Happy Fourth of July! (2017Jul04)


 

Tuesday, July 04, 2017                                             2:45 PM

Happy Fourth of July!   (2017Jul04)

Barbecues to the left of us, barbecues to the right of us—anyone with any sense has snaked themselves an invite to a hot-dog-themed gathering today—or they just don’t salivate at the smoky scent of briquette and beef-blood. Things are pretty quiet compared to the Independence Days of yore—I remember a lot more drinking, rubber-burning, outdoor sound systems, and the incessant background of gunpowder exploding, for days, reaching its crescendo today—or rather tonight, when the sun sets and any high vantage point will likely afford a view of an incendiary spectacle.

But I am ashamed to admit that it is 3PM on the Fourth of July and I don’t hear a firecracker, or a hawg with a bad muffler, or even a lonely, far-off guitar lick—Americans have turned their focus from celebration and pride to conflict and challenge. The new gladiators of our new circus: talking heads of cable news and trolls of social media—and they fight with words—literally fight with words—trying to say their truth loudly enough to make it The truth. It’s a pale shadow of the USA of the seventies.

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When I think of Evel Knievel, riding his jet-bike (his personal response to the question, “How high and how far can a wheeled vehicle go with the driver surviving?”) and compare that to today’s ‘daredevil of words’, President Trump (who offers us his response to the challenge, “How false and self-serving can free speech reach before it becomes a crime?”) I can’t help but feel that we have achieved digress, not progress. I doubt that today’s barefaced political double-talk could have survived, back when people spent most of their time socializing in person.

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And while I personally prefer it nice and quiet like this, I can’t help but feel nostalgia for the more dynamic society we once were. This new world of staying home and never taking our eyes off our screens and keyboards—it lacks a certain joie de vivre, if you don’t mind my saying. And I can prove it without a poll, too: the birth-rate in America is plummeting. Will we be distracted into extinction by handheld gadgets and spinners and past-times and TV? Have we become so overly civilized that we can masturbate the day away, without once physically touching ourselves?

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So, I suggest that, this Fourth, all able-bodied Americans celebrate this day with some fireworks in the bedroom—show a little life—let’s put some points on the old tally board—because later, the bigger the crowd, the cooler it will sound when we all chant, “USA! USA!” Then again, Independence Day and parenting are mutually exclusive, when you think about it—so, never mind. But at least go outside and throw a damn Frisbee.

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Independence Day—Depending…  (2017Jul03)


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Monday, July 03, 2017                                             5:00 PM

Independence Day—Depending…  (2017Jul03)

I have terribly mixed feelings about the Fourth of July, here in the first year that I’ve been embarrassed to be represented by a dirty pig—and angry that, even though they are in the minority, people who wanted a dirty pig in the Oval Office managed to pull it off.

There used to be enough decency and dignity in the Capitol that ignorance and duplicity could be excused as unsavory ingredients of politics—part of the mix. However, now that they’ve become the be-all and end-all of it, we have begun the not-so-slow slide into what the rest of the globe deals with: a government that you can’t depend on like a rock—a government that once felt obligated to respond (sooner or later) to the will of the people, the rich and powerful be damned. Our mighty fortress has become just another sovereign beehive of influence, intimidation, and privilege.

I wouldn’t care if this had happened before I was born—or if it was still a decade in the future—but to happen now, as the shittiest-possible current-event to end my sixty-plus years of life! To think that all the ups and downs, all the earnest hopes and wishes—have led to this bad joke, smearing the White House walls with the indelible ink of his shameless pawing—like a child’s crayon-scrawl on fresh-painted walls. A moment’s distraction—and this proud nation’s heritage turns to ashes in the mouth.

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The Toddler’s New Clothes (2017Jun29)


 

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Thursday, June 29, 2017                                          12:11 PM

The Toddler’s New Clothes   (2017Jun29)

In the past, presidents have had staffs, media consultants, and press secretaries who were protective of their president’s image. They tried to highlight his successes and downplay his errors, as any good political team will do. Today’s president has a propaganda factory going—denying truths, if not reality itself—attacking journalism to blunt journalists’ accusations—and, worse of all to my mind, being just plain rude.

Never before in presidential politics has the concept of lèse-majesté  been so entirely rejected. And the putrid smarm that oozes from them when they are caught in a situation where civility is mandatory (such as an Easter Egg Hunt on the White House lawn) defies our containment of reverse peristalsis.

We think Trump is at his worst when he’s insulting ethnicities, religions, or women, or when he’s defrauding job-seekers, voters, or small businesses, or when he’s leering at his own daughter, discussing casual sexual-assault, or peeking into dressing rooms—but I say No.

I say Trump is at his most blatantly sociopathic when he plasters that grin on his face and goes into his ‘kindly uncle’ act. He almost looks like a loving parent embracing Ivanka—until his creepy little fingers start to automatically wander. He can’t shake hands with a man without going into spasms of paranoid egotism. And he has a terrible time trying to act nice to others while still focusing entirely on himself—you can see the struggle on his face. He knows he should be sincere towards others, but worries it might distract him from his obsessive self-regard—or, worse, it might show weakness.

 

Trump tries to drag us backwards, towards tribal-chieftain paradigms, long after the world has learned that enlightened inclusion (and some thoughtful socialism amongst the capitalism) produces the most civilized, secure, and economically-stable society. The strong, the wealthy, the sexist—bullies of every type—react against this, seeing their usual muscles being cut by the forces of reason and civility.

The wealthy like to promote conflict. ‘Surface’ crises help keep people from facing the more ‘infrastructural’ aspects of our way of life—chaos helps maintain the status quo by keeping people too busy bickering to look at the bigger picture. I see Trump in this context, not as a mastermind, but as a gift to the wealthy’s agenda—a hugely popular sociopath that has all of us up in arms, ignoring the sweep of the last five decades—and giving zero thought to the onrushing wave of the next five.

Trump tells his crowds, “I do what I want.” Then he turns to the serious people and tells them, “I didn’t know anything—I didn’t know I was breaking the law.” Trump tells his crowds, “It will be easy to fix.” Then he turns to the serious people and tells them, “I didn’t know it was so complicated.” Trump behaves in a way that even a six-year-old couldn’t get away with—and all his base, who wish they could behave like six-year-olds, in one way or another—they cheer with rage. And that’s a very 1930s-Germany kind of sound.

Then, of course, there’s the lying. A grown-up knows when he or she has been caught in a lie, and has the maturity to face up to being found out—a child will continue to insist on the falsehood, as if insisting on it will make it so. In times past, we would have described the Trump administration as childish. But those people act as if lying is a new fashion they’ve trend-set—and the media, for some ungodly reason, has gone along with this to the point where a lot of viewers wonder what’s happened to reality.

 

And so we all are on the edge of panic—because the world is on the cusp of titanic changes—and America, leader of the Free World, is currently being administered by naughty, irresponsible children.

Good and Bad (2017Jun26)


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Monday, June 26, 2017                                            9:30 PM

Good and Bad   (2017Jun26)

We had a lot of good stuff before the world became industrialized, polluted, and overpopulated. But we had to give that good stuff up in the name of progress. There’s a lot of good stuff in idealistic youth, fresh from school. But we have to teach them to be cynical, distrusting, and acquisitive before we consider them grown men and women fit for the business world.

For humanity, something isn’t really useful until it’s been broken in—our sweetest gift is a handful of flowers, cut down in their prime, with only days to droop before they are thrown away. Not that I disapprove of flower bouquets—but they are, objectively, murdered plants—and that’s the way people like them.

I’ve always been fascinated by the muddy mess of the old Main Streets. See, before paved roads, every street in town became a muddy, impassable obstruction. Back in those days, there was never a big patch of mud, unless people were there. What strikes me about this is that even before exhaust pipes, factory chimneys, diesel engines, or chemical plants that dumped toxic waste in the rivers—even before all that, people were messing up every place they gathered in groups larger than a tribe.

Which is why the muddy obstacles were found in settlements’ and boom-towns’ streets—and not in the Native American villages. Even the slightest deviation from the hunter-gatherer tribal traditions (like a higher population density) would have changed things—and whether change is good or bad, I tend to admire the fact that there was a terrible balance in their lifestyle.

Think of it—coast-to-coast, groups of people living solely off the land—in comparatively miniscule numbers, sure, but with zero infrastructure that wasn’t already being supplied by Mother Nature. And before their feistier, paler brethren came sailing up, they hadn’t even needed to spend a dime on national defense.

I’m telling you, Europeans didn’t so much discover the New World as find the corner of the world that they hadn’t already ruined, deforested, overhunted, or incubated plagues in—and then proceeded to ruin that New Corner as fast as they could (experience tells, right?) And their specialty—weapons and war—made it easy to wipe out any previous residents, wherever they went.

Ironically, the reason the New World was so full of un-ruined goodness was because Native Americans kept it that way—and the Europeans judged them too inferior to hold claim on their land (or their lives), partly because they weren’t sophisticated enough to have ruined it all, already, themselves. That’s what you call a ‘bitter irony’.

Thus I always feel that when we discuss people, humanity, whatever—that we have to talk about two kinds of people—the kind of people we were evolved to be, by nature, and the kinds of people we learn to become, as part of civilization. These two very different aspects of humanity are nevertheless melded into each personality.

Virtually no one is so civilized that they don’t breathe air—nor so natural as to never use money. Some of us dream of going forward—colonizing the solar system, where there is no air. Some of us dream of going backward—to a naturalism so idyllic that money becomes obsolete. Trekkies dream of both—but there are very optimistic types, don’t you think? Still—beats pessimism.

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Shocker: Hannity Comes Out – ‘I Was Born A Woman!’ (2017Jun24)


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Saturday, June 24, 2017                                           2:53 PM

Shocker: Hannity Comes Out – ‘I Was Born A Woman!’   (2017Jun24)

These assholes shit all over Liberty, Equality, Justice, and the Constitution until sensible people are ready to tear their heads off—and now, the latest—they bitch about how vituperative the Left has become—like some bitchy big sister who gives mom her innocent face and says, “What? I didn’t do anything!” after pinching her little sibling hard enough to draw blood.

I’m sorry, Righty-tighties, but there’s one thing you can’t change. You can try to pretend that religious freedom is the same as freedom of religion. You can try to pretend that ‘playing the race card’ is just as perfidious as slavery or Jim Crow. You can try to pretend that a handful of coal-mining jobs (now that machines do all the work) are more important than Education or Health Care. You can try to pretend that ‘supporting the police’ means ignoring their too-frequent gun murders of non-white people.

But you can’t change time. We were there first—and we meant it. Our issues are not ginned-up hypocritical responses to real protest—they were, and still are, the real protest—and you can tell that by the chronology. The Civil Rights movement, the Migrant Farmers struggle and women’s suffrage were around for most of our history, struggling to bring this nation into the light of reason. The bullshit about ‘reverse-racism’, ‘build a wall’, and ‘family values’ came later—reactionary bullshit propagated by cowardly white men who saw their shadowy cover shrinking in the light of day.

And what do they do about iPhone videos of police committing murder, or cutting-room-floor salvage of a TV show in which our President discusses the finer points of grabbing women by the pussy? Easy, they start a whole new TV channel that specializes in bullshit—that dares to say that all the other TV channels are lying to the American people. You’d think nobody would fall for such blatant crap-artistry—yet it is the most popular news show on cable. Lots of people are happier with bullshit than they are with the cold truth.

And it makes Hannity wealthy enough to afford that sex-change operation now.

Don’t You Dare Use the Word ‘Care’ (2017Jun23)


Friday, June 23, 2017                                               2:27 PM

Don’t You Dare Use the Word ‘Care’   (2017Jun23)

The Republicans never wanted those tens of millions of citizens to have health coverage—that would mean “socialized medicine” (that dreaded scourge that keeps the entirety of the-rest-of-the-developed-world healthy). Besides, worried the GOP, how will insurers and pharmacists maximize their profit-potential with the government looking over their shoulders?

And so the Republicans fought tooth-and-nail to prevent passage of the Affordable Care Act—they called it a ‘death panel’, they scare-mongered until scare-mongering became the habit of theirs it is, today. The Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act. Tens of millions of citizens have health coverage today because of it.

Repealing the Affordable Care Act would threaten the lives of tens of millions of citizens. Repairing the Affordable Care Act would be the obvious choice for any sensible person.

But if voters had any sense, these charlatans wouldn’t be elected into the offices they hold. How they can shamelessly wave their billionaires’ tax-cut in our faces like they’re “doing good” is beyond me—is there no limit to their dis-ingenuousness?

A child could see through their blatant posturing—just as a child could see through Trump’s blatant posturing, when he started tweeting about “tapes” of his convos with Comey. These dopey clowns that run our country would be met with gales of laughter, if not for the horror they practice upon the youngest and weakest among us—I think I understand Stephen King’s “It” a lot better now.

 

Mighta Been Me (2017Jun15)


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Thursday, June 15, 2017                                          11:16 AM

I have found myself frustrated enough—after the racist backlash that marred Obama’s two terms, and the madness that gave his haters’ champion an electoral win—after seeing hypocrisy make Congress even more useless and toxic than it traditionally is expected to be—after seeing that diseased knot of disinformation, FoxNews, become a popular channel—I’ve felt myself enraged. I’ve felt the fury at seeing American ideals be dismissed as ‘political correctness’. I’ve seen red while hearing crazy old white men make political footballs out of science, education, and women’s health.

I thank my lucky stars that my mental health (while far from perfect) doesn’t let me slide into Hate, to get lost enough in Hate to start stalking the streets with a rifle in my hands. The misbehavior of the Trumps, McConnells, Ryans, Sessionses, Kushners, Mannaforts, Spicers and Huckabee-Sanderses does, however, create Outrage—second cousin to Hate.

Alongside this confusion between decent outrage and indecent hate, we also have the confusion of whether our politics is suffering from extreme partisanship—or if it is actually a struggle of good vs. evil. It would be foolish to ascribe nothing but good intentions to the Democrats—they are politicians, after all—but if the Republicans have become a force for pure evil, then those who resist them, Democrat or otherwise, are, by default, on the side of the angels.

When a party becomes as morally bankrupt as the Republicans have, and then characterize the outrage engendered in the rest of us as ‘partisanship’, they muddy the water—as with most of their sophomoric debate-team syllogisms. The great experiment of America has always thought of itself as a long-term project—a matter of centuries. But today’s Republicans are not American in that sense—they are a bunch of traitors looking to cash in, short term, and get out of the game before the indictments come down—that’s political success for today’s Republican.

So while I sympathize with the people who were attacked on the ballfield yesterday—and, while I support those who call for non-partisan cooperation—I think the GOP should look at this lone gunmen as a kind of canary in a coal mine.

If their grubby-fingered mauling of the Constitution, and of social justice in general, continues to grow—if their sense of privilege and entitlement continues to blind them to their responsibilities to their constituents—they could conceivably transform that sociopathic would-be killer into a martyr. Not that he deserves it—his mental illness is to be pitied, as is his death.

Likewise, our attention-starved media lends a patina of legitimacy and respectability to unconscionable dunces like Trump, McConnell, Ryan, and Sessions—who threaten our very way of life as Americans—when, in fact, we should simply pity them for their mental illness—and the shamelessness of an industry that uses them for click-bait just as thoughtlessly as they use yesterday’s violence in Virginia

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