Peter Cavanaugh

When you want to cry, try laughing

“I laugh because I must not cry” – Abraham Lincoln (1862)

These days I never miss highlights of Stephen Colbert (CBS), Trevor Noah (The Comedy Network), John Oliver (HBO), Jimmy Kimmel (ABC) or Jimmy Fallon (NBC) – in that order. Thanks, YouTube!

They keep me sane and share one thing in common.

They are brilliant performers with a staff of gifted writers at a crucial time in our nation’s history when they’ve never been needed more.

There are dozens of other comics similarly dedicated to keeping this current craziness properly perceived. Their focus is the same. We are being ruled by the rich and their slimy surrogates, led by a lifetime lunatic.

Comedians have played a critical role in cultural consciousness throughout history, from their role as favored fools in the courts of kings to such American icons as Mark Twain, Charlie Chaplin, Will Rogers, Bob Hope and Johnny Carson.

Twain called political party loyalty, “A snare invented by designing men for selfish purposes.” Chaplin’s masterpiece, “The Great Dictator,” brilliantly satirized Hitler and fascism, receiving five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor.

It was Will Rogers who proclaimed, “I am not the member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat!” Bob Hope once famously declared, “No one party can fool all of the people all of the time. That’s why we have two parties.”

In a remarkably prescient moment more than a quarter century ago, Johnny Carson announced on “The Tonight Show” in 1992, “Jennifer Flowers got a new job today – as Donald Trump’s backup mistress.”

For Fox fans – Ms. Flowers was said to have been romantically involved with Bill Clinton for an extended period back when he was governor of Arkansas.

Back when I was a mean little kid in Syracuse, I would walk into our neighborhood Ben Franklin 5&10 with my friends and engage in friendly dialogue with whoever happened to be in charge, usually a hapless clerk given to easy distraction. Simultaneously, my associates would quickly grab little goodies galore from unwatched counters to be evenly divided following departure. Such practice stopped when I started Catholic school in fifth grade. Clerks were one thing, but nuns dramatically something else. There were bites to their barks.

Such youthful misbehavior came to mind when I was trying to figure out another fresh way to frame this current outlaw administration. In many ways, Donald Trump is much more a distracter than actor. While he endlessly bleats and tweets divisive drivel in the spotlight, his gang is back in the shadows hooting and looting.

There’s former EPA Secretary Scott “The Devil Made Me Do It” Pruitt, who plundered his way to dismissal through such extravagances as a $43,000 private phone booth.

Treasury Secretary Steven “Munchkin” Mnuchin believes he can engineer millions more in tax relief for billionaires without involving Congress.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan “Stinky” Zinke is looking for ways to open thousands of square miles of federal lands to commercial exploitation – specifically drilling and fracking.

The latest issue of Forbes Magazine reports Secretary of Commerce Wilbur “Bald Boss” Ross could rank among the biggest grifters in American history” after swindling $120 million from associates.

Mick “Zany” Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget and Acting Director of the Consumer Protection Agency, just cut that agency’s budget in half and fired all 25 members of its advisory board.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s solution for low-income Americans’ housing is to raise rents.

Kurt Vonnegut would herein add, “And so on.”

Glory be to the heist.

Trump’s “best” seem unblessed.