed that Vladimir Putin must “have something” on Trump. No one offered any real evidence of that except Trump’s fawning respect for “strong men.”

     “You’re both wrong.  The biggest con job is the Wall.  A big, beautiful 2,000 mile long wall that’s maybe 400 feet after three years.” 

     The finale to this discussion was when an older guy getting a “trim” summed it up for all of us.

     “The greatest con of all will be if he gets elected again.”

I wonder if Mr. Trump still thinks governing is going to be “So easy!”


     There is a rumor going around that I would like to spread even though it qualifies as FAKE NEWS.  Its source is cocktail party conversation and it is entirely based on hope springing eternal. 

     The premise is that Donald Trump, who hates losers, doesn’t want to become one when Joe Biden is elected President by every state except Utah and Oklahoma, and if Mitt Romney stumps for Biden, Utah is up for grabs.  MORE FAKE NEWS.

     So what is he going to do to avoid being a loser?  Well, for openers, he starts bad-mouthing, as only he can do, the mail-in ballots.   His gut analysis is that mail-in ballots are used to rig elections.  NOT FAKE NEWS 

     So, if he thinks the election is rigged, then he can resign the office of President before the election and claim that the American people are the real losers because they just lost the greatest President in our history who has done more for the country than any other. MAYBE NOT SUCH FAKE NEWS

      Fat-fetched.   Of course.   But he already told Sean Hannity that Joe Biden was going to be our next President, elected by an avalanche of mail-in ballots from China. NOT ALL FAKE NEWS

SOURCES: The NYTimes; a barbershop, a cocktail party. One out of three is still batting 333.