<![CDATA[Friedman of the Plains​ ​Barry S Friedman - Blog: Friedman of the Plains]]>Sun, 24 Sep 2017 11:37:47 -0700Weebly<![CDATA["I took her out furniture shopping."]]>Fri, 21 Apr 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://barrysfriedman.com/blog-friedman-of-the-plains/i-took-her-out-furniture-shopping
Welcome to the new America--or maybe it's always been here, lurking in the basements and garages and upstairs locked bedrooms, surrounded by ammo, confederate flags, dog-eared copies of Ann Coulter and Tim LaHaye books, stacks of discredited emails, and posters of Dale Earnhardt ​and Ronald Reagan, waiting breathlessly for a carnival barker, a nativist, along with a cadre of his minions (like those above)--half-cocked self-promoters of limited ability, posing and snarling--who would set things straight and then, when the time was right, invite this new America out to the light, to the front yard--to a barbecue of sorts--where it would be served pablum and hatred and be given hats and certitude and be pointed in the direction of The Others.

Or maybe, to hear its proponents, this new America is just about lost roofing jobs and email servers. 

​“If you ever wanted to rob a trailer park, do it during a Kid Rock concert. When I hit town, the trailer parks empty out and everyone comes to the show"--Kid Rock

"We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hardworking, very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation"--Sarah Palin

"You probably can't use the term `toxic cunt' in your magazine, but that's what she is. Her very existence insults the spirit of individualism in this country. This bitch is nothing but a two-bit whore for Fidel Castro"--Ted Nugent

It wasn't the roofing jobs.
It wasn't the emails.
It was the poison.

"You can't be forever blessed"--Paul Simon (Not Pictured) 
<![CDATA[Holding Hands]]>Thu, 20 Apr 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://barrysfriedman.com/blog-friedman-of-the-plains/holding-handsPicture
​No politics today.

One afternoon, about a million years ago, at a Costco in Summerlin, Nevada, my father got dizzy and had to sit down on a plastic chair between Returns/Exchanges and the Rest Rooms. He looked old, lost, sad. I got him some orange juice and a chocolate bar--the idea from GODFATHER 3 when Andrew Hagen, Tom's boy, brought it to Michael Corleone during a diabetic seizure Michael was having at the Vatican--and my father ate and drank both feverishly. He patted my arm, twice, and thanked me over and over as if I had just bought him a condo in Boca.

"Dad, it's just juice."

It wasn't just juice.

A few moments later, still unsteady, he felt strong enough to leave, so he grabbed my arm, pulled himself up, and then held my hand as we walked, past the snack bar, the Bridgestone Tires on sale, the Costco Membership Desk, the Lennox Air Conditioners, and out to the parking lot and to the car.

He was 85; I was 55.

Why bring that up? Why the memory? Because of this wonderful piece. And this passage.

"And so it was that I visited Calypso’s cave with my father holding my hand. He held it as we made our way down the rocky path to the entrance. He held my hand as we crouched down to squeeze through the opening; he held my hand as we shuffled around inside, my heart thumping so hard that I was surprised the others didn’t hear it; held my hand as I said firmly that, no, I didn’t want to go through a passageway to see the spectacular views of the bay below; held my hand as I scrambled at last into the hot, dry air, not even bothering to conceal my panic. Only after we were back at the parapet above the cave and walking toward the waiting bus did he let go of my hand."

Costco, Calypso's Cave. Not so different. Not really.

<![CDATA[Evil Embraces]]>Wed, 19 Apr 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://barrysfriedman.com/blog-friedman-of-the-plains/evil-embraces
It's when you realize the ties that bind them are as strong (if not stronger) than the ones that bind us.

Perhaps the most disturbing anecdote you'll read today ... 

"Mishra brings this Walpurgisnacht of romanticized violence to a nihilistic climax with the happy meeting in a Supermax prison of Timothy McVeigh, perpetrator of the Oklahoma City bombing, and Ramzi Yousef, perpetrator of the World Trade Center bombing: the fanatic, child-murdering right-wing atheist finds “lots in common” with the equally murderous Islamic militant—one of those healing conversations we’re always being urged to pursue. (“I never have [known] anyone in my life who has so similar a personality to my own as his,” Yousef gushed of McVeigh.)"
<![CDATA[Chutzpah and Chocolate Cake]]>Tue, 18 Apr 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://barrysfriedman.com/blog-friedman-of-the-plains/chutzpah-and-chocolate-cake
Obama's total foreign policy failures of the last eight years? 

Coming from you, that's beyond chutzpah.

Let's review:

Kim Jung Un is surprising effective at goading you; Vladimir Putin, to whom you still love, admire, fear and to whom you owe lots of rubles, is swatting you and your gravitas away (and God knows about the 8 x 10s he has of you and urine-soaked Russian super models in a Vladivostok hotel) like a garden ant; Basar-al Assad is thumbing his murderous nose at your surgical strike on his abandoned airfield (the cake was good, though, huh?); the British Parliament won't let you come speak; and you even applauded Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is now the world's newest dictator, because, well, every country needs an authoritarian now and then to run the show.

All on your watch, ratings machine.

​And this doesn't even take into account your embrace of Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen, two noted neo-fascists, and the late Saddam Hussein, noted murderer, for their leadership, toughness and vision, your being a complete jackass with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, your overall dissing and cluelessness of NATO, your flip-flops on China, your inability to craft a immigration policy that isn't a constitutional travesty, your proud ignorance of the nuclear triad, your peculiar affinity for saying the wrong thing about Jews every time the people and the faith come up, and--and--your insistence on building a wall between America and Mexico, which has as much chance of happening as does Melania mounting you in the presidential suite at the Kennedy Center during the road show of Hamilton--and you think you and your masterful handling of international affairs have exposed Obama's failures. 


​If the first 90 days of your presidency prove anything, it's that you'd have trouble winning a game of RISK with a cagey 8-year-old, even if you were spotted Yakutsk and Kamchatka.

<![CDATA[Jesus, take the schpiel]]>Mon, 17 Apr 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://barrysfriedman.com/blog-friedman-of-the-plains/jesus-take-the-schpielPicture
For the love of Christ, you should pardon the obvious, here we go.

The Legislature is at it again. Today, HB 2177, which has already sailed through the House of Representatives, passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. This bill is nothing more than an attempt to yet again resurrect the 10 Commandments Monument on the Capitol grounds.

Court challenges, national punchlines, constitution ignorance--lines one, two and three. It's Oklahoma. Again!

This monument has already been found unconstitutional (twice), been misspelled, run over, removed in the middle of the night, and most, recently, the subject of a state question on last year's ballot in Oklahoma ... where it lost. Moses didn't have this much trouble getting the original down from Sinai--and he was like 93 at the time.

Here's how fatuous this is getting.

“From a historical perspective, there is a historical lineage from the Ten Commandments to the Oklahoma Constitution,” [Representative John Paul] Jordan said.​

But only if your historical perspective includes the earth being 6,000 years old and features a swashbuckling Jesus astride dinosaurs, slaying infidels.

Even courts in Oklahoma weren't buying it.

The Ten Commandments monument’s location on state property is a clear violation of a straightforward, unambiguous provision of the Oklahoma Constitution.

Proponents insist, however, the monument is a symbol of the country's proud religious freedoms. The new design even includes two tiny Star of David engravings ... at the bottom.

Fundamentalists are so magnanimous when they're being patronizing.

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other Gods before me.

For Jews, in case you're scoring at home, that's our First Commandment. We actually have 613 of them, but imagine the land you'd need to construct that structure, not to mention the time it would take to spellcheck it all. Anyway, that last part, the business about being brought out of Egypt, is kind of a big deal. Maimonides, in fact, argued it was the greatest Commandment. It's why we ... put it first. 

Take a look--that one didn't make the cut, though.

Let’s move along now to the fourth commandment featured.

Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy.

A valid Christian construct, as long as you agree the Sabbath is a specific 24-hour time period reserved for God.  Sheryl Siddiqui, of the Islamic Council of Oklahoma, does and doesn't.

“Islam recognizes the Ten Commandments with one exception. We have no Sabbath per se. Friday is the day of the weekly congregational prayer, but every day is a holy day; every day there are five prayers; every day is a gift from God.”

When I asked Marlin Lavanhar, senior minister at All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, about this years back--this thing is like cold sore that keeps returning--he called out the hypocrisy and exclusion.

“The version of the commandments in the current Oklahoma statue uses the most common Protestant wording and is inconsistent with the versions used by Catholics and Jews. I wish these legislators would stop trying to appeal to their constituents by building statues of the Ten Commandments and would instead try to attract people by simply living the commandments.” 

Far from being a subtle reminder of the country's moral and constitutional underpinnings, this monument is nothing more than a large granite bobblehead that might as well be donned with a t-shirt that reads Make Oklahoma Jesus Again!

<![CDATA[For the love of Zyklon B, Alan, Shut Up]]>Fri, 14 Apr 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://barrysfriedman.com/blog-friedman-of-the-plains/for-the-love-of-zyklon-b-alan-shut-upPicture
What happened here is the guy screwed up,” Mr. Dershowitz said, according to a clip published by Real Clear Politics. “He apologized, and he apologized from his heart, and I am prepared to give him a pass on this."

An apology ... from the heart?  Who are you, Paulo Coelho?

Let's review:

“You had someone as despicable as Hitler, who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” Spicer observed.

Further, he explained that Hitler brought the carnage, yes, but only to the "Holocaust center."

You remember the Holocaust center, don't you, Alan? It's where European Jews came for the initial Meet and Greet. Most got transportation, too.

And that to you is an Oops moment? 

Mr. Dershowitz went on to say that the Anne Frank Center, which claimed Tuesday that Mr. Spicer “engaged in Holocaust denial” and called for him to be fired, is nothing but a “minor institution” that “has no credibility within the Jewish community.

Speaking of credibility, loved your work on behalf of OJ and von Bülow. 

​(Speaking of which, the best thing that ever happened to you was the late, great Ron Silver.)

What the hell happened to you, anyway, that you're now a shill for an anti-Semitic administration, generally, and Trump's mouthpiece, specifically? How badly do you need these putzes to like you?

You're a shanda fur die goyim. Worse, you're turning into Ben Stein.

<![CDATA[´╗┐The Latest Dickitude from Oklahoma's 1st and 2nd Congressional Representatives]]>Thu, 13 Apr 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://barrysfriedman.com/blog-friedman-of-the-plains/the-latest-dickitude-from-oklahomas-1st-and-2nd-congressional-representativesTwo Oklahoma congressmen, two town hall meetings, two blowhards, two reasons to move.

You say you pay for me to do this? That’s bullcrap. I pay for myself. I paid enough taxes before I got here and continue to through my company to pay my own salary. This is a service. No one here pays me to go,” Oklahoma Congressman Markwayne Mullin was recorded telling the audience at a town hall in Jay, Okla.

Oh, blow it out your PVC Gate Valve.

Let us recall that Mullin also accepted almost 4-hundred grand in federal stimulus money years back to help his company stay out of the--wait for it--crapper.

Hypocrisy, thy profession is plumbing and your truck is red.
Later, responding to a different question, Bridenstine said he favored giving the federal money now going to Planned Parenthood to clinics such as Tulsa’s Morton Health Center “because they don’t do abortions. They don’t kill babies.”

You say babies, I say fertilized gametes​, let's call the whole thing off. Oh, yeah, Planned Parenthood doesn't do abortions in Oklahoma, but why quibble about that when God's in the house?

David Blatt, good friend of the blog and smartest man we know, was there.
"Sweet Holy Moses: I'm sitting in the Mabee Center at Oral Roberts University listening to a gospel choir singing "Glory, Glory Hallejuah" at a town hall meeting for a Tea Party member of Congress."

Bridenstine will be running NASA soon. And we weep.

<![CDATA[Why is tonight different from all the other nights? A Trumpian Response.]]>Wed, 12 Apr 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://barrysfriedman.com/blog-friedman-of-the-plains/why-is-tonight-different-from-all-the-other-nights-a-trumpian-responsePicture
1. Why is tonight ...
Because on all other nights, while Donald Trump is a selfish, undisciplined, shallow putz to Jews and gentiles alike,  on this Passover, he directed his Trumpness to just the Jews. Who else can tweet Happy Passover without actually mentioning the Jewish people? 

2. Why is tonight ...
Because on all other nights, while Sean Spicer's grasp of the facts makes one want to repeatedly smash a Seder Plate over one's head, on this Passover, he deconstructed gassing people to death, took the sting out of Hitler, and equated Auschwitz with an Airbnb.

3. Why is tonight ...
Because on all other nights, while most people who make bad Holocaust references resign and immediately transition to hosting their own shows on Fox, on this Passover, Sean Spicer, who inexplicably still has a job, doubled down on his.

4. Why is tonight ...
Because on all other nights, while presidents of the United States are happy and honored to host and attend a White House Seder, on this Passover, Donald Trump hung wth the goyim.

His absence was surprising to people who thought he would attend because of his fraught history with Jewish people. Notably, his campaign received widespread endorsement from Nazi groups and anti-Semitic figures like David Duke and Richard Spencer. Trump eventually denounced their support, but that didn’t stop him from later using an anti-Semitic image in an tweet criticizing Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

5. Why is tonight ...
Because on all other nights, while we try to choreograph the full extent of this administration's anti-Semitism,  on this Passover, we were reminded that Trump is positively Wagnerian in his coolness to the Jewish people.

State Department drafted statement specifically naming Jewish victims to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, but Trump's White House replaced it with the now controversial statement omitting Jews entirely .

<![CDATA[The Mastermind]]>Mon, 10 Apr 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://barrysfriedman.com/blog-friedman-of-the-plains/the-mastermindPicture
​When this is over, when some are jailed, some bankrupt, some dead from bullets to the back of the head, some poisoned, some kidnapped, one will remain. Perhaps outside a federal correction center, perhaps at a tower in a city, perhaps, but most likely at a cemetery in a prestigious part of New Jersey, the one, this child, savant-like, mocked in life, now grinning, will stand, lightly caressing the hand of his mother, who will be behind him, her fingers on his shoulders. She, the papers will say, will be in a Boss FS_Cudrape'; he in a Armani Collezioni--cashmere and conceit, these two, rich and repellent. She will be in sunglasses, oval and monogrammed, though the day will be overcast and frigid; his hair, thick and beautiful. He will not be stoic, for he is not remorseful. He will be free. John John saluted; he will not. That thought makes him smile.  A limousine will be idling nearby, its driver, also in sunglasses, will be leaning, arms folded, against the passenger side, waiting to take the mother and son to the airport, to Europe and beyond, to millions and properties in countries that have left the EU, to anonymity and power. A man will be talking and making crosses in the air, a casket will be lowered. Siblings have been banished. The mother will pat his shoulders twice. The son will be named Barron and his mother will love him deeply. The limo driver has already opened their doors.

<![CDATA[Is it Noonan in victory or is it not?]]>Mon, 10 Apr 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://barrysfriedman.com/blog-friedman-of-the-plains/is-it-noonan-in-victory-or-is-it-notPicture
When I was a lass, young, impressionable, my breasts budding, breasts unaware of the disappointment lurking--how do I describe it?--by the side of the road, waiting to pounce, and the men, some dangerous, some magnificent, who would relentlessly rip out my heart and soul with the tenacity and subtlety of a Doberman tearing into a pound package of bison meat, I never thought I'd win a Pulitzer. The words do not come easily or well, in gratitude or concision, but they are there, hovering, these--this is so tough to say--phrases, looking to land gracefully like a shuttle with proper seals and institutional oversight. Words, I have loved you so, even though, like modesty, you have eluded me, forsaken me, mocked me in others' work, those writers who knew craft and intellect simultaneously. It's tough to get inside my head or outside my thoughts.  As Sally Field, an underrated Mary Todd Lincoln, if you ask me, said so eloquently, "You like me, you really like me." 

I remember gazing into the future as that young Peg, thinking of awards and meeting men, men like Ronald Reagan, strong men with unapologetic sinews and calves, those who would someday grab a nation by its passion, caress it, mold it, shape it, love it, chastise it when it was bad--because, when you can, you do, and there's nothing anyone can do, even if they want to--and thinking, "Pourquoi pas moi?"

I wrote. A nation responded. I wrote more. And more. And more. And it responded. And like the juice from a ripe melon, my words flowed, sticking, nourishing, replenishing a nation dry on exposition and narrative and the body politic.

To win, now, to be honored tosses my insecurities asunder and touches me deep within a place I, alone, only touch, those nether regions of my soul and loins, felt late at night, early in the morning (whenever there's a free moment, actually), my diary at my side, the Everclear ever close, my cat, my pussy, within reach. 

Expectation, disappointment, release. Repeat.

Victory. By my own hand.

The award, I hear, comes in cherry-wood box with brass hardware. It opens and reveals the prize. 

As does my heart. And woman-ness.

I saw it at the revolution, I did, it was a gentler, kinder thing that I saw and I wrote--oh, and how I wrote it, too, with panache and care and humility, each letter a thing of beauty and awe and access. I was in the room with the men who knew the men who did great things. In their way, they wanted me, completely, what I represented, a young Peg, a studious Peg, the Peg from Fairleigh Dickinson University,  the Peg that couldn't get in to Princeton or Stanford, the Peg that wrote for Dan Rather before he got old and bitter and righteous and right, the Peg ... let's leave it there. It was America they wanted. In me, they found it, her, all of us.

And always the words, the ink, the pigment, the clicking of the keyboard, the ... thing of it.

Peg wins! Peg wins! Peg wins! A nation wins!

We are both victors today, and I'm sure a man, dead now these many years, his soul looking west on a hill in California--yes, a shining city I believe on that hill--smiles at my smiling and my winning. He never won one of these--there was liberal bias for years--but he should have. His speeches soared like--again, so tough to say--eagles. He has touched the face of God, this man with the dark mane and the saddle, the man who cut brush and worked with Tamiroff, the man with the pretty wife. God has touched them both, though they're both dead. Tamiroff, too, alas.

They have touched me, God has touched me, editors have touched me, other writers, many, have touched me. Hands, hands, all the time hands, like Fellini's Satyricon inside the WSJ newsroom, grasping, clutching, wanting, satisfying.

I weep from the shivering. I shiver from the weeping.