The Infamous Lying President (2017Mar27)


Monday, March 27, 2017                                        10:26 AM

Another week, another bunch of stuff will happen—I’m gonna try not to get too upset about any of it. Used to be, if I didn’t follow current events, I felt I was being careless—now, the news isn’t so much ‘events’, as machinations.

Back in the Seventies, if a candidate was suspected of colluding with Russia, we wouldn’t still be discussing it on the news, three months into their elected term—we’d find out—and PDQ. And just what level of stupidity is Trump assigning us when he tries to characterize the incidental collection of info from his team, during surveillance of Russian spies—as him being under surveillance? Opposite day is over, Donny—turning the truth inside out only works during a campaign—not while serving in office.

Meanwhile, Trump is the hand we’re watching—while the other hand, the GOP Congress, pushes through crap legislation for their donors—dumping coal waste in local streams and hunting bears in hibernation. Who are these evil monsters and who the hell is dumb enough to elect them?

Public education, which made this country the greatest nation on Earth—and by example led every other country to higher literacy and science research—has become a libtard scam? Seems pretty clear to me what the real scam is—profiteer politicians who don’t care about our civic health.

And what’s this new BS about ‘accesses’? Access to health care, or access to education—is code for ‘you can buy it, if you have the money’. Nobody is fooled by this cynical word-play. Yet these duplicitous ‘conservatives’ still get equal time on the news to spread their completely transparent BS and misdirection. Even MSNBC, a supposedly leftist news channel, gives these hypocrites an unconscionable freedom to deliver their used-car-sales spiel all day, every day.

It is long past time for the news to stop representing evil as the ‘other side’ of an issue—truth will out—but if you run a cable news service, it will ‘out’ only between equal parts of lies. Those spin-doctors are slick—I’ll give’em that—but once their BS is deconstructed, it’s still blatant BS. Trump has really ridden that horse hard—that’s why he’s famous as the lying president.

Still, I can’t figure out why exactly it’s taking so long to settle this question of our president being a traitor. Is it because the case is really that complicated—or are we just too embarrassed to admit how badly we’ve been bamboozled?

Latest Offerings   (2017Mar25)


Saturday, March 25, 2017                                        2:26 PM

Cover: “Can’t Smile Without You”

This weekend started with a bang—but it sucks that we have to get our jollies from seeing our criminal president and his cynical Congress get their asses kicked. If only we could acquire the knack of electing statespersons instead of lickspittles. Well, there’s supposedly a surge of young women getting into politics as both activists and candidates, so maybe our choices will improve in future—let’s hope so. Not that men can’t produce the occasional Al Franken or Tim Kaine, but such men are rare as hen’s teeth on the beltway, or in state legislatures. Women can hardly hurt things.

Improv – Spring Dance

 

But enough about worldly matters. Oh, one last thing—the ‘Spring Dance’ video I posted today includes pictures of the grandbaby at her first Women’s March in San Jose—such a cute little protestor! There are also shots of the princess (and family) at her first California vineyard wine-tasting and a St. Paddy’s celebration. Even more exciting are the videos of her first attempts at crawling—that kid’ll be mobile any day now—poor parents.

Cover: “Who Needs to Dream”

 

These videos have taken me two weeks to get posted—I’m slowing down some, lately. But even without the cheat-factor of using cute baby pictures in the video, I think the music is okay—as always, it’s the best I can manage. I yam wot I yam, as Popeye would say.

Improv – Retro-Chrome

 

I’ve recorded the Barry Manilow covers before, but I enjoy them so I did them over again. Barry is the king of schmaltz—and I’m a big fan, even if my playing (and singing) doesn’t show it.

Improv – Hymnal

 

I guess I’ll have to get busy at the piano—these six new videos represent only a part of the pile of pix and video that’s been coming from Jessy lately—and I can’t show you all the baby cuteness until I have music to go with it. Still, I think what I’ve posted today should keep up anyone’s cuteness quota for awhile.

Improv – Haunted House Blues

 

Okay, I’m done—please enjoy these latest offerings.

 

ttfn.

Information Analysis   (2017Mar23)


allegovirtunvice

Thursday, March 23, 2017                                                7:16 PM

There’s a new industry—information analysis for public consumption—you can see it in the deer-in-the-headlights look of recent guests of shows like The Rachel Maddow Show, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and Real Time with Bill Maher—people whose life up until now consisted of research, data analysis and synthesis, in quiet, dusty offices, are suddenly guests on a TV talk show.

Sometimes they’ve written a book, but just as often they’ve had an article published in a newspaper—either way, they’ve spent months, perhaps years, doing research on some overlooked, obscure, but important piece of our civic life. News today has a cornucopia of subjects, many of them medical, scientific, financial, legal, or something equally complex—and that complexity increases by an order of magnitude when we get down to cases—specific aspects of Antarctic microbiology effected by climate change, perhaps, or the difficulties of fighting the spread of Zika when each municipality has its own mosquito-spraying schedule.

And it’s more than an understanding of principles, either on laymen’s terms or as a professional expert—there’s an overabundance of data to deal with as well. Congressional bills run to the thousands of pages of legislation. Unmanned drones send back data from Pluto that will keep astronomers busy analyzing it for years to come. Wikileaks dumps thousands of pages of raw, hacked text and data—friend or foe, that stuff doesn’t index and summarize itself. Then there’s the galaxy of social-media texts, pix, likes, emojis, and what-all that can target-market, sociologically analyze, or just plain stalk almost anyone under the age of thirty.

There’s a lot of information floating around. If there weren’t, perhaps we’d have less trouble with the creeps that insert disinformation into the social conversation—misrepresenting a person or group for purely partisan aims. But it would seem that someone has to go looking for that stuff—I mean, the fact that it’s out there also speaks to the fact that a lot of people want their prejudices confirmed by an authoritarian media voice, no matter how shaky their journalistic cred. Their audience pre-dates them—they’re meeting a ‘need’, so to speak.

And the Alt-righters are not alone in seeking comfort. Americans are glued to their I-phones as much to hide from this frightening new world of information, as to make use of it. We can obsessively play video games or surf Instagram all day, take selfies or duck-pose ‘til our eyes bug out—that avalanche of information is still there—even if you don’t look.

The rich people started it—denying that smoking was dangerous so they could keep selling tobacco, denying that drunk-driving was a problem so they could keep selling liquor, and still denying that climate change is a threat when scientists are screaming in their faces. And if they can deny reality, why can’t we? Hey, new cars are expensive as hell—better to say ‘fukkit’ and keep the old gas-guzzler.

There’s much more information being denied than just climate change—the economics of socialized medicine (detached from the vested interests of existing insurers and drug manufacturers), the economics of socialized higher education (including the future cost of an tech-illiterate citizenry)—just name anything where an industry is making a good buck and you’ll find the conversation being steered away from anything that amounts to significant change. This is especially true of finance. And while the unseen machinations of lobbyists are certainly a big threat, the lack of free thought and public conversation about these areas is just as much a roadblock to change.

Some unpleasant folks like to say I’m ‘drinking the Kool Aid’. When Rush Limbaugh tells them that the New York Times is lying to America, but Paul Ryan is as honest as the day is long—then they tell me I’m the one that’s brainwashed—I really can’t respond. I might as well be trying to explain things to a cow. But, again, it comforts them to believe that they are right in their prejudices. It’s almost frustrating enough for me to want the consequences to hurry up and show themselves—if my words are useless, maybe reality can convince them. But that’s a pyrrhic victory of the worst kind—I get to say ‘I told you so’ while we all die—not much of a win there.

Here’s the problem—the world has gotten complicated—and crowded—don’t forget, overpopulation is still a global issue, even with first-world birthrates in decline—and we, instead of embracing that unpleasant consequence, are creating a world of doubt and rumor, where the nasty facts can’t reach us. But that is like avoiding the doctor when you don’t feel well—it’s a bad idea. While we’re putting off facing the problem, it’s just metastasizing.

I wish we could put all these fake-news-zombies to one side, and get everyone else to huddle up, and say, ‘look, we know this is real—fuck those people—let’s do something before we all die’. Wouldn’t that be nice? Politics today seems to be the art of avoiding just such a come-to-Jesus moment. And it’ll work fine—until Jesus comes to see us.

I think we need to take a hard look at the paradox of the Internet—its vulnerability to hacking makes it unreliable—so why are we in such a hurry to rely on it? As it stands, the Internet just adds another layer of confusion on top of an already confusing situation.

But the main problem remains the intersection of the power of government and the power of money—their relationship should be, to some degree, adversarial—the age of assuming that what’s good for business is good for the country is long past—and we need to face that, too.

avarice

My Work Is Done (2017Mar23)


Thursday, March 23, 2017                                                10:54 AM

I haven’t been blogging much lately—my health prevents me from exerting myself and it has been worse lately. My blogging, and the obsessing over politics that spurs it on, have really taken their toll—railing against the current tidal wave of lies and corruption for the last several years is a job for a young firebrand, not a beaten-down, disabled shut-in. The stress of watching America fall victim to its worst ‘side’ is exhausting.

Besides, I feel America catching up with me—why should I blog when I’ll simply be echoing the Wall Street Journal’s latest op-ed? With the majority of America up in arms over the reality of ‘Prez Trump’, my work is done. In fact, my obsessing over how we screwed the voting pooch is actually a step backward—and I lack the energy to keep up with the torrent of fresh lies and counter-lies from the alt-right, over TrumpCare, Russian-colluding treason, hiring his kids, and disavowing every non-shooting government program.

If only the alt-right could disseminate logic with the excellence they display in spreading ‘talking points’—imagine. The 37%’s latest jab is to tell me to keep ‘drinking the Kool Aid’. I can’t imagine what sources they use to determine that observed reality is the product of deluded followers of some hippy agenda. Neither can I fathom how these yahoos miss the fact that they support the wealthy 1%, when at least 36% of them can’t be a part of them—and will be just as poorly served by government cuts as we ‘kool-aid drinkers’.

Here are some thoughts from the past week that I hadn’t the strength to post before today:

Wednesday, March 22, 2017                                            5:00 AM

Politics? What the hell am I doing worrying about politics? Could I be less socially active? I don’t think so. Could I be further from involvement in current events? Not and keep breathing, no.

And all this time I’ve got piano music and videos of my granddaughter learning to crawl, as alternatives. Why I would waste a moment’s time on filthy politics is totally beyond me. I guess I’m just mad because it used to be safe to ignore politics—ethical failings on both sides and reluctance to change used to guarantee that elections wouldn’t mean much.

But the combination of lobbyist seepage and Russian bot-attacks have hacked our democracy—and now we have a huge disconnect between what the majority of Americans support and what the politicians claim needs to be done. And now, to quote John Oliver, the list of program-cuts scrolls up the screen “like the end-credits to America”.

What part of “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” is hard to understand? A Muslim Ban is as un-American as rotten-apple pie—it is the antithesis of the freedom we pretend to stand for. And it offers as much national security as a wall between us and Mexico.

The GOP want to cut social programs out of ‘concern for the taxpayers’—but they don’t intend to lower taxes—instead, that money will be transferred to military spending—as if America doesn’t spend enough on our military already. And a president that compulsively lies doesn’t help a bit. Paying attention to our present politics is intellectual suicide and I warn any sane person away from it.

That goes for the media as well—when they start trying to get our attention by saying ‘ten stories that have nothing to do with Trump’, you know they’ve long ago lost any sense of perspective. This is America, not the fucking Trump Show. Besides, what’s worse: an insane president, or a significant proportion of voters insane enough to elect him? We have the media to blame for both.

But which media did the most damage—the mainstream media, with its venal fascination with Trump’s idiotic rallies—or the alt-right media, with its delusional conspiracies and Russian Twitter-bots? That’s a tough call. Both doubled-down on their HRC-bashing (with a little help from Comey at the FBI)—one supposes because she was the only candidate with both a career-record and a coherent policy-agenda. Both failed to represent Trump as pure psycho liar and con man. It’s a tough call—we’d be our own worst enemy—if we didn’t have an actual enemy, in Putin.

Monday, March 20, 2017                                        6:21 PM

Angela Merkel gave him the well-deserved fish-eye—the Iraqi leader nervously tried to joke with the guy—Britain, as one voice, said he was patently ridiculous—are we embarrassed yet? Or does making America ‘great’ again include reverting to our condescending attitude toward every other country—which renders his buffoonery a moot issue?

So, let’s see, who do we not care about now? Well, there’s women, there’s poor people, immigrants, refugees, Muslims, minorities, students, old people, sick people, scientists, judges, journalists, artists, environmentalists, Democrats, and anyone who isn’t legally an American citizen, no matter where they live. Oh, and Trump supporters—let’s not forget how he wants to shaft them, too.

As fast as journalists, congressional committees, and intelligence agencies can put the lie to Trump’s tweets, he tweets out new re-hashings of those lies—if he wasn’t in the White House, we’d all be highly amused by now. As it is, unfortunately, we don’t know whether to impeach him for treason, impeach him for lying, or impeach him for insanity. Trump’s tactics abide—send a tidal wave of bullshit out into the media and let the adults scramble to align it (or not) with reality—meanwhile, who knows what evil nonsense is going on behind closed doors.

It’s very effective—as long as the GOP keeps its devil’s bargain with him—allowing his madness as long as he supports their vampire-like legislation. Should they ever awaken from their ethical coma, perhaps something could be done—but they haven’t finished using him yet.

Pack of Dogs (2017Mar17)


magrittepipe

Friday, March 17, 2017                                            8:51 AM

I can’t say enough bad things about the Trump administration, or the Republicans who collaborate with him. I could simply describe what they’ve been doing, or, thankfully, what they’ve been trying to do (judges have, so far, held back his most traitorous executive orders). It makes my blood run cold.

And the evil goes so deep—first there’s Trump and his coterie—a ranker bunch of troglodytes is hard to imagine—but then there’s the Republican Congress as well, quietly doing even worse, more long-lasting damage to this country. Then there’s the barrage of hypocritical distractions—like Trump’s ‘Obama tapped me’ claim, or his wishful thinking about the media being unreliable. Then there’s the gutting of the State Department’s career lifers—the institutional memory of government—and the firings of Federal D.A.s—including the one who was investigating Trump. And the rolling-back of Obama’s last six months of legislation—for no reason other than it being Obama’s.

The perfect storm of a popular criminal winning popularity, the media’s lobotomy over HRC’s fitness to serve, and the extreme partisanship of the GOP, making them willing to go along with Trump’s mendacity—all of this puts our country in the hands of the worst bunch of cronies imaginable. One of these assholes actually used the word ‘compassionate’ when talking about cutting the ‘Meals on Wheels’ program.

I don’t think we can wait for grounds for impeachment—we need a national referendum on our confidence in Trump as head of state—followed by a special election. Otherwise, we stand on ceremony while this pack of dogs chews up America’s best furniture.

And that’s the trouble, isn’t it? You and I—we’re capable of feeling shame, capable of feeling a sense of responsibility, unable to see ourselves as better than our neighbor, unable to ignore ethics. What a disadvantage that puts as at! We’re like an old-fashioned guy, who’s too much a gentleman to strike a lady, facing off against a deranged bitch with a razor. We need to climb on our high horse, to strike down this monster with all the justifiable outrage of good Americans.

All that’s needed is a consensus that Trump is beyond the pale, that he is a mistake we made—we don’t need to wait politely for four years—we need to act. I call for a national referendum and a vote of no confidence in this pig masquerading as our leader. Or we can wait until they’ve done all the damage they can—and spend the next twenty years struggling to get back to where we were three months ago.

20160702XD-RevWar_03

Robot Doom   (2017Mar16)


Thursday, March 16, 2017                                                3:59 PM

20170306XD-BabySoxMardi Gras, Pi Day, St Paddy’s, Easter… do you get the feeling that people are desperate for a party by the time winter finally starts to end? Yet here we sit, between two snowstorms—snowstorms that didn’t bother us all through January or February. But, hey—power’s back up, no harm, no foul—and who wants the year to go by without a little snow, anyway, right?

Lovely day today, however—sun shining, snow glaring—warm inside and quiet. Got some music I’m working on posting—can’t be too good or I would have done it already. The crossword was pretty easy for a Thursday. I’ve already watched two whole movies today—I can’t watch any more or I’ll get movie-theater-headache.

I could try reading, but that won’t help the headache situation any. Sure could use some new pics from the grandbaby—what a cutey-muffin. She makes me smile. And Jessy says her first tooth is just peeking through—soon she’ll be smiling back.

20170225xd-improv-freedive_grfc_02

Well, shall we talk about the horror-show in our nation’s capital? I don’t know, they change the details, but there’s a sameness to all of this foolishness. They try to lie—the media calls them on it—they call the media dishonest—respected people side with the media—they move on to new lies. It’s frustrating and tiring—but I don’t see them getting much more out of it than we do.

I’m tickled by all the yahoos that say, “He’s elected, get over it”. Like their man, Trump, these people don’t seem to get it—being elected is just the very first thing you do. It is not an achievement—it is permission to achieve, or to fail, for four years. We’ve barely begun his first year and already grandma’s Medicare is on the chopping block—how does that create jobs, again? And about those jobs…are we waiting for a bill to outlaw robots? Because there won’t be any great job market until we put our technology into reverse.

Anyone who can look ahead and extrapolate what’s next can see that jobs are going to decrease, inexorably, down to none, sooner or later. The real issue is not creating jobs—it’s figuring out an economy without labor—how do we distribute wealth when no one works for a living—because no one needs to, because no one can.

20170204xd-improv-noshoes_grfc_01

You need to give those people money—otherwise the businesses won’t have any customers. Plus, having millions of unemployed, angry people wandering around—that’s going to cause problems—bad enough they have nothing to keep them busy—they’re also hungry. That is why Socialism is so attractive—Capitalism is based on the assumption that everybody works—it doesn’t function if computers and AI and robots do all the work.

I know it’s—what do you call that?—disruptive, yeah, disruptive. I know it’s hard to wrap your head around. But it’s one of those ‘Sherlock Holmes’ things—once you’ve eliminated every other possibility, whatever’s left, however improbable, must be the solution.

Let’s look at the history of books. The first books were written, and copied, by hand—there were very few books. Then the printing press came along—suddenly, there were lots of books—and no room full of copyists was required. So they were out of a job—they had to find something else to do. Then computers came along, and typesetters were out of a job—they had to find something else to do. Then the internet came along and all publishers and printers were out of a job—they had to find something else to do. But what? An entire industry disappeared—where are those people supposed to find work? And that’s just one industry—it’s not alone.

You can tell yourself that ‘there will always be jobs’—but that is not guaranteed. It is, in fact, unlikely. In spite of its effect on other businesses, the people who invent new computers, AI, and robots are working day and night trying to make better ones. They just invented a machine that picks lettuce, right in the field, cleans it, wraps it, and puts them in a box. How many farmhands just lost their livelihood—hundreds of thousands, maybe? And what’s left? Maybe three jobs, running and fixing the machines. But a lettuce-picker is never going to get hired to maintain the robots—so they don’t have a shot at even those three jobs.

Trouble isn’t just coming—it’s already here. Unemployment remains a problem—but no business is shouting for more manpower—they’re fine—which means we’re screwed, especially if we just sold our souls to the bank to get sheepskins. Might I suggest a degree in computer science?

20170128xd-improv-frombangor_grfc_02

Another Break With Ethical Tradition (2017Mar15)


ShirtwaistFire_01

Wednesday, March 15, 2017                                            3:32 PM

The Ides of March are upon us. And how fitting, when here in the present our would-be empress was character-assassinated, leaving the throne to a pack of criminals. And how paper-thin their pretense at public service—a quick bill to allow coal-waste dumping in local waterways, as an appetizer for removing 24 million from health insurance—and gutting the EPA (something even that old crook, Nixon, saw the point of enacting).

In what way are these shameless epicureans serving the public good? In what world are we not being sold out to the moneyed interests? And does wanting a ‘change’ in Washington mean wanting more protection for the big corporations and less concern for the average citizen—along with a heaping helping of incompetence and malfeasance? How is it that legitimate leadership has never before required so many PR people to be expert liars?

I saw a few minutes of FOX News today—they were clawing at Rachel Maddow’s reputation for revealing some information about Trump’s tax returns—claiming that making a big deal about them was liberal hysteria. No discussion (that I heard) addressed the fact that he is the only modern president to hide that information during the campaign—and continue to hide it, even after taking office. Neither did I hear anyone question why that is. But, boy, did they have fun ragging on Rachel.

Not that we should expect much different from a guy who won’t even put his assets in a blind trust for the duration of his term—another break with ethical tradition. Listen, my dad used to put me in charge when he was on vacation, too—it didn’t mean it wasn’t his business anymore. Ironically, while Trump has become the world’s most famous liar, he gets very emotional about how we should trust him to always do the right thing—I’d like to see him do one right thing.

An objective observer might remark on how ‘bigly’ the Trump camp jumps on any error, real or imagined, from anyone outside their circle—yet they minimize any errors of their own as if the rules don’t really apply when talking about such important poohbahs as Trump. But hypocrisy is a big word—and remember—‘nobody knew how complicated’ it would be to be president. How much more complicated would it become if he were to attempt to be a good president? Please. Let’s be realistic.

Ending the EPA is such a disastrous wish that many people are reassuring themselves by thinking, ‘oh, Trump’s too incompetent to make it happen’. My concern is merely the fact that he wants to. There was a famous fire in NYC’s Triangle Building a century ago—many women were killed due to the fact that the owner chained the exit-doors shut. The outrage over that mass immolation caused a few labor reforms. But here we are, one hundred years later, and Trump wants to chain the safety-doors to the entire country.

In what universe is this pig making a successful pretense of leadership?

ShirtwaistFire_02