Dean Clough

January 10, 2022

Portico Darwin: The One Where We Lost Belief and Trust

When did we stop believing in America?  I would like to have faith when the cheerleaders say "Anyone's that ever bet against America has lost!"  But really?  Bin Laden bet against us and while he himself is dead, his attack on the US in 2001 worked to a degree he couldn't have dreamed. 

And while 9/11 and its aftermath are a part of it, there's a lot more to our decay than one event, and it did not happen overnight.   

Kennedy Assassination & The Warren Commission
Gosh, I am not a conspiracy theorist, and it also borders on the impossible that a plot to murder a sitting president could be kept secret.  But still:  don't you find the lone gunman theory a little fantastic?  Especially given the footage we've all seen of the actual killing?  And wasn't Oswald being killed by Jack Ruby just a bit too clean?

My point is not to re-hash this tragedy.  Rather, I cite this as the start of when average Americans scratched their heads, hitched up their overalls, and said, "That don't seem right!"

Then we pivot from that horrific event and lack of clarity to something worse.  A mindless war in southeast Asia.  The entire thing was basically a lie, "the domino theory" and the like, and as that became evident, trust began to wane in America.

And then?  Nixon using the FBI and IRS to work his "enemies list"?  And gets caught doing so?  Nationally broadcast impeachment hearings?  Bi-partisan condemnation of a president just recently elected in a historic  landslide?  Ouch.

S&L Crisis and The Keating Five
You kids out there might not remember this one, but Charles Keating and his Lincoln Financial Savings & Loan  came close to bringing down the US financial system.  Only a massive bail-out at the time skirted ruin.  To blame?  How about 5 of the most famous US senators, proven complicit in guiding regulatory agencies to look the other way?  Look at the names of The Keating Five!

  • Alan Cranston (!)
  • Dennis DeConcini
  • John Glenn (!)
  • John McCain (!)
  • Donald Riegle

Clinton/Lewinsky Affair & Impeachment
Remember the halcyon days pre-9/11, when we had the luxury of shit like this?  This helped wreck America because of both Clinton's mendacity, and the ridiculous Republican response.

Bush/Cheney and The Second Iraq War
Hubris + Lying <> Good.   Torturing prisoners at "black sites"!  Gitmo!  Trillions spent and lost!  Nice job!  You even help trash Colin Powell's reputation in the process!  Cool!

2008 Financial Crisis & No Jail Time
This is when I feel it really went wrong.  How the hell do you come within an eyelash of tanking the global economy and not do a perp walk?  I am not clear if <anyone> was punished for the rampant malfeasance (not to mention unbridled greed) that was so obvious?

Obama and Merrick Garland
Need I say more?  Why did Mitch McConnell do that terrible thing?

Trump and Russia
Back in my day, calling the leader of another country and asking them to interfere in our election would have been something Republicans wouldn't have liked.  After all, they impeached Clinton over his lying over a consensual affair, by any measure not in the same league as attempting to subvert an election here by plotting with a foreign nation.

Trump and Science
Gosh, was his politicization of the virus and masking destructive of whatever trust low-information voters had left with experts inside and outside of the government.  Atrocious. 

Trump, The Big Lie, and The Insurrection
It certainly doesn't help when our President tells everyone an election - which he lost, fair and square - was stolen.  And then to perpetuate the lie to the point it instigates an attempted coup?

The Withdrawal from Afghanistan
Sure, it was never going to end nicely, but gosh, did it have to be that bad?  We didn't need to see that footage of desperate Afghanis clinging to a departing jet transport - it's too similar to 1975 and our departure from Vietnam.  It felt awful watching it, but what about those living it?  A terrible stain on our history.

Wealth Inequality
I believe that the final straw is how out of whack things have gotten, wealth-wise, in America. 

When I was coming up (mid-1960's), a man (but not a woman) could work as a clerk in a neighborhood supermarket and support a family.  And by that, I mean the woman stayed at home to raise the children and run the household, and then those children could all go to college and have real success.

That was the American dream, and it is the true story of the father of one Jay Howling, not a reader of this newsletter, but a contemporary nonetheless.   That's gone now.

I think about my own life (shocker) and the Howling story.  We are not wealthy by today's standards, yet we really don't have many financial concerns.  When something breaks, we have it fixed.  We travel, often ostentatiously.  When we wish to purchase something, we typically do. 

Compare and contrast that (and likely your own life, if you're reading this) with the vast majority of Americans who can't absorb a $1,000 hit to their finances.  Those fellow citizens have even less in which to believe.  And with good reason.

I want to thank everyone who attended Saturday's 2021 Darwin Awards.   We had a great group and the weather was excellent.  Dare I say the party was Killer?

The coveted Rookie of The Year Portico, originally awarded to Jaxson the Baby, went instead in a split to Louie the Puppy and Charley & Posey the Kittens.  That was due to my arbitrary rule that the parent or owner must be present to win.  For some strange reason, Jaxson's parents Andy and Libby Baines Jones didn't make the short trip from San Diego.  So there you have it - an awards show mired in controversy.  But we soldiered on.

It was a beautiful SF winter day.  No one there will forget the sounds of the frogs!  It is a great, private and 'secret' spot in the heart of our beloved Presidio.


Here are the co-winners, first Andrew Whistler and Laura Gonzalez with Louie the Puppy, and then Professor Howard Blum Esq. with his own . . . kitties (those beauties are Mrs. Crup and Louise Lederhosen, kind enough to stand in for Charley and Posey).  Check out Andrew with the Porty; I think Professor Blum had already pawned his so he could buy more wine . . .


In fact, Mrs. Crup was seen enjoying herself, perhaps in celebration of the Blum co-victory?

But she only had a few . . .


I (and Julie) really want to thank those that attended the 2021 Darwin Awards.  It's only 363 more days until next year's gala!


Thank you to any one that is reading this newsletter.

Of course.  Here is a musician and artist whom I've always enjoyed.  Here is Elvis Costello & The Attractions, with what many consider one of their best, and "Trust".


About Dean Clough

Plans To Enjoy Life.