CornPop, We Hardly Knew Ye

Who would have guessed that, out of all the strange stories that Joe Biden has told about himself over the past 40 years, the story about how he confronted a Wilmington gang-member named CornPop would turn out to be the one that was true?

White liberals always like to brag about how they used to hang out in the hood when they were younger.  (Just ask Beto about how he found himself while living in a Brooklyn flophouse.)  It’s their way of saying that it doesn’t matter that the majority of them grew up wealthy and never really had to work for anything in their lives.  They spent a summer working as a social worker or, in Biden’s case, a lifeguard.  They went into a poor community for a few weeks and worked to get people registered to vote.  They did an internship with a social justice law firm.  So, they magically understand what it’s like to be desperate and disenfranchised.  A major part of these stories is always that the local gang leaders came to respect the bravery and authenticity of the Ivy League-bound idealist.

Most of these stories turn out to be bullshit but it sounds like Joe Biden really did his part to keep the mean streets of Wilmington safe.  Good for him.

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Boris Smash

I know many people are trashing Boris for saying this but this is actually pretty cool and it’s going to speak to more people than the Remainers and anti-No Dealers realize.  We may be on the verge of the end of everything but at least we’re going out like a big, green rage monster.  The Hulk may smash everything doing it but somehow, he always saves the day.

I’m not saying it’s a good thing, mind you.  I’m just saying never underestimate the popularity of the Hulk.

A Good Weekend

This was a good weekend.  I disconnected from both the online world and the cable news world on Friday evening and I spent two days without reading about the presidential election, cancel culture, Trump, or anything else.  Even though it was only two days, it was enough to remind me that the online culture wars hold little relevance to anyone in the real world.

I recommend that everyone do this at least once a month.

What Was Julian Castro Thinking?

I have not yet gotten a chance to watch all of last night’s Democratic debate but I did see this exchange between Joe Biden and Julian Castro:

What was Julian thinking?  Everyone knows that Biden’s old and that he has memory issues but trying to get him to admit it on national television just comes across as being mean-spirited, as well as extremely stupid.

Making it even worse is that Castro was the one who apparently wasn’t correctly remembering what Biden had said:

Up until last night, Julian Castro has always come across more like he was auditioning for the vice presidency than actually running for president.  Maybe he thought he could win points with the Warren camp by being the one who knocked Biden out of contention.  If so, it seems to have backfired on him.  Based on last night’s performance, I don’t think Castro’s going to be anyone’s choice for veep.

They’re Coming

A mysterious interstellar object is approaching our solar system.

On the basis of my many years of studying pop culture, I can say without fear of contradiction that this means that either Superman or Klaatu is coming to visit us.

We’re either going to get a lecture…

…or a hero.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that it’s just Crypto, returning to destroy all humans.

Either way, let’s be on our best behavior when they arrive.  We don’t want Earth to get a bad reputation.

September 11th

On September 11th, 2001, I watched the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon in the lobby of my dorm.  No one that I knew went to class that day.  Instead, we gathered around the TV and we watched.

Looking back, I remember that it was a day that seemed to move in slow motion.  I also remember being in a sort of denial when I saw the towers fall.  Even though I had seen the fireball of the second plane hitting the building and I had also seen people jumping out of the burning towers, a part of me kept believing that surely they had managed to evacuate the towers before they came down.

I wasn’t the only one in denial that day.  As initial reports started to come in that indicated that the hijackers had been from the Middle East, I remember one analyst on television who kept insisting that an attack of this magnitude was beyond their capability and that, instead, the airplanes had to have been hijacked by the same type of militia people who were behind the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995.  I don’t share that to try to shame the analyst or any other member of the media.  It’s just an example of how confused we all were during those first few hours.

At around 7 at night, long after the Towers had fallen and when the nation was still wondering whether this was just the beginning of an even bigger attack, I went out for a walk.  I walked all the way to the downtown square of the small college town where I was living.  Standing in front of the old courthouse was a tall, blonde woman wearing a gray dress.  She was obviously distraught and when she saw me, she asked if I could tell her how to get to East Oak Street.  Since the town was still relatively new to me, I apologized and said that I didn’t.

“I don’t know where I’m going,” the woman said with a laugh.

At that moment, neither did any of us.  There was a feeling that hung in the air that things would never again be the same and that feeling turned out to be correct.

One of the goals of terrorism is to not only change a nation’s culture but to also leave its citizens in a state of constant fear and, on that count, 9-11 did what it was meant to do.  We’re now much more willing to accept the idea that we have to surrender our right to privacy and people have gone from seeing the President as being a coequal part of government to instead expecting him to rule as some sort of benign dictator.  As a result of 9-11, America is now a much more authoritarian society and no one even raises an eyebrow when presidential candidates like Kamala Harris and Beto O’Rourke declare that they’ll “govern” through executive order if elected.

At the same time, 9-11 also revealed America at its best.  The first responders who rushed into the towers, the passengers who fought back on Flight 93, the people across the nation who took the time to check on and comfort their neighbors; these people represented everything that does make America great.  George W. Bush gets a lot of criticism but anyone who wasn’t moved by his speech in front of Ground Zero has no heart.  At that moment, he said exactly what America needed to hear and I remember, at the time, thinking that there was no way Al Gore could have been pulled that off.  As for the presidents who came after Bush, Obama and Trump would have been incapable of not making the moment about themselves.  Bush made that moment about America and, for a while, we were actually united.

There’s a whole new generation that will never understand just how big a national trauma 9-11 was.   They’ll grow up believing that America has always been like this and that we’ve always been at war.  They’ll never know any different.

I often think about that woman in front of the courthouse and her words that day.  18 years after 9-11, do we know where we’re going?