The Flame

25 May


The Room for Rage

22 May


Gabby Orr’s May 20th piece for Politico opens with this: “The Trump campaign has an order from the president: Find a way to get him back on the road and into megarallies to re-energize his base.”  The pandemic has brought a temporary end to satisfying his need to “connect with his ultra-loyal fans.”  I was drawn to this focus through Joshua Holland’s May 20th piece for AlterNet examining recent Trump raging.

What I find puzzling is that first line from Orr’s article.  Does his base need re-energization?  Haven’t we seen their recent energy directed with screaming fits at governors continuing shelter-in-place policies?  Hasn’t defying those policies with church gatherings and nail salon traffic exhibited abundant energy?  In fact, hasn’t all of the hysteria been a result of Trump playing his base?  Or, more precisely, special interests in seeing the economy reopen, such as Convention of States, partially funded by the Robert Mercer family foundation with ties to the current Federal administration through individuals such as Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Ben Carson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development?  As Isaac Stanley-Becker and Tony Romm observe:

“A network of right-leaning individuals and groups, aided by nimble online outfits, has helped incubate the fervor erupting in state capitals across the country. The activism is often organic and the frustration deeply felt, but it is also being amplified, and in some cases coordinated, by longtime conservative activists, whose robust operations were initially set up with help from Republican megadonors.”

The child in the crib is raging.  But whether or not his rage is as organically and deeply frustrating to the child as the strings of his base, his separation from the campaign trail is an ominous sign that his re-election strategies are failing.  For those of us not tied to the Fox News propaganda cord, he was unable to sustain daily COVID-19 briefings because the public began to see that he did not have a handle on the situation.  “It will go away, just stay calm” was a statement Trump made on March 10, 2020, citing the statistic of only 26 deaths compared to “the flu for this year, we’re looking at 8,000 deaths.”  As early as February 10th he began this refrain.  And by April 30th he had repeated it to the press far too many times (see link below for the video compilation by The Washington Post).  By April 30th, the death toll had reached above 60,000 in the United States.  Not quite the match for the flu, then?

This rage is all about re-election.  The rage the child directs toward the United States Postal Service.  His fulminations against Nevada’s sending of ballots ahead of the June 9th primary and Michigan’s mailing of ballot applications to all of its registered voters.  He is consumed by re-election.  Although I doubt that the child understands election mechanics well enough — after all, he voted fraudulently with an absentee ballot from his Mar-a-Lago address for the Florida Republican presidential primary (see Schwardon link below).  The Republican Party, the party of voter suppression, more than compensates for his ignorance with sustained action ergo the railing against mail-in balloting.

But the child perceives the implications of not connecting with his teething ring base.  With the current number of COVID-19 cases and deaths and the attendant astronomical unemployment rate (see Lambert link below), the child’s chances of re-election are grim.  Only the warm smiles and receptive body parts of his fans can energize him now.

Orr, ” ‘A moonshot mission’: Trump campaign eyes a return to megarallies”;

Holland, “Overwhelmed and losing, Trump is melting down in a narcissistic rage,” AlterNet;

Stanley-Becker and Romm, “The anti-quarantine protests seem spontaneous. But behind the scenes, a powerful network is helping,” The Washington Post, April 22, 2020;

26 deaths: President Trump: It will go away, just stay calm,” C-SPAN, March 10, 2020;

Washington Post, “13 times Trump said the coronavirus would go away,”

Terry H. Schwardon, “Trump’s Florida voter registration trips ups (sic) his Mar-a-Lago plans,” AlterNet, May 17, 2020;

Lance Lambert, “38.6 million have filed for unemployment during the pandemic—greater than the combined population of 21 states,” Fortune, May 21, 2020;


MacArthur Meadow

20 May



Angel Island Looking North

17 May


LaborFest 2020 Call for Artists

16 May

Artists!  In these uncertain times the working class is facing life disrupting forces.  Workers are disposable units in factories, plants, hospitals, and agricultural fields, with a pandemic raging and populations demanding an unbroken supply of goods and services.  Unemployment is at historic numbers.  The wealth class exploits this situation to further consolidate their economic and political power over everyone else.  What is your vision of the present and future of labor?  We would like to put that on display to create a dialogue about labor, communities, and the social order.  LaborFest 2020 invites artists to submit up to three works in digital format for an international online display.  This is LaborFest’s 27th year organizing events on labor and culture for the month of July.

Please submit up to three digital images and a one- to two-paragraph biography/statement to David Duckworth at:  For information about LaborFest, please visit:  For information about the curator, please visit:


Department of Environmental Horticulture garden, City College of San Francisco

Souvenir de la peste

14 May


Souvenir de la peste (Remembrance of the plague)
Quand la peste a frappé aux portes de la ville,
et que les experts, astrologues, rebouteux et chiromanciens
ne servant à rien,
il a fallu faire appel à tous les médecins,
Harpagon, par miracle,
a recouvré la vue
et remis la main sur la cassette
qu’il avait cachée
au fond du jardin.
The 17th of March 2020
Francis Combes, poet & publisher
My deep appreciation to Philippe Barnoud, the photographer whose work is featured above and friend for many years.


12 May


Display case, Lisières – David Solís, presented at Maisonde l’Amérique latine et des Caraïbes, Paris, May 24-July 24, 2019.


Flora Grubb Gardens, San Francisco.