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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Trump’s Xmas Party  (2017Dec26)

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Tuesday, December 26, 2017                                           1:12 PM

Trump’s Xmas Party  (2017Dec26)

The present platform of the Republican party is a disavowal of any responsibility towards every citizen. The disabled, the children, the elderly, the sick—these people should pay their own way—or die. The Republicans are equally disinterested in the female gender—except insofar as to tell them what not to do. Men should get a job—or die. And however low their wages are, they should just make do. Students must pay through the nose for education—and no new citizens are welcome (unless they’re white, that is).

This is ‘small government’—brought to you by CEOs who are too cheap to hire American labor or to use American manufacturers—economic traitors, in a word. When we look at low-wage, part-time, no benefits, no security employment, and outright unemployment, in this country we should point our rage at the business leaders, not the measly immigrant influence. Who are they kidding? Immigrants are a proportionally tiny factor compared to job-losses due to labor-exporting and manufactory-exporting.

Not only are the wealthy treasonously eager to send their commerce overseas, but they are too cheap to do a clean job when at home. They want the freedom to just dump their crap in the town that supports them, and downstream of that town—and downwind of that town. Capitalists are despoilers by nature. They bitch and moan that regulations are choking business—but we know that regulations barely restrain them from their worst excesses and greediest manipulations.

These are all simple facts—yet, if you watch the news, people on the news strangely talk about another world—a world in which America is as well-served by Republicans as by any other party. This could only happen if the media were owned by Republicans. I think it’s self-evident now—treating the Republicans as ‘another side’ of the story is nothing more than a polite fiction that helps disguise the naked evil of Trump’s party.

The Republicans’ subtle manipulation of the undereducated and disaffected has become a national Skinner experiment—super-charged spin that has rural Americans cheering for treason and lawlessness. It is the most shameless hypocrisy. From where I stand, right now, the GOP as a whole is not so much a political party as a criminal organization—they’re the mob-run Vegas of government. A greater insult to the intent of the Founders is impossible to imagine.

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Oh My Word!   (2017Dec17)

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Sunday, December 17, 2017                                                       2:34 AM

Oh My Word!   (2017Dec17)

Okay, let’s just say there’s nothing left to add—our situation is obvious, even though the cable-news would have us think much is afoot—Mueller will make it impossible for the Republicans to leave Trump unimpeached, or he will fall short, and leave Trump in the White House the entire four years.

That’s the long and short of it—I’m tired and I don’t want to hear any more about it until it’s settled, one way or the other. Stupidity has become the towering mountain range of our mental landscapes, ever since Trump started questioning Obama’s citizenship. For years, every day just gets stupider and stupider—in keeping with our empty-head-of-state and the pack of skeezballs known as Republican legislators.

They’re supposed to be politicians, right? But what group of politicians gets together and decides, “Yeah, let’s back the child-molester”? They want to tax the poor to pay the rich—and they’re not even hiding it. They just took CHIP away, by letting it lapse—but they’re in a big hurry to throw all the DACAs out of the USA. How the hell is this politics? Aren’t you supposed to make people like and trust you?

To think that one of those assholes shouted “Liar!” from the back of the room, during Obama’s first SOTU Address—and no one has even whispered it, during all the times our blowhard-in-chief started spouting his bullshit! I would think at least one Democrat would do the right thing and give these bullies a taste of their own. Someone should be shouting “Liar!” at the top of his or her lungs—every single time Trump opens his fat trap.

And talk about politically-correct snowflakes—have you seen the thirty-word phrase that Trump wants to substitute for ‘science-based’? It goes like this: “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.” And that, roughly translated, is: “If your science goes against our religion, keep it.” Who’s the cuck now, tweet-fucker?

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Gore Builds It—Trump Breaks It (and not in that good way)  (2017Dec14)

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Thursday, December 14, 2017                                         3:13 PM

Gore Builds It—Trump Breaks It (and not in that good way)  (2017Dec14)

I’ve been upset—I’ve been angry. It wasn’t until today that the core problem hit me—I’m heartbroken. I love truth, knowledge, fairness, and justice—the things Trump and all Republicans spurn with lip-service, and the things they work so hard to circumvent. I love precision and accuracy, discussion and consideration, triple-back-up safeties, and plans that scale for both short-term and long-term—the things ‘businesspeople’ consider a waste of time and money.

These people have substituted pomposity for real dignity for far too long—they have become so comfortable with twisting the truth, they’ve begun to manufacture it out of whole cloth. Today, they are simultaneously attempting to tax the poor to help the rich (and increase the debt to help the rich even more) while demolishing net-neutrality regulations, enabling ISPs to enrich themselves on the corpse of digital free speech. Cherry on top: Trump decides he’s going to renege on every safety or quality-control regulation enacted since the 1960s—just today—he thought it’d be a great idea. (Who am I kidding? ‘He thought’? What a knee-slapper.)

That’s a banner day in the age of Republican secession from decency. Is it possible that the plutocrats are using the votes of the lower third of the national intellect—to bind the rest of us, helplessly awake while the GOP harvests our organs for re-sale? I’ve said it before: Putin and his fat-cat cronies are bit players in the enslavement of the masses—the USA has always had the best Capitalist pigs. Who do you think finances garbage like Breitbart or Bannon or that delirious drug-addict on the radio—the one that’s a cheerleader for despair and distrust? Whatever.

Just compare the education stats to the Trump support—it’s right there in black and white (for those of us who can read). How else do we compare a career civil-servant to a spoiled-bitch, fraudulent serial-accoster-of-women—and come out with ‘Hillary is the bad guy’? Putin’s thugs were in the mix, but they were just extra sauce.

The super-wealthy have hacked democracy—empower the lower third of the intellects—to give their idiocy equal weight to serious thought or complex reasoning—and amid the upheaval, truth becomes moot. Thus we have, as president, a man I wouldn’t trust with a kindergarten classroom—a man whom I know to be more ignorant than myself (a first for me—and for presidents).

My heart breaks for the end of America’s dignity and self-confidence. At this point, even after Trump is ejected, the United States will have to face its citizens, its voters, and the other peoples and nations of the world—and our government will have to try to convince people that something like that can never happen again. Then we will all have to hope like hell that it’s true.

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The Blowing of the Wind   (2017Dec13)

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017                                               3:16 PM

The Blowing of the Wind   (2017Dec13)

The cable news shows are about to air a presidential comment regarding the Republican Tax Bill. So I turned off the TV and went to find something useful, or at least enjoyable, to do. I know what he’ll say—he’ll tout the bill as a great Xmas present to the ‘middle class’ (he’ll lie, in other words) and I don’t need to hear it.

Graceless—that’s what Trump is—Trump and his kind. Moore is still insisting, for all I know, on a recount—and Trump (who doesn’t really care who won) said, after Jones won for Alabama Senate, that the deck was stacked against his protégé, Moore. These are the same guys that tell you to ‘sit down and shut up’, when they win—they’re not so cocky when they lose. It rather tarnishes their omnipotence act.

I find the whole situation shockingly distracting—this country argues about racial discrimination, while both blacks and whites—and everyone—are being pressed into the new, 21st-century slavery of unregulated capitalism. You may think me a liberal, but I am only one who has trouble ignoring math. Since the 1970’s American workers’ wages have stagnated. Without changing a thing, we all become a little poorer every decade—because the price of everything else goes up.

I have always been disgusted by the way we give ourselves to an employer—they decide the terms, the hours, the wages—even whether you get the job or not—and, as the owners, they get to keep all the profits from everyone’s work. That’s nothing new—early socialism was all about the rights of the workers—why do you think it became a federal crime to be Red? But, even with pressure, how can everyone bring themselves to just accept too little for their time and effort—while the owners get richer and fatter? Is the lesson of Capitalism that only Owners can afford to pretend to human dignity?

Unions became corrupted from within and without—there are still all kinds of laws limiting the power of workers to unionize. And I think this is how the rot gets in. First, socialist ideas were exciting—they started to catch on. The government reacted harshly and promoted Capitalism as the only Godly form of society. The Cold War enshrined Capitalism as a known Good in the minds of Americans.

We emerge from the nightmare of the Blacklist, but now Socialism is a quaint old notion, meant for Europeans and other odd people. Most Americans couldn’t even explain the difference between Socialism and Communism (except perhaps to say that Great Britain is Socialist and China is Communist). Capitalism is a trusted old friend to America—no one can deny its enormous success under past conditions—this is not an attack on commercial growth, per se.

However, as with the ending of the frontier—and the governmental response to the loss of that ‘escape valve’—we Americans today have to face facts: many nuances of ‘frontier’ have been lost in the advent of Cyber. Add to that the inevitable merging into a complex whole of all existing businesses—and the steadily declining number of people who own them—and what results is an ossified plutocracy, mouthing about freedom and equality.

Cyber has nearly wiped out paper, historically ‘overnight’. And for every surviving paper-use you can name, I can name a hundred extinct ones—I can even remember when an army of messengers carried envelopes from one office to another—Manhattan workdays saw sidewalks filled with them—all making a living wage, too.

Amazon has nearly wiped out malls—and all the many products and services that once enjoyed uniqueness—and all the travel and dining and movie-going that went with our late mall culture. It died so young—it seems only yesterday that my daughter was joining her school-friends in the latest thing—hanging out at the mall—and I felt bad because we didn’t have malls when I was growing up.

The list of professions and activities falling prey to the Cyber age, and disappearing from culture and commerce, grows every day. You can talk about the infinite possibilities of Cyber—but meanwhile, for the average joe, it looks like a lot of dwindling—you know? As the population grows, the delights of rural America become harder to come by—we closed the frontier over a century ago and even without immigration, we’ve had a pretty healthy population growth.

That’s another thing we have to face facts about. Throughout history, healthy population growth was a positive good—more manpower more than made up for more mouths to feed. But the world is full of people—in many ways, too many people (though I wouldn’t put it quite like that)—and civilization is quickly ending the concept of human labor. This changes the value of family size, regardless of your religious thoughts or feelings.

So large families become excessive, rather than practical. By the same token, the whole problem of low wages, of zero oversight on wages, is a sub-problem of the looming disaster—what will the Capitalists do with their labor pool when they don’t need the ‘middle class’ anymore?

It troubles me greatly that this subject seems glaringly untrodden—corporate America has been supplied with healthy, well-educated, capable employees since before the Revolution. Owners employ as many workers as they need and leave the rest to their own devices—if some employees are no longer needed, they, too, are then left their own devices. All over the country, almost every American is a vital part of some corporate business or industry.

Corporate America has always relied on the quality of American workers to compete and win against any other country’s businesses. Yet when an American worker is not employed, he or she is left to take care of themselves as best they can. This is a great convenience to business owners—all the benefits of America’s citizenry, without a single responsibility for their care and feeding, as a whole. Three guesses who decided it should work this way. What I can’t understand is why no one questions it?

Is it any different from the recent debates over whether business owners made their fortunes without anyone else, or if the modern infrastructure and civilized environment of American communities (and the capable labor pool) might not have been involved? See, I think ‘Owners’ get a little overzealous in their self-image—they’re much quicker to assume decision-making is their right, when many decisions are as much a matter of law or decency, as of business concerns.

I’m equally tired of the ‘budget trumps every other consideration’ argument—for things like, say, the enormous expense of ripping out and replacing all the plumbing in the town of Flint, MI with pipes that don’t poison the children. That argument is what created the Climate Crisis—money-grubbing owners pushing back on clear-cut science out of sheer greed—they should all have boils for a year—and now it’s fifty years later, these toads are still croaking while Cali burns and Florida sinks.

So, long story short—I think corporate America has strung along the American people as an on-call labor pool for long enough. Now that we can see the beginnings of automated commerce, it’s time for all us to agree that Americans will have to be subsidized in a laborless future—and that if we wait for that evolution to complete itself before securing peoples’ welfare, it will be a nightmare that any sci-fi writer would be proud of. Just think about.

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Republicans vs. Reality   (2017Dec12)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017                                           3:48 PM

Republicans vs. Reality   (2017Dec12)

There is a limit to objectivity—after the sun rises in the east long enough, you assume it will rise there again, every morning. When, after the airing of Trump’s taped confession of sexually inappropriate behavior, twelve, then sixteen, then eighteen women came forward, they all said, “I can attest to that confession—he treated me in an unwelcome, aggressively misogynistic way—and it made me sick.”—or words to that effect.

The White House’s response to this has been that Trump won the election, and he denied ever knowing any of these women. To the first point, I can only say that an election is not a trial. To the second point—what difference does it make if he knew these women? The whole point of his TV confession was that he accosted strange women willy-nilly—where does ‘not knowing them’ enter into his defense?

And you Trump-supporters are all to blame—not just the voters, but the Republicans in the House and Senate. Did it surprise you?—that electing and supporting a confessed serial mauler of women—made the women in America react more strongly than in any previous age. Or maybe you thought that while dozens of chauvinist pigs are dropping like flies, in entertainment, business, and politics—that everyone would just forget about Trump’s accusers. They were just part of the election, right? Nuh-uh, buddy—these women have serious grievances against our elected president—and there are just so damn many of them.

You can’t just have Senators and Congressmen being ejected left and right (no pun intended) without someone saying, “Hey…. What about Trump?” And even if no one would, once he started backing the accused child-molester Roy Moore, he kinda forced them to do it.

Now, the Republicans have known all this in more depth and accuracy than we civilians who have to sift through the media, as if scrying among chicken guts. Their stalwart support of Trump (who has proven incompetent, unstable, ignorant, divisive, and really, really gross) seems to overlook even the possibility that he might be an agent for Russia. In a way, it’s no great leap for the Republicans to support banned-from-the-mall Moore to join their ranks—after Trump, what can truly be disqualifying to the GOP?

Also, I saw many Republicans trying to get the smear-campaign going on Robert Mueller (who is getting guilty pleas—and getting too close to Trump) in spite of these same people being on tape, from just months ago, lauding Mueller as a great choice—fair, professional, incorruptible.

And today we see the President being virtually obsessive about broadcasting his misogyny—tweeting lurid ravings, insulting Senator Gillibrand, that bear little resemblance to the Gettysburg Address. The fact that Trump prides himself on bearing little resemblance to any other president—is as deeply embarrassing as the pride he takes in tweeting out his twisted, sick mental processes.

No one would claim that the Republicans are stupid enough to swallow their own hogwash—we assume that these are cynical misanthropes who put themselves before country—and knowingly push their alternate-facts reality on the unsuspecting mob. I can’t imagine that most Republicans truly believe that Moore is not a child-molester, that Trump is not a treasonously bad president (and a sexual assaulter), or that their Tax Bill is going to help anyone but themselves and their wealthy donors.

But we can’t totally dismiss the possibility of ignorance. Either way, the entire Republican Party has rode this train all the way—they are all complicit—either in their corruption or their idiocy. Then again, my money is on cowardice.

You see, people without character are weak in many ways—and the most common weakness among them is fear—their fear makes them ambitious, but it also makes them cowards. They only want to succeed because they think they’ll feel safer being a big-shot—they haven’t the slightest interest in good government. My god—look at their platform—they want to destroy this country economically, ethically, and judicially—they are the rot that calls to us from darker times. Resist.

Why Should Trump be Impeached?   (2017Dec06)

Wednesday, December 06, 2017                                               9:44 PM

Why Should Trump be Impeached?   (2017Dec06)

Well, it’s been so long—take your pick:

  • He has sixteen (16!) accusers of sexually repugnant behavior—and his taped confession of his habitual misbehavior in that regard.
  • He has made bigoted remarks, excused white-nationalist neo-nazis, and insulted Mexicans, Native-Americans, African-Americans, Muslims, Jews, Puerto Ricans, Women, and the handicapped—he hasn’t missed a trick—he even supports Confederate statues.
  • He has endangered the country by acting as if diplomacy was some child’s game—as if he could just play around with nations in the same way he played around with his sub-contractors, partners, and customers—as a businessman (and I use the term loosely, for brevity’s sake).
  • He has destroyed the State Department’s depth of field and its ability to serve an actual president—one who knows its importance in effecting international influence and power. His cabinet is a reverse-image of the competent, engaged people one might hope would fill these appointments. They are, to a person, industry shills who’ve dreamed of erasing the very agencies they’ve been put in charge of—for mere profit, and against the best interests of the people. Go to him—utter the phrase “best interests of the people”—listen to him laugh.
  • Even if he is not a Russian agent working against our best national interests, he certainly acts like one. Look at the tax bill.
  • His ignorance of—or perhaps actual enmity towards—the ideals that form the bedrock of true American values—may be because he was raised by a clansman, or because his wealth deludes him into dreams of upper-classiness, or it may be a simple blend of ignorance and egotism—regardless, he represents much of what America has always stood against, in our hearts.
  • If the above is insufficient, consider how stupid he is, how greedy he is, and how petty he is—he clearly shouldn’t be in charge of anything, much less…
  • Ask Meuller.

 

Monday, December 04, 2017 6:03 PM

Have you seen the cable news channels today? Just a stream of word salad. They take every Trump tweet or statement at face value, then create a Gordian Knot of ‘perhapses’ based on the blind assumption that a president who always lies should still be given the benefit of the doubt with each new lie, until it can be disproven.

As the noose tightens around his earlier lies, Trump issues revised lies. Just as a hacker’s ‘Denial Of Service’ attack keeps a system paralyzed by sending it too many messages at once, Trump’s DOS attack keeps so many lies being reported, we can’t stop to seriously examine any one of them.

We are now, though, reaching new heights of byzantine ass-covering, and new lows of ludicrous point-stretching—something we can all recognize, because you never see that behavior in the pure of heart or the clear of conscience.

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Not Very Worried   (2017Dec02)

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Saturday, December 02, 2017                                           2:05 PM

Not Very Worried   (2017Dec02)

We need to get back to a practical attitude about truth. Yes, truth can be debated—but it can be debated beyond the point of meaning, as well. We can debate whether a dawn with snow on the ground is proof of an overnight snowfall—but when the debate is over, someone still needs to plow the driveway.

Likewise, we don’t really know much about the nature of electromagnetism—nevertheless, an electrician can tell you, with absolute precision, whether a certain circuit-diagram will power your new home—or burn it to the ground. Doubt-mongers can honestly say that humanity knows very little about the full nature of electricity—while they sit in a house with a generous supply of safe, handy three-prong outlets, charging multiple devices while making toast.

I’d prefer not to get sidetracked just now, talking about the dramatic back-and-forths of politics and media. The most important thing about the truth isn’t ‘fake news’—it is in how we perceive our world, ourselves, and our place in it. After all, it is ‘We, the people’. Neither politicians nor talking heads can brainwash any of us, unless we let them, plopping ourselves down in front of a screen and swallowing every word we hear. If nothing else, we should be given pause—and more than pause, by the fact that some news outlets tell different stories.

That creates an environment where some outlet or outlets indeed must be selling psy-prop fake-news BS—and because of Freedom of Speech, the government can’t decide for us which media outlets are at fault. We have to use our personal judgement now—more than ever before. We must be leery—we must be suspicious—we know now that there are groups out there, working at the new profession of cultural corrosion by misinformation.

And when we look for an enemy, we shouldn’t allow Russia alone to fill our binoculars. In many ways, modern Russia is just a subset of the super-wealthy of Capitalism—Putin and all those oligarchs are just the foreign version of our own fat cats, Trump included. America is the Capitalist’s target because its riches only have one drawback—those pesky peasants, still thinking they have freedom—no matter how much they’re overworked in their cubicles or starved in unemployment.

So Trump helps Putin, just like all fat pigs help each other, all around the world—not very worried that the rest of us might wake up some day. He attacks our rights and freedoms, because those are obstacles to commerce and control. He stands for commerce and control because he is jealous of Putin, Duterte, and Assad. He whines, “Why can’t I shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue? They can!”

I don’t care about the legalities anymore—I am long past caring who said what to whom. All I know, for an absolute fact, is that Trump is an enemy of the United States of America, as much as an enemy of the Truth—yet it is against the law for me to suggest what I’d like to see happen to him.

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The Daily Poop   (2017Nov29)

PussyTrump

Wednesday, November 29, 2017                                              11:21 PM

The Daily Poop   (2017Nov29)

After Trump retweeted anti-Muslim videos and one ISIS propaganda video, Sarah Sanders told reporters Wednesday morning, “Whether it is a real video, the threat is real”. I presume she means the threat of one Dutch teen beating up another, while a third makes a video—and that is a threat, don’t get me wrong.

Both the Dutch and the British governments lightly castigated Trump later today—they’re not from ‘round here, so they don’t know—that only excites him. I think, as a TV celebrity, Trump came to conflate criticism with popularity—or perhaps even ratings. Wouldn’t that be a kick in the pants?

Is it all distraction to pull our eyes away from the ‘Tax Cut’ bill? They really wanted to pass that pile of dung before anyone smelled it. Sorry, GOPs, too slow—the news is out—and even 49% of Republicans polled don’t like the idea of giving the super-wealthy what little they don’t already have—and putting the rest of us in debt to do it.

But Trump’s week has been phenomenal—even for him. He’s started to rave quietly to people in the White House, questioning reality like the senile old man he is. And to hear him sound off on the harassment-claims avalanche—like a little choir boy—who doesn’t have sixteen accusers of his own. Sometimes, the newspeople just stop, look at each other, and start laughing—then they get all flustered and start mumbling about professionalism.

We must sympathize with them—politics used to be downright serious stuff—words too—even facts, sometimes—but now…. How can anyone maintain a serious attitude when discussing the daily poopings and upsets of the world’s biggest, richest baby?

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Heedlessness   (2017Nov26)

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Saturday, November 25, 2017                                          11:40 PM

Heedlessness   (2017Nov26)

On the recent PBS documentary, “Rolling Stone At 50”, Hunter S. Thompson says something to the affect that American voters crave a ‘used-car-salesman, lie-cheat-and-steal, win by any means and destroy all others’-type of autocrat. Thompson offered as proof: the reelection of Richard Nixon to his second presidential term—the one Nixon won by an historic landslide—the one he would be forced to resign from, a year-and-a-half later.

If the average for expelling unfit presidents, whose campaign committed felonies, is roughly one-and-a-half years then we should be getting close to ejecting the present Fool-in-chief. Remember, patience is a virtue. In the meantime, I think it important to drill down on our national schism between Red and Blue.

Firstly, it is important not to make this a purely political division. Blue prevails in urban areas and Red in rural—there is an element of culture (or at least environment) at work here, as well. The people in the Red states are not naturally ‘conservative’ any more than those in the Blue are ‘liberal’—there is a healthy mix of both in every state, Red or Blue.

Then again, words like Liberal and Conservative have become the dogs that spin-doctors wag. Yes, they have literal ‘dictionary’ meanings—but in common usage, they are merely flavoring to whatever group is being fed the BS.

Here’s another word whose meaning is oft overlooked:

heed·less         [ˈhēdləs ] -adjective

showing a reckless lack of care or attention.

““Elaine!” she shouted, heedless of attracting unwanted attention”

synonyms:  unmindful, taking no notice, paying no heed, unheeding, disregardful, neglectful, oblivious, inattentive, blind, deaf

Heedlessness is often used to demonstrate power, as in—“I don’t care about your excuses, just get it done.”—a sentence that no one but a blowhard would ever dream of saying to another person. These blowhards that ask for 110% effort and total loyalty—are the same people who never really make one’s acquaintance, or remember one after one’s immediate usefulness has past.

America courts heedlessness, almost as a virtue. Freedom of Speech means we can all say what we want—and no one can stop anyone else from saying anything. Implicit in that is the need to be able to ignore what some people say—if you disagree with or despise the words of another, the only way to avoid losing your temper is to ignore what someone else says.

Naturally, in a perfect world, we’d all just debate our differences into oblivion—but that will never happen. People will always have differences—the point of politics is to build a consensus towards a compromise, leaving all parties equally unsatisfied. But, even if politics succeeded in doing that, all those differences which people have would remain—we would simply have integrated our differences into a patchwork that was fair for everybody.

Additionally, we believe in Democracy—we believe it is very important for the majority to hold sway. It becomes easy to confuse majority opinion with actual fact—since both hold equal importance in America’s value system. Even requiring a unanimous jury verdict to condemn a man to death is a form of democracy—and that vote holds the power of life and death. Any scientist will tell you that stating an important (proven) scientific fact has no such power over our daily lives.

I have personally witnessed over fifty years of obfuscation by greedy business-people, pushing back against the plain facts as presented by Rachel Carson, Ralph Nader, and a cast of thousands of well-meaning researchers whose only miscalculation was the amount malfeasance, smearing, and even violence they would face from those greedy, cold-blooded, ransom-their-heirs’-planet assholes.

Being willing to indulge in journalism that merely legitimizes their flimsy tissue of pushbacks, we end up looking like we’re actually that stupid—that we can’t see through their greedy defense against plain truth. Yet, at the same time, we wait for each of the fighters to fall—like tobacco did, like coal did, like asbestos did—we wait for the full weight of history to crush their greedy pretense to ‘alternate facts’. We know it will happen—we just don’t know how many lawyers will retire off of each battle before ‘simple fact’ is permitted to turn to some new front.

Thus, media conglomerates stretch the principle of ‘hearing both sides’ to include the most self-serving, misleading, and hypocritical voices on the same screen as knowledgeable folks who are only there to speak the truth as they know it. It’s a very subtle judo, that’s not-so-subtly destroying our confidence in what we know—and thereby, the fabric of our democracy.

While the media faux-nobly upholds this ‘objectivity’ they’ve concocted, while con-men use false majesty to pretend that their egos have real worth, while Free Speech is fast becoming a ‘caveat emptor’-situation with regard to listening, and while autocrats stir up emotional frenzies to distract from the lack of plain justice and decency—I’m still waiting for everyone to remember.

Remember that information has a source—the only way fake news can fool you is if you don’t check your sources. Remember that the world is not your friend—some facts will be other than what you wish they were. Remember that democracy requires an informed electorate—we ignored the reality of our politics and half of us didn’t vote. Now we have the ‘president’ such lazy neglect deserves—a cross between a senile moron and an enemy agent, hell-bent on destroying the federal government from the inside—from the top, no less.

I get it. We thirst for distraction—we want videos and games and VR and concerts and sports events—we want beer and wine and booze and pot and speed and coke and opioids—we want talent contests, hot-dog-eating run-offs, star searches, dancing with stars, and bickering ‘real’ housewives. Nobody wants to face the dreary challenges of practical politics—the nuts and bolts of programs that will truly improve citizens’ lives, make us all safer, give us all more opportunity.

And the politicians certainly don’t want that! They want things as they are—where one’s public persona is all the fitness required to be given enormous authority and responsibility—where even squeaky-clean idealists can be smeared, one way or another—and where you can invent and stand by your own truth, reality be damned. They don’t want practical politics—that’s never been part of the equation—that’s never been what the game was about.

But a grassroots movement could create pressure to address practicality. We could start complaining that we don’t want any candidate who wastes time criticizing an opponent—or makes vague claims about very detailed, technical issues. We want candidates who brag about their support staff’s CVs, who release white-papers with detailed, in-depths plans to alleviate some unfairness, red-tape, or neglect in several issues—not just one (because the world is too big and fast these days).

We want candidates who will go after the big fish—and we shall know them by the amount of money the fat cats spend trying to destroy him or her. This world is on the express train to tomorrow—it’s changing faster than we can keep up with—it’s more complicated than any one person can even grasp—it’s coordinated to keep all the food and fuel and power distributed to all the people on a regular, non-stop basis. The world is a mighty machine that must be kept ticking smoothly—or we all die.

Now, if you’re a religious type, who hears ‘we all die’ and figures that’s ‘just the way (huh) God planned it’—you can pretty-please just go fuck yourself. The rest of us are going to live the hell out of our lives—and plan futures for our children and our grandchildren—and, should the fucking world come to an end, we will be too busy living to notice, until five full minutes after the Apocalypse. So, if you have faith in such bullshit—keep it to your god-damned self.

Getting back to the real world—it has a thin rind of fragile life all over its surface—and we have lain an even thinner, more fragile layer of technology over that—it is ironic that the machinery of humanity’s world is both titanic and flimsy, indestructible yet delicate.

Everyone knows that machines need order to function efficiently—but we avert our eyes from the obvious—that humanity needs organization, too, if it is to enhance society with machines. For one thing, this sovereignty thing, that hangs on—and stymies the intended role of the United Nations—that is a huge waste. And who do these boundary lines profit? Dictators, arms manufacturers, smugglers, and hate-mongers—that’s who. And don’t start whining about the UN—if you don’t like the UN, start another one—just don’t oppose global unity because “the UN’s broken”, you lazy ass.

I’m waiting for us all to get wise to these salesmen-politicians, selling us a story instead of governing (never mind governing well) and start paying heed, instead, to people with credentials, people without a dog in the fight—even when those people say stuff that threatens some fat monopoly’s bottom line. I’m waiting for us all to pay heed to the clock that’s still ticking—that one that the GOP tells you doesn’t exist—environmental impact.

I’ll tell you a little secret—some of the filthiest-richest people on Earth make their money by being the most toxic, the most destructive, and the most unethical. If you ever wondered why we’re still discussing environmental issues fifties years after the first warnings were made—that’s why. And that’s another thing we have to heed—Capitalism was great stuff (as far as it went) in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—but it has metastasized into something dark, cruel and hungry in this new century—and we have to start punching back at what is now a tiny enclave of people, each with more money than is good for one’s mental health.

Hunter-s.-Thompson-2

Let the Creeps Do It   (2017Nov21)

Sunday, November 19, 2017                                            5:21 PM

Let the Creeps Do It   (2017Nov21)

I don’t know who underestimates public intelligence-levels more—the politicians or the media. When the pols tell us that ‘making the rich richer and raising taxes on everyone else’ will make our lives better—it’s not new. But it is more threadbare than ever before—‘trickle-down’ economics (AKA “Piss on you!”) was defensible, barely, as a new theory. As an old, fully and luxuriously debunked theory, ‘trickle-down’ economics is a worn-out tune on an out-of-tune fiddle. Or are we expected to forget about Dubya’s last year in office?

That’s the pols—ugh—mean and stupid is a bad combo. Then there’s the media—getting together a panel, pretending that Trump is a real president—with fully thought-out policies and a well-reasoned agenda. Then they pretend that the Republic party is an entity—instead of an organized-crime front for all the big ‘mostly-legal’ corporations we once saw as servants, rather than masters. Nowadays, our goods and services providers tell us how it’s going to be.

And when I say us, I mean not only we consumers—but the government that once protected us from rampant tycoonery. It’s a little late now—but if we could regain control of the legislature from the rich, that would be a good thing.

But let’s talk impeachment—I hope they take Senator Franken’s Polaroid and use it to remove him from the Senate. That would open the door to doing the same thing to Trump—if acts prior to taking office are actionable, and if one lady’s testimony and a photo are sufficient—well, we’ve got a president who’s famously confessed on tape, and twelve women testifying that he wasn’t lying about his behavior, just to impress Billy Bush.

No, when the Donald was bragging to Billy-boy about how much he enjoyed the ‘perks’ of fame (and bragging to Stern how much he enjoyed the ‘perks’ of owning a teen beauty pageant) Trump was being entirely frank. Far more frank than when he called all twelve of his accusers liars.

[Note: I didn’t publish the preceding quickly enough—a second accuser of Franken, while he was in office, has come forward—which makes the previous reasoning moot. However, the whole ‘glass houses’ thing is still totally in effect—in a world that even pretends to ethics.]

I’m so tired of critiquing the buffoonery of a goon who should have never been made president—there’s more than enough, in his first nine months, to have the entire country surrounding the Executive Mansion with Tiki-torches. I can’t believe Trump, of course—but what I really can’t believe is these creepy little legislators, hiding in their offices, dodging questions about all this questionable (some might say treasonable) incompetence and malpractice.

Is the job of governing so odious that we allow the most cretinous pests exuded from law school to hold power—just so we don’t have to?

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Enough with the negativity–let’s hear some music:

A Little Moore   (2017Nov15)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017                                              5:32 PM

A Little Moore   (2017Nov15)

If the Trump campaign had been a thrilling novel written by Tom Clancy, Jack Ryan would have exposed Trump as a Russian mole—in the nick of time—and Trump would have been hauled off to jail, while HRC went on to ‘build on Obama’s legacy’.

I think we can all agree, now—with the exception of Congress, apparently—that we’d all have been better off if the story had had that happy ending. Unfortunately the American people, in their infinite wisdom, ignored all the ‘Ryan‘s out there, and now there’s a mole in the Oval.

So it is no great surprise that Trump supports Moore in the midst of Moore’s disgrace. After all, if a guy loses an election—just because he’s a hypocritical letch and a liar, with a shady past—then how did Trump himself slip through this horrifying quality-control?

But—to return to the mole in the Oval—it’s important to do a head count, at this point, I think, because it is not just Trump tearing this country down, step by step, under Russian direction—it’s also the over-a-dozen-other cronies in league with Trump (and Putin) within his administration and within his own family.

Which is another weirdly blatant slap-in-the-face to anyone who cares about those silly ‘rule’-things—why does Blotus’s family get offices in the West Wing? Why is ‘qualified’ a dirty word all of a sudden? Is ‘experience’ really such a black mark against a civil servant? Why are there literally hundreds of empty desks in our state department?

For that matter, why couldn’t he be impeached merely for having the idiotic narcissism to claim that ‘trolling on Twitter’ was his ‘presidential style’? Is that disgrace, alone, sufficient grounds—or is it necessary for a president to be convicted of a crime to be impeached? Is not incompetence—mixed with delusion—and don’t forget the ignorance—a crime itself, in a President of the United States?

Well, let’s suppose that is, ultimately, the upside of all this travesty. Next time, people, beware—your thoughtless, half-serious vote for an idiot president is a cancer on the country—one that can’t be cured for a full 1,460 days after inauguration. Perhaps, given the timidity of Congress towards the overgrown brat-in-chief, we should rather say it ‘won’t’ be cured—for surely they could find a surfeit of cause, if they chose to see it.

And, felicitous too, it would seem that Congress, having glossed over Trump’s unfitness and questionable character, just FTW—has decided they have one sleazy gang in Washington already—they’re not going to give cover to Moore. They already have a little more than they bargained for—with the mole in the Oval.

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The Limits of Machinery   (2017Nov13)

BoucherAllegoryOMusic

Monday, November 13, 2017                                           2:16 PM

The Limits of Machinery   (2017Nov13)

We always stop short. ‘Good Enough’ is humanity’s motto. Then, we orate about ideals and justice and truth—as if we weren’t constantly focused on ‘good enough’—as if we don’t settle for that, every time.

When a man or woman loses a job to a machine, do we tell that person, “Hey, you get paid forever now—and you don’t have to work anymore!”? No—we don’t do that. That would be crazy—right?  So, what responsibility do we have to that unemployed worker? Should everyone just keep on doing their jobs until they are replaced by a machine—and pretend that it’s not happening?

Sure, today—it’s no big problem. Right this second, the job market is still a real thing. At one time, people said the same thing about camera film, or TV antennae. And film and roof-antennae don’t do much business anymore. But (you riposte) those are just consumer goods—they change all the time. Jobs is jobs.

And you’re right—consumer goods are the most ephemeral aspect of a consumer society. But the entire thing is a construct—it is based on assumptions. “People need to work” is one of those assumptions. It implies two things: (1) People need to work to make a living—and (2) People need to work or nothing would get done. For all recent memory—and history—this assumption has been a fact. But what if you take away the last part—and you’re left with only the first part?

A planet full of people—all of whom need to make a living—and that same planet full of machines—doing all the work. No, it’s not happening today—time will pass—tomorrow will be like today—but. Aren’t we tired of ‘good enough’? Aren’t we tired of seeing all the progress go to the rich—and virtually none to the race of man?

Computers are weapons—we all agree on this—but few of us seem to fully grasp the meaning of it. In effect, today anyone with a keyboard and wi-fi can have the intelligence and the destructive power of a sovereign nation. Teams of hackers can do even worse things—and no one seems in a hurry to jump-start American kids’ white-hat-hackers clubs (a la the digital scouts) to prepare them for a future of cyberwarfare.

Beyond national security and all that popular jazz, however, is the lag-time between the wealthy and the rest of us—regarding our entry into ‘cyberversality’. All the info and tech that helps the rich and powerful—that stuff gets implemented yesterday. The info and tech that helps the rest of us—oh, sorry, that stuff is proprietary—an invasion of privacy. (Meanwhile, how did you get my email address?)

And now that cyberleaks and iphone videos have revealed a bit too much about our reality, debates on the meaning of truth reveal themselves to be attacks on truth, by another name. These people have no shame.

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Yeah, Sure, Let’s Talk About It   (2017Nov03)

New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to the reporters at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, March 10, 2015. Clinton conceded that she should have used a government email to conduct business as secretary of state, saying her decision was simply a matter of “convenience.” (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Friday, November 03, 2017                                              5:01 PM

Yeah, Sure, Let’s Talk About It   (2017Nov03)

The campaign ended a year ago. Hillary Clinton hasn’t worked in government for a long time. But, yeah, if that’s what you want to work on—to focus on—then, by all means, let’s all waste our time talking about that.

Donna Brazile, in her new book “Hacks”, de-emphasizes the fact that Bernie Sanders was a life-long Independent—and switched to Democrat just to run for president. If the then-DNC people felt they were more rightly on the Hillary Express than the Sanders Sidetrack, one can hardly blame them.

And if Trump is so ready to stir the pot over the Steele dossier, he can explain why most of it has proven true, after further checking by lots of investigators and journalists. Republicans set that MI6 investigator on the trail, then sold the deal off, mid-invesht, to the DNC-campaign’s oppo-researchers. Show us evidence that HRC made use of that dossier—or even knew what was in it—then, we have something to talk about.

And I’m sorry, but that’s my BS-limit. I can’t dignify the Uranium thing by repeating the long-accepted, well-known truth about that deal—that would just encourage them to keep repeating the well-dismissed lie. And don’t blame me for this post being dreary—the motherfucker can’t utter one syllable without lying. If he wasn’t president, we would have stopped listening way long ago—we only listen now because we’re afraid this asshole is going to kill us all.

Vote for The Non-Rich   (2017Nov02)

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Thursday, November 02, 2017                                         3:14 PM

Vote for The Non-Rich   (2017Nov02)

Listen—we need taxes. And when things are tough (I think ‘now’ qualifies) we have to accept that increased taxes are a short-term hassle to get a long-term gain for everyone. And tax reform of any kind should start with a discussion of what taxes are being spent on, specifically. Any random tax-cut ‘reform’ is simply money being spent on large businesses and wealthy people—that’s where that money goes—and splitting hairs on TV all day doesn’t change that.

The United States has a total gross national debt of about $20 trillion. Large corporations make billions every year—in large part because America provides them with a civilized, efficient, law-abiding place to do business—and provides them with a diverse, well-educated work-force to draw upon.

Whenever the Republicans lower taxes, they weaken our country by increasing the national debt—and the deficit. Reagan’s tax cuts and increased military spending increased the national debt—Clinton’s tax increases and decreased military spending shrank the national debt. We are at a point where we traditionally have elected Democrats, to curb the predatory Republicans and put our house in order—but we lost our damned minds and elected the Clown instead.

Now these predatory hucksters are all over the media—earnestly telling you that by making the rich richer, we all get rich. No wonder no one cares about public education anymore—they need some real idiots to listen to that tripe. Anyone with a lick of sense knows that, if you have too few rich people with too much money—and way too many people with too little money—well, the answer is not to give more money to the rich. How stupid do they think people are?

Oh, and I love how Paul Ryan was saying, “We’re not going to cut the taxes on the millionaires…” so reassuringly—as if we ought to be glad they’re not getting a big break, instead of being mad that there’s no increase in their taxes while they hold 90% of all the revenue. How do these people manage to fight so earnestly-seeming, even when they know they are abusing their offices?

The wealthy make all the rules. The wealthy have all the power. Capitalism has become a mass of slowly-tightening strips of wet leather, squeezing us to death in the hot sun of changing times and conditions. We can’t even rebel against them properly—without our message being appropriated and even monetized by the media conglomerates. But we don’t have to like the rich. We don’t have to take them seriously (since when has a man with a loaded gun been required to make sense?)

And we can certainly vote for non-rich people. I suggest we all vote for whoever has the least money—and vote them out again if they become too well-off. That ought to put a crimp in political wheeling and dealing. If we kept up a heavy turnover, we could even have a few sessions of Congress filled by people who know what real life is like for the rest of us. They may disagree with our politics, but at least they won’t be rich fuckers. I’m sick and tired of rich fuckers.

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America’s Greatest Weakness   (2017Nov01)

Wednesday, November 01, 2017                                              7:27 PM

America’s Greatest Weakness   (2017Nov01)

Today Trump said of the rent-a-truck terrorist, “We have to get tougher.” I’m unclear as to what we are supposed to get tougher towards. Excuse me for wondering what we can do about a 39-year-old Uzbek immigrant of seven years—who suddenly decides to travel to New York City, rents a truck, commits heinous, unspeakable vehicular homicide and assault on twenty strangers, hits a school bus, and jumps out of the truck with a BB gun shouting, “God is great!”

I believe one of New York’s Finest then immediately shot the guy. Someone tell me how you get tougher than that? Or faster? Insanity is such a thorny issue that we like to steer clear of it—preferring to speak in a criminal or political context. Yet were not these the actions of a madman?

Yes and no. In harsher places all around the world, including Uzbekistan, there is some wildness of culture—a clinging to a patriarchal fundamentalism that has never heard of such flighty ideas as ‘inclusion’ and ‘honest modern-day biology’—never mind ‘educating girls’ or ‘gay marriage’.

To such, we ‘first worlders‘ are not to be envied—we are demonic infidels who scorn the true faith (provided them by their Byzantine-minded village elder(s)). And that old fool may be some miserable, ignorant senior, more interested in his own power than anything else—but he has been the font of all their lore, since most of them had learned to talk.

We who have been blessed to be born in America often see no great difficulty in considering ourselves entirely free and equal—but, for those born in oppression, to embrace those ideas is akin to jumping off a cliff. Even many American-born shrink from true self-determination—it is no small thing to take complete responsibility for one’s life and deeds.

It cannot be purely political when a man goes berserk, as this terrorist did—there is madness there, too. Else how could anyone do such a thing? Yes, male Eastern European immigrants of a particular age group seem particularly vulnerable to Jihadist brainwashing—but that still doesn’t make that entire demographic automatically suspect. Remember, it takes a person who is unbalanced enough to be taken in—to the point of mass murder/suicide—by the indoctrination—regardless of where they’re from. These attacks are undeniably terrible—but there are still thousands of Uzbek-Americans who are just like you and me (American, that is).

Besides, the regular, old, rich, white guy who shot up Vegas, mere weeks ago, had a far greater body count—and he was from Florida or someplace. I simply cannot believe that Trump—supposedly an American, supposedly the leader of America, has just called for an end to inclusion. Did I really just hear an American president say, “Diversity is a nice idea—but it’s just not working.”—have I truly lived long enough to have my ears sullied so? Has this fucking idiot perused the census? America is diversity, Donald, you fuckwad—and its greatest weakness has always been goons like you, who refuse to accept that.

Happy Halloween   (2017Oct31)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017                                               2:46 PM

Happy Halloween   (2017Oct31)

In a few minutes, we will have arrived at November 1st, 2017, as I predicted—less than a year from inauguration, and the first indictments of our President’s circle of co-cronies have been unsealed. Information included in those legal issuances leads us to expect much more to come—and that right soon (if I may reference “The Shawshank Redemption”).

Yesterday Chief of Staff Kelly demonstrated more concern for the Confederacy of the old South than for any practical solutions to a nuclear North Korea—or the sudden loss of our military ally in Africa, Chad.

Rachel Maddow recently speculated that Trump’s spurious addition of the nation of Chad to his third attempt at a Muslim ban—had angered Chad, which until then had been supplying military patrols to three of its neighbors. This included Niger, where four US Special Forces would be ambushed and killed less than a week later—by extremists who have historically rushed to fill the void whenever the Chadians withdraw their seasoned troops. What bothers me most about Rachel’s theory is that no one else has brought it up since. I hate when that happens—then I’m left between being lied to by the media—or—being a conspiracy theorist.

The drug lobbyists recently convinced Republicans to block the DEA from being able to track prescription opioid suppliers—an important step in monitoring the commerce of opioids—which the DEA is now denied. Then, Trump announced two things last week—one, that he would not allow funding to fight the opioid crisis (unless it was swiped from Obamacare funding) and two, that we should remember Nancy Regan—and ‘Just Say No’ to opioid addiction. Trump made no mention of the 90% of addictions that begin with doctor-prescribed opioids—or the reluctance of big Pharma to put the speed-brakes on their opioid ‘gravy train’.

But the above is a mere sprinkling of the mountains of misbehavior demonstrating the ethically vacuous character of our current politics. The nature of our present governance catches one torn between wonder at the pols’ perfidy and awe at the voters’ lack of informed self-interest. The reason the Russian encroachment on our public discourse fails to elicit much fury is that we throw so much bullshit at each other, the Russian bullshit hides amidst the noise of what’s already there.

And honestly, the Russians have only taken the Republican’s tactics to their most extreme. That’s why they worked so well—and that’s partially why the Republicans are so slow to condemn them for it.

I wanted to entitle this post “Fuck You, Putin!”, because we seem finally to accept that those fuckers attacked us. And yet, to be fair,

the Russian people are fine people—though under the thumb of a murdering gangster. Twitter, Facebook, and Google reps are being heard in Congress today as that august body tries to determine the best way we Americans may protect ourselves from online disinformation.

One person said it best—‘Awareness is key.’ Now that we know that Trump’s support was partially a foreign attack upon our way of life, it makes a little more sense that we could elect such a disgrace. I hope the next time some candidate tells Americans his or her political opponent is running a child-sex-slave-ring out of a Midwest pizza-parlor, we’ll apply a little judgement.

I know—Putin will remind us all that the USA was surveilling everybody—even heads of state—even their own citizens—not so long ago. But we had a hero who exposed the whole thing—and America reformed itself. When Russian heroes try to pull off something like that—they end up with plutonium in their tea, or a bullet in the head. It’s not about us being perfect, Vlad—it’s about us being still willing to try. You shove your face in your dystopian sand, if you want you, but we still have hope over here.

‘Awareness is key.’ Just as democracy relies on a free exchange of ideas (hence the protections for free speech and a free press) Online content must include a free exchange of sources. I don’t want to go look up the true author of some quote-meme—and I don’t want to have to assume that they’re all false attributions, either. Online media needs to lump its memes in with the rest of their literature—making plagiarism and inaccurate attribution things that are regularly sifted for, to weed out psy-ops—or just plain ignorance-based—dis-information.

And don’t be fooled by the ‘Freedom of Speech’ ploy—it doesn’t protect against incitement or treason. If everything online can be completely false, why should a sane person waste time with it? We’re not talking about ending open-sourced coding here—or muzzling honest dissent—we’re just talking about some standards being adopted. Cyberland is unreliable enough, with actual code-hackers and such—there’s no need to allow purposefully fake news to pass by unchallenged in social media or other public cyberspaces.

My Sincerest Condolences   (2017Oct23)

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Monday, October 23, 2017                                               2:13 PM

Condolences   (2017Oct23)

I want to express my heartfelt condolences to the United States of America. Losing so many of your treasured offspring, all at once, must cause unimaginable heartbreak.

Your Separation of Church and State—your eldest—the engine of your supremacy–finally succumbing to the vermin gnawing at her roots.

Your Democracy—between being sold out and being taken for granted—has unbarred the door to ignorance and division, becoming a front for autocracy.

Your Republican Party has devolved into a virtual cesspit—quite openly and publicly–and the fact that they still beat the Democrats proves that the Voters (though less than half of them have earned the right to describe themselves so—except as, perhaps, ‘abstentions’) have forgotten that ‘We the People’ implies some minimal amount of involvement.

Your Freedom of the Press has been imprisoned by media conglomerates—seeking only our attention, not our health—and the news has become a siren song, distracting us from the deadly rocks before us—to focus on an old man’s Twitter-feed.

And that same dirty old man has obliterated your most august Office of the Presidency—coating it with the slime of incompetence, disrespect, oafishness, and treason. His treason is multi-pronged—he attacks the Constitution because it won’t let him be a dictator—he attacks our ideals because he is a misogynist, racist, classist prig—he attacks our education because he doesn’t value knowledge as much as money—and he attacks our self-respect by telling blatant lies, right to our faces, daring us to do anything about it.

O America! You’ve heard bullshit before—it shouldn’t surprise you that the pig who claimed it wasn’t great, by saying he would make it great ‘again’, has leached out every drop of greatness garnered in your two-hundred-plus years of glory. I can’t tell you how sorry I am.

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If The President Should Phone   (2017Oct21)

Saturday, October 21, 2017                                              2:21 PM

First off, there’s the question of whether a good American can speak to Trump without getting themselves put on the Secret Service’s watch-list—but if you should pick up the phone—what would you say? I’ve tried to imagine it. But I don’t believe I could carry on a civil conversation—I would launch directly into my lecture.

Does that seem pushy? Well, let’s see—he’s had two years of having his every twitter-fart put on the front page of every paper—every time he opens his mouth, there are fifty cameras and 100 mics focused on his fat phiz. Even if he were a thoughtful, educated speaker—it’s still time for someone else to get a turn talking—don’t you think? Anyway:

“Hello, Mr. President! Would you please resign your office as soon as you possibly can? You are not on television! Yes, other people are putting you on TV—but that’s because you’re the president. You don’t work for the entertainment business anymore—just let them do their work—and you try to do yours.

I know, I know—they’re all paying attention to you. But your hair is on fire, Mr. President—in a manner of speaking—people are not shouting and pointing at you because they like you—I’m sorry. It just doesn’t work like that. (You have to be nice for people to like you—never mind—we’ll talk about that some other time.)

It’s sad that you’re not really touchy-feely—it would be an enormous boon to a president. We get that you have no idea how to console a grieving gold-star family member—that shit is hard—and you have no military experience. It would have been better if you’d run for head Warden of prisons—you coulda fired a bunch of those non-violent drug-offenders—send’em right out the door of all those penitentiaries—whotta show, man. You screwed up.

What do you know about being president? Nothing. And these last nine months haven’t been a learning experience for you at all—they’ve just been nine months of proof that you were unprepared and unfit for the most solemn and sacred duty any American can possibly perform. How you could go from spoiled rich kid to lecherous old dude, without learning a thing—that’s a mystery.

But, still, if you resign right now, you can end the suffering—let America go back to being run by the competent crooks. And hey, just think, you can go back to being paid to be on TV. Wouldn’t that be fun?”

Trump May Destroy World ‘At Any Time’   (2017Oct13)

Friday, October 13, 2017                                         5:11 PM

Trump May Destroy World ‘At Any Time’   (2017Oct13)

When we hear our Fearless Flatulence announce that he disagrees with a global agreement on Global Warming, he contradicts the whole world—and all the hard-working Americans who helped bring the world together for the agreement. Years, decades for some, of effort—thrown away on a whim by the Mighty Fart of Freedom—and with it, probably, our best hope of leaving a livable world for our youngsters.

When the Spammer-in-Chief decides something is wrong—like ‘everything Obama ever did’—you can trust him to destroy it—even if the Republicans scruple over screwing millions of Americans out of healthcare. If he has to ignore the law and withhold funds to make it all fall apart—well, he wasn’t a shady businessman all his life just to fall apart when he can malfease on a global scale. And who’s gonna stop him—the gutless Freedom Caucus? The moderate GOPs owned by lobbyists? I don’t think so—no sign of that, so far, certainly.

Trump isn’t happy unless he’s defying absolutely everybody. That’s why he’s so dead-set on destroying the Iran deal—it is such a stupid move that even his own administration, to a man, is screaming for him not to de-certify.

His ‘threat’ to trash the Iran Deal “at any time”—is really a boast. He’s not threatening Iran. He’s boasting to the whole world—that he, Trump, can do any fucking, numb-nuts, stupid-ass thing he wants to do.

He’s proud of his potential to flush the entire world (and especially America) right down the toilet—he’s got a sick-ass smirk on his face lately. It seems to say, “You want to ridicule me? Okay, how about I blow up the whole world, pal? I’m seventy—what do I care? We’ll see who’s laughing then.

Trump’s recent behavior reminds me of my freshman year at SUNY-Oswego. We were crammed in, three to a room, due to overcrowding—my roommates were Lance and Bob. Bob had a gun. He used to take it out and point it at my face. He was disappointed when I didn’t die of fright, even when he kept playing around with the gun and pointing it at me—so he finally shot a hole in my pillowcase, near my head. Some people don’t understand respect—they figure that fear is close enough—and become desperate to prove they are scary.

But, sorry, Trump—the worry and disgust we feel towards you is the exact opposite of respect. The swathe of destruction you’ve carved through Obama’s efforts of the previous eight years—that gains you the same respect we’d have for a little bully who kicks over his friend’s sand castles—that is, none at all.

And all you Trump Lemmings out there—let me clue you in—I don’t hate Trump because he won (I hate you for that, you traitors)—I hate Trump because he’s wrong. Trump is wrong about everything he says, everything he does, everything he thinks—he is a psychopath which you dear morons have given immense power—you might as well light up an M-80 and shove it up your ass. That’s exciting too—but you may not care for the ending.

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Trump, Liar and Racist   (2017Oct06)

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Friday, October 06, 2017                                         7:58 PM

Trump, Liar and Racist   (2017Oct06)

We’re in a tight spot—Trump is a worse choice than a drunken sow—in fact, an intoxicated pig would do less harm. Yet the hypocrites in Congress are too corrupt to impeach a man who is clearly both incompetent and a ‘clear and present danger’ to the nation.

Friend of mine on FB posted: “The calm before the storm”?? WTF is our zany, dumbass game show host “President” (albeit, illegitimate) talking about?

And I replied:

“It’s easier to create suspense when there is no coherent thread from one day to the next. Trump can say anything vague—and it might refer to any one of the fifty messes he’s either made, or neglected,—or made inexcusably worse by his involvement. Since when is smirking and winking at the cameras the behavior of a president? But it’s like I always say—you can’t have a hate-filled pus-bag retain the Oval Office without a lot of shamelessly corrupt Congressmen neglecting to impeach him.”

So that’s where we start from today. And every day is a new start—though I do not mean that in a good way. Trump’s greatest strength is his ability to fracture our focus—to lightly leap from one shocking stupidity to the next, day after day. He is not burdened, as prior office-holders were, by any responsibility to be a sober, serious leader of the nation. His supporters did not elect him to be that—and he is taking them at their word.

But we mustn’t let the media sit around looking innocent—they are like-whores, ratings sluts, and shills for whatever big sponsor writes a check. Donald Trump has made the news-media rich—and they, in return, are helping him destroy America by covering him obsessively. When I want a daily report on the Tweetings of a senile psychotic who never outgrew his high-school bullying phase, I’ll ask for that very important reporting. Until then, Media, please stop legitimizing his clownish pretenses at leadership.

If our fucking president has something to say (that isn’t unwelcome ignorance, or a bald-faced lie) he can give a goddamned speech—in complete sentences—that speaks plainly. Not a fucking Nuremburg rally—not a call-and-response chant fest—not criticism of the first amendment—a speech—such as a grown man with practical ideas would give. I know it’s not fair to ask of Trump something he couldn’t possibly produce—all I’m saying is, “Trump, we’ve heard all your bullshit. You’ve made it clear you haven’t a functional brain cell in your melon. Could you pretty-please shut the fuck up?”

And I can say that—secure in the knowledge that Trump is too stupid to ever shut his big fat mouth. And crotchety old men may be amusing for a time—but a little mindless rage, suspicion, and egotism goes a long, long way. His supporters may be too stubborn ever to renounce him—but they can be relied on, as human beings, to get bored to death with him—sooner than later.

It’s funny—a person can be an intellectual giant, a talented success—at many things—at any things—and still be devoid of self-knowledge. A wealthy, well-educated guy can spend his whole life fighting to support some of the most transparently idiotic bullshit—and, as often as not, it is the wealth and cleverness that convinces him that he is right, despite anything anyone else can say to the contrary.

That is not to say that there aren’t plenty of just plain dumb-asses out and about in the world—but when the entitled are dead wrong, they are far less likely to get their faces rubbed in it, early and often, like regular joes would. If CEOs had any sense, they wouldn’t be more sure than anyone else—they’d be less sure—knowing that no one else is comfortable being honest with them.

Trump is a prime example of such morons (if I may quote the Secty-of-State). He mistakes the eagerness of those around him to keep their jobs, for agreement with whatever foolish nonsense spills out of his mouth. He’s cut corners and broken rules his whole life—and never gotten stuck with the consequences, like the rest of us would, and have.

How can he be expected to tell rational acts from criminal acts? No, once again we see, Trump is far more the fault of the trolls who egged him on and voted for him—he was patently reckless and amoral before the election. Yes, he ran for president—but even he didn’t expect America to be stupid enough to elect him.

Camera-people—Reset the Stage   (2017Sep28)

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Thursday, September 28, 2017                                        4:01 AM

Camera-people—Reset the Stage   (2017Sep28)

Trump ran his campaign as if it were a live sequel to his TV game show, playing the crowd, trading dignity for attention. Now his presidency is more of the same. And I know, now that he’s president, you news-people can’t NOT cover his statements. But I have a suggestion….

Please stop forcing us all to watch Trump’s compulsive, neurotic hand-semaphoring. If you would simply zoom in tighter on his face, we wouldn’t have to deal with his wormy finger-dances—and, we could get a good look at those beady little eyes while he’s lying to us.

And if he shifts out of frame—let him. He’s been disrespecting the office and the spirit of the nation since he waltzed into politics. If he can’t speak calmly to one camera in direct address (like a president) that’s his problem—it’s not your job to help him make this into some ‘reality series’. He’s a goddamned government official—give him his camera but, please, don’t give him a stage.

Policy, Theoretically   (2017Sep27)

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017                                              3:24 PM

Policy, Theoretically   (2017Sep27)

Trump spouts an endless stream of lies, hate-speech, willful obtuseness, and the rhetoric of a school-yard bully (or is it ‘a junk-yard dog’?) yet the media displays these assaults on our society, these insults to our intelligence—then they turn around and talk about the ‘Administration’s policies’, discussing them as if they were ‘thought-out’, or ‘a settled matter’—neither of which is ever the case.

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To talk of a Trump policy is to posit a theoretical—unless we count ‘a pompous attitude and suppressed rage’ as a policy stance. Look at health care (ignoring the GOP for the moment—which, trust me, is the best you can do for them at this point). Trump’s office has never specified a single item of detail on health-care legislation—and Trump has never said anything on the subject that he hasn’t contradicted in some video archive somewhere. He has blamed specific people for his failure. He has attacked his opposition (everybody?) for thinking there is anything good in Obamacare. But positive input? No, Trump doesn’t play that.

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Now everyone is discussing tax reform—referring to Trump on this or that point—but Trump, being pointless, simply functions as a screen for GOP wealthy-donor pandering. He’ll say stuff (My god—as if this overgrown lap-dog could ever stop his yapping!) but it won’t have any bearing on anything besides himself.

The GOP will try to publicly reconcile their overall stinginess with their generosity towards the fat-cat donors, in statements that will push bamboozlement to new heights—but it’ll all be so much bullshit. Nothing new there—except perhaps the new, raw, nakedness of the GOP’s pandering to the wealthy, counter to any public-opinion-poll that shows 98% of citizens wanting the opposite. The wealthy, IMHO, are painting themselves into a corner. When there are only a dozen of them, and ten billion starving outside their mansion walls, what will their money be worth then?

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Alas, we are ruled by people who specialize in winning campaign fights—a mark against them, if anything. Look at HRC—woulda made a great leader—but she lacked Trump’s capacity for hypocrisy and bullshit. It was never about which would make a better president—lucky for Rockhead Man.

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Trump Cherry-Picks Our ‘Freedoms’ For Us   (2017Sep25)

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Monday, September 25, 2017                                          4:50 PM

The recent episodes of “Trump’s Tweets” show our hero indulging in his own freedom of speech to condemn others’. He seems to misapprehend the distinction between authority and constitutionality—as if the Constitution’s Bill of Rights were a takeout-menu selection type of thing.

Trump’s so sure in his presentation of his opinions, it’s as if he had reason to be so sure—as if he had carefully pondered all the imponderables, after decades of discussion and experimentation, years of study, etc. But let us not forget that Trump is just blowing opinions out of his ass, strictly top-of-his-head, off-of-his-cuff bullshit that occurs to him, out of the blue—and he rushes to share it with his doting cultists.

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I know that nobody wants to—and I know nobody wants to bother. But let’s take a moment with his ravings-of-the-cycle: We may presume that the president is leaning hard on his own right-to-free-speech when he calls a bunch of people ‘sons-of-bitches’ in public. But he is not—he is using the phrase in a familiar fashion—like a ‘regular joe’, see? He’s so popular.

The more important argument—does this Kaepernik guy have the right to kneel during the singing of the anthem, in protest against civil injustice? Well, let’s see—he started out ‘sitting it out’—and then when people got ‘tudinal about that, he knelt instead—in deference to the flag and the anthem—but still making a protest. This Kaepernik actually had the grace to make concessions in his protest—out of respect for others’ feelings. Trump is more graceless.

But most important, to my thoughts, is that Trump doesn’t see the difference between a deal, a PR stunt, and the hallowed traditions of American ideals. He is of the class that has always gleefully used the USA’s greatness for their own purposes, while giving lip service to its truth—the class that makes it necessary to fight and re-fight these tired old fights about race, gender, religion, and rule of law. Entitled assholes, in other words—but we the people have never before been so well snookered into electing one of these sons-of-bitches.

And now he’s making hay while his son-in-law is shining—while the rest of those worthless GOPs balk at the ever-more-inevitable impeachment. I’d be tweeting random BS, too, I suppose—if I was living in the White House, and had no good goddamned reason to be there.

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What Happened? I’ll Tell You What Happened   (2017Sep12)

New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to the reporters at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, March 10, 2015. Clinton conceded that she should have used a government email to conduct business as secretary of state, saying her decision was simply a matter of “convenience.” (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017                                          11:07 AM

What Happened? I’ll Tell You What Happened   (2017Sep12)

Hillary Clinton’s new book, “What Happened”, has been getting a multitude of similar reviews—all of which summarize her reasoning and smugly find it lacking, for a bunch of self-assured reasons. It makes me crazy to see this reek of misogyny continuing on, as if the election were still in progress.

We all know exactly ‘What Happened’. Hillary Clinton offered the country an intelligent, reasonable choice—and we, in our collective wisdom (or lack of) chose Donald Trump—an idiot we would be hard pressed to find the equal of. It is not Hillary who has to explain herself. ‘We have met the enemy—and he is us.’

The GOP blamed Obama for eight years of struggle to recover our employment rate—forgetting that Bush made the crater Obama then crawled out of. Did Hillary fail to recognize the spasms of rage and resentment being stoked by Republicans, Alt-righters, and Russians? Did she keep her head in an environment where quiet common sense had gone out of fashion? Yes. Does her being a minority of one mean that she should have acted like a carnival barker—that she was the one making mistake after mistake? Sadly, no—that was us.

The media, especially social media, whipped us all into paroxysms of hysteria over the 2016 presidential race—and only in such a fact-free, reason-free, top-of-your-voice environment could we have been turned around enough to have voted in a TV con-man with his hand out, groping for pussy. But hey—that’s What Happened.

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The Ephemeral Nature of Knowledge   (2017Sep09)

GiaquintoWinter

Saturday, September 09, 2017                                          11:14 PM

The Ephemeral Nature of Knowledge   (2017Sep09)

In 1975, the two parts of the Apollo-Soyuz mission took off—Soyuz 19 launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Apollo from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. That’s how things were in my day—information was free, research was shared, all classes were open to audit. Oddly enough, science had to court interest back then.

Now that information has been commodified, the focus has turned to how the new data or discovery can be cashed in on for the highest price—even if it’s just a nuisance lawsuit against an actual inventor. If you want help with your computer, you have to pay for it. In the past, if something broke, you only payed for parts and labor—in our brave new world, we have to pay for explanations about products and services we bought in good faith. That may be the norm, but no way does that make it right and proper.

We see this info-hoarding effecting education, too, in scam seminar universities, scam online degrees, predatory school loans, and a general consensus among the business world that it is now okay for someone to be charged for information—and as always ‘caveat emptor’. Conversely, as Bill Maher addressed in his ‘New Rules’ last night, people can be charged for what they don’t know:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xP13QTOI9z4&list=PLAF22812129BFCD50&index=1

 

There is another side of the information situation—YouTube, Google, Wikipedia, Gutenberg.org, et. al—the Net-Neutrality crowd, so to speak—which allows anyone with computer access to self-educate, up to and including PhD-level science lectures from Ivy League professors on YouTube. The only catch is that it is all public-access, public-domain. For example, let’s look at http://www.gutenberg.org (The Gutenberg Project)—their mission was to make the text of every book available, online, for free.

When I first found this site, I was blown away. Previously, I had spent childhood in the library and adulthood in the bookstores—and neither could ever offer ‘every’ book, much less without leaving home. Gutenberg allows free text downloads of every classic in English literature—the only catch is, they can only offer what is in the public domain. Amazon started selling the for-profit books, the latest, the bestsellers, anything really—it was a bibliophile’s dream, even before they started in with e-books.

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Today, when you go to Gutenberg’s site, it has been hybridized, offering the same free downloads, but with a Kindle e-book-file download-option—so users can keep their reading material all on one device. The oddest part is that some of Gutenberg’s offerings have been re-issued as e-book classics by the publishers of the hard copy—making it possible to buy a book (say Jane Austen’s Emma) on Amazon, that is available free on Gutenberg. I know because I have done it—and keep both editions on my Kindle out of sheer cussedness.

But my point is that if you read every book they have (I’m joking—an impossible task, in one lifetime) you still would not be acknowledged academically in any way. The same is true for whatever you learn online—even the degree-issuing online institutions are condescended to by the analog schools—as if being on-site really impacts most of today’s workplaces.

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However, you can do things with knowledge—that is its ultimate purpose—so even if education can’t get you a job, it can still help you invent your own. Nevertheless, the sheepskin (as a ticket into a well-paid position) is a commodity now—and must be paid for. But all these conditions are just the extremes of greed brought out by the commodification of knowledge.

The real danger is the stagnation of research and development. Not only are the greed for profits skewing the directions of researching, but the findings themselves are kept confidential.

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The boom days of Thinking are over. In Einstein’s time, German universities were hubs of intercourse between academics and scientists, as were the great schools of Britain and the rest of Europe—and American institutions as well. Traveling to mingle with others in one’s field, holding conventions and seminars on the challenges of the day—it was as free as a bird. Nobody knew what an NDA was—hell, scientists at NASA were challenging the government’s Security strictures (mid-Cold War) because they claimed that science could only exist as a global effort, with shared information. Imagine.

And it is worth mentioning that the guy who ran IBM, who put up signs around the offices with the one word ‘THINK’—was not being cute. After two world wars, people didn’t waste time sitting around thinking—no one had had that kind of leisure in living memory. But it was exactly what IBM needed its employees to do. He had to actually encourage them to remember that thinking was their job now.

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The reason for the change was that academics had entered the everyday—it had started with autos and radios and such—but now people had electrified homes, TVs, rocket ships—and as the IBM staff thunk, it only got more complicated and scientific. Now, I’d have to write several paragraphs to summarize all the modern stuff in our modern lives.

But the dichotomy is still there—we still believe that achievement should make you sweat. We still believe that just sitting and figuring something out is a waste of time—‘things are okay as they are’. We are wrong to believe that.

We have accepted all the gifts of technology, but pretended that it was all for free. We are close to recognizing that technology has a cost on our environment—several decades have been spent on that inconvenient truth—and there are still those who refuse to acknowledge the bill coming due.

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We haven’t even begun to address the cost to our society of technology. If we are going to have our children growing up around wireless electronic devices, we need to start calculating the parameters of how much their development will be influenced, or even damaged, by certain gadgets, apps, and games. We also need to address the asocializing effect which smartphones have on both children and adults.

Beyond that, it would be nice to have a grown-up discussion about the fact that half of society has integrated itself with the Internet, to the point of total dependency on its reliability—while the other half is finding ways to disrupt online systems for political or profitable gain, assuring us that the Internet can never be secure in the way we need it.

Yesterday’s announcement about the Equifax hack, exposing private info on millions of Americans and their finances, leaves all those people vulnerable to ID-theft and bank fraud. And this is the same system that runs our banks, our government, our phones, and damn near everything else—while totally unsecure. I’d like to talk about that—wouldn’t you?

Still, the ‘big boss’ paradigm persists—the idea that a strongman like Trump is America’s best choice for a leader, here in the twenty-first century—should be a joke. A man who can’t even use Twitter without typos is the wrong guy to be in charge of an online, subatomic, robotic world, okay? Bluster is still very effective—a lot can be done with bluster. But like many American workers today, having an old skill-set leaves one obsolete for the challenges of today.

And while all the fat cats are getting rich off of each new boner pill or wireless ear-pod, real forward movement in science is relatively crippled by the secrecy and the patent lawsuits and the proprietary research that’s kept hidden.

It’s time for one of my ‘true stories from history’. In ancient China, the emperor’s court was very exclusive—successive layers of the grounds were off-limits to the public and to lesser officials. One of the innermost places was the workshop of the Emperor’s scientists and engineers. When one emperor’s reign ended, the new emperor would appoint new scientists and engineers. In this way, many inventions and discoveries came and went.

In eighth century China, an artificer created the first escapement clockwork—but the usurping Emperor caused all record of the clock’s design (and the clock) to be destroyed. Clocks would disappear, until they were reinvented in Europe, in the fourteenth century.

People tend to focus on firsts—who gets credit for inventing a new thing—who gets credit for noticing some physical constant for the first time? But this story struck me not as a story of invention, but a cautionary tale about the ephemeral nature of knowledge. If the machines break, if the books get burnt (or locked away), if the kids don’t get educated—all technology, all knowledge—just disappears. And information is a lot easier to keep than it is to find.

The way to preserve information is to disseminate it, print it, teach it, put it online, make a movie about it. The way to lose information is to hoard it, to dole it out for a price—as we have seen, when information becomes a commodity, a lot of cheap knock-offs get sold—fake news, scam universities, corporate climate-change denial. The truth is precious is its own right—putting a price-tag on knowledge only corrupts it.

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Oh, I Hope So   (2017Sep07)

bible8

Thursday, September 07, 2017                                        11:33 PM

Oh, I Hope So   (2017Sep07)

I feel a tremendous sense of freedom lately—recent events have created the same sense of hyper-alertness, of being under attack—as a nation—that we felt for so long after 9/11 (the 16th anniversary of which is hard upon us). But we have recovered from the surprise ambush of ignorance—we have taken the measure of the beast now—and we see many ways to maneuver against Trump, his supporters, and his oligarch buddies over in the new Mob-run Soviet.

Instant destruction still looms, of course, but aside from the willful rush towards it, nothing is really new. So I’ve recovered from the sense of dislocated reality—I’ve got ahold of myself, and I have faith that the backlash will ultimately blow his weave right off his empty noggin.

Direct proof of Russian meddling and mischief—above and beyond the attempted hacking of voting machines, above and beyond the WikiLeaks disruptions—traced the spreading of lies through social media to Russian troll-farms pretending to be American Conservatives, posting disinformation on Twitter and Facebook—investigators can give hard data on the perpetrators now, so it can no longer be dismissed as mere rumor.

Evidence has also been found to indicate that Russian meddling very definitely saw Hillary’s defeat, and Donald’s sneaking a slim victory, as unexpectedly sweet revenge for Putin and a strategic victory for the Russian State. Of course, in spite of this solid picture that’s forming, we have an enthralled, segregated sector of Americans who still access ‘alternative news’, even as we expose ‘alternative news’ as a Russian disinformation and disruption campaign.

More importantly, we face a conundrum: Trump lies like a rug about America and the Federal Government and the elected officials. So does Russia. Are these two forces of evil coincidentally centered on the same presidential election? Or were they coordinating their lies for the promise of Russian banking loans and development deals? We’ll see, eventually, I guess. But, in the meantime, I’m satisfied that serious people are out there proving that Trump is dishonest to the point of treason—as I’ve shouted (in blog-post style) for over two years now.

And that lets me off the hook. Sure, I’ll remain a voice crying in the wilderness, blog-wise, but I’ll go back to focusing on basic principles and apparent paradoxes in current American events—now that the Trump-effect is starting to flicker and dim. I think we, as a nation, have finally hit bottom and come (partially) to our senses—beginning the long climb back up to a citizenry that would only laugh at the idea of a Trump presidency. Or, at least, I hope so.

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Can You Make Change?   (2017Sep06)

FDR_1944_Color_Portrait

Wednesday, September 06, 2017                                              6:16 PM

Can You Make Change?   (2017Sep06)

In the Era of the Stupid President, we are all searching for answers: How did this happen? Who voted for the con-man and why? Were we tricked by the media, by Russia, or by Trump himself? How can we validate online sources and avoid ‘fake news’? Will our country survive four years of deliberate malfeasance—and, if not, why is he not impeached yet?

But I think I’ve found a central issue: How do people deal with change? And the answer is: Really badly.

As we grow older, we fight against accepting the change in ourselves. When people are presented with a new idea, they tend to fight against hearing it, to fight against accepting it, and to fight against living by it. Americans, being ‘free’, have a tendency to overdo our fight against change—we often claim our right to be wrong (even when it hurts others—which removes it from the arena of personal freedom).

And, as a nation that does poorly with change, we are the most vulnerable country in terms of future shock and disruption overload. While electronics and microbiology and nanotech and DNA-sequencing transform global culture, erasing millions of old jobs and habits, creating millions of new challenges and changes—we experience the drag of a national culture that has learned to be oblivious.

While less than a tenth of Americans (I’m guessing) are actively involved in making the future, at least half of us are so uninvolved that we don’t even vote. Our academic standings have dropped compared to the rest of the world. Our manufacturers move jobs to make a quick buck, leaving us shouting about lost jobs—while robotics inexorably replaces all manufacturing work.

Instead of growing our country with unlimited free wy-fy, we make it a commodity—guaranteeing that wy-fy will be withheld from the most desperately hard-striving half of the country. Instead of making healthcare a universal right that we can all rely on (at a sixth of what we spend now) we support the insurers and pharmacists that see healthcare only as a cold-blooded cash cow. We the People? Sounds more like We the Entrenched Business Interests to me.

People, generally, don’t change. They will follow someone they respect into a new paradigm—FDR, JFK, and Obama are a few examples. But without an idealist who also happens to have charisma, Americans are lemmings. We’re in lemming-mode right now. We need a leader. Or we need to learn to deal with change much more courageously.

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President Barack Obama is photographed during a presidential portrait sitting for an official photo in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Harvey Fail (Among Others)   (2017Sep01)

KConway

Saturday, September 02, 2017                                          1:09 AM

Harvey Fail (Among Others)   (2017Sep01)

We’re getting a broader picture of Trump every day—last week’s failure to condemn hate groups was followed by this week’s failure to achieve the proper tone at a disaster-site photo-op. His loyal Kellyanne Conway is back with her special brand of neuroti-spin. First she claimed that Climate Change was too broad a subject to focus on, while Texas was still mid-disaster—then she claimed the Trump’s tax-returns were too narrow a subject to focus on, while Americans wanted their own taxes lowered.

I suppose that’s a step up from her early work, when she would simply accuse interviewers of asking stupid questions and go on to verbally dog-paddle until her mic was turned off. Nevertheless, her footwork in the face of reality is unerring—like a little child who blurts out, “It wasn’t me!” before anyone even accuses her of something. She starts from the premise that anyone who asks her a question is a bad person—which makes it okay for her to respond with venom rather than reasoned rebuttal. But she does do a great imitation of reasoning. It’s a shame, really—she’s that close to actually making sense, while still missing it by a mile.

She used to be one of a crowd—we don’t see that crowd of apologists for Trump anymore—just the beleaguered few remain—Kellyanne and Sarah Huckabee, maybe one or two others—those whose connection to reality has never been as strong as their drive to win the PR contest. Americans, take note—those best able to win a popularity contest aren’t going to be the best at running the Administration.

But that stop in Corpus Christi was pretty chilling wasn’t it? That clown waddled around, trying to rev up his ‘audience’ for a rally—completely overlooking any mention of the deaths of Harvey’s victims, completely forgetting that it’s a good idea for the president to reassure a disaster zone that the whole country is behind them. Then he had his Phoenix rally the next day—what a schmuck.

And I think there’s a popular meme in our culture—the strong, silent male (like Gary Cooper or John Wayne, for example) that provides cover for other types of men. Some men aren’t ‘strong and silent’ because they repress their manly feelings—they’re ‘strong and silent’ because they’re cold and uncaring. Trump doesn’t look embarrassed when he’s caught in a traditional touchy-feely moment—he looks annoyed, as if wondering how long he has to pretend to be a caring human being until he can go back to his self-absorbed ego trip.

With the Trump/Russia scandal spilling over into New York State and the IRS, one gets the feeling that a tumor is growing under Trump’s façade. And with Trump still believing that he can zig-zag his way through legal troubles, just as he’s always done, ignoring the fact that the presidency is different—well, he should ask Bill Clinton about that, is all I’m saying.

I mean, look how clueless this rube is—by donating $1,000,000 of his personal fortune to Harvey victims, he makes two mistakes for the price of one. Firstly, he’s reminded everyone that he has not put his assets in a blind trust, as real presidents do—and, secondly, he’s trying to make the sun shine out of his personal ass when what he should be doing is preparing the billions in federal relief planning that he’s in charge of.

But that is something only a person who gave a shit about the Harvey victims would do.

POEM:  Ode to Navigation   (2017Aug26)

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Saturday, August 26, 2017                                                7:58 PM

Ode to Navigation

 

Gusts of emotions push me askew and awry

No star or sun do guide me across the sky

The yaw and roll of time and heart

The mystery of end and start

Awash on a quantized sea, afoam with tessellations

Sighting a castled isle, athwart with crennelations

Spraying up flumes of probability

Dashing upon the rocks of mortality

Knowing that my past had got the best of me

Leaving the rest of me

Sailing into the dusk of danger and death

Parsing the delta twixt fact and faith

Pressing the limits of love unboundeth

Hiking the summit of truth and grace.

A Lover of History   (2017Aug26)

BoucherAllegoryOMusic

Saturday, August 26, 2017                                                3:30 PM

A Lover of History   (2017Aug26)

I’m not a believer, but I sing “God Bless America” just as loud as anyone else—I love this country. And I admire its greatness—its ideals, its inventions, its victories, and its opportunities. When Trump says MAGA, he simply reveals his ignorance of America’s true and enduring greatness—something he has continued to do for over 200 days now.

America is a dream dreamt by most of the rest of the world—not the land, but the culture of freedom and inclusion and opportunity—that’s America’s greatness—and ironically, it is threatened by the very con-man who ran on MAGA. Big surprise, right?

But I don’t want to discuss that blimp today. I want to talk about seeing America with open eyes—seeing that, in spite of its many achievements, there is plenty to regret in its bloody and divisive history. We are currently at war with a country that surrendered to us sixteen years ago—and at war with another group borne of the fighting—that’s some sad, stupid shit.

But America’s history is not a pretty picture. Those of us with the luxury to sit around and post online all day, with a fridge full of food and an electrified house and good roads—we tend to forget that it took over four hundred bloody, horrifying years to get here—and if we’re not mindful, it will all go down the drain.

GiaquintoWinter

First, we killed off all the innocent native people, who lived here before we ‘discovered’ it. Then we set to shipping as much of the natural spoils (fur pelts, lumber, new products) as possible back to Europe. Britain and Europe sent criminals and refugees off to our country—just to remove such people from the civilized world.

Okay, that was glib—but let me just say that I still respect Americans who take pride in their pioneer and settler forebears—that process was a grueling one, demanding incredible courage and sacrifice. But it was also a bloody one—and the pioneers were, from the aboriginal viewpoint, merciless invaders.

Even when native Americans surrendered to the ‘civilized’ white people, it was always a lie—the colonists and later, the United States, would always make a binding pledge to their captives—and then turn around and break it—always. If one is proud of one’s heritage, it’s always dangerous to examine that history too closely.

Further, let me point out, the Europeans prized furs and lumber because they had denuded the European landscape of same—even without the benefit of industrial technology, human beings, like goats, can destroy an ecosystem simply by living there.

Also, the vast majority of immigrants (colonists) being criminals and refugees made for a rather anti-establishmentarian culture in the North American part of the ‘New World’. Eventually, we rebelled against the Church, the King, and wrote Founding Documents that specifically direct the citizens to keep firearms and rise up against the government again—whenever we weren’t happy with the people in charge. And people wonder why the United States has ten or twenty times the annual gunshot deaths of the rest of the world combined.

So, that’s just for starters—then we started kidnapping Africans, shipping them to America and making slaves of them. It seemed like a great idea at the time, I’m sure—but, in hindsight, it had a few problems. And slavery was the worst of it—but it was far from all of it.

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The white, English-speaking Protestants (along with the Dutch in New York) have always exuded a pompous, entitled discrimination against anyone from out of town—like Peyton Place people. They persecuted the Asian immigrants, the Irish immigrants, the Scandinavian immigrants, the Italian immigrants, the Polish immigrants, the Jewish immigrants, the Indian immigrants—I know I’m leaving a few out—Americans love their pet peeves.

Nor is this ancient history—as a child, I remember people discussing whether an Irish Catholic (John F. Kennedy—and me) could ever be elected president of the United States. But African-Americans still win—white America has, somehow, made a fetishistic art-form out of hating African-Americans.

We’re the only country with an entire region characterized by a nostalgia for the ‘good old days’ of African-Americans in chains. We’ve had a hundred years of ‘the first Black this’ or ‘the first Black female that’—and you’d think Barack Obama’s two terms would put a period to all that, but no—there’s still some slots open for discriminating white people to take note of.

We even have a white nationalist movement—right now—that sees a leveled playing field as ‘reverse racism’—these are many of the same yahoos that complain that our religious-freedom-laws are an imposition on the freedom of their religion—no one has the heart to explain to these morons that that’s what it’s for.

But all the above is just human nature—we haven’t even started on how greed (aka Capitalism) has transformed our environment, our lives, and our laws—even our elections. But pollution, corruption, neglect, and community apathy are all much too complex, ingrown, and depressing for me to go into here and now.

All I’m saying is that America is neither simple nor easy, neither perfect nor perfectly evil—it is a struggle, a moral experiment, a system that bets on good against bad. It is complicated enough that sloppy-thinking, ignorant people like our president just get in the way of people of good will—the entitlement that makes them ignorant of our true character is the same entitlement that makes them a danger to the character of our nation.

GiaquintoAutumn

greatshakes

Practical Solutions   (2017Aug25)

bible4

Friday, August 25, 2017                                           2:55 PM

Ah, the beauty—the delicacy and iridescence of a lawn on a dewy morn, the awesome compulsion of a baby’s grin, the warm softness in the breast upon hearing soulful, nostalgic music—these are the moments that we are deprived of during a crisis. In an emergency everything’s business—get it done or someone may be hurt—no time for dawdling. Hurry, hurry—we don’t have time for nonsense.

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But face it—9/11 is really 9/11/2001—it was sixteen years ago—I think we can stop panicking now. No one can minimize the horror of the event—and I wouldn’t even want to try. But as far as how we live our lives in 2017—I think it’s long past time we calmed down, did some yoga breathing, and took stock of how many mistakes we have made.

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First of all, that Bin-Laden bastard planned more than the plane attacks—he hoped that the US would do exactly what it did—panic, overreact, start expensive wars that would increase division and hurt our diplomatic standing in the world, while they drained our coffers and goosed our national debt. And Bush-43 gave him more than he dreamed—a near re-run of the Great Depression, and hundreds of thousands of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Besides all of that, we have this Putin bastard, who is the only world leader thuggish enough to be the first to invade sovereign territory of a neighboring country since Hitler’s defeat. Then he starts disruption campaigns against democratic countries—and I don’t think I need to remind you that democracies work badly enough without disruption.

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He scored big with a disinformation campaign against Hillary Clinton so effective that even her supporters started to doubt themselves—and he got bonus points for opening the door to the most disgraceful president this country ever had the shamelessness to elect (collegiately—if it had been a majority vote, our disgrace would have been complete).

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Putin managed to cheat us out of another four years of Obama-like governance and a wily, strong opponent against him on the world stage—how that fucker must have danced when he realized he was getting to deal with Puddin-head Donny-John instead!

Of course, your internet feed may sell you a different story—a story wherein everything I’ve just said is a bunch of bull and I am a deluded snowflake. And that is the last mistake I’ll address today—all the governmental, judicial, administrative, financial mistakes will have to wait for some other time. We have made the mistake of letting ourselves become divided—the Internet’s business plan of ‘customized filtering’ has put each of us in our neat little pigeonholes for counting and sorting.

We need a focal point. And it’s not just the internet either—journalists in both print and television have been shunted into the for-profit side of printing and broadcasting. Or, it might be more straightforward to say that there is no longer any room in modern businesses for a non-profit section.

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Our present greed is too ferocious to allow such waste of business effort as to serve the public. Besides, nowadays, the whole point of owning a media empire is to become the iron fist that chokes off free speech to his or her own personal satisfaction—then lets the rest through, so you can’t tell anything’s missing.

So we have developed both the internet and the mass media in purely commercial ways so far—and they no longer serve the public, either. Plus, we have, on the one hand, made the internet increasingly important, to where our civilization might collapse without it, and on the other hand we freely admit that there’s no such thing as a secure internet—that a hacker, or group of hackers, could wreak havoc on the global community with a few buttons pushed. Now, I like online as much as the next guy—but there’s such a thing as ‘too good to be true’, too.

So, we have made a lot of mistakes lately. And even if we didn’t make those mistakes ourselves, we all still have to live with the consequences of the above mistakes. And we have to find solutions to those mistakes. But most of all, we have to start thinking, real thinking—not discussions and debates between two sides of trivial differences, but practical solutions to real problems.

You know, like grown-ups.

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Media Milquetoasts   (2017Aug24)

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Thursday, August 24, 2017                                               4:29 PM

Media Milquetoasts   (2017Aug24)

As we know, Trump has a fetish for “I know you are, but what am I?” During the campaign, Trump echoed every accusation HRC made against him: unfit, corrupt, collaborator with Russians, using charity for personal gain, etc. Every time Hillary described an aspect of Trump, he found some paper-thin rationale to throw the accusation right back in her face.

The media, instead of reporting on his fetish for “I know you are, but what am I?”, decided to run every statement he made, as if he had as much reason to say it as she did, even though he had never said anything about any of these things, until someone with a sharp mind had thought them up.

Then, after those countless PR ‘gimme’s, they had to report some facts about Trump lying. Then he, of course, called them liars and ‘fake news’—and, instead of filing a slander lawsuit against him, the media reported on his ‘fake news’ statements, as if he had as much reason to say it as they had, even though he had never said anything about any of these things, while the media had been playing for his side.

Today I felt the assholery peaking at maximum—Trump isn’t just mirroring his critics anymore—his latest psycho-reversal: explaining stupid to smart people. He and his cronies are following up his recent word-salad public statements with commentary about how it all makes a sly kind of sense, if you look at it from Trump’s point of view. Sorry, BLOTUS—‘five dimensional chess’ is just a buzzword, meaning: you’ve crawled so far up your own ass that you can’t back out.

Yet, still, the media hops onboard with the agenda-setter-in-chief—never mind the real actions and consequences happening behind the scenes of this apocalyptic presidency—let’s just keep re-tweeting him and his friends. Sure, that sounds about right…yeah, sure. Besides, real journalism has that pesky ‘work’ element to it—eh?

WiseNFoolishVs

Time To Start Shouting Back   (2017Aug23)

Beatrice

Wednesday, August 23, 2017                                           1:25 AM

Time To Start Shouting Back   (2017Aug23)

We need to come together and work as one to defeat the forces arrayed against our future—and people are usually rallied by the naming of an enemy—by putting a face to our misery and fear. Politics just is that way—no matter whether it’s an election, a tax, a new law, or a war—you have to name the devil if you want everyone to join you in condemning it.

It doesn’t have to be one person—you can point the finger at a group—that’s actually more effective, because it makes a scarier image in our heads. Or you can name an idea or a sub-culture as the dangerous menace—those are handy because one can twist them to include anyone who annoys you. But I have never held by that—I have always seen individuals as more or less good, and without any great deal of time being spent on the judgement.

People talk about the importance of first impressions—and then mention a hat or a pair of shoes—which I think misses the point. When I first meet someone, we look each other in the eye, we exchange names—speak to each other, probably even shake hands. While we do this, we take in the totality of each other—height, build, posture, clothing, body language, voice, vocabulary, and on ad infinitum. I believe you can meet someone, then spend a few years with them, and not know much more about their character after those few years than you did at that first meeting.

Thus I snap to quick judgements about people’s characters—not that they are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ people, necessarily—I don’t mean to sound crazy. I’m talking about the things that stand out on a person—the things that can’t be faked or hidden by any average person. Studious people present as studious—irritable crab-apples present as irritable crab-apples—naïfs cannot be mistaken for sophisticates, nor dull folk for wits. The vast majority of people are not even a little mysterious.

It’s a two-way street, too—other people have sized me up in the blink of an eye, all my life—and why not? I talk and act exactly like I am—my only problem is most people disapprove of what they see in me—a bookworm, who’s quick to criticize others and slow to examine himself. Hey, no one’s perfect—and my book-larnin’ does come in handy, every now and then. The truth is, I dislike being disliked for being an egghead—it’s just sour grapes—it’s not like I was born to love reading and learning just to show up other people.

But enough about me. We were discussing naming, as an enemy, a public figure or a group or a sub-culture. And I was trying to say that I think such primitive reactionism is beneath us—we should be able to see people as the individuals each one of us clearly are.

WiseNFoolishVs

There are not more good people than bad in the world, there are not more smart people than ignorant people—there just aren’t. We have always gotten by with having enough good, smart people to talk the rest of us into doing the right thing—and, up until now, our President was hoped to be one of those people.

And our dark-side president is not a fatal blow—just a fever symptom caused by a lot of dark-side, doggedly ignorant supporters voting for him, and a dark-side, win-‘though-the-country-fails Congress that still supports this human insult of a president. Evil has been shouting at the top of its lungs since the 80’s in this country—while good people have quietly tried to maintain peace and stability.

Well, peace and stability are long gone—it’s time for good people to do a little shouting. If your dander isn’t already up yet, get’er revved—the most important lesson of Hitler was that there’s a time for people of good will to get angry, and to act—and the sooner it comes, the less blood will spill. Waiting until it’s a World-War-sized problem is just bad business.

I have a dream—a dream that one day, Trump will hold a rally—and thousands and thousands of people will come—but not one of them will go inside the venue, they’ll just be picketing outside. I just love the image of that blowhard trying to bullshit an empty stadium.

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Fate Steps In   (2017Aug19)

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Seneca lunching across from Danny Glover

Saturday, August 19, 2017                                                3:07 PM

Fate Steps In   (2017Aug19)

The media has a bad habit of equalizing two ‘sides’ of an issue, even when it is pretty clearly a matter of right vs. wrong being the two ‘sides’. But fate continues in its old, natural way—as time passes, those on the left tend to rise in our esteem, and increase in dignity—those who most vocally support the far right tend to fall to scandal, or even criminal charges and prison sentences. This is such a common occurrence on the right that there have been cases of Republicans running for office while standing trial, or even serving time.

Thus the media can equalize all it wants, and muddy the waters of public perception, if they must mock true journalism in this way. But fate will ultimately deal with either side as it has always done. Evil never rests—but that is the beauty of it: evil disrupts everyone, including the unethical. As they fight to enrich themselves through the sacrifice of others, the same amorality bedevils their efforts—just as it does our own. Ain’t that a pip?

The champions of love and inclusion and acceptance—these people naturally attract supporters, and are keeping their eyes on a prize other than their bank accounts . The hate-group members live in such a way as to narrow their community and repel sensible people. And we humans are such silly people that it is a lucky thing that the universe works in this way. Look how we totter on the edge of disaster—even with everything in our favor (except the present government, perhaps).

The Art of the Lie   (2017Aug19)

SimonLegree

Saturday, August 19, 2017                                                2:17 AM

The Art of the Lie   (2017Aug19)

You have to give the alt-right credit for being creative liars—even unto what the science-fiction writers refer to as ‘world building’, where they create a planet that is like Earth, but with some major differences.

In the same way, the alt-right is heavily invested in trying to get us all to perceive reality through their own special filter (which removes pesky ideas such as inclusion, human rights, the dignity of the individual, etc.) and simplifies everything down to ‘us vs. them’ and ‘the one with the most money makes the rules’.

Take Steve Bannon—on leaving the Administration he boasted that they had achieved the Trump presidency they wanted, and that from now on, it would be a ‘different presidency’. Would that it were true. The truth, however, is that the presidency is the mess is started out as—and nothing changed except that Bannon lost his job.

But nothing beats Trump for lying. He invented the term ‘alt-left’ during his Tuesday nazi-rally/press-conference, in a stunning attempt to both equalize the Nazi marchers and the counter-protestors—and to pigeonhole any of the vast majority of good Americans who dare to speak against white supremacy, with a dismissive nickname. The truth is, there is no ‘alt-left’—it was an inspired piece of lying by the president—but the 90% of Americans who understand the character of our nation do not call themselves by that label—nor does anyone else.

Thus the question arises—which is crazier: to suffer from delusions or to make a career out of attempting to delude the public? And we can add to that another question: With Trump’s brain so busy churning out moment-by-moment revisions of reality, isn’t it likely that he may himself be sadly unclear about what is real and what is the lie?

Creatures_03

Hurry Up, Mr. Mueller   (2017Aug18)

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Friday, August 18, 2017                                           3:50 PM

323,000,000 people live in the United States—61.3% white—that comes to 198,000,000—which leaves 125,000,000 non-white. Anyone preaching division in our country is trying to cause trouble—period.

Human nature is such that any form of institutionalized division, even so-called ‘separate but equal’, will lead us down a path that can only end in persecution, slavery, or genocide. And America is uniquely vulnerable to this abhorrent rationale, being a melting pot, and having hundreds of millions of people from every corner of the earth—every race, every color, every religion, every orientation. If we start to tear ourselves apart, we’d make our first civil war look like a tea party.

So, anytime someone tries to sell you on division or hatred, they’re really encouraging you to partake in a bloodbath. They want your blood to spill. Oh, they’re nice enough about it—all reasonable and logical sounding at first. But their bottom line is death—for ‘many sides’, as the orange fool would say.

In the land of equality, when people claim others are unequal—they are the problem, not the others they’re so aroused about. By their logic, writ large, if any one person on earth committed a crime, we should all be in jail. That’s a lovely fantasy, I suppose—but this Nazism thing is often a symptom of a more general mental mistake—trying to rationalize things into what one already believes them to be, or what one wishes things could be, instead of taking them as they are (as godawful messy as that may be).

So, hurry up, Mr. Mueller. I think Congress is about ready to impeach—as soon as you can tell them just how horrible the whole back-room story is, they’ll no longer have any defense as to why they still sit on their hands while an egomaniac ruins our country.

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Dear White Nationalists   (2017Aug15)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017                                       10:06 PM

Dear White Nationalists: You are wrong. You are not another side of an issue—you are just wrong. You are not better than any other group—you are just less self-controlled, willing to kick at the pricks because it makes you feel important.

Your leaders have written whole libraries of books attempting to justify your ignorance. All those books are wrong. (O—and, not for nothing, the fucking Shoah happened—don’t be an asshole—and never forget.) Please free feel to return to the American side of this controversy—‘acceptance’ even includes ex-neo-nazis.

You are seeing change. You’re becoming a minority—and that frightens you. It shouldn’t—the rules of love work both ways, if only you would open up your eyes.

And, by the way, while you remain a white nationalist, I hope you are aware of being a disruptive tool of the money-grubbers and the power-hungry—that’s you. You are what stands between them and close scrutiny—something bad people rarely stand up to and will do anything to divert our attention from—including riling up a bunch of unhappy yahoos (no offense).

You don’t deserve special consideration. You can be stupid—I mean bigoted—in the privacy of your own property. You can even have meetings of like-minded stupid—sorry, bigoted—folks in your living room. But if you go out on a street corner and exercise your right to free speech, don’t be surprised if someone punches you in the face—it might even be me.

Understand, please—we are not violent people. But when you preach sin right on Main Street, in front of our families and children, we’re going to beat the crap out of you. That is not, as our bloated leader would have it, violence on both sides. This is a natural and instinctive reflex you will witness in every American—we have fought both civil and foreign wars against this shit. Freedom of speech aside, if you’re going to preach murder, gang-rape, or bigotry in public, Americans will just naturally beat the crap out of you. I’m surprised you don’t know that.

I guess it’s all the kids these days fixating on their cellphones, ignoring what’s going on around them—but, still, if I was you, I wouldn’t get’em pissed off enough to stop texting—you don’t want that. I don’t want that. Nobody wants that.

So—here’s what you do. If there’s a library in your town, why don’t you pop in there and read a book? Read two—what the hell. You may not find the book that explains how ignorant it is to be a white nationalist right away—but while you’re reading, you’re not out in public, making an ugly ass out of yourself. I’m surprised your parents didn’t bother to teach you better.

Crisis of Controversy   (2017Aug07)

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Sunday, August 06, 2017                                         4:22 PM

Crisis of Controversy   (2017Aug07)

I just watched a report on the opioid crisis—our country is being decimated by it. In a way, the opioid crisis is the natural next step, after sixteen years of fear-mongering and internecine bickering in our politics. Politicians rang that “post-9/11 threat level” like a cowbell, keeping the entire country on tenterhooks for years, starting reflex-wars that still haven’t ended. People are fleeing the pain and negativity in many ways—opioids being just one, our present clown-presidency being another, desperate example of wishful thinking.

This country has finally run low on the only thing it always had too much of: Morale. Our chants of “USA! USA!” have a hollow ring to them, as if we were clapping for Tinkerbell’s life. We need another Franklin D., to re-teach us that we have nothing to fear except being afraid. And we certainly need some retro (i.e. fit for the office) president to come in and point this country towards the future again. These wealthy, corrupt elites are like fifth columnist agitators, who start a riot—just to provide cover for their looting and violence.

Our government is not some special reality show being broadcast on special channels—it is, at root, a fairly straightforward affair, that people of good will conducted poorly—but still, it was better than these soulless people now making a rat’s nest of neglect and privilege out of offices they’re not fit to fill. It is unfortunate that journalism has spawned two idiot half-brothers, Click-bait and the 24-hour News-cycle.

These new industries thrive on our disruption, confusing the needful work of a free press with entertaining gossip and hypotheticals—exacerbating problems under the guise of ‘providing information’, mixing the opinion-based editorializing and spin with the hard news. The ‘information’ thus provided uses the term so loosely that it impacts peoples’ faith in the real journalists—who are then vulnerable to accusations of ‘fake news’ from the dick-head-in-chief.

Someone like Trump finds a friend in these outlets—but they provide no assistance to any serious public servant who isn’t prepared to vamp for the ratings. The neo-realisti-cons have even carved out a demographic convinced that their propaganda is an alternative to the reporting in the NY Times or the Washington Post. And while journalists clearly are not famous for their precision, the journalism practiced at those papers is far more rigorous and objective than the Foxified alt-reality.

As always, there’s a dead giveaway, if you know where to look—I’ll give you a hint: it’s in the retractions. A paper like the Times will print a retraction at the drop of a hat—if an error of fact is pointed out to them, they will correct their error without a second thought.

A salient feature of the alt-right ranters, including Fox News, is their instinct to debate a refutation—they grasp their ‘facts’ to themselves much more tightly than an objective journalist. In their very rare instances of being forced into a retraction—it’s always partial, conditional, mealy-mouthed, unapologetic, and dismissive of the whole affair once it goes counter to their wishes. That’s a far cry from even an attempt at objectivity—and a sign of their ignorance, that they haven’t the good grace to be ashamed of such transparent mendacity.

It’s a tricky thing to call them out on—their bad impression of real journalists is an insult to ideal of journalism, and of being a journalist—but it passes muster for the distracted, upset viewers it’s targeted towards, so it works for them—when it really should have made them a disgraced laughingstock.

You know why Bernie is a Socialist? Do you know why we need socialism in America today? It’s because Capitalism has been gamed to such an extent that only some aggressive spread-the-wealth programs have any chance of stopping our slippery slide into a Cash Dictatorship. If we can’t find a way to deke all these lobbyists and campaign-contributors, we’ll never rescue our democracy from the banks and the fat-cats.

Wanted: Quiet Folk   (2017Aug10)

Improv – Glamorous Air

Thursday, August 10, 2017                                               1:53 PM

Wanted: Quiet Folk   (2017Aug10)

Are we done having fun yet? It’s been wild, having a nutjob for president, but now that everyone is losing sleep over nuclear Armageddon, from an off-the-cuff remark he thoughtlessly made, isn’t it time we impeached this senile abortion and got a real president?

Democracy without compromise is simply the tyranny of the majority. We allow the majority to elect our officials, but those officials are meant to serve everyone, whether they voted for or against. That is a complex position to be put in—but don’t worry: corruption has dumbed the whole thing down to just ‘getting re-elected’.

Improv – Cuddle Closer

Americans should get back to doing big things for a reason other than profit. The Hoover Dam, the Highway System, the Railroads, the Space Station—Americans used to build great things for the sheer greatness of them. We don’t do that now—but only because we are too distracted to think of it. It makes us small, brings us all down in the mud of money, where the shills have all the power.

The fat gas-bag in the Oval—he infuriated me when he said, “Make America great again”, not simply because he dismissed our present greatness, but redefined our future greatness in terms of dollars and cents—the cad. He should never have been elected—and the fact that he was proves that this country’s greatness, as an ideal, has eluded not just Trump, but a good solid third of the electorate.

Improv – Blue Ballet

So the question arises—how do we convince Americans that they still live in a great country—for reasons that are staring them in the face—when they are so unhappy they can’t appreciate what we have here? One thing we could do is set all the television shows in foreign countries—remind Americans that, here, we are required by law to send our children to school—boys and girls. Remind them of the many ways America is a great place to live—that we don’t use our police as instruments of political oppression—that the vast majority of our cops are public servants, making their neighborhoods safe and just.

Our parochial experiences minimize the truth of this—there are countless protections and freedoms that are not givens, as they are here, in other parts of the world. Theoretically, we make our own laws and choose our own leaders—and it seems apparent that we have to face up to it: We have not been careful stewards of that hard-won privilege. We have become comfortable in the assumption that these freedoms can’t be taken away. We have to start running and voting—and in an informed way that moves us towards solutions to our problems.

The greatest Capitalist, Henry Ford, paid his factory workers high wages, so that they could buy one of the cars they were making. Ford was creating a product and a market at the same time. He wasn’t some present-day fool who saw no connection between business and people. The old saw, ‘You have to spend money to make money’ is most true of governments—this Republican push for ‘independence’ of the individual is just one-percenter propaganda—as if, in the age of global interconnectedness.

We have to grab our citizenship by the throat and wrestle that thing back to what it was intended to be—self-government by majority vote. In my mind, the issues that bedevil us are no longer the problem—at this point, the problem is the issues never get taken care of. We need to elect people who will shut the hell up and do something constructive. Godamit.

Pete n’ Me – Improv – Considering

 

No Time Off For Rachel   (2017Aug02)

Monday, July 31, 2017                                             4:15 PM

In Post   (2017Jul31)

Post-project depression—it’s an old friend—the deeper I dive into making something, the more invested I get, the sharper the jolt of being dumped back on the sidewalk, project-less. Sure, I’m really just between the end of one endeavor and the beginning of the next. But at that moment of cathartic, exhaustive completion, the distance from where I am—to some future point where I will again have the mental effervescence and strength of will to start a new thing—seems like an impossible distance.

It’s a low point in my process—hence the depression, I suppose. But in general I really appreciate that cyclical aspect of things. I love the way it seems as if I can hardly move, hardly open my eyes—almost dying—every night—and then wake up every morning just full of energy. It’s so cool—it’s like magic. I mean—I get the eating food for fuel and getting energy from that. But to be recharged overnight by Sleeping—that’s just very cool and mysterious.

The track coach used to chide me about stopping once I reached the anaerobic burn phase—they call it a ‘second wind’. (It’s a great sensation—all of a sudden, the muscles stop the burning ache and you feel turbocharged—but it really means that your muscles have stopped burning oxygen normally—they’ve switched to a faster, but more toxic, anaerobic process. This floods the muscles with poisons, so, if you keep running on a ‘second wind’, you can seriously hurt, or even kill, yourself.)

But it was hard to give it up—once I was in that moment, after many hard laps, suddenly granted a ‘power-up’ that made me feel superhuman—I always struggled with myself to let it go. I even enjoyed waking up all stiff the next day and having to move around for a while before I could loosen up. I’m not sure I remember it properly, but I think we spent most of our childhood with aching muscles from the non-stop moving and doing.

rachel-maddow

Wednesday, August 02, 2017                                           1:27 AM

No Time Off For Rachel   (2017Aug02)

One good thing about post-project depression—it passes quickly. I feel normal today, no great high or low, just steady. I was saved, in a way, from starting something right away (it’s always best to take a metaphorical breath before you start something completely new) by my camera dying. It’s recharged now—but the world will never know how I played this morning—it sounded okay, some of it—but I always think that, so I’ll never know without a recording.

But I’m not the only one with problems. A few Republicans are starting to say things that oddly resemble things I wrote in my blog-posts, last summer—about how Trump makes a terrible president, so bad a president that we’d be safer if he spent four years without leaving the golf course. I felt bad when he won the Electoral College—so they can suck it up and feel even worse, knowing that they’re on his team and they’re just now realizing what a mistake that was.

For educated people, there are values to America that have nothing to do with business or profit. Even if they spend all day in finance or commerce, they realize that all this free enterprise depends on a respect for the whole system—if civility collapses, the value of money is the first casualty. But Trump is an ignorant bully who believes that all of that is hogwash. Trump admires Putin for being ‘strong’ enough to have his political opponents murdered. That’s the kind of stupid we’re stuck with.

So, I’d say we all have some worries. My granddaughter has a slight fever—she’s been given a little grape-flavored Tylenol or something, and she’s being a very brave baby. Jessy says she has the same cold—poor Seneca has two sick girls on his hands. I hope his health holds out.

There were three obit-notices on Facebook today—it is simply not a good day. And I understand that this clown-car administration has journalists running themselves ragged—but why would they call it the Rachel Maddow Show and then let her take a vacation—and in the middle of summer—it’s just crazy, right?

(Joy-Ann Reid–I love you too–I’m just joking.)

Birthday Video   (2017July30)

Sunday, July 30, 2017                                              3:17 PM

Birthday Video   (2017July30)

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The summer rushes on—July reaches an end and the lonely, hot month of August is all that stands between us and the coming of another tilt of the global axis, anti-sunward. My daughter’s daughter, my granddaughter Seneca, had her first birthday—and, of course, her first birthday party (with balloons and cake and presents). Ah, youth—just to look at her makes me feel younger. I, for one, can’t wait for this August to end—because the three of them will be visiting afterwards—and that’s worth another winter.

Claire is painting and printing and charcoaling and pen-and-inking and oil pastel monoprinting and doing pencil portraiture and life studies and plein-air landscapes—it’s been summer art camp for the Bear this year. She’s fantastic and I’m hoping she’ll let me make a video out of a retrospective of her sketches sometime—but not everyone is comfortable splashing themselves all over the internet like I do, so we’ll have to see about that plan….

Spencer has been doing yardwork and home repair—on the one hand, I’m jealous because that used to be my favorite part of being a homeowner—but on the other hand, it’s great to have a real strong man around to do the stuff that needs to get done. I don’t know what the problem is with ‘failure to launch’—we couldn’t get along without Spencer’s help—I’m grateful that he hasn’t felt the need to move far away.

For now I’m having a great old time using baby videos to add a spoonful of sugar to my piano-playing videos. I figure it doesn’t really matter about the playing—how many people can ‘go to the videotape’ to review the first year of their lives? It’s not like it isn’t a happy story. And I’m not quite done yet. I’m listening to Borodin’s 2nd Symphony—it’s nice and long, and good music, which makes it perfect for working at the keyboard.

I’m working on the new batch of videos—this time ‘round, I’ve recorded a bunch of songs from my Dover Music Publications’ “The Ancient Music of Ireland – Arranged for Piano by Edward Bunting”. I include “Molly My Treasure”, “Plangsty Hugh O’Donnell”, “The Jolly Ploughman”, “Slieve Gallen”, and “Give Me Your Hand” (also known as “Tabhair Dom Do Lámh”, the track title used on the Chieftains’ “Chieftains 5” album). I can’t tell you how delighted I was to realize I was playing one of their favorite songs of mine. I practiced and practiced, but I could never approach the speed and vivacity of their recording.

The improvs—well, what can I say. They’re there—that I have the strength to sit on the bench at all is a minor victory, so there you go. It seems that the more tired my playing gets, the more adorable the baby becomes—so, she’s pulling most of the weight on these videos—thank you, Seneca!

Well—back to work—I can’t post this thing without the videos.

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In Response   (2017Jul29)

Friday, July 28, 2017                                                8:06 PM

In Response   (2017Jul29)

A friend told me I play piano better now than I did eight years ago—which is gratifying (even if talking ‘two levels of bad’, it’s good to be on the right side of it). It’s funny—I’m in worse shape, but I’ve become better adapted to it.

I lost some core muscles in the ’04 transplant op. Even five years later, in 2009, I was still struggling to do a single sit-up—and failing. Now, I’m better adjusted—I can do sit-ups now—but it’s dangerous to ask so much work from so few muscles, so if I overdo, I get spasms. I remember an early gym class, sixth grade, or junior high, maybe—where I did more sit-ups than anyone else. Time sure flies.

What is a laser, you ask? The term “laser” originated as an acronym for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”. Invented in 1960, a laser sends a beam of light in a straight line (this is called coherent light)—unlike, say, lightbulbs, which send out light in all directions. This creates a very precise and powerful cutting tool, often replacing the scalpel in modern surgery. But lasers can be used for many other things besides burning—laser-calibrated ‘tape-measures’ allow contractors to measure a space’s dimensions without walking the length of the space—the list of uses is endless.

So—bacteria—lousy segue, I know—but today I’m thinking about bacteria—so, I did a quick Google-image search:

how_humans_use_bacteria_oversize20161121-1545-cvfkgm

As you can see from the chart, bacteria are useful because they operate on a molecular level—they can be tricked into modifying gene-sequences or fermenting India Pale Ale (IPA). Here are just three of the other fascinating things I found that deal with modern advances in bacteria-based technology:

 

Researchers generate clean energy using bacteria-powered solar panel

(Photosynthetic extracellular electron transfer processes using cyanobacteria—miniscule output compared to traditional solar panels, but still a step towards bio-solar energy cells.)

https://phys.org/news/2016-04-energy-bacteria-powered-solar-panel.html

 

Liquid-crystal and bacterial living materials self-organize and move in their own way

(Clothes that will breathe—for both of you.)

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170511165351.htm

 

From Antarctica: It’s Alive!

(Planet as Petri Dish.)

https://ultraphyte.com/2015/02/07/from-antarctica-its-alive/

 

So, my friend (and anyone else interested)–there’s a brief reply to your kind email. I hope I’ve answered your questions. Write again soon.

 

 

Presidency, Bought & Paid For   (2017Jul25)

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017                                             8:26 PM

Presidency, Bought & Paid For   (2017Jul25)

I don’t follow the Trump story anymore—what it boils down to is this: the man is unfit for office, and it’s a matter of whether, and when, the Republicans will finally reach their collective limit, in supporting this destructive and dangerous clown. Meanwhile, the Democrats should be focused on what they’re going to do—their hands are tied for the next several years, no matter what happens with Trump—and they have to reach the people with some hard truth. Otherwise, they’ll just stay ‘Republican-lite’.

Perhaps we’ll learn from a bull-in-a-china-shop like Trump that our government is very fragile, in some basic ways—informed engagement being foremost among its needs, in a democracy—and that government and business are two separate things for an excellent reason—government is supposed to be For the People. Business is just about the money.

Now, before you get started—yes, money is everywhere—in everything from how well we can raise our children to whether we can afford life-saving medicine. But businesses are not required to concern themselves with that—they are concerned solely with how much money comes in and goes out.

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Government regulations, government inspections, government testing—we hear a lot of bad-mouthing of these activities, as a rule. But we only hear from the business interests that find government quality-control too great an expense. If anyone wants to bad-mouth the EPA, or the FDA (or whatever few government regulatory agencies have survived the business-friendly Republicans) it should be about how their function isn’t being fulfilled properly.

Arguing against government regulation is stupid. Arguing to make regulations ‘more better’—now, that’s a good idea. If you take home packages of food and bottles of drinks, don’t you want to know that the people that sell it are legally liable if they get careless with your family’s food? Of course business will always criticize government—they don’t want any rules. But they need them—or rather, we need them—to protect us from rampant business without a conscience.

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Remember when Volkswagen had half-a-million ‘volks’ driving around what they thought were fuel-efficient, eco-friendly cars—and they were simply cars with ‘lying’ emissions readouts. That’s what you get when you have rules in place. Imagine a reason to “let up” on business watchdogs—I dare you. We need consumer protection, eco-protection, and employee protection. The lack of sufficient government oversight is the reason we have so few, but very rich, people now—and most workers haven’t seen an increase in thirty years.

That’s hundreds of millions of Americans being taken advantage of by what Senator Sanders calls ‘da Big Banks’. That’s the trouble with technology—if this were pre-industrial times, no way such a small group of people could sit on mountains of money while everyone else struggles.

If the American Revolution hadn’t happened when it did, it couldn’t have worked—if we’d waited until the British had Gatling Guns, we’d have lost. Of course, you correctly point out that the Gatling Gun was a product of our Civil War, and so wouldn’t have existed—but someone would have come up with something like it, so I maintain my point holds. Automatic gunfire is the ultimate crowd control—so, nowadays, anyone who can hire a gang of mercenaries with automatic weapons becomes a small nation unto themselves.

The mindless power of wealth is armed with all the latest weapons—if we are not already adopting paranoia towards its potential to enslave us all, we are not being careful enough. While we, as individuals, meander through our destinies, trying to get by and minding our own business, the wealthy are plotting to become more wealthy. Why?—because that’s how they got wealthy. And with all that money, they can lobby legislation, they can ‘buy’ influence for ‘their’ candidates, they can tell a whole town full of employees ‘how it’s gonna be’.

Wealth is powerful—but it doesn’t think—or feel. It is a danger when uncontrolled and we knew it, long ago. But ever since the last World War, propaganda for a stronger military—and against socialism—has turned Republicans against their better interests. We already have some Socialism in our government—and it does a lot of good. Taxes are a form of socialism, too—in their own way—they are a collective asset, spent for the good of all.

Humane, safe, fair conditions for employees—that was a struggle fought over decades. And the owners that opposed the workers cited Socialism as the problem. Socialism is used as an insulting label by Conservatives—any group activity they disapprove of is Socialism—if they approve of it, it’s the Right to Assemble being exercised. These people have always been villains—the fact that one of them is probably your employer doesn’t make them the one good guy out of the rest—he or she is the most dangerous—because they hold your life in their hand.

Conservatives have to stop chowing down on the s**t-sandwich that is ‘a business-friendly’ government. Any time the government takes the side of business over the people, they are disgracing themselves—all these congressional bills pampering the big industries (and their profits) are a betrayal—and people don’t see that. It’s very frustrating. You don’t see the media taking this perspective—maybe it’s because they are owned by a bunch of fat-cat oligarch-types.

deltacan_Factory

Sunday, July 23, 2017                                              1:11 PM

Butterfly   (2017Jul23)

The butterfly was very curious about me (‘though I don’t know why—I’m wearing black pants and a grey shirt—and I’m pretty sure I don’t smell like perfume). It flew around and around me, up and down—it especially liked my ears, which freaked me out a little. I noticed then that the butterfly was just one of hundreds of butterflies, bugs, bees, and bits of tree falling in the light breeze.

The fact that the air was full of anomalies reminded me about outer space—about how space isn’t a pure vacuum, that there’s plenty of dust and particles. If a starship went through space fast enough, it would have its nose-cone eroded by the friction of passing through that dust and whatnot—just as when a car on the highway will see its windshield accumulate a layer of squished bugs.

‘Stay In’ Sessions   (2017Jul21)

Friday, July 21, 2017                                                5:22 PM

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The revolving door of this administration may have led Trump to believe that people simply come and go at his whim—and it may be that Jeff Sessions was watching Rachel Maddow the night the NYTimes-interview-with-Trump story was previewed by cable news. Most of the talk was of Jeff Sessions being likely to resign in the morning—but Ms. Maddow rightly pointed out that, right now, the president cannot fire special prosecutor Mueller—and has no hope of doing so, absent a resignation from Sessions.

Yes, the president can fire Sessions—but the replacement then becomes a bone of contention. If Sessions quits, Trump can name an acting attorney general, and some pro-Trump names have been suggested—people who might well fire Mueller—or, better yet, hamstring the investigation and let it starve to death.

(Later that evening: )

Okay, now it’s been announced that US intelligence intercepts of Russian transmissions reveal Ambassador Kislyak’s version of his meeting with Sessions—and it directly contradict Jeff’s version—you know—from his public hearing.

We ask how something so convenient could possibly happen in this cold, cold world? Especially, why should such fortune smile upon us right now—at this particular moment? Is now, perhaps, a bad time to start trusting what the Russians say—even if we obtain it through covert means?

Fictional detectives down through the ages have warned us against ‘coincidence’—would Holmes take this latest ‘leak’ at face value? Can this have been leaked by the White House to grease the wheels for Sessions’ firing—or simply discredit his word in the public forum?

I gotta tell ya—if Sessions wasn’t madder than a wet hen when he denied this ‘leak’ and repeated his testimony, then Jeff’s a helluvan actor. That sincerity of true outrage gave us a glimpse of the real feelings, missing from so many of these political ‘briefings’ nowadays, that you get from real people when they’ve been dishonestly maligned. He was PO’ed.

All this reminds me of former Director Comey. Jeff Sessions was Trump’s first legitimate political sponsor—and his biggest booster during the campaign. James Comey’s ill-timed announcements about Hillary’s investigation are seen as a major factor in her loss—if not the deciding one. I had no reason to root for either one of these guys, earlier on. As soon as either one becomes key to the Trump/Russia investigation, however, it suddenly seems like they are our only hopes.

An objective observer might characterize all this as a chess match, but I have a prejudiced take on it—I see it as Evil enthroned, made manifest by the accumulation of ego, avarice, partisanship and corruption that tirelessly eat away at the roots of democracy, constrained now (having control of the chief and the majority of the federal government) only by those dysfunctions that evil always imposes on itself.

People talk about the still, small voice (of God, of truth, of reason—you pick) that we sometimes hear—I know ‘conscience’ is a poor term for it, but it is the simplest. It is small only in that it must be ‘put away’ during the bustle of the workday or the fun of a party—like mathematics, conscience is an unwelcome interruption of our cruise through life, something we must stop and focus on.

Easy to ignore but, like mathematics, it can suddenly turn into a wall of steel or a dagger of ice. Conscience is always there, just out of sight, but we abuse it at our peril. Just as lust triumphant can render once-soulmates into a bored couple, evil dismissed can sour our very existence, every moment tainted with more pain than the one before.

If this isn’t true for you, dear reader, you must understand that for me it is so true that I can’t imagine you disagreeing with me—though surely many might. I’m pluralist in that way—I know that my world-view can’t be defended against practitioners of philosophy or psychology—I know that, in a way, I am wrong—but I am right in that way in which I choose to be.

And I believe that nobody can claim anything beyond that. Whether what I think of as ‘caring’ is a societal affectation, a neurosis, or some other befuddlement—I feel it. I don’t want to learn to stop feeling ‘care’—it would be like learning to see in black-and-white, a diminution.

One benefit of being empathetic is enjoying working as a group, as a team—relying on each other for support and coordination. Paranoia and egotism take away these advantages—careless people rarely work together as a team. This is one of the main self-imposed dysfunctions that hobble evil—we should always be grateful.

Empathy encourages sharing and generosity, which appear foolish from an economic standpoint, but in a society can strengthen and empower the whole. This is another benefit the careless miss out on. They see society as something that must be controlled, not something that must be cared for.

Regardless, the strengths of caring are brittle—one sour apple puts a catastrophic crack in the whole. Just as trust is powerful—when it works. These failings make selfishness seem a smarter choice—safer—but I always figured that the best kind of gambling was betting on the heart of every stranger. What is life without a little adventure?

Perhaps I’m painting this picture too broadly, trying to remake reality into what I wish it were. Never mind. Sometimes I get lost in my thoughts, and they get tangled.

Dear Mr. President:   (2017Jul19)

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017                                                2:52 PM

Dear Mr. President:   (2017Jul19)

Don’t lecture us that ‘Obamacare will fail’. The Presidency should embody a figurehead, not a scolding schoolmarm. And stop pointing fingers, you ‘whiny little bitch’ (credit: Bill Maher)—the last thing a President should ever do is try to shift blame. If our fearless leader is looking around, mewling, “Who, me?” then how will that make America look, to the rest of the world? I don’t mind you embarrassing yourself—you obviously enjoy it, and I could give a damn—but as far as making America a laughingstock—that I don’t appreciate.

Don’t think we failed to notice you’re unable to talk policy specifics with thorny issues like healthcare—we knew you were ignorant about it, going in, and we know you’re a seventy-year-old putz who can’t learn anything new, even if you had the will to do it. Your sales schpiel is all you have in the way of managerial skill—you never need to know anything, just push others to do it and blame them if they fail.

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Undoing Obama’s work towards addressing the threat of climate change may have garnered you a few points with your racist base—but everyone else, in America, and in the entire world, sees it as proof of your idiocy. Your helpless flailing, when it comes to healthcare, tax reform, immigration, or education—pairs nicely with the Republican majority’s dog-who-finally-caught-the-car act.

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Let’s face it—you and your ignorant GOP legislators are typical bullies, becoming enraged, to hide your suspicions that your opponents are correct—and overturning the table because the board-game isn’t going your way. Understand me—it’s no crime to be slow-witted, we aren’t judging you for that, but enforcing ignorance is a crime against nature and man.

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Meditations on F**kery   (2017Jul16)

Sunday, July 16, 2017                                              2:41 PM

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Meditations on F**kery   (2017Jul16)

It being Sunday, our thoughts naturally turn to God. What is God? Right now, I’m inclined to believe that God is the Summer—that bounteous blooming that gets Life through the less biddable Seasons, especially dread Winter.

Good, now we’ve gotten our Sabbath meditations out of the way, we can move on. I watched some TV news today (always a mistake) and heard people on the Right trying to call into question whether any laws have been broken. Well, yes, my law has been broken—when your entourage spends every day bending and twisting into unnatural positions, attempting to hair-split their way out of blatant perfidy, something has been broken—call it faith, or ethics, or morality—Trump’s administration has a black-hole where most people have these things—and we can all sense the absence of decency in this gang of apes that abuses authority under the guise of governing.

They like to latch onto a buzzword and throw it about until it loses all meaning—in this instance, ‘collude’ is on the chopping block. Fine, forget ‘collude’—‘collude’ makes it sound like something done in the open, anyway. This was done skulkingly, and still it tries to wrap itself in lies and claims of confidentiality and privilege. This was more ‘conspiracy’ than ‘collusion’ and that’s what they should be charged with: ‘Conspiracy’. They have conspired against the Constitution itself. They have conspired against us, the American people.

They have conspired in secret and withheld the truth from FBI investigators and Congressional hearings alike—their credibility would be zero—should be zero—but I believe, not in the president’s tweet-storms, but in the unbalanced mind they represent. HRC warned people, “When Trump tells you who he is, believe it.” And, while nothing else said by Trump et. al. could be taken on faith, we can say ‘If he tweets like he’s crazy, believe him.’

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I noticed one reporter asked Trump’s lawyer, J. Sekulow, when the president knew about his son’s meeting with Russians—and the lawyer responded vaguely, saying it wasn’t very long ago—and this is emblematic, systematic of their habitual recourse to thumb-twiddling when caught in a scandal. If someone asks me ‘when?’, I’d say a date or a time or both—or I’d ask to get back to them, if I didn’t know. But this lawyer knew, and wouldn’t say—he also avoided perjuring himself by giving any real answer—one assumes because there may be paper-trails that show Trump knew months ago, or even as it happened.

But for Sekulow to pretend that the president just got a quick notice a few days ago, or some such nonsense, that his son, son-in-law, and then-campaign-manager all had a meeting with a Russian posse with close ties to Putin—as if this wouldn’t have come up in discussions about Russia investigations over the last six months—or even before inauguration, when oppo-research on HRC still mattered. Expecting listeners to suspend disbelief enough to make that sound normal or sane—is asking too much of TV—even when you blanket the entire Sunday morning talk-show circuit.

But that is the ultimate Trump-camp hallmark: to strain credulity with shabby pretense of credibility. If it’s important, they’ve forgotten it. If it’s valued, they’ve dismissed it. If it doesn’t fit their narrative, they’ll cut off its feet and make it fit, by gawd. And finger-pointing? OMG—six months in, and Trump is still blaming Obama for problems with the Trump presidency—Thanks, Obama! And it’s always a little bit Bill and Hil’s fault, too—of course.

I can’t wait to see the ass-end of this f**ker—so I can get back to laughing at the inane and enjoying the ridiculous. Finding them among state policy is no joke. Let’s put f**kery back where it belongs—in a Monty Python sketch.

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Pleased To Present   (2017Jul16)

Sunday, July 16, 2017                                              10:42 PM

Pleased To Present   (2017Jul16)

I am pleased to present to you my latest videos, featuring my adorable granddaughter (and my piano-playing). She has just started to walk, her first birthday is next week, and they’ll all be coming to see us in a couple of months—hooray!

 

XperDunn plays Piano
July 15th, 2017

Improv – Sonatina

Improv – Toesies

Improv – Grasshopper

Improv – Refractions (w/Cover: “Nobody’s Sweetheart”)

Improv – Sunlight

 

ttfn!

 

Fresh Start   (2017Jul15)

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Saturday, July 15, 2017                                            4:41 PM

Fresh Start   (2017Jul15)

It’s time we stepped back from this obsessive focus on ignorance, obstinacy, and dysfunction—yes, it’s a deadly danger, but if we can’t impeach it, at least let’s stop voting for it, next time. Let’s give our figurehead the pin-drop silence he deserves. My time (and yours) is too valuable to waste on hearing about how the president is incapable of shaking hands like a normal person. (Ironic, though, isn’t it, for a politician?) Our time is much better spent seeing to our own works, our own futures—what are we going to do?

It’s sad to lose a touchstone like the American Presidency—to see it tarnished and trampled under the feet of galoots—but we have business to take care of. Perhaps we could start a different kind of political party—one whose charter is to create a platform full of specifics, and whose candidates would run on the understanding that these specifics be implemented.

The Conservatives don’t really need a platform—they just need a perceived propensity towards the reactionary and the authoritarian—that’s their advantage—that they are more a personality profile than a political platform. And we see this now—with the triumph of the Tea Party revealed as a bunch of puppets who’ve given zero thought to the legislative mechanics of their last decade’s rhetoric—a party so focused on defeating the Democrats that, having done that, they see little reason to do anything other than play golf and tweet.

But we need a platform—nay, a presentation even—a ‘shovel-ready’ prescription by a panel of thoughtful people (who accept modern science). Gone are the days when we could just elect someone idealistic, like Obama, and let him do all the heavy lifting. Democrats need to do the thinking, before the nominating—we need to start thinking, not in terms of a who, but in terms of what, exactly, we want to see happen—and then find someone who’ll agree to enact it, as our candidate.

We need to take the narrative out of the hands of a mass media held hostage by uber-capitalists—and put it back in the hands of career statesmen and legislators who can look ahead and steer our country towards the future. But even more importantly, we need transparency up the wahoo. We need town halls that are about policy, not about personality—not complaining to the acting official, but planning what we want from our next one. Media can’t help but shift the focus to the personal—and that has to stop being our Pavlov’s bell.

With so many idealistic young people wanting to enter the political arena, it is imperative that we reach a consensus on what it means to be progressive and pragmatic in a fast-changing global environment. Planning, in the form of unconscious conspiracies, has been more evident in the GOP than in the Democrats of late—the Democrats seem hung up on beating Donald’s Q-rating, rather than presenting a blinding vision of tomorrow to the voters. Positive action must replace rancor and blame in our public discourse—otherwise, the terrorists win?

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New Thoughts (2017Jul13)

Friday, July 14, 2017                                                2:10 AM

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New Thoughts (2017Jul13)

“no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”  —The U. S. Constitution, Art. 1, Sec. 9

Technically, the excerpt above would not apply to the Trump campaign, since he was not in office until the inauguration. But it seems likely that, if the founding authors felt this strongly about an elected official’s behavior in office (with respect to foreign influence) they may have simply assumed that no one flouting these important ethics, during the campaign, would have a prayer of being elected—by the people, or the Electoral College (whose sole purpose was to act as a stopgap against charlatans of such sort).

That Trump—and his administration—continue to dismiss the perfidy of attempting collusion with a foreign power to influence a national election—claiming that ‘most people would have taken that meeting’ goes beyond political inexperience, into amorality. This, in the face of precedent— in September of 2000, close adviser to Vice President Al Gore, Rep. Tom Downey of Long Island, N.Y., received an anonymous package of purported info on the Bush Campaign, and turned it over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

That only a single precedent exists is no doubt due to the hare-brained nature of such over-the-top aggression—few presidential candidates, never mind an entire coterie of such a culture, so single-mindedly pursue the destruction of their opponent, without bothering to offer anything positive about their own character. That Trump and his goons miss that they miss that—is deeply troubling. I heard someone say the other day that Trump’s administration couldn’t be more generically ‘bad-guy’ if they had been written into a superhero comic-book as the villains.

If, as with the rest of us, any old guy could walk into court and file a criminal complaint against Trump, most judges would probably find probable cause for a grand jury—his son’s emails are more than enough to get the ball rolling. But that is not the case—we have to wait until the Republicans in Congress have decided that Trump has gotten too hot even for their ice-cold, cynical hands. Meanwhile, they can point to ‘congressional hearings on the matter’—but somehow it has neither the urgency of HRC’s Benghazi hearings nor the presumption of guilt we saw at HRC’s ‘server’ hearings. Why is that, we wonder?

But anyway, I wanted to say something about healthcare that everyone seems to have forgotten—we didn’t use to have any. We used to have insurance companies that could do whatever they wanted—in the name of free enterprise—and business was great—for them. For the millions of people who only dreamed of taking their kids to a doctor—or spending another few years with their sick grandparent—or trying to raise a disabled child on a low-middle income—it wasn’t working so good—it wasn’t working at all.

You may remember those days—it was only eight years ago they changed it—and forever, before that, there had been no responsibility taken by our government to care for every citizen’s health. We saw people being admitted to emergency rooms and we told ourselves that anyone, in an emergency, could be treated by a doctor. We didn’t think of all the ways that health issues can impact people and families and businesses, aside from being allowed in the ER when you’re almost dead.

We saw other countries switch to socialized healthcare—and heard the domestic industry pooh-pooh those other countries’ fairness as not being as dynamic as our competitive business-model. Plus, it would wipe out the present health-insurance industry—and—lots of Americans just hate the idea of giving free stuff to poor people. They hate it as much as I hate the idea of making poor peoples’ lives more difficult than they are already.

Michael Moore made a wonderful movie once—I forget which one—where he showed a ‘Canadian slum’, which was a lovely-looking, crime-free neighborhood—with free childcare for working mothers and, of course, free healthcare. See, now, I could live right next door to people like that and not feel bad about having more money than them—because they wouldn’t be suffering from their lack, they would simply have less money. Plus, if I went broke, and became poor, my life would change very little—as a sick old man, my entertainment expenses are minimal.

Anyway, the point is—the Democrats had to scratch and claw their way to passage of Obamacare—because it was a game-changer. Now that Americans have had affordable health care for some years, Republicans will look like total dicks if they just repeal it—not a single voter will be without a relative that suffers from a repeal—and even Machiavellian gerrymandering can’t undo that.

Now they struggle to pass a ‘repeal and replace’ bill—but they can’t do it. They can’t repeal it outright. And they can’t replace it with something that is effectively a repeal-in-other-words—the CBO has called them on that dodge three times in a row already.

They can’t work together with Democrats to make real improvements on Obamacare—because they don’t have the political stones to sink their careers for the sake of the citizenry—like Obama did when he signed it. There are real problems with Obamacare—and it hurts the country to leave them unaddressed—but the Republicans persist in trying to put this egg back in its shell, when they should be cooking.

marinern

Thursday, July 13, 2017                                           5:35 PM

I think it is important to recognize that there is always more to things than the simple explanation. Now that the Trump/Russia Collusion scandal has expanded to include election-tampering in general, we will inevitably reach a point where the insidious disinformation-campaign by the Russians, working with the Alt-Right or not, will be compared to mass media.

In my rants I have frequently ranted the same thing. But the mass media disinformation problem is more like the healthcare problem than the Trump/Russia debacle—because, as with the medical profession, the aim is a pure one: doctors try to help, and do no harm—and media is meant to inform and entertain.

In both cases, the transition to profit-based paradigms has created massive amounts of business: Medicine spawned Big Pharma, the Health Insurance industry, Corporate research, surgical and care devices from stents to remote-control surgical bots. Media has spawned the Networks, Cable, E-books, Computer Graphics, Streaming services, Online researching and metadata massage, movie franchising, social media—and, of course, cable news.

In both cases, profit has proven to be a dehumanizing influence in industries that are based, nominally, on humane goals. Our country’s medical care is the best in the world—for about ten percent of citizens, perhaps less. For the other 90%, care is more expensive and less professional than in socialized-medical-care countries—so when someone tells you that socialized medicine will be a big step backward, they are referring only to the fabulously wealthy.

Likewise, introducing the profit motive into a free press makes a lot of money and endless access to data for that ten percent or less—and distorts the so-called ‘news’. This could be fought against if it weren’t for the further distortion of people’s perceptions wrought by our click-bait culture. By narrowing our focus down to one issue, one headline at a time, cable news does two harms: first, the blindered presentation of individual issues makes them seem even more unsolvable and more numerous than they really are, and by removing the context, they prevent us from seeing the whole, where many of the answers we look for may be found.

marinerg

Wednesday, July 05, 2017                                                1:51 PM

It’s sad the way I’ve lost interest in people. Whenever I talk to people now, I find myself waiting for them to get bored and go away—while I hypocritically try to sound interesting so they won’t think I’m boring. I’m not really as selfish as that sounds—I’ve lost interest in myself, too, in a way—that is, I don’t push myself or dream of big goals anymore. I’ve soured, is probably the most concise expression.

For most of my life I was on a manic search for the new—I thought I was in love with learning, but it’s nothing so noble—I just feel stifled when things become overly familiar—I ‘need’ to find something new, all the time. Do you have books you keep telling yourself you’ll read? I don’t—I’ve read them all already. Do you keep telling yourself you’ll try this or that, someday? I don’t—I have already done everything I know of (and, yes, lots of things are fun the first time). But none of that stuff is fun anymore—it’s old.

Then, so am I.

rodinevilspirits

Trump and Putin need to stop misusing their elected offices to market their brands. Corruption has gone beyond ubiquitous, to in-your-face. Around the globe, we see it—starting with our own GOP, and a president who neither fully divests nor refuses emoluments–who puts his family members on staff as if running a mom and pop store instead of the USA.

But corruption is even more malignant in Mexico, and in both Central and South America. Corruption is more sophisticated in Europe and the UK—as one might expect. But we see the worst of it in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, China, and Russia. Russia is the supreme example—their ‘democracy’ was hijacked by the head mob-boss in post-Soviet Russia—and he has been getting reelected for 17 years. And this thug still has veto-power on the UN Security Council. Same as the other two thugs—Trump and Xi Peng.

But I’m not pointing fingers—my point is the opposite—that corruption is an ingredient of society—the only variables are: how deeply ingrained, how inhumane its profit-motive, and whether the ‘townspeople’ can stand up to bad government without being gunned down. It’s certainly more nuanced than that, but you get my concept, I hope.

Health Care Legislation was a very different thing before the Affordable Care Act (what there was of it). The ACA (or ‘Obamacare’, as I like to call it, for short) was the first law to require the health insurance industry to provide coverage that was less profitable, but fairer. Coverage that protected sick people, Obamacare virtually stated, could not be purely for profit—it had to have standards of an ethical nature, since Health Care was a business of life and death.

The health insurance industry felt obliged to resist lowered profits and increased regulation—they thought in terms of profit and loss. Like most industries, insurers can see no middle ground between maximum profit and a threat to their rights to do business. They can talk that way—corporations have many of the rights of a person—but they aren’t ‘person’ enough to have to face their own family after saying some of the cold-blooded, hypocritical press-releases they do—neither must a corporation tell individuals, to their faces, what they intend to do to them—or take away from them—or cheat them out of.

The law may say that a corporation is a person in the eyes of the court—but, outside the court, I think we can all agree that a corporation is the shittiest person anyone has ever met—not that anyone can meet those flat-faced, lobby-laminated excuses for human flesh. If a corporation sues someone, it’s never about the corporation’s integrity, as a person—it always because someone threatened their profits, their cash-flow, their public image. I could loiter around and spit on a corporation all day long—it’s not a person—it won’t even get its feelings hurt.

I’m stumped about what gives these actuarial fictions any Constitutional rights—it’s as if there’s a carney-ride gateway for piles of money, with a sign that says, “You must be this high to have all the rights of a person—without any of the consequences.”  Someone will have to explain it all to me someday. Then explain why such a stupid idea endures, like it was the friggin Emancipation Amendment or something.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017                                             2:25 PM

When will we face our embarrassment that we let Russian disinformation and hacking—and the media hoopla—trick us into letting crooks into the Administration? Trump’s gang have shown themselves without honor, without competence, without honesty, and without any regard for the Constitution—and, in spite of that, the Republicans scruple to impeach him (perhaps because he’s only slightly more cynically unethical than they are). But someday we’re going to have to face it—we’ve been had.

And the Russians go right ahead with their global program of disruption of democracy, attacking unity wherever they find it—especially in the United States. We take for granted that word in our country’s name—but it has been our shield and buckler, without us even really appreciating the power of unity. Our government had the wits to appreciate the strength of unity when FDR said, ‘let there be labor unions’. Business owners fought against it, but not having any moral ground to stand on, they were overruled.

Inclusion is just our modern way of saying ‘Unity’, when unity has become an old-fashioned expression. But old things are best—and there’s nothing like unity—teamwork, looking out for the guy next to you, etc.

And the media go right ahead, making a circus of the most serious aspect of our lives—money, taxes, legislation, infrastructure, consumer protection, et. al.—they talk about it in throbbing tones, dramatizing and stirring the pot of what is really a bunch of vote counting and legalese. I’m not saying journalists shouldn’t cover the news—but stop making it into some Shakespearian comic tragedy full of personalities and gossip. Stop making money broadcasting our political fate as if it were a football game, goddammit.

They usually reply that they’re just giving the public what they want—but that’s bullshit—if that were true, they could just broadcast porn and ESPN, and skip the news altogether—but if they’re going to do it, they should do it as a public service, not as a competitor in the ratings wars. They way they’re doing it now, it’s more like they’re cheerleaders for the devil—at their most thrilled when our country is on the brink of disaster. Cronkite did not announce Kennedy’s assassination breathlessly, like some Shopping Channel shill—he did it with tears in his eyes. Why? Because he was a human being—with a slight taint of decency.

inferno25

Friday, July 07, 2017                                                6:10 PM

I lost my memory and I can’t remember where I left it. I lost a liver and received a stranger’s to replace it. I’ve lost my health and all I have is writing to distract me. I lost my cigarettes when they diagnosed my emphysema—and I lost what little self-respect remained when I found I didn’t have the will to quit smoking, while slowly dying of emphysema. How stupid is that?

Very stupid—but I’m allowed to be. I used to be semi-intelligent—I know what intelligence means—and I no longer have it. If HepC made my brain stupid and I have to live with that, then I’m not going to blame myself for being stupid. I’m not really blaming myself for anything—that’s the beauty of learning to stop blaming other people—you get to stop blaming yourself, because the same excuses apply, no matter whose fault something is.

What excuses do I allow other people, in trying to stop blaming them? Well, there’s the thing about everybody being a product of how they were raised—genetics makes us all unique, but a common upbringing tells in most people. I use this one for parents and teachers—I tell myself that they were raised in an earlier, rougher period of time—by parents that were raised in an earlier, rougher period of time, etc., etc. If kids didn’t swear to raise their kids better than they were raised, we would all still be living in caveman times.

Conversely, a variant of this excuse, for contemporaries, is: I tell myself they were raised by weird, strict parents with weird, narrow-minded ideas. Basically parents are an excuse and a reason to be excused—as a parent myself, this comforts me. This rule is not reflexive however—good outcomes do not imply good parenting—goodness, in fact, often occurs in spite of bad parenting—and some terrible people have very nice parents (or, at least, one of them is, sometimes).

But it doesn’t really matter what excuses we use—the goal is to stop blaming other people. This is our goal, not because these people we blame deserve forgiveness, not because time has passed—not even because it allows us to take the moral high ground—none of these really require forgiveness. We want to stop blaming other people because it simplifies and improves our own head-space.

I am not, however, a forgive-and-forget person. If someone lies to me, I won’t rely on their word any longer. If someone takes from me, I won’t do business with them ever again. I don’t do these things because I hold a grudge—I do them because it would be crazy to ignore someone’s character. I don’t forget information, even if it is negative information. I stop blaming because it is a useless activity, but I don’t forget. Memory is a useful survival skill.

But I am no machine—I’m sure I contradict all these words half the time—when I write, I sometimes talk about me as I wish I was, not as I really am. Some of my thoughts make perfect sense in the moment, and then sound like idiocy deluxe a moment later. Life is a shifting target.

pn010

Science Fictions   (2017Jul05)

Wednesday, July 05, 2017                                                10:53 PM

Science Fictions   (2017Jul05)

Improv – Jeans Instability

Before I begin ranting, let me explain about today’s batch of baby videos—I decided to take all the titles from Astronomical Terminology, which I googled—if you want to know what a ‘Jeans Instability’ is, you can google it, too. (It’s the point at which a galactic dust cloud gets massive enough for gravity to start making it collapse into a baby star, though).

Improv – Galactic Tide

As usual, the titles, baby videos, and the piano music have nothing to do with each other—that’s just the way we do things here. Now, on with the lecture:

Improv – Critical Rotation

Greetings, People of Earth. Today’s message is: Things can only get better. I’m sure of it. Honest Abe said you can’t fool everybody all the time—and people are getting a nice, close look at the way things are. Politicians and business leaders can blue-sky all they want about tomorrow—seeing real-time performance on a daily basis, even with all the spin in the world, is harder to dismiss with words. In other words, I think it will be harder for Trump to run on his record than it was to run without one.

Improv – Celestial Sphere

Depending on how the Supreme Court sees ‘gerrymandering’, we might even see some Democrats win an election or two. There’s no limit to how much change for the better may be ahead. Heck, we could win it all—and we’d still have a couple of years of work on legislation and diplomacy before we could undo the damage the GOP has already done (and Donnie helped!), post-Obama.

Improv – Eccentricity

By now, whatever further extremes the Right goes to, those actions will only inflame the backlash of people who didn’t see this reactionary wave coming—and are watching government implode almost daily. Did you hear the departure of the last few people, last week, wiped out the larger White House Office of Science and Technology Policy? You can ignore Science, if it means so much to you—but turning our backs on Science is extremely dangerous—as dangerous as putting its detractors in charge (a pretty ignorant act in itself).

 

We know how scary technology can be—with serious people making the decisions. It gets a lot scarier when things like quality-control become a matter of alternative facts. Humanity has raised a mighty pyramid of technological connections—it is awesome in its complexity, its interdependence—every cog matching every tooth in in every gear, round and round, humming without a break—like a heartbeat from the world. We are letting childish people tear out pieces, clog up chain-links, and throw big, fat monkey-wrenches into this global clockwork.

Freedom of Speech may allow people to bad-mouth Science—and hard-case Ministers may encourage that—but anyone who wants to turn their back on our technology is threatening your life and everything in it. We take our developed-country lives for granted—they only exist courtesy of a gigantic legacy that started with Fulton and Edison—and continues with Jobs and Musk, etc. Trucks, Trains, Ships, Air Freight—spiderwebs of businesses—blizzards of paperwork—from international trade agreements to the economics of your corner deli—and that’s just for all the food and drink. Denying Science is the most retrograde opinion a person could hold—it’s like intellectual suicide.

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)

20170628XD-StarBase

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)

Hannity

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)

20121002XD-WIKI-Bernini-LaocoonNSons

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

20110412XD-WllmBlake0x.

Propaganda Sessions   (2017Jun14)

Creatures_02

Wednesday, June 14, 2017                                               11:03 AM

We have lost the thread of our government lately. The most recent outrage—the Attorney General sits before a Senate intelligence committee, refuses to answer reasonable questions, and refuses to offer a specific legal reason for refusing to answer—and the Senators don’t threaten him with contempt charges. Some seem to think that America has obsessed over ‘rights’ long enough—and it’s time to start focusing on privileges.

When Cracker Sessions is forced, further along, to respond, “I am not stonewalling”; he is actually saying, “I’m stonewalling, alright—and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Think about it—the only reason anyone would feel called upon to say, “I am not stonewalling” is if it had been preceded by a lot of unanswered questions and a Senator accusing him of stonewalling. To my mind, a mere verbal contradiction of such an accusation is the height of hubris and privilege.

And there was no sign that Sessions was loath to talk—we rarely see such huge swaths of time filled with mealy-mouthed vagaries that reach only one point—they prevent the demanding Senator from asking another question, and eat up that Senator’s time. This is an effective stonewalling technique—if one overlooks the stark contrast between Sessions’ oral pussy-footing and Comey’s forthright willingness to share any pertinent answers he could.

Sessions also added to the flurries of ‘blessings’ and ‘God’s will’s the GOP enjoys throwing around, lately—and it makes sense: God helps those who help themselves—and, boy, do the Republicans like to help themselves. Plus, the ignorant can only command respect when they point to a higher power to explain their incompetence. Those foolish Democrats too often try to make their points with mere reason—don’t they know we live in a post-fact society?

While Democrats suffer from a lack of leadership, the Republicans suffer from a surfeit of mislead-ership. I grant the pragmatic nature of their approach—it is far easier to mislead public opinion that it ever was to form a more perfect union. Idealists make the mistake of trying to tell people what’s good for them—which makes idealists like nagging doctors—and just as popular. Salesmen have a much easier job—they just have to convince us to sign the lease (or vote for a candidate) and let next sales-year take care of itself.

All good things must come to an end—and all bad things, too (GOP, take note). Good people are too busy to cause trouble—that’s why evil goes un-swatted awhile—good people are not going to stress about the small stuff. Evil un-swatted, however, tends to grow and grow. Evil even starts to think it’s acceptable—and is surprised when good people get fed up with the mounting evil.

Outrage is a powerful force—enable it at your peril. A passing faux pas is no great worry—but a looming conspiracy of evil can only spur people to respond. Think Boston Tea Party. Think Watergate. Unbridled abuse of power contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction. Cheaters never prosper.

Denial   (2017Jun09)

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Friday, June 09, 2017                                               10:35 PM

During the Depression, it became obvious that business owners were a threat to the equality of the workers—but with the Red Scare, we managed to deny that—and denying that business owners are a threat is a founding pillar of the Republican platform to this day. When Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, a new awareness came to the public—an awareness that what we do, and the waste we produce doing it, and the poisons we use doing it—has an effect on the places where we live.

Even as we busied ourselves, learning to throw our trash into receptacles (instead of on the ground)—chemical and petroleum companies began to push back on the idea of ecology—denying that our use of natural resources could have any ill-effect on the Earth—or that resources would ever run out. And climate-change-denial is still a part of the Republican platform, as well.

It was different in the past, when big money and big business had an understanding ear in the GOP—now, it seems more as if the fat cats outright own the GOP—lock, stock, and ethics. The masses of people who overlooked the favoritism of the entitled for the promise of conservative, unchanging security—they have become dupes of those who would make great change—and most of it retrogression or partisanship. And now they have a crazy man in charge—it may take time, but they will come to see him as a dangerous man.

So many of our political footballs carry within them some sort of denial on at least one side of the argument—right-to-lifers deny that legal abortion is better than illegal abortion—climate-change-deniers ignore the preponderance of both scientific authority and evidence—marijuana-haters deny the probability that pot has many medicinal uses—gun-nuts deny that the ubiquity of guns has any connection to our sky-high murder rate—it goes on and on.

And these people have their arguments, their points-of-view—but seem, in the end, to simply deny something which they are uncomfortable accepting as part of their reality. I can sympathize—but I still think they’re wasting their own—and everyone else’s—time.

Improv – Woods Trails

Improv – High Notes

Bach – Prelude in C (with Improv)

Satie – Gnossienne (with Improv)

Improv – Maelstrom

 

ttfn.

Superlatives   (2017Jun09)

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Friday, June 09, 2017                                               4:19 PM

Shooting children as they try to run to safety with their families — there are no words of condemnation strong enough for such despicable acts,” – Zeid bin Ra’ad Al Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights – from yesterday’s statement.

The above statement expresses a frequent reaction to modern life—an inability to find words suitable for the unprecedentedly uncivilized nature of certain current events. And this reaction is, more often than not, a response to the utter shamelessness of a bad actor, or actors—the disintegration of scruple among the wealthy and powerful.

The Manchester attack—at a concert known to attract little girls into tight crowds—is only one of the many terrorist ploys that beggar the belief of decent-hearted people. The animalism of war, exemplified by my opening quote, shows us war is capable, in spite of its ancient lore as a hellish experience, to become even more bestial with every passing day.

Both terrorism and war represent, at root, a failure of leadership (or a hijacking of leadership for self-indulgence). Thus, failure of leadership is a dangerous thing.

And even though America is not yet a hotbed of terrorism or war, we would be foolish to wait for such conditions before we concern ourselves with the poor quality of American leadership. The bald-faced hypocrisy and mendacity of our elected government officials, in an era when good leadership could catapult a nation to undreamed-of heights, is frustrating to the point of madness.

The stagnation of business, corruption of investment houses, the aging of infrastructure, the failure to climb aboard the express train into the future, the failure to recognize that helping the needy helps ourselves—all these things go by the boards while our media and our politicians put on a friggin tap-dance show. I’m mad as hell, and I’m…—well, you know the rest—and, if not, go watch “Network”.

So, that’s where I start from—furious that all the potential that civilization has at its disposal is virtually ignored, while we use tunnel-vision focus to get the whole nation obsessed with an issue being misrepresented on both sides. Or maybe two or three issues—to be fair, we don’t always talk about birth control or climate change.

Sometimes we all obsess over the biggest waste of national attention we’ve ever had—our president—the liar, the letch, the con-man—but our president, nevertheless. No word out of his mouth has ever educated or enlightened a single soul—never lifted a spirit or inspired a young mind—what a POS president. His greatest accomplishment, to date, is to make the Bushes seem a lot more respectable than I would have believed, if you’d asked me two years ago. I still resent Bush Jr.’s disastrous incompetence—what a mess he made—but it seems moot now, with a new Armageddon in the offing—and a far more clownish excuse for a president in office.

So, as I said—I start at furious—and then fate put Prez Puzzy-Grabba on top of the already insurmountable crowd of problems—but where do you go from furious? We’ve all run out of superlatives. What we need is a good reality competition on TV—something that airs a November marathon, to keep the Trump supporters home on election days.

The President Is A Liar   (2017Jun08)

comey

Thursday, June 08, 2017                                          6:51 PM

The fact that Trump is a liar is something witnessed by every observer of the 2016 campaign—and ‘liar’ was far from the worst trait he exhibited, though it still should be concerning that he is a liar. The only thing new about today was that a man of stature and probity said so in a public (and televised) hearing. We all saw or heard the three (count’em) reasons Trump and his staff gave for the firing of Comey. Comey wasn’t so much testifying Trump was a liar as pointing out something we all could clearly see long before this day’s hearing.

Then there’s the Republican response—while the Senators themselves acted with restraint and seriousness, the commenters and apologists for the right were digging deep for pertinent pushback—and there were slim pickings dug up. Poking at Comey’s motives; darkly hinting that his leaking of his own memos was a questionable act, at best; suggesting that Comey should have responded instantly to a fresh and complex issue between spoonfuls at a White House dinner—all of these things will be repeated ad nauseum, and much more, to be sure.

But none of it obscures the blatant unprofessionalism of the president’s behavior—so sloppy that Paul Ryan sought to excuse his misbehavior as ignorance borne of inexperience (to which some wit replied: ‘you don’t put a toddler in the cockpit of a 747’). Whatever may be thought up by pundits in later days—in that hearing there wasn’t a single senator, Democrat or Republican, who questioned the honesty of James Comey’s testimony. Legal eagles can tussle over the technicalities of what it all means, in court—but nobody’s saying the described encounters didn’t happen, as described—except maybe the Donald’s lawyer.

Goodness Me   (2017Jun02)

Friday, June 02, 2017                                               12:16 PM

The media have put our society into a glass jar—and forgotten to poke any holes in the lid. Why would a News-channel talk about one thing all day—and still claim to be News? Newspaper editors go crazy, trying to decide which of the thousands of significant News stories they can fit into each issue—while CNN and the rest confine themselves to one subject—and then struggle to find something new to say about that one subject, for weeks on end—until the next ‘top priority’ subject wanders in.

Denzel Washington recently quoted Mark Twain’s quip to the effect that one can ignore the News and be uninformed, or follow the News and be misinformed. But, Twain lived in a world of Newspapers—nowadays, we can remain uninformed—even with a cable-News channel blaring into the room all day.

Printed News cannot show the same sentence over and over—it cannot type two peoples’ essays, one on top of another, so that we can’t read either one’s words—Newspapers don’t distribute re-runs of previous days’ papers. But, when the medium is a noisy light-show, as with TV and video, content becomes optional—this hypnotically vacuous disgrace is open to them. Yet they’ll still swear that it is Journalism.

Plainly, TV News could supply far more information—if information delivery were truly its goal—by airing the prompter. Just turn that camera around and let us read it for ourselves, why don’t you? But then, it’s not really Journalism—no, no—this is Infotainment. Big business—why is it so easy to make money by degrading people?

It’s all about terminology—any old thing can claim to be ‘News’, but ‘Journalism’ is a different animal—a more rigorous bar to be met. We have many TV News shows—even News channels—but we don’t have much TV Journalism. The attention-based economy has stomped its footprint into our lives. While this predator ranges the landscape, we’ll have to look to books and newspapers for our hard facts—any info from media more ephemeral is tainted—ensnared by the commodification of sensational attention-getting—and thus suspect.

And most of all we must look to ourselves—the easiest thing we could possibly have an impact on—our own thoughts and feelings, how we live, how we treat others—one could conceivably spend an entire day ‘making the world a better place’ simply by being a better person—and it’s so convenient. I mean—you’re right there, already.

To avoid unnecessary conflicts without letting fear be the guide—to stand tall without the need to coerce others—these are the real problems of life. The rest is just details. If I mean well but do nothing, I am failing to interact with reality—but, if I do something, it’s hard to be sure it’s the right thing to do.

I have to search my heart carefully—ask myself what my true motivations are—whether I act out of righteousness—or just some tempting ego-trip that looks good. Then there’s the thinking through of an action, beforehand—will it get the results I seek, or simply show me off as a crusader? And will there be further consequences, beyond my immediate acts, that would ultimately worsen whatever situation I’m trying to help?

The bottom line usually is this—I can’t be of use to other people if I’m not with other people—if I don’t get involved in my community personally, I can’t really know what their problems are. So, I usually confine myself to not doing anything to cause trouble for others—living as a shut-in makes it hard for me to help others—but it’s still very easy for me to make other people miserable, if I’m not careful. Still, I miss being of use—the challenge and complexity of being a good person amid the hustle and bustle—those were the days. Not that I was very good at it—but I love a challenge.

Motivation means everything to me—when I catch myself doing something for unacknowledged motives, it really embarrasses me. I don’t like the image of other people seeing me argue for something and seeing what I’m really trying to say, and that I don’t even know it.

Motivation is, to me, like Body Language—in the way that Body Language can say much more than the words someone says—and can say it without that person’s awareness—motivation is the personality behind someone’s actions.

When I look at the talking heads of the News—or the politicians the News is about—I take note of what they say and what they do and how they vote—but I also keep an eye out for where they’re headed with the sum of their activity—I ask myself, where are they going with this?

I get dismayed by the number of public figures whose motivations are impervious to reason—people for whom facts can get in the way. I simply don’t understand it—if my stance on an issue runs counter to the facts, I cede the point—life’s too short to get mad because things aren’t the way I wish they were. Better to move forward towards something that promises a better future—and leaving reason out of that is madness (well, by definition, too, yeah).

We get a lot of debate about ‘alternative facts’ lately—people argue over what’s true or false, partly or *wholly, proven or merely alleged—and paste labels onto facts which they dislike, as if to cast them out. We all know that such a situation could only arise if one party were working very hard to obscure the plain truth—although, by now, we are dangerously close to it being all parties that are jumping on the bandwagon, when it comes to ‘fact-curation’.

I’m tempted to point the finger at the party with the ties to Russia—but I’ll let you puzzle that bit out for yourselves. Maybe it was incautious to so completely empower a man who’d made a career out of pushing the ethical envelope—that’s not very presidential. He’s so good at surprising us, keeping us off-balance—it makes some people nervous—even panicky. But not Congress—nerves of steel, those folks.

 

* (I spelt this ‘wholely’—but Word corrected me to ‘wholly’—I googled it—the first is English spelling, the second is American. Guess I read too many Brit authors.)

Respectfully   (2017May31)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017                                               7:07 PM

This whole political snafu is about respect. Our president is supposed to champion our country—and for most people, that means championing what America stands for. It was perfect, in its way—because a lot of bullshit gets sold under the rubric of ‘American Values’—bullshit just as coldblooded a scam as Trump’s administration.

Pompous peacocks have gotten a lot of mileage out of ever-so-solemn reference to our founding principles—and while I disagree with Trump that political correctness is clogging the works—it’s not nearly as bad as the political bullshitting—I agree with the premise: We need to get our government back. So while the country’s middle became unhappy with the neglect and corruption, they sought a champion that would shovel the bullshit out of Washington and get the pipes working again. Unfortunately, all they got was a new layer of fresher manure.

Individuality and new perspectives have always had value—but they are not absolute goods, just an ingredient in a healthy whole. For the individualists and free-thinkers that support Trump, he represents someone who will bypass all the red tape and get stuff done. They applaud when he upsets the bureaucratic apple-carts and garners gasps from the liberal media at all the false gods he throws to the ground. They love the Tweets signaling them late at night that, behind that sober guy at the desk, there’s a fool with no concept of probity—just like themselves.

But in giving respect, finally, to these overlooked groups of people—people who say they want less government—when what they need is good government—Trump has, through ignorance or otherwise, signaled disrespect for things that made our government better. It is no better to blame American values for being in the mouths of corrupt politicians than to blame Islam for being in the mouths of mindless animals.

When Americans support Freedom of Religion, we do not support religious freedom—we do not support religion at all—not in our government. And we do this for the very good reason that people have different religions. Our government has consciously, purposely kept its distance from religion since the Pilgrims settled—they came from Europe—where people killed each other over religion for centuries—and they had no intention of just bringing in the old problems.

There is an unhealthy Fundamentalist Christian group in this country that promotes the ignorance to misunderstand this important principle—and tries to twist it into an excuse for their overweening influence on legislation. These people are dangerous extremists—using our legal system to subvert our way of life—and they can pray ‘til doomsday and it won’t make them any righter. These are some of the people who are finally getting the respect they pine for, from Trump.

Money influences (or simply bypasses) government in much more direct ways than lobbying—often the only way to stop corrupting influences is to arrest the people who break the rules—very rich, very connected people. That can only happen in a country where the law cannot be bought, not in broad daylight.

Many people work for rich people who use their wealth to influence their employees, enlisting them in getting around regulations put in place to protect those employees—and whistleblowers, especially undocumented ones, are a rare breed that usually gets crushed, no matter how the big picture works out. Business owners like it that way—and they don’t like inspectors—and they are finally getting respect from a guy who does business the same way, Trump.

Rich people have a sad habit of starting to look down on others—as if their money put them in a higher level. Money madness—poor people know who they are—they don’t look to possessions to define themselves. I’m not saying we should hunt down all the rich folks, or anything, I’m just saying it doesn’t hurt to put them in their place sometimes. But they too see a kindred spirit in Trump.

I think it’s the American Dream idea—lots of people dream of making it big, having it all, and giving back. Some people leave off the last part, making their American Dream into a lonely, rapacious video game, where you never win enough money and possessions. America used to whine less about helping others—we were eager to do what we could to lift up the less fortunate, to let them and their children have a shot at living a nice life. Now all we do is bitch about our taxes being used for ‘no-accounts’—like, who died and made you the fucking king of the hill?

Let some of those rich bastards fall on hard times—suddenly, they’re filled with wisdom—from living on the street, from feeling like they need help and it’s not there. Like you couldn’t empathize with this back when you could have done something to help? You had to have your face rubbed in it? Eau de humanite.

Anyway—getting off topic there. So: respect. Middle America wanted it—and they got it. They did not get better government (my money is on worse, much worse) but they did get respect, for now, and they’ll keep supporting him until something changes their minds. What that is I couldn’t say. A lot of them will be dead by the time their kids and grandkids have to deal with the damage from the Trump presidency—so I guess they did the right thing, as they saw it.

But I can’t help pointing out that Coolidge tried to create the League of Nations after the first World War—and failed. Truman tried to create a United Nations after the second World War—and when that failed to fully form, NATO was created to act as a bulwark against any future rogue alliances bent on war.

If you will consider their times, you can see that they not only wanted peace—they were sick of the horror of war. Millions of corpses littered the world’s largest land mass—twice—and sensible people felt that war had no profit for anyone—and led to much death and destruction—no brain-teaser there. But we have had half-a-century to develop amnesia, or extreme myopia, call it whatever you like—and we don’t have the least idea of the suffering that a third global conflict would visit upon us.

And that specter demands some respect, too.

The Russians aided the Trump campaign—and characterizing that as an ‘excuse for losing’ misses the point. Being infiltrated by Russians is a bad thing—and the worst thing about it would be not to recognize that the Russians have fed you lies. The next worst thing would be the reasons why we were so easily played—how could this work on us?

The bad guys have found a way to weaponize Free Speech—and that makes it important for all of us to become smart-asses—people who look things up and study original sources and work on checking the math. We need to become too smart to fall for their bullshit—and it starts with recognizing that it happened.

Public education was one of America’s great advantages against the rest of the world—and we have fallen behind, forgetting the tremendous value of educated, highly skilled, even innovative young people. And we are blind to the great expense of being negligent of citizens in need, especially the young. A productive citizen is an asset—a neglected citizen becomes a liability. It’s simple logic—there’s no bleeding heart here—it just makes sense to do the right thing. Anyone who says different has a touch of the sociopath.

So, Trump has taught us a valuable lesson—the road paved with bullshit leads to madness. We can no longer rely solely on the United States to function automatically—we have to build new voting blocs of people who want to do the right thing, who feel better with a real leader at the head of our state, and will not condemn their own children in their eagerness to deprive the children of strangers. Which is harder, getting the voters or finding the candidates amongst honest Americans? It’s an impossibly huge job—but that’s what happens when you put democracy on two-party cruise-control for a full century.

Or we could just wave Democracy bye-bye, as the fat cats work their mindfuck magic on the unsuspecting pod-people, and we all just watch TV.

Unfollow The Leader   (2017May19)

flags

Friday, May 19, 2017                                               8:01 PM

Oh how the proud are humbled—our president has prompted the world to baby-proof their embassies prior to Trump’s arrival—short sentences, plenty of calm—and that is not the usual prep for a visit from (whom we can hardly any longer call) the ‘leader of the free world’. Because America’s preeminence has never stemmed from its military or wealth—in fact, those things cause more trouble than they’re worth, often as not—but from our dedication, to a citizen, to the founding principles of this place.

The rest of the world is not all bad—but it’s not all good either—and for a long time, America was the best place to be. Other countries didn’t care about our tanks and planes, or our banks and factories—that stuff, quite frankly, fits into whatever culture it finds itself in—and eventually gets warped in the same way, making things worse instead of better.

No—people wanted to come here—to live as free people. And most of them were not being oppressed by their laws—they did not suffer for a lack of our Constitution—they suffered from their friends and neighbors—even their families—deciding what their lives would be, what work they would do, who they would marry, how they could live their lives. Most foreigners want to come to America for the same reason young people want to leave home—they want to live their own lives.

The Melting Pot took them all in (I should say took us all in—my grandparents were Irish and English). Making a living isn’t any easier here—in some ways, it can be more difficult—still, what you do with the rest of your life is entirely up to you. That’s freedom with meaning.

But an important part of that freedom is not giving other people grief over their choices—that’s just being a dick. Don’t start none—won’t be none. You can’t claim freedom for yourself and take it from someone else. It doesn’t work that way—that’s like stealing. Freedom doesn’t just enable us to respect each other—it demands that we respect each other—or it isn’t real freedom.

That is why freedom of religion is the bedrock of America—and free speech a close second. We cannot hold each other captive to dogma or censorship. An American can walk away from his family, his faith, and his hometown—not many do, but the choice is there—no one is classified by birth in America.

That is why racism is so divisive—some of us are raised with a hate that is born of old tradition—and some of us are raised to despise racism for the betrayal of America that it represents—and we will never agree to disagree, because hate is not something a person can just ignore—and it becomes a source of injustice and misery.

People talk about the history of the Old South, the Confederacy—I say Fuck that shit. We used to be a British Colony, too—but you don’t see a bunch of New York yahoos, proud of their Tory heritage, yearning to be back as part of Great Britain. How stupid are these people? And to link it with racism—as a cultural touchstone? Fuck me, but there’s more stupid in the world than I can deal with.

Pardon the digression—the idea of bigotry makes me ill. Where was I? Oh yes—the rest of the world looked up to America as a better place to live—a better place for their children.

But now we have a president who doesn’t respect America. He hasn’t studied—he’s been too busy making deals, cutting corners, wheeling and dealing—he doesn’t really even know what the presidency of America is, beyond it being the ‘prize’ at the end of the election.

We have a president who dismisses our sacred vow of religious freedom. We have a president who questions the value of free speech—and of transparency. People can stay in whatever hell-hole they’re already in, and get the same lies, corruption, and incompetence as are presently on offer in the Great United States—land of the free—for now, at least.

More Than Anything   (2017May18)

lewis_carroll_-_henry_holiday_-_hunting_of_the_snark_-_plate_2

Thursday, May 18, 2017                                          1:45 PM

Humankind has a pretty long history—even the special case of United States history, alone, is a pretty thick almanac of ups and downs, bests and worsts—centuries of heroism and villainy, celebrity and infamy, achievement and catastrophe.

When Trump says ‘Never before in history…’, he does not speak as an historian. He is using the phrase ‘in history’ as a synonym for ‘very’. He is not merely being (laughably) ignorant when he claims his historical superlatives—he is also, subliminally, undermining the concept of history as meaningful archive. For Trump, a meaningful archive is a threat—evidence of the past.

For an old wheeler-dealer like him, the point of mistakes is to get people to forget about them—to gloss over any negatives and make that sale, close that deal—and move on to new sales, new deals. But for an elected official, the point of mistakes is to investigate them—to scour the records. It would be odd indeed if Trump were a history enthusiast—most of his mistakes have been made before.

But me—I am a history enthusiast—and Trump offends me on many levels, not least of which is his pretense of scholarship:

This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history.” – D. Trump

No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly…” – D. Trump

These are professorial wordings, usually used by someone who isn’t pulling facts out his or her ass—Trump uses the words of intellectual rigor, as if to give his bullshit respectability.

Getting down to cases: Mandela spent decades in prison before becoming South Africa’s president. Lincoln and Kennedy were both shot in the head. Hitler and Mussolini were ridiculed in Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” so ruthlessly that the government tried to block its release in theaters.

If we want to talk history—Donald Trump may have a claim to being the biggest pussy ever to take office—as far as his other historic deeds go, we’ll have to wait until after the investigations to say with any real ‘surety’.