Donald Trump, the monster the GOP created

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There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures
.” William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

 Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

We haven’t done this in a while, so it might come as a shock, but we need to talk politics. I’ve got a few issues to bring to the table, so this week we focus on the Presidential candidates and the topics at hand. First up, Trump, whose to blame and why.

I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, Et tu, Brute? After all, what is there to say about the bloviating, arrogant, grandiose, windbag? Surely, if we just ignore him, Trump will go away. I get it. In fact, this is how I felt at first; his bid for the White House had to be a joke, right? Was he doing it for ratings or did he just like the press coverage? It turns out, even after being fired from his Television show, The Apprentice, and losing his spot as a Macy’s brand, Trump continued with his shtick, which turns out, may not be shtick at all.

As I watched his first few interviews I thought perhaps he was a Democratic plant, or a very, very well played troll, out to make the GOP look bad (as if they needed the help) but as time goes on, and his popularity grows we have to ask an important question: What the hell is going?!

Love him or hate him, one thing is clear, Donald Trump has hit a nerve and the blame for his popularity rests squarely on the shoulders of the GOP and the 24 news cycle.

Trump’s racists, misogynistic message is indicative of all that is wrong with the GOP. For the last 8 years we have watched our do-nothing but scare people Congress, sink into a cesspool of hate and fear. Their refusal to work with our President and spew nonsense about issues, especially women and Climate Change, goes hand in hand with the willingness of certain “news” organizations who are all to happy to repeat and sometimes, lead in the spread of such nonsense. Everyone sees that the system is broken, and those that continue to “want their country back” are all too willing to have Trump as their spokesperson. Ever distrustful of the government, but yet have bought into the fear mongering, these people yearn for someone who will take on the establishment and put it in its place. Trump is a loud mirror that projects what these people are thinking; and they are thinking racist and misogynistic thoughts because they have been spoon fed by the GOP and the media who supports the party. Trump is their monster let loose. And just like in the book Frankenstein, the GOP created him, but now does not want him. Oh the delicious irony!

It would be easy to dismiss Trump as just another crank, whose 15 minutes of fame has continued far longer that it should have, thanks to the mainstream media, but we can’t. Not now that we’ve seen other candidates take up his message. Just this week, after Trump announced he wants to get rid of the 14th Amendment, many of the other Clown Car, GOP candidates repeated his idea as if it were their own. Scott Walker, one of the least informed of the candidates, actually said he would get rid of it and enforce our existing immigration laws. Sir, how do you uphold existing laws while simultaneously wanting to strip a Constitutional law? What kind of mental yoga is this?

This repeating of his message is only fanning the flame that is Trump. Instead of pushing him away, they are embracing some of his crazier ideas. This in turn makes Trump the stronger candidate, as he always says it first! His ideas become their ideas, but people will not look to the GOP, they will look to Trump because he is always a step ahead of them. This is one reason why he is leading in the polls.

The mainstream media is not helping either. Trump is now the leading American zeitgeist. Whether they are cowering to him or making fun of him, Trump is the central story. Even the liberal news channels are now taking him seriously and talking as if he will be the GOP nominee. Can you imagine? I can, and it scares me.

This is because of the GOP’s continued move to its crazy, paranoid base. They have embraced the cranks and duped them into thinking their fears are well founded; that the bogymen outside of our borders are coming to get them and take their jobs and religious freedom. The system is broken. Make no mistake, Trump won’t fix it, but to many he may be the best defense against a crumbling political body and nation. They don’t see that he is merely a Golem created by the GOP and 24-hour news cycle (they are the ones who planted these ideas in his head). Or maybe they do, and don’t care. This thought to me, is as scary as anything Trump says.

 

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/ But in ourselves.” William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

Shakespeare as a stoner? All smoke & no substance

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Were herbs to blame for this play?

Were herbs to blame for this play?

By now you’ve undoubtedly have heard the news: Pipes from Shakespeare’s property have been found to contain cannabis! Shakespeare was a stoner! If you haven’t heard, here’s a snippet from the Telegraph:

South African scientists have discovered that 400-year-old tobacco pipes excavated from the garden of William Shakespeare contained cannabis, suggesting the playwright might have written some of his famous works while high. Residue from early 17th century clay pipes found in the playwright’s garden, and elsewhere in Stratford-Upon-Avon, were analyzed in Pretoria using a sophisticated technique called gas chromatography mass spectrometry, the Independent reports. Of the 24 fragments of pipe loaned from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to University of the Witwatersrand, cannabis was found in eight samples, four of which came from Shakespeare’s property.

The author of the piece goes on to suggest Shakespeare must have smoked weed while writing his plays. She even finds “evidence” in sonnet 76.

Why is my verse so barren of new pride?
So far from variation or quick change?
Why with the time do I not glance aside
To new-found methods and to compounds strange? (She seems to think he is talking about cocaine)
Why write I still all one, ever the same,
And keep invention in a noted weed,(Ah, he must be high on weed!)
That every word doth almost tell my name,
Showing their birth and where they did proceed?
O, know, sweet love, I always write of you,
And you and love are still my argument;
So all my best is dressing old words new,
Spending again what is already spent:
For as the sun is daily new and old,
So is my love still telling what is told.

I will admit the line about “noted weed” is unclear, but I don’t see what she sees. I read a sonnet about the poet’s answer to those who question his writing skills, and possibly a charge of repurposing older works. He retorts back, “From time to time, don’t I look for new methods and strange (different/ new) compounds”? Shakespeare is suggesting his work is fresh, even as his themes are old. Love is an old theme, yet he ‘dresses old words new”. Shakespeare compares the sun to his work; each day the same sun comes up, yet each day is new. Doesn’t sound like a guy who is high or talking about getting high. Sounds more like a man who doesn’t take criticism lying down. The author of the Telegraph piece may have tried a little too hard to prove her point. Of course she is not the only one. Several “scholars’ have come forward with evidence hidden in the plays.

How about we talk about the pipes and the fact surrounding them. Let’s say the date of the cannabis is accurate, give or take just a few years. This makes the weed roughly 400 years old. Given that Shakespeare was born 450 years ago, we would have to assume that if they belonged to him ( and we don’t know that they did) this would mean he smoked weed in his fifties. Of course, this could also mean this was the last of his weed, and maybe he’d been smoking the stuff for most of his adult life. Maybe… But…

Just because the pipes were found on Shakespeare’s property, doesn’t mean they were his pipes. Here is what we do know, or at least have been told:

The study, published in the South African Journal of Science, examined 24 pipe fragments from the town of Stratford-Upon-Avon, where Shakespeare lived. Some had been excavated from Shakespeare’s garden. Using advanced gas chromatography methods, researchers detected cannabis on eight fragments — four of which were confirmed as from the Bard’s garden, the Telegraph reports. Evidence of Peruvian cocaine was found on two others, though they were not from the same property. Times

Okay, so some pipes, (obviously not ones that anyone treasured, why else be tossed?), were found in Shakespeare’s garden. Humm.. Who else lived at Stratford? Ah, yes, Anne his wife, his two daughters, and after his death, one of his son-in-laws. Could the pipes belong to one of them? How about servants or farm hands? Could they have smoked weed out of cheap, easily discarded clay pipes? How about friends? What if Shakespeare held parties (he did have the biggest estate in the area, I bet he held a lot of parties) and had friends who smoked weed from time to time? How about neighboring teenagers? Today’s teens spend hours looking for a safe, undetected place to smoke some pot. Could the same be true of 16th century teens? Shakespeare’s large garden may have attracted silent late night visitors looking to get high. Perhaps they were caught and threw the pipes down as they tried to maintain some semblance of innocence (okay, that was me and two friends once. Sorry, I digress). But the point its, it could have happened.

All of the suspects listed above are based purely on conjecture. Just as is the suggestion that Shakespeare smoked and wrote about weed. Once again we are faced with a few facts taken widely out of context. We don’t know who threw the pipes in the garden or if they were thrown in the garden at all.

Here’s another idea. What if Shakespeare ordered some soil for his garden? He may have asked a local farmer for some fertilizer. What if a cart full of soil, which just happened to contain discarded pipes, happened to find its way into Shakespeare’s garden? Considering 16th century society had little regard for where their rubbish landed, it shouldn’t be hard to image that carts of garden soil might contain refuse. Once again, this is conjecture, oh, but it’s fun to speculate!

Shakespeare at Tobacco Factory As You Like It by William Shakespeare Directed by Andrew Hilton  Cast  Orlando                            Jack Wharrier Adam                               Paul Nicholson Oliver                               Matthew Thomas Charles & William             Peter Basham Celia                                 Daisy May Rosalind                            Dorothea Myer-Bennett Touchstone                       Vic Llewellyn Le Beau & Martext             Vincenzo Pellegrino Dukes Frederick & Senior   Christopher Bianchi Amiens                              Offue Okegbe Corin                                  Alan Coveney Silvius                                Ben Tolley Jaques                               Paul Currier Audrey                               Hannah Lee Phebe                                Sophie Whittaker Production Director                           Andrew Hilton Assistant Director          Nicholas Finegan Designer                         Harriet de Winton Music                               Elizabeth Purnell

Shakespeare at Tobacco Factory
As You Like It

But none of my ideas are any less credible than thinking these pipes are the smoking gun (or, smoking pipe) evidence that Shakespeare was high while he wrote. And if he did, who cares? It’s the work that matters, not how he achieved it. Come to think of it, a very high Shakespeare could explain a lot of silly, loose plots, it could certainly explain Dogberry or Touchstone. The point is, we have no facts to back up these claims, only a lot of questions. Whose pipes were these, why were they found discarded, and most importantly, does it matter?

Until we find 400 year old pipes with Shakespeare initials on them, or an ode to weed, written by him, I will withhold judgment. There are too many characters in this drama that had the means and motive to smoke cannabis. Living in 16th century plague ridden, garbage infested England would make anyone want to get high.

It drives me nuts when new “evidence” brings out wanna-be Sherlocks, who think they can deduce something concrete about Shakespeare. Just because he used the words “weed” and “compounds strange” they point and claim proof Shakespeare was a stoner. Surly some of them must be high.

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