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Tom Engelhardt – You Must Be Kidding! Adventures in an American World of Frustration

Recently, sorting through a pile of old children’s books, I came across a volume, That Makes Me Mad!, which brought back memories. Written by Steve Kroll, a long-dead friend, it focused on the eternally frustrating everyday adventures of Nina, a little girl whose life regularly meets commonplace roadblocks, at which point she always says… well, you can guess from the title!  Vivid parental memories of another age instantly flooded back — of my daughter (now reading such books to her own son) sitting beside me at age five and hitting that repeated line with such mind-blowing, ear-crushing gusto that you knew it spoke to the everyday frustrations of her life, to what made her mad.

Three decades later, in an almost unimaginably different America, on picking up that book I suddenly realized that, whenever I follow the news online, on TV, or — and forgive me for this but I’m 72 and still trapped in another era — on paper, I have a similarly Nina-esque urge.  Only the line I’ve come up with for it is (with a tip of the hat to Steve Kroll) “You must be kidding!

Here are a few recent examples from the world of American-style war and peace.  Consider these as random illustrations, given that, in the age of Trump, just about everything that happens is out-of-this-world absurd and would serve perfectly well.  If you’re in the mood, feel free to shout out that line with me as we go.

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