Last Week and Next

FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington. The U.S. registered its highest deaths yet from the coronavirus on the same day as a mob attack on the nation’s capitol laid bare some of the same, deep political divisions that have hampered the battle against the pandemic. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File) 
 For the first time ever, the certainly of violence has led to the public being warned to stay away from the presidential inauguration on January 20. Also, the FBI is warning states to prepare for armed invasions of their capitols. One such an invasion succeeded in Michigan last April, while another failed in Oregon in December.*
The coming of last week's D.C. attack was so well-advertised that the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) called it the best predicted terrorist attack in American history, yet the capitol police--despite having all the intelligence resources of the federal government at its disposal--professed ignorance. Once the assault started, some capitol cops even sided with the Trumpians, the most notorious of them putting on a MAGA cap and directing the terrorists while a fellow officer was murdered.

During the DC occupation, many Republican legislators smirkingly refused to wear the required Covid masks as they hid packed-together (the count of those who contracted Covid as the probable result is in progress). When the invasion was finally over, 147 Republican Congressmen calmly and cheerfully continued their attempt to overturn Biden's victory by un-Constitutionally giving the presidency to Trump. Clearly, even if they didn't know that the assault was coming, they would have known that all those zip-ties weren't intended for them. For Pence, the outcome might have been less agreeable because Trump had tweeted during the occupation that Pence had refused to hand him the election. "Hang Pence!" cried the invaders, and at least one of them had thought to bring a rope.
If there's a bright side to recent events, it is that both the House and Senate are now Democratically controlled, and a Democrat is about to assume the presidency. In other good news, Trump's role in the attempted insurrection has led to numerous resignations by high ranking appointees.** In fact, Trump has come to be so detested that many Republicans now view his campaign endorsements as a liability in hotly contested races (such as the two Georgia run-offs that Republicans recently lost despite a personal appearance by Trump). Finally, it has become impossible for fence-straddlers to argue that Trump only pretends to be violent in order to reach his hardcore base. How they ever pulled it off in the first place is a mystery given the scores, if not hundreds, of times that he encouraged, demanded, or praised violence.*




Christmas Letter Containing Peggy’s Health Worries and How We’re Faring In Isolation


Peggy and I celebrated our 49th anniversary on December 19th (she’s 69, and I’m 71), yet this is our first ever Christmas letter.

Our family now includes five indoor-only cats that range in age from 18-months to ten years. All are in good health, and all enjoy playing together, sleeping together, and bathing one another. We own hundreds of cat-related books along with cat art, and, prior to Covid, we volunteered at a cat adoption center. Peggy had originally proclaimed her intention of only having one cat, yet chose all but one of the next four. Saying no to another cat is like saying no to another potato chip.

We live in a 1955 era fixer-upper house that we bought in 1990 and spent years renovating. Many of the neighborhood’s original residents were alive when we moved in, but all have since died, and we are now the oldest people in our area.

Since Covid, we never go to stores or visit with friends. I’m not finding isolation difficult because Peggy and the cats provide sufficient companionship. On those occasions when I miss shopping or having dinner with friends, I remind myself that Covid would probably kill me, and would most certainly kill Peggy who has the occasional bout of asthma and a calcification in her right lung. Then too, our deaths would render our cats homeless. Such thoughts could keep me isolated forever.

Peggy is mostly doing well with isolation, but she has her sad moments when she reflects upon the things that she has had to give up. For instance, she had two weekly pinochle groups and two or more monthly meetings and workshops related to clothing buttons—which she started collecting in 1988. Many of these events are now being conducted on Zoom, and while some things have been lost, there have been gains. For example, the Portland Button Club recently hosted a speaker from France, and just last week, Peggy was among the 87 attendees at a meeting of the Idaho Button Society. She is now organizing her own Internet events, plus she uses the Internet in conjunction with her computer’s art program to design button displays.

For me, the worst part of Covid is that I’ve been postponing important medical and dental procedures. For example, I had two dental implants installed in my upper front teeth last Spring, but because they don’t extend above the gum-line, they are worthless until I get crowns, but by the time I had waited six months to become eligible for crowns, Covid was so widespread that I was unwilling to get them. In the meantime, eating is difficult and I often bite my lip with my remaining teeth. I’ve also developed a hernia, but I don’t plan to see a doctor until I’ve had a Covid vaccine or the pain is too great to bear. (After writing this on the 20th, I had a tooth break-off at the gumline on the 21st, but the dentist said I could postpone treatment
—he suggested yet another implant—because the calcified pulp is keeping bacteria out.)

Peggy is suffering from two health problems for which treatment can’t be delayed. One is a squamous cell carcinoma on her nose (a former mountain climber, she was often exposed to high altitude sunshine), which she will have removed on January 5, in what could be a five hour surgery (the surgery is lengthy because samples of excised tissue will be tested throughout). Another problem is that, after years of unsuccessfully trying to lose two pounds, she recently dropped eight pounds, a loss that is continuing and is accompanied by pain and vomiting. In early November, her internist ordered blood tests and a CAT scan, but when they didn’t reveal anything, he prescribed an “upper GI with follow-through.” When she discovered that the contrast medium contained a migraine-causing ingredient, he substituted a “gastric emptying study.” It is to be done on December 29, and, like her surgery, it could take as long as five hours.

As the winter-long Oregon drizzle continues, Peggy and I are watching documentaries on PBS along with classic movies and TV shows from the fifties and sixties. We are also playing six or more daily games of backgammon, and I continue to be an active blogger, having no face-to-face friends who I love more than two British bloggers, Philip and Michelle, both of whom, I am extremely sad to report, are in poor health. Philip honors me with the occasional phone call, and while Michelle had suggested visiting online, she later developed a voice problem that made it impractical. I, too, am having voice problems, in my case “quivering vocal cords” for which I had just started seeing a speech therapist when Covid hit (I haven
’t been back). Fortunately, I’m able to talk well enough after Ive been up for awhile, although I fancy that I sound a bit like Katherine Hepburn.

Reading also continues to be a vital part of my life, most of my books being 100-plus year old novels by largely forgotten authors.  The only author for whom I’ve sought first editions is American poet, novelist, and short story writer, Margaret Deland (1857-1945) who went from fame to obscurity during her lifetime. I also own several of her letters and photos, two biographies, and her two-volume autobiography.

Peggy, too, enjoys reading, but also spends time on her button hobby, working Sudokus, and listening to music. While I get little exercise anymore, she alternates between taking long walks one day and working out with weights the next. Marrying such an admirable woman was the best thing I ever did, yet I don’t know if we would have survived had our relationship not been helped by the fact that we are so much alike. For example, our attitudes towards money, politics, vegetarianism, religion, entertainment, clothing styles, personal safety, celebrating holidays, having five cats, house and yard decoration and maintenance, and, of late, staying isolated.

Happy Holidays,

Humans Versus Staph: Further Evidence of My Perverted Atheistic Values

If I had to choose between saving the life of a good dog or a bad man, the man would die, and the same would be true if I had to choose between the endangered mountain gorilla and all 37-million humans of metropolitan Tokyo.

“You don
t know anyone in Tokyo, and might not racism play into how breezily you would render them dead? What would you say if you had to choose between a species of blind fish that only lives in a single isolated cave versus yourself and the 4-million other humans in Oregon?” 

Whether my decision involved Tokyo or Oregon, it would be based upon my belief that the value of an entire species outweighs that of millions of humans. It is also true that cave fish only harm their prey whereas we humans harm everything but the germs, rodents, and insects that prey on us, and so it is that the earth would be better off if several million of us were suddenly dead.

“How many humans would you trade for the Anopheles Mosquito, the Norway Rat, or a staph-causing bacteria?”

While it’s hard to imagine the harm of killing-off a flesh-eating microbe, destroying the Anopheles Mosquito is another matter because of the species that feed upon them and are themselves fed upon by other species. Even so, if I were a caribou whose breathing passages were being clogged by
clouds of mosquitoes, my choice would be easy. My point is that immediate suffering could inspire me to adopt a remedy that would make the overall problem worse, yet the absence of immediate suffering gives my species an excuse for rationalizing problems out of existence; for example, greed, global warming and habitat destruction.

As I see it, my species relates to the earth like staph germs relate to their host. What I mean to say is that while staph germs might become fat and sassy from feasting on human flesh today, it never occurs to them to cut back in order to keep their host alive for tomorrow, although when it dies, they die. How, then, are we superior to staph? Given our wasted potential for good, how are we even the moral equals of staph?


Irrelevant Endnote: Peggy is sitting beside me (on her own desktop computer) with Harvey purring loudly in her lap. A new universe was born when he entered the world, its reality being so all-encompassing that I can scarcely remember the old universe despite the fact that it occupied 69/70ths of my life. We came very near not applying to keep Harvey (for many months, we had been his foster parents), and when we finally did apply, we came very near being forced to give him up due to our age (Im 70, and Peggy—the poor old thing—is 69).  How nightmarish the image of being forced to surrender him to the young woman who wanted him, and how unimaginable the possibility of someday losing him to death (his or ours). What would I not give for him? How much trouble, how much money, even how many lives? Some people love humans. I love cats. The five that I have arent nearly enough, but if I had more, I would be spread too thin for intimacy (a recognition that causes me to question the values of cat-laden households).

It is said that the Abrahamic deity created humans in his likeness (as if thats a good thing), but Im much more invested in the beautiful and virtuous cat goddess, Bastet, who so admired cats that she molded herself in their likeness. I have a statue of Bastet on the window shelf overlooking my bed, and I often open my eyes in the wee hours to see her outlined against the semi-darkness of the city sky.

The Immortal Harvey (d.o.b. June 18, 2019)

I share my home with four gentle and obedient cats who adorn my life like precious jewels, and a fifth, Harvey, who is cocky and impudent. Only he fights over food; only he brazenly ignores my wishes; and only he makes me run from one end of the house to the other to see what he’s up to when it sounds like he’s rearranging the furniture. He stares into my eyes with the cunning of a cartoon fox, and he disobeys me even while I’m scolding him for disobedience. I chase him around the house yelling, waving my arms, and, sometimes, slapping the upholstery with a yardstick, but after a few circuits, he rolls onto his back—like ten-year-old Brewsky did when he was a kitten—and invites me to rub his belly.

Harvey is my only cat who, when we’re cuddled-up in bed at night and I’m rubbing his belly with one hand, pins my other with his claws and squeezes a finger between his teeth as he dozes off. Peggy insists that I not let him bite me, but I only follow her advice on the rare occasions when he causes me pain.

But why does Harvey pin me with teeth and claws? A cat’s unprotected abdomen is so vulnerable to evisceration—by another cat’s hind claws—that many cats will bite anyone who touches that area. Then there are cats like Brewsky who will allow humans to do pretty much anything to them (I sometimes answer the door with Brewsky hanging upside down from under a forearm). Harvey resorts to the middle ground of allowing access to his abdomen while keeping his teeth and claws engaged. 

For much of my life, I found it intimidating to sit or lie while other males were standing, so when I did, I would keep an eye on them, although I knew that it offered little protection. When I observe Harvey’s protective measures, I see myself. Although Brewsky always gave me complete access to his body, I appreciate Harvey’s gift even more because his desire to surrender goes against his need for safety.

As I stroke him, I lose myself in adoration of his foxy face and long fur—I prefer longhaired cats, and he’s my only longhair. Although Peggy laughed when I called my little ten pound bundle of cuteness a man’s cat, Harvey truly is a badass who goes for broke while roughhousing with fifteen-pound Brewsky. Yet, I know that Brewsky would never really harm him, and I also know that Harvey’s exaggerated self-confidence is the result of human protectiveness. May Peggy and I never find ourselves unable to maintain the illusion, and may he never discover how nearly powerless his human parents really are. Perhaps, it would be possible for me to love him more, although my heart would burst if I tried.

Two Days to Go: Why I Hate Them So


Trump has spent four years sowing division and heaping hatred upon anyone who disagrees with him. He has told thousands of demonstrable lies; purged the government of those whom value duty to nation above loyalty to him; done his utmost to prevent Democrats from voting and their votes from being counted; and trashed every value that I hold dear. Those who voted for Trump made all this possible, and are determined that it continue. The harm that Trump has done to people like I--and millions of others--is harm for which I hold them responsible.

Two days ago, Trump supporters used their vehicles to harass a busload of Biden supporters who were on their way to an event in Austin, Texas (the event was cancelled). Trump, who has a long history of encouraging violence on the part of his supporters, tweeted photos of the harassers along with the words, "I LOVE TEXAS!" (Earlier in the week, a similar incident occurred in Missouri, and the FBI is investigating both incidents.)

Election day violence (the election is November 3) is a major concern in America. The reason for the concern is that Trump has been saying for months that he can only lose if the election is stolen, so in a country that contains more privately-owned guns than people (most guns being in the hands of Republicans), and is under the leadership of a violence-promoting demagogue, violence seems likely. Might it get worse than a few out of control demonstrations--might there be an attempted coup if Trump calls for one? No one knows.

I do know that, prior to Trump, fears of election violence like that which is seen in the Third World didn't exist here because people imagined that the country was strong and stable. Yet, in four short years, America has gone from being the world's most powerful democracy to standing upon the precipice of fascism and possible collapse. I feared Trump and his supporters from the outset, but because I trusted that America's laws and democratic institutions would protect us, I didn't foresee that two days before the election of 2020, I would be writing such a post.

But why is it that the very flag-wavers (they have now swapped the American flag for the various Trump flags) who sing, "I'm proud to be an American because at least I know I'm free," support a man who runs roughshod over the very values they formerly expressed a willingness to die for? I can but point out that their words are the same words that were spoken in 1930's Germany, which were the same words that are spoken by all people who regard "strong-man" dictators as the solution to their nation's problems. 

If I awakened one day and discovered that half of my fellow citizens were child-molesters who passionately defended child-molestation and attended large rallies (during a pandemic, no less) at which they chanted "Lock Them Up!" whenever their leader criticized the opponents of child molestation, I would wonder what signs I overlooked that might have allowed me to look beyond the fresh paint adorning their souls to the rot underneath. Even if Trump loses and even if there is no attempt at a coup, I will never again respect his supporters, not because they are dead to me, but because I foolishly imagined that their authoritarianism was tempered by decency. It was not the first time that I so wanted to believe in the goodness of people that I traded truth for fantasy.

Thoughts Upon Learning that Trump has Covid

During Tuesday's 90-minute debate, Trump yelled almost nonstop at  both Biden and the Fox News moderator and interrupted them 128 times. During the 2016 debate, he interrupted Hilary Clinton a mere 51 times, but he did it while pacing behind her.

Q* is a Filipino muckraker who passes himself off as an American government insider, and is wildly popular with Trumpians, because while they have no problem with ignoring logic, science, and legitimate media sources, they're just as eager to embrace absurdities that serve their political ends. 

Q regularly accuses Democrats of running pedophile rings and performing Satanic rituals during which they drink the blood of toddlers.  Yesterday, I heard Trump call Q's lies "a good thing."  When Trump was running for president in 2016, Republicans said that they were tired of Democrats thinking they were stupid, so they wasted no time in proving it.

The U.S. has 4% of the world's population but 25% of its Covid cases (213,052 Americans have died of Covid). Trump regularly mocks people who wear masks, claims that the virus will go away "as if by magic," and has been holding large rallies during which it's hard to spot a single mask wearer except for the ones who are on the speaker's stand behind Trump--after all, Trump's health matters. He has even held these rallies in places that have mask mandates. During this week's debate, Trump ridiculed Biden for mask-wearing, and Trump and Trump's family refused to honor the Cleveland Clinic's mask requirement.

Last night, it was announced that Mr. and Mrs. Trump had been added to the day's roster of 36,000 Americans who were diagnosed with what Trump insists on calling the "China Virus." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reacted  to the news by continuing to promise that he will bring Trump's recent Supreme Court appointment to a vote in less than a month despite having stalled an Obama appointment for ten and a half months by arguing that appointments shouldn't be voted on during an election year. 

Perhaps, the Trumpian insanity will soon come to an end, either thanks to Covid or to the November election. If the latter should occur, who knows what all those Republicans will do with all their assault rifles? After all, their "Great Leader" has been doing his utmost to insure violence should he lose, and his followers are not among the world's most stable people.


Disaster-Prone Oregon: As if 100 Nights of Rioting Weren’t Bad Enough

Current humidity is 10%, and the forecast is for 100-degree heat and “historically high winds.”* Today dawned red; the red turned to gray; and ash is falling like snowflakes. Even indoor air is smoky, nauseating, and congesting, and twilight lingers all day. Outside air has gone from “unhealthy” to “very unhealthy” to “hazardous.” Our shrubs, patio, and walkways lie beneath a thick layer of ash. Many rural areas have lost power, and five towns have burned to the ground.

When Peggy and I moved to Oregon in 1986, mountain real estate was in high demand, but now that global warming has melted glaciers and ever-worsening fires have turned rural idylls into death traps (Trump claims that the fire problem is caused by Democrats), the cautious have grown even more cautious. I live in the heart of a metro area of 300,000, so if I die in a natural disaster, it is unlikely to be a forest fire but rather the +9 Great Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake. These quakes hit an average of every 246-years, the last one occurring 320-years ago at 9:00 p.m. on January 26, 1700 (the time and date have been determined from Japanese records of when the resultant tsunami hit Japan). Had the threat posed by the Cascadia Subduction Zone been known when Peggy and I moved to Oregon in 1986, we would have gone elsewhere.

There have been numerous small quakes during our time here (one of which caused extensive damage to the state capitol), but they were along local faults while the Cascadia fault extends from California, through Oregon, through Washington, and through British Columbia before finally ending in Alaska. It is expected that Coastal communities will be completely flattened by the quake before being washed out to sea seven minutes later. Because the Coast is squeezed between mountains and ocean, few roads run east so there will be little chance of escape. Being sixty miles inland and 200-400 feet above sea level, the Willamette Valley won’t be swept out to sea, but setting atop hundreds of feet of Ice Age rubble will still mean major disaster, but back to fire-related news....

Peggy has a friend named Sandy who lives twenty miles from town and next door to the Willamette National Forest. A woman of more than average means, Sandy has spent forty-five years of her life and an enormous amount of money in building a world-class clothing button collection. The closer the fires get, the more Sandy worries, but because her husband pooh-poohs her worry, no steps are being taken to move their belongings to safety. Yesterday, the fire department toured Sandy’s property in preparation for using it as a staging area.

Throughout the day, TV programs are being interrupted by fire-related news, and evacuation orders are constantly scrolling across the bottom of the screen. The smoke is so thick that flame retardant can’t be dropped from planes or helicopters, and five towns have thus far burned to the ground. All the firefighters in the world couldn’t slow a fire that is moving too fast to approach. Peggy heard on the news that the nearest fire jumped thirteen miles in one night, but I can’t imagine that it’s true.

Volcanoes. Oregon has four volcanoes that the USGS characterize as “very high risk.” The one nearest Eugene is the 10,358-foot South Sister, which, despite being seventy miles away, can be seen from town. The South Sister has a bulge that has grown nine inches since its discovery in 1997. Because the prevailing winds blow away from Eugene, the worst likely danger would come from watershed destruction, Eugene’s water coming from the McKenzie River, which originates near the South Sister. (Because the McKenzie flows through the worst of the fires, Eugene's water tastes bad).

Landslides. These are only a problem in the wet season and usually along the Coast, where they sometimes close the only north-south highway (US 101, aka El Camino Real) for months, it being too dangerous to move a landslide that won’t stop sliding. Obviously, people occasionally die, and the only way out is sometimes by helicopter.

Friday Afternoon Fire Update. Another filthy day of coughing, nausea and daylong twilight, but, unless The Big One hits, we probably won’t end the day homeless in a school parking lot. By noon on Monday, the winds are expected to shift.

Friday Night Fire Update: 40% of Oregonians have been told to prepare for evacuation, and another 10% have already evacuated.

* Since I started writing this three days ago, the winds have dissipated, and the daytime highs have dropped by 25-degrees (the area being prone to temperature fluctuations), but the fires just keep getting bigger and more numerous. In California, things are even worse, but things are too bad here for me to worry much about
how things are down there.

** Friday Night Fire Update: 40% of Oregonians have been told to prepare for evacuation, and another 10% have already evacuated. s a link to local fire news and photos:

Is This How You View Donald Trump? An Attempt to Understand.

I want to understand the difference between people who love Donald Trump and people like myself who despise him, it being obvious that our differences go beyond policy. When I came upon a nine-point list of traits (at bottom of post) that characterize people who are malevolent,* I discovered that every item on the list strongly represents my understanding of the character of Donald Trump. Because I view these traits in him as unavoidably obvious, I am unable to maintain a high regard for those who disagree. 

My alienation from such people saddens me, and I have observed that they use some of the same insulting words to describe me that I use to describe them, words like stupid, deluded, hateful, and unpatriotic. They say that I want to abolish the police, and that I love rioters and looters, although I strongly support the police, and would gladly see rioters and looters shot dead in the street if it were possible to separate them from other demonstrators. I say these things in the hope of making it clear to Trumpians that our disagreement isn't total, and that in this, at least, we can find some comfort.

We are all pained by our contempt for one another, but no one knows how to move beyond it. Or at least I don't. Millions have stopped talking completely, while millions more have agreed to stop talking about Trump. Neither approach works for me, yet my attempts at understanding and being understood have been so anger-laden and accusatory that they have made matters worse. So I ask you, not rhetorically, but because I want to know: three and a half years into Trump's presidency, how do you view his character? 

If you hate him as I do, then I will obviously understand, but for those few readers who regard him as honest, just, compassionate, and patriotic, to what do you attribute the fact that I hold the opposite view, and would you like for us to bridge the divide? While I have little belief that the angry torrent that separates us can be bridged, I am nonetheless making what I intend as a constructive effort. If my approach doesn't work for you, perhaps you have an idea that would. It is my blog, so while it makes sense that most of the time and work would be mine, the fact is that I need help. It is also true that no matter where you live or how you feel about Trump, everyone the wide world over has been wounded by the rage, chaos, and alienation that characterize his presidency. Perhaps you will say that these things aren't his fault, but surely you won't deny that they exist, or that responsibility for healing the wounds falls completely on the other side.

The following is the list of what I see in Trump. Even if you think I'm imagining these things in him, my hope is that if you understand the self-talk that underlies my hatred, you will find my hatred comprehensible. Whether this will represent progress, I don't know, but it's the only idea I have.

  1. Egoism. The excessive concern with one's own pleasure or advantage at the expense of community well-being.
  2. Machiavellianism. Manipulativeness, callous affect and strategic-calculating orientation.
  3. Moral Disengagement. A generalized cognitive orientation to the world that differentiates individuals' thinking in a way that powerfully affects unethical behavior.
  4. Narcissism. An all-consuming motive for ego reinforcement.
  5. Psychological Entitlement. A stable and pervasive sense that one deserves more and is entitled to more than others.
  6. Psychopathy. Deficits in affect, callousness, self-control and impulsivity.
  7. Sadism. Intentionally inflicting physical, sexual or psychological pain or suffering on others in order to assert power and dominance or for pleasure and enjoyment.
  8. Self-Interest. The pursuit of gains in socially valued domains, including material goods, social status, recognition, academic or occupational achievement and happiness.
  9. Spitefulness. A preference that would harm another but that would also entail harm to oneself. This harm could be social, financial, physical or an inconvenience.


"It is What It is." Donald John Trump

Of late, Trump has suggested that his likeness be put alongside those of four other presidents on Mt. Rushmore, a mountain in South Dakota. He has appointed a postmaster general who, despite objections by Congress, state governments, and postal unions, is seeking to impede delivery of the mail-in ballots favored by Democrats. He has repeatedly claimed that voter fraud alone can prevent him from winning re-election, leading to speculation that he’s preparing for a coup. He has threatened that, if he loses reelection, America won’t have a president “for years” due to legal challenges.

He has said that he wants three more terms as president (this would require a change in American law). He is accusing his own government of impeding development of a Covid vaccine in order to prevent his re-election. He is accusing his Democratic challenger of senility and of being “a tool of the radical left.” He has warned that if Biden becomes president, crime will run rampant and leftists and anarchists will riot in every city and town in America (much of which are already happening under Trump). His sister accused him of “cruelty”; called him a “liar and a cheat”; said he has “no principles”; and confirmed claims that the self-proclaimed “very stable genius got into college by paying someone to take his entrance exams. 

A Trump insider was charged with multiple felonies, raising the number of Trumpian aides, donors and advisers, who have been indicted or imprisoned to twenty. The sixteen-year-old Trump-hating daughter of “counselor to the president” Kellyanne Conway petitioned the court for emancipation, saying that her mother has neglected her and her siblings in favor of money and fame. Ms Conway’s husband has also been vocal in opposing the president, who in response called him “a loser of a husband.” 

After three-and-a-half years of Trump, nothing that I have said should come as a surprise to most Americans, but what never ceases to astound me is that Trump’s approval rating among members of his own party has held steady in the mid nineties. I don’t know what to conclude from this other than that Republicans are infinitely more stupid and unethical than I would have considered possible even three years ago when I still entertained the hope that, as Trump’s depravity became increasingly blatant, his supporters would slowly abandon him. It would now appear that, unless he is caught on tape buggering a poodle alongside Putin and Kim Jong-Un (and I’m not confident that even this would do it), I can’t imagine what would give pause to people who prefer the shit of a golden-headed buffoon to the blood of a Jewish Savior. 

Why would I make such an outrageous statement? Because Trump’s “values”—aka his pandering to his followers’ ignorance and bigotry—clearly do matter to his disciples, while those of Jesus clearly do not, a fact that puts me in mind of Trump’s 2016 boast that his supporters wouldn’t care if he murdered a man in broad daylight on Manhattan’s 5th Avenue. I had imagined that such a boast might lose him the election, but I now see that he was right...

Then again, his supporters might care deeply if Trump were to claim that the man was a Democrat whose death was a Christmas present to the nation in which case, they would jump to their feet and cheer until they could cheer no more.

I will now leave you with what Trump said about the thousands upon thousands of people who have died of Covid due to his indifference to the welfare of anyone but himself:

“It is what it is.”

A week or so later, Michelle Obama repeated Trump’s words in the context of saying that Trump is what he is because he lacks the ability to rise to any occasion. While his followers deserve him, the rest of the nation and world most certainly do not deserve the curse that has been visited upon them.

Which is Better, a Dog or a Cat?

“By and large, people who enjoy teaching animals to roll over will find themselves happier with a dog.”
—From Secrets of the Cat by Barbara Holland

Similarities Between Cats and Dogs

Alerts. Both will warn us of danger. In the case of cats, this is more apt to mean fires, gas leaks, and children in distress, but I knew a woman whose cat alerted her to the presence of a burglar while the woman’s dog hid under the couch.

Forgiveness. Both are quick to forgive their humans for bumping into them or stepping on their tails.

Friendship. Both have the capacity to love humans, members of their own species, and members of other species.

Homing. Both dogs and cats have completed solitary journeys. For example, Peggy’s mother gave away a Scotty that returned home from across town, and a northwest Georgia cousin gave me a cat that returned to Georgia from southwest Mississippi, a direct-line distance of 400 miles (the first thing he did upon arriving was to run to where his food bowl had been).

Hunting. Both hunt with intelligence, patience, and stealth.

Insight. When I fell headlong while jogging across a parking lot one night, my two dogs occupied themselves with smelling the asphalt while I struggled to catch my breath. Generally speaking, cats are equally oblivious to my distress.

Intelligence. Researchers say that the two species are about equal. It seems to me that individuals within a species differ more than the species themselves do.

Loyalty. Both are loyal until death.

Luxury. Both enjoy good food, soft beds, massages, and naps before a heater or in the sunshine.

Persistence. A dog will stay on task until his human forces him from it. A cat will stalk her prey until she captures it or success becomes impossible.

Protectiveness. By virtue of their larger size, dogs are better able to fight for us, but cats have also risked life and limb in our defense.*

Resourcefulness. Herding dogs and curious cats are testaments to ingenuity.

Swimming. Some dog breeds love to swim while others hate it. The same is true of cats, one avid swimmer being the Turkish Van.

Tolerance. Dogs and cats are more accepting of our failures, preferences, and eccentricities, than are our human friends. 

Differences Between Dogs and Cats

Adaptability. Dogs enjoy adventuring with their humans. Cats are homebodies who want everyday to be the same.

Affection for their kind. Dogs prefer the company of humans to that of other dogs. My cats, at least, prefer the company of one another, perhaps because sleeping is their favorite activity, and they feel safe and warm with their bodies touching.

Claws. Cats have claws that climb, grasp, blind, and eviscerate. Dogs have toenails that serve as cleats on soft ground but are useless on pavement. 

Cleanliness. Dogs are indifferent to squalor, and go to their baths as to a guillotine. Cats will pee and poop on the floor if their litter box is filthy and, next to sleeping, bathing is what they do most.

Communication. Most dogs are outspoken. Except when their meal is delayed, most cats are subtle.

Dignity. Many cat lovers proclaim dignity as a major feline virtue, but I believe that dignity varies more between individual dogs and cats than between the two species. It also seems to me that both species are more dignified than is our own.

Forgiveness. A dog will lick the hand that strikes him. A cat will run from it.

Genetic differences. All human-created dog breeds have genetic weaknesses, some of which lead to lives that are short and miserable. Cats have largely escaped this fate, although scientific advances are making abuses possible.

Grace and agility. Assuming youth and vigor, the grace and agility of the world’s clumsiest cat probably exceeds that of the most agile and graceful dog.

High places. Dogs fear heights. Cats so love them that vets have coined the term high rise syndrome to describe the fate of cats who become overly confident in their climbing prowess.**

Hunting. Packs of dogs ambush their prey and run it to ground. Solitary cats blindside unsuspecting prey with speed and agility. 

Intelligence. Dogs show intelligence by doing the bidding of humans. Cats show intelligence by thwarting humans in favor of private goals.

Injury. Cats have thin bones that make them susceptible to injury, yet they are far more likely than dogs to survive falls, and they actually survive long falls better than short ones.***

Killing. Dogs wound and kill with their teeth. Cats wound with teeth and claws before killing with their teeth. Dogs kill swiftly. Cats bat their prey about in order to hone their hunting skills.

Obedience. A dog will move heaven and earth to please his human. A cat will move heaven and earth to please herself. Dogs come running when called. Cats come walking when their treat jar is rattled.

Passing time. My indoor cats sleep, bathe, cuddle, observe, play, demand food, and eat, pretty much in that order. What dogs do depends upon upon what they have access to, so the following is in no particular order: sleep, walk, play, bark, cuddle, entreat, smell things, and leave urine marks.

Philosophy. Dogs are idealists who persist in thinking well of humanity despite evidence to the contrary. Cats are pragmatists who see us as we are. Dogs have dreams. Cats have expectations.

Playfulness. Adult dogs require few toys—a tennis ball and a chew/cuddle toy will usually suffice—and they enjoy playing the same games they played as puppies, sometimes for hours a day. Adult cats require a succession of new toys, which they abandon within minutes of receiving them. Cat lovers agree that cats enjoy the box that their $50 toy came in more than they enjoy the toy itself. Among their favorites are laser lights; toys that can be lobbed across a room so the cat can run to it and wait for his human to come and retrieve it; and toys that can be tied to a stick and swung over the cat’s head.

Politics. Dogs are monarchists who
view their adult humans as their superiors. Cats are libertarians who, at best, regard their adult humans as their equals.

Purring. There is no canine equivalent to a cat’s purr. Cats purr when they’re happy, sick, frightened, or in pain. Kittens purr differently than adults; some cats purr in one note and some cats purr in more than one note; and all cats purr both on the inhale and the exhale.

Remorse. A scolded dog wants to dig a grave and pull the dirt in after her. A scolded cat interprets being scolded as an unwarranted annoyance.

Reserve. If reserve is important, get a cat, but preferably not a Siamese.

Sharing food. A dog that approaches another dog that is eating commits a serious faux pas. Most cats will share their food with loved ones.

Society. Dogs are a social species. Cats are solitary. Dogs are extroverts. Cats are introverts. Dogs are like humans. Cats are like cats.

Speed and Stamina. Dogs run fast and have excellent aerobic stamina. Cats run slowly and are soon winded. 

Stepping over. When a person steps over a resting dog, the dog scrambles to her feet in abject terror. When a person steps over a resting cat, the cat just lies there.

Strength. Cats use their legs to bat their prey around, knock it into the air, and pin it for the kill. The legs of dogs are only good for running.

Togetherness. A dog says to his human, “You are my god, and all I ask of life is to be with you every moment of everyday.” A cat says to her human, “You are my equal, and I insist that you respect my need for alone time.”

Tricks. Dogs throw their entire beings into learning whatever tricks their humans are pleased to teach them. The only trick at which my cats excel is being on time for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In fact, they prefer that I serve every meal an hour early.

What a dog wants his human to know: “For as long as I live, I will devote every ounce of my being to your happiness. Though it come to pass that the world despise you, I will remain steadfast. If you treat me well, my life will be joyful. If you treat me badly, my life will be miserable, but I will serve you anyway.”

What a cat wants her human to know: “I do my thing and you do your thing.
 I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
 and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful.
 If not, it can't be helped.”—Fritz Perls

So, Which Is Better?

Despite having made this question the subject of a lengthy post, I contend that the question is no more sensical than asking whether a hammer is better than a screwdriver. What does make sense is to ask oneself the following questions before acquiring any pet:

(1) What jobs do I expect my pet to perform?

(2) What characteristics do I want my pet to have?

(3) Will I have the willingness and the ability to provide for the longterm physical and emotional needs of my pet?

Dogs are versatile and adaptable animals that can perform scores, perhaps hundreds, of specialized services at which no cat can compete, so a dog is the only option for people who require those services. A dog is also the better choice for people whom, for reasons of personality, prefer dogs to cats. However, one must remember that a dog requires considerably more maintenance than a cat.

Cats excel at killing small rodents, so if a person needs a mousekiller, a cat is the only viable option. Likewise, if a person simply wants a companion that is: small, quiet, beautiful, affectionate, self-cleaning, low-maintenance, mysterious, long-lived, non-smelly, pleasing to the touch, comes housebroken, and is capable of warning of certain types of danger, then that person should acquire a cat.