The Pied Trumper (2018Jan22)


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Monday, January 22, 2018                                                3:15 PM

The Pied Trumper   (2018Jan22)

I remember, ‘bout this time, last year, someone replied to me, “Shut-up and sit down—the grown-ups are in charge now.” I found it a swell-headed thing to say, at the time—but now that the new book “Fire and Fury” has hit the stores, in which virtually everyone describes Trump as ‘childish’, I don’t see a lot of comments like that anymore.

Now Trump has already decided to eject nearly a million hard-working, patriotic citizens (in all but name) simply because their parents broke the law. He decided to cast these souls into the outer darkness without ever looking a single one of them in the face. That may be ‘grown-up’, but it is not anything any decent parent would ever do—and if parents aren’t part of the ‘grown-ups’ then the ‘grown-ups’ are kinda fucked in the head. You should pardon the French.

There is a population of plague-bearing rats in the United States—that significant minority of us who are more likely to join in on a ‘ganging up on’ then to be concerned about the innate injustice of a gang of people against a single person. These people make a virtue of cruelty against strangers—yet cry the loudest at any imposition upon themselves. Their bitter resentfulness would prefer the total demolition of others’ security over any effort to face their own insecurities.

Trump has called these rats out of their holes, politically speaking—all the anti-social folks who resented the progress of social justice over the recent decades—and given them hope. They’re all running around now, full of hope that Jim Crow, and women chained to stoves, and gays beaten to death in alleys—‘the good old days’—are about to return.

And instead of leading them away from America, he marched them straight into voting booths, just like the NRA does. He’s well on his way to ‘normalizing’ the fact that the President of the United States is a pig. He’s fired half of the staff any real president would need to do the job properly—which makes for less insiders, to comment to reporters on how little is done in the White House.

My favorite Trump quote is: “America kills people, too.” It was an inane response to a question he had been asked, it was a childish thing to say—but it remains one of those rare Trump statements that are factually true. The media missed a trick there—asking Trump to affirm the sanctity of human life, sincerely, may be more than his acting skills can handle. His previous comments (or should I say delirium) on Roe v. Wade make it clear he’d rather obfuscate than pontificate on this issue. Trump’s major role, right now, as I see it—is to stand tall, as the one remaining sexual predator who is immune to the #meToo movement—hence yesterday’s crowds at all those protests.

Just yesterday, some Trumpster replied to my previous comment:

PBurt: Chris Dunn What treasonus act did he commit?

Now, this ain’t my first rodeo—and I know that once we get into the thicket of 20 Russian contacts, over 30 fired or resigned Admin Officials in the first year in office, Nepotism, Comey, Flynn, and Papadopoulos—well, it’s just a diversionary tactic—‘pretend ignorance’. So I says:

CDunn: Let me count the ways… (Did you want technical, official acts—or should I include all his assaults on the ideals of our country?)

But I know he may come back—the zeal of the unreasoning overcomes my placid sense of reality every time. And it’s funny how the people with the most mania are always more worked up than the people who have it right. Still, there’s a danger there—and it is, perhaps, an unlooked-for blessing that Trump has come along and alerted everyone—communities, and countries, require engagement from their people—not just the nut jobs—all the people. It’s called democracy.

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So Now What? (2018Jan17)


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Wednesday, January 17, 2018                                          2:05 PM

So Now What?   (2018Jan17)

Earlier today, the president’s chief of staff described Trump’s campaign promises about the Wall as “uninformed”. I don’t see why he felt the need to be specific—most would describe all of Trump’s promises as “uninformed”, excepting all those that remain “empty”.

I just saw Sen. Jeff Flake give a Senate-floor speech that was forthright in castigating the Republican Party—and even MSNBC went straight from that to discussing whether or not Flake’s words would matter (!?) One would hope they’d spare a second—or any of the ‘excitement mills’ would—to discuss what he said.

Trump tweeted that Flake was just ‘trying to get attention’—and he was right. Flake was trying to tell his fellow Republicans that they had strayed into a mirky wood full of dangers; to tell them they had to hack their way back into the light. It seems petty—to deflect such a grave message by suggesting that a man retiring from the Senate is no one to be taken seriously—and the president’s sentiments should give other Senators pause, I’d hope.

But mass media is so label-prone and outcry-hungry that they can become a mask for truth as well as a platform for truth—the job at CNN, MSNBC, etc. is to create dramatic tension out of thin air. This is often done by stating facts—but the mass media have become too commodified to wait around for facts. And by now they’ve become so used to ‘keeping the ball in the air’ that they have difficulty finding the time to insert facts, whenever they reappear. Straight truth screws with their bottom line.

Well, aside from the deferred job of undoing all the damage Trump will have done to the government (and the nation) by the time we see the ass-end of his shenanigans (or more optimistically (though less likely) a groundswell of outrage that sweeps away not only Trump, but his whole party) there’s little point in watching the ‘Trump show’.

The spokesman for unreasoning fear and anger led a large constituency to the 2016 Election polls—and the rest of us failed to see the danger of not voting. Electoral Colleagues scorned their duty, after the popular vote presented them with an unfit choice. The Republican Party has abandoned any claim on legitimacy by riding this horse through corruption, dishonesty, racism, sexism, plutocracy, xenophobia, fascism, and jihad-like attacks on our religious freedoms. Not to mention treason.

That Congress—they are something. A veritable army of people, hundreds of people—each elected by their local folks, each responsible to work together with hundreds of others. What a challenge they could face! What great things they could achieve! But such a great opportunity can also go greatly awry—it can devolve into a bunch of schoolchildren on a playground, but without a teacher. Modern politics obviously requires one very important skill in one’s toolbox: the inability to be embarrassed.

One very obviously lacking skill in modern politics: leadership—and that goes for both parties. If the Democrats didn’t have the sense to unite behind Obama, and the Republicans embraced the nonsense of uniting behind Trump—which party is the most pathetic? Has the politics overcome the democracy so completely that, like a seedy roadside bar, no one with any sense walks into it anymore?

Gosh—I’ve gotten this far and I haven’t even started on my theme: What do we do when (and if) this ship of state rights itself? We’d have to start (fittingly) by throwing all of Trump’s XOs back in his face (as he always does with accusations and failures). We’ll have double-duty, because we’ll have to clean-slate all of Trump’s garbage and, more importantly, reinstate most of Obama’s—but as legislation, not just an XO.

Then we have to ‘do the right thing’ by all Dreamers, TPS-es, and divided families—just to start. Then we have to take in 500,000 refugees from Syria and other hot-spots—in the inaugural year, not over ten or fifty years—right now. And be ready to do it again the next year.

Then we have to re-do the Tax Reform thing, and charge the corporations and the wealthy the ‘total maintenance fee’ on getting to be rich and powerful in the greatest country in the world—that stuff don’t come cheap, boss. We’ll need that money to pay for free healthcare and higher education—it’s about time we caught up with the developed world, in terms of maintaining the flock. (You can’t have nice, fat chickens if you don’t give them that quality feed.)

Infrastructure would be nice, too—mostly because it is stupid to let the work-backlog keep growing, decade by decade—what is this, dreamland, FFS? Do you expect to get credit for your ancestor’s efforts—without even the courtesy of a coat of paint? Not likely.

But, if we’re going to dream big, Federalist dreams… —Why not a guaranteed-minimum-income for all? That way, employers would have to offer a living wage to get anyone to work for them. There’s justice for ya, huh? I know, I know—you don’t like it—it sounds all wrong. Sure. And what we got going on right now is totally just and fair. Wouldn’t want to make the business-owners angry, calling it modern-day slavery, with TV. (Or is it cellphones now?)

Anyway, moving on: We shouldn’t be satisfied until our low-income population has the same quality-of-life as their Canadian counterparts—that’s simple humanitarian governance, plus it really lowers all the costs of maintaining an underserved community and its associated crime stats. Making peoples’ lives more fulfilling than doing drugs might even help with the whole opioid problem.

That’s just a rough outline off the top of my head—and I’m not an expert on this stuff in the first place. But, obviously, it will require a reversal of our present politics—we need a majority in both houses and a president with chops. And it wouldn’t hurt to have a constituency that has felt the cold chill of what democracy might become, if good people stay home. Nor would it hurt if those same voters had the courage of their convictions, remembering that freedom means not being afraid–or lazy.

Trump is a Joke (2018Jan15)


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Monday, January 15, 2018                                                3:08 PM

Trump is a Joke   (2018Jan15)

Donald Trump is a joke—he was a joke before, and conning a bunch of people into voting for him doesn’t make him any less inane. There’s nothing too wrong with being a laughable idiot. The Republicans, however, by excusing, defending, and supporting him as if he were a respectable person, have made themselves, the legislature, the administration, and the government into a joke.

This country is broken. We vote for known criminals. We vote against our own self-interests. We transmit bullshit propaganda as ‘TV-journalism’. We have forgotten the difference between science and wishes, between democracy and popularity, between humanity and profit.

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I don’t want to call Trump-voters stupid—but what choice do I have? His kind have been selling snake-oil from a bandwagon forever—taking money from the rubes until the serious townspeople ran him off. But America has become the town that elected a carnival barker as their new mayor. Not just one town, or even one state—but coast-to-coast stupidity. And where are the serious people—the ones that saw Trump comin’? Sleeping?

The Republicans not only legitimize their pet clown—they are so bereft of ideas or imagination they let him lead the way! An idiot Executive is fine, when he’s a tool of the legislature and the fat-cats—people with plans and an agenda. He can rubber-stamp whatever bills they plan to pass.

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But Trump, mentally challenged as he is, fits right in with the cud-chewing herd. He is not being swept along by a canny group of pioneers—he’s filling the void of the Republican agenda. Conservative voters seem to respect the ability to lie well above the ability to think well.

American Conservatism used to mean resistance to change. After the civil rights act and women’s lib and gay marriage equality, Conservatism didn’t mean resisting change—not any longer. Now, Conservatism is a bugle call to return to the hatred and injustice of the past—they don’t mind change at all, anymore. The more bias and unfairness they can inject into our culture and our capitalism, they more they lust for changes. Some conservatives. Some joke.

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R.I.P. – G.O.P. (2018Jan12)


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Friday, January 12, 2018                                          3:55 PM

R.I.P. – G.O.P.   (2018Jan12)

Our head of state represents our country to the rest of the world. Every word out of that person’s mouth matters. And Trump does not represent America only—he also represents the Republican Party.

His mouth emits a stream of subtle dog-whistles, barely veiled bigotry, and outright racist ignorance—and far from curbing him, you have supported and defended him. You side with Trump—which makes you just as big a s__hole as he is.

The Grand Old Party…hmm, weren’t you the guys that bankrupted the country with ginned-up wars in the Middle East, and then blew up the Economy in 2008? Yeah, you remember—you guys all bitched and moaned about how long it took Obama to fix your disaster? Then you told everyone that Trump would make a better president than Hillary—because Hillary is a bad, bad lady—surely you haven’t forgotten?

Goodbye, Republicans—you will never get another vote from anyone with the sense of a peanut. Go back to the hell you came from.

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Presidency As Hate Crime (2018Jan11)


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Thursday, January 11, 2018                                              9:53 PM

Presidency As Hate Crime   (2018Jan11)

Bigots are resurging today only because they try so hard to forget that their hatreds were shamed into silence by the courts, the legislators, and the media of a few decades ago. Not so long ago, morons such as Joe Arpaio, Roy Moore, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Steve Bannon, or Trump would have been derided offstage (never mind being ejected from the political arena).

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While the bigots celebrate their big comeback, they carefully avoid discussion of what sent them scurrying away, years ago—an outbreak of awareness and decency that pushed back against ingrained racism, sexism, homophobia, et. al. That enlightened Americanism embraced inclusion and fairness.

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Yes, that ‘fairness’ is the real enemy of the one-percent. The one-percent want us to dogfight over ‘inclusion’ while we overlook the inescapable unfairness of income-inequality and modern capitalism. The inclusion battle was hard-fought, its victories dearly earned—the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Liberation Movement, the LGBT Rights Movement, etc. took decades to bring enlightenment to the citizenry and to the law of the land.

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Now the hate-and-fear-mongers are trying to tell us that none of that happened, that white nationalism has regained a place in America. Not true—a small collection of backwaters have clutched their bitterness to their chests, through thick and thin, beyond sense or reason—they are now attempting to nurse their kindling back into the bonfires of old. They are champions of ignorance and autocracy—enemies of the America most of us believe in.

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How long will the Republicans keep pretending? Is there anyone left who truly doubts Trump’s unfitness, bigotry, criminality, ignorance of his elected position, complete blindness to ethics or compassion, and his inability to speak truthfully—or even coherently?

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His ‘presidency’ is a sham, a hate crime, an act of treason, and a con job.

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The Republicans have lost any semblance of credibility or idealism–becoming a team of poker players, rather than statespersons. I’m beyond sick-and-tired of dead-eyed stonewalling in place of honest admission of the truth. There comes a time when bluffing is over and cards must be shown. It’s alright, Republicans, we know you have a Trump card. Fess up, or destroy yourselves—along with your country.

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No man can serve two masters, Republicans. You either serve the lobbyists or the voters—doing one while pretending to do the other is no longer an option. You’ve all just been too brazen about your corruption—it’s staring us all in the face. I know some of your morons-on-mailing-lists are still being taken in—but the other 85% of people in the USA can see perfectly well what you idiots are trying to do.

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Trump should have been impeached months ago—the longer you put it off, the worse it will be.

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“Had, Having, and In Quest to Have, Extreme…” (2018Jan05)


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“Had, Having, and In Quest to Have, Extreme…”   (2018Jan05)

It’s complicated—that’s the dernier cri. In past times, ‘complicated’ was criticism enough to dispose of any new idea—especially any new idea in public policy. Nowadays we welcome complexity, mostly, knowing that complex public policies have all kinds of hiding places and loopholes—not to mention the flexibility of goals. Both Democrats and Republicans have come to accept complexity. What choice have they? ‘Simplicity’, in the 21st Century, has only relative meaning.

This is a problem for transparency in government—power structures tend to infest complex policy—internal politics tend to warp motives—authority is often exercised for display purposes. The reasoning behind political positions has been replaced by the motives behind today’s positions—rendering positions moot.

Wllm. Shakespeare’s Sonnet CXXIX:

 

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame

Is lust in action; and till action, lust

Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,

Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,

Enjoy’d no sooner but despised straight,

Past reason hunted, and no sooner had

Past reason hated, as a swallow’d bait

On purpose laid to make the taker mad;

Mad in pursuit and in possession so;

Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;

A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe;

Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.

All this the world well knows; yet none knows well

To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

 

Go ahead—read it again. I read it first when I was a young man—it frightened me. Willy Shakes had laid it all out, plain as words. The true battle for existence was in our vision—could we discern the difference between the instant animal urge and the longer view of lasting fulfillment? And, far more importantly, could we exert the self-control to act on our vision?

Some will say that repressing oneself is unhealthy—that too much self-control is a bad thing. I don’t know—I think self-control is as much a survival trait as good looks or rich folks. The confusion arises with definition (as always). When one’s mind controls one actions—that’s self-control. When one’s mind wars within itself—that’s repression.

America’s present has a sandbox feel to it. I used to play games with kids like Trump—to them, cheating didn’t matter at all—and if they still couldn’t win, they’d knock over the board—and pretend it was an accident—just troubled, nasty kids. But what a boon for all the angry underemployed—here was a President that didn’t care about the rules! He would kick the board over—we could all get a reset. As Natasha used to say, “Stupid American-skis!”

Millennia of history don’t twirl on a dime—Seven-plus billion people don’t come to any one person’s call—and the Federal Government of the United States of America proudly compensates for its youth by its complexity—having, as it does, 50 sovereign states’ rights and laws included within its consideration of federal rights and laws—not to mention the Supreme Court. An experienced, seasoned lawyer/politician with a firm grasp of all this ‘machinery’ would consider the Presidency a daunting task—just ask President Obama. (Sigh.)

We could have put a middle-school student in the Oval Office and she or he would have taken the job more seriously and handled it more carefully—and because of their education, they would be more familiar with the government and the Constitution than Trump. The only thing Trump has ‘reset’ is the complacency among voters—they’ve gotten a close look now at what Trump’s motives are—they’ve heard him contradict himself too often to keep any credibility in his ‘reasoning’.

Fine, there’s the Trumpster-Fire. But that’s not what makes me the most angry. I’m most angry about the Republican majority in the House of Representatives—the three monkeys to the Nth power. They don’t see nuthin…Nuuuthin! Oh, they see trouble with Comey, with the Asst. Atty-Genl., with Mueller—you’d think such eagled-eyed scrutiny might find a fault or two in their team mascot—sorry, I mean president.

And about that Tax Rip-Off Bill—shouldn’t that have been passed in the 90’s, when you could still cite ‘trickle-down’ with a straight face? Passing it now is just a blatant ‘We’re taking your money and giving it to rich people’ dick move. It certainly seems hard to reconcile this Tax BS with any thought or consideration for the growing inequality in income.

Oh—and also, CA passes a legal-weed law and the AG announces plans to start prosecuting? If you GOP scuzzballs don’t have the eggs to impeach Trump, or legalize pot—the least you could do is sanction his AG.

I’ve come to a cynical conclusion—Obama was a one-off— except for him, every politician in the whole world is an idiot. The Democrats have to be idiots to ever let it come to this. The Republicans have to be idiots to keep this hypocrisy-express rolling down the track. Putin has to be an idiot to think his behavior will never have consequences—especially after the recent conviction of that war-criminal at the Hague.

Today’s world is complicated—it requires some geeks—we need to start voting for geeks. Nice ones—not the really competitive ones. Which means we’ll have to carry them into office—they won’t campaign for themselves. It’s time we got some elected officials that don’t want the job. It’s complicated.

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The Lights Ahead (2018Jan01)


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Monday, January 01, 2018                                                9:24 PM

The Lights Ahead   (2018Jan01)

The original pilgrims ventured to this land in search of a place where they could worship differently—they left behind a continent that spent centuries attacking the infidels, and more centuries attacking each other over the Inquisition and the Reformation. All wars and all crimes had a basis in belief—and differences in belief could be crimes in themselves.

Once the pilgrims got here, they soon found themselves well on the road to duplicating the very religion-based strife and violence which had driven them to their new world. Religious intolerance threatened to shatter the colonies just when they most needed to band together to survive.

The Wordy Shipmates” by Sarah Vowell gives an excellent account of how the idea of religious tolerance was adopted by the earliest colonists. ‘Separation of church and state’ remained important to the character of what would become the United States of America. Long before our nation was born, this land had been a sanctuary of tolerance—until modern times, the only nation that separated law from faith.

Thus freedom of religion became the first great light of America. We can distract ourselves with exceptions—such as the witch-burnings of Puritans and the unspoken anti-Semitism that persecuted Jewish-Americans for much of our history—but freedom to worship as we please is a part of America, exceptions notwithstanding.

The second great light of America was replacing Monarchy with Democracy. Again, we may take exception—and with good reason—to the historical record. At first, ‘all men are created equal’ used the word ‘all’ very loosely—and the word ‘men’ very narrowly—Rich, white, male colonists didn’t want to pay their taxes—and they wanted to keep their slaves.

Still, the spirit was in the words—and that spirit brought us to a great and tragic contest, the Civil War, and to the Suffragists movement, and to the Civil Rights Act, to social activism of many kinds. And all have the same aim—to broaden inclusion and to remove exceptions to the ideal. Democracy and equal rights go hand in hand—or one of them is a sham.

The third great light of America was literacy. We were the first to implement a public school system—and thus the first country to have more literate than illiterate citizens. Since this coincided with the industrial revolution, America found itself exploding with entrepreneurship—all the new ideas and new inventions kept coming—and virtually every citizen was reading about it in newspapers and magazines—and thinking to themselves, “How can I make my fortune in this chaos?”

Early on, lots of Americans chose to learn to read for one simple reason—so they could read Mark Twain’s books. Clemens was more than a great writer—he was the impetus for a young nation to go literate-default. He was as responsible for ‘Yankee know-how’ as Bell or Edison. So perhaps I should change the third great light of America from ‘literacy’ to ‘love of knowledge’. It was both ‘common’ and somewhat scandalous, in the Old World, to be interested in learning for its own sake—America demonstrated its value.

The great American Empire was founded primarily on the strength our nation found within its first three Great Lights: Freedom of Religion, Democracy, and Love of Knowledge. America made a gift of these ideas to the world—and much of the world has adopted one or all of these ideas.

Now, if Trump does his worst, and achieves the decline of the American Empire he so obviously seeks—just remember: the Greeks, the Roman Empire, the British Empire—all have faded, but the ideas they gave the world remain—and America’s ideals, being based on a love of humanity, will also outlive the land from which it sprang. Indeed, America is not the land it was—it has become something else—but those ideas still, having been brought to light, will wend their way into the thoughts of future folk, whomever they may be.

Let’s face it. Euclid gave the Greeks the gift of Geometry—a highly useful insight—yet even today not everyone bothers to learn Geometry. The Romans gave us plumbing, but not everyone in Flint, MI thinks the science of plumbing is very important—and many other towns have similar leadership. America gave the world Freedom of Religion, Democracy, and Love of Knowledge—but the number of citizens, today, with a true understanding of those principles and their importance—is, at most, two-thirds of the total.

We know this because one-third of the voters voted for Trump—who made a great show of either disrespecting those principles or showing his ignorance of them. By the time he was done campaigning, only someone with an imperfect understanding of America could possibly have approved of him.

Having said all that, it is important to recognize the other possibility—that Trump’s oafish trampling of what real Americans treasure will result in a backlash that cynics, hypocrites, Putin, and business-leaders will long regret. There are more lights, further ahead—if only we can stop this retreat into the darkness of the past… We are not done making a more perfect union. Reach for the stars, I always say.

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