Saturday, January 7, 2017

Minyan for a Grassroots Movement


Interesting life stage. No, not the current mess outside . . . all that ice covered with snow. No, I mean our mess just beginning in Washington. And the Drumpf isn’t even yet on board.  But his various swamp creatures, Paul Ryan, et al, are already hard at work dismantling what is left of the Great Society legacy of FDR and his followers.
Right out of the box, of course is the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). It will be replaced, I understand, with Trumpcare. What is Trumpcare you might ask? Well, Trumpcare is a promise to provide health care at some future stage, currently undefined to all those 20+ million folks who signed up for Obamacare. They won’t have any health care protection for a while, but hey, they didn’t have any before Obamacare kicked in either.  So, what’s the big deal? You must understand that the Drumpf first has to build his wall that the Mexicans are going to pay for (hahahahahahahahaha).  Oh, and while he is killing Obamacare, he plans to defund the Planned Parenthood clinics, through which a lot of folks get their prenatal care and cancer screenings. Republicans really hate it when all those folks get health care.
But Paul Ryan is a big thinker. He’s after way more than Obamacare. He wants to kill Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, and thinks he has them in his sights.  It is not yet clear how he plans to disenfranchise the many millions who currently collect from Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Paul Ryan is a big thinker, but he doesn’t seem to be real accomplished at actually doing anything.  On Medicare, and perhaps even Medicaid, we think he wants to give folks vouchers to buy health care from your friendly neighborhood health insurance company—makes me wonder whether Paulie has his stock portfolio chocker-block full of private insurance company stocks.  A voucher. Yeah, that’s what we need . . . a voucher.  No rules of engagement. Just a voucher and a note saying, “Good luck, Paulie”.
Social Security is a bit tougher. I mean, how does he replace automatic payments each month from the government? Maybe, a voucher with a note saying, “we’re giving you discount coupons to WalMart.”
But then on other fronts, the republicans also seem to want to kill public education. And guess what, there too, they want to give folks vouchers to just go buy education for your kids.  A little unclear just why they dislike public education . . . maybe because it’s . . . public. They do seem to hate everything associated with Government, aside from, of course, themselves.  So, bye bye public education.  Oh, and then there’s that relationship between education levels and voters who support democrats.  Can’t have that.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch (Washington, DC) we still await the arrival of the new first family—the Drumpf and his daughter (surrogate first lady). I guess Melania will stay in New York, while Ivanka helps daddy-poo entertain all those important people. I guess Ivanka speaks English, so she’s less likely to embarrass her daddy-poo. Maybe Melania will oversee The Trump Towerland, while Daddy and Ivanka oversee the real action. One of the guys will meanwhile hold down the fort at Maralago, entertaining all of daddy’s Russian lenders, who seem to be manifold. Can’t have all those Russian and Chinese “investors” unhappy, can we?
All that makes me wonder where Vlad the Impaler will house his KGB-US headquarters.  Probably New York, but Maralago would make for relatively easier coming and going by submarine, wouldn’t it? Oh, it’s all going to be so entertaining, until someone shuts it all down, and we all enter the collective global toilet. But, until then, have fun folks.
On the subject of what to do, what to do, a dear friend came up with an idea. Barbara Thiede, a writer for our local newspaper, and a rabbi has come up with an idea she is calling Minyans for a Grassroots Movement. What is a Minyan, you might ask? Well, in the Jewish tradition, a Minyan is a group of at least ten folks who would form a quorum needed to say prayers. So, on this political front, the idea would be to gather a small group to send messages—phone calls, mail, e-mails—to our local, state and National political representatives on specific issues of concern. If any of the ten decide to prepare a message, they will send that message to each member of the Minyan. The members can then decide to write something similar, or cut and paste a supportive message. Then if each member sends that message to friends, the friends can also become supportive members, and so on.
The central idea is to get as many people as possible writing, or calling legislative representatives, whether those reps are of the same or different political persuasion. If your reps, like ours, are to the right of Atilla the Hun, they still need to hear from constituents, otherwise they will imagine they are acting with the complicit support of their voters.  Don’t let them think that.
So, that’s the message for the day.
Write or call your elected representatives. Do it often. Let them know how you feel about what they are doing or thinking of doing. Just do it.
Here is at least a starting list of elected representatives' contact information.

NORTH CAROLINA legislature:
Paul Newton = State Senator

Some House representatives:


US House & Senate:

Thom Tillis
202-224-6342

Richard Burr (US Senate)
202-224-3154

Richard Hudson ( US House, district 8 in NC)
202-225-3715

Robert Pittenger (US House District 9)
202-225-1976

Ta ta . . .

Friday, December 30, 2016

2016


2016

I keep wondering. Have I ever seen a year like this?  And the answer is, hmmm . . . Yes, of course.

                .               Famous folks died . . . think 1963

                .               economic screw-up . . . think 1929, or 2000, or 2008

.            world in a mess . . . well, when wasn’t it? In my brief time on this spinning globe, we have had the Great Depression, WW II, the Korean “police action”, Vietnam, 9/11, and every year since

.            a screwed up election . . . hmmmm . . . maybe there you have something different.  I am told that the Rutherford Hayes election of 1876 bore some similarity in terms of corruption and awful characters. Samuel Tilden won the popular vote handily, but lost in a disputed recount process that awarded the needed electoral votes to the republican Hayes . . . hmmm . . . sound familiar?

.            And then there was that election in 2000. Remember that one, where Florida votes had to be hand tallied, but then our most corrupt justice in history, Tony Scalia, basically intervened to award the presidency to George W. Bush. Remember him? And that worked out so well, didn’t it? But still, the 2016 election is a standout. Not only did the Drumpf lose the national vote-count, but he seems not to understand what he actually has won. He may be our only President who can’t read.

So perhaps 2016 will go down in history as one of our more memorable years, maybe on its own merits, but more likely based on the likely disasters that will follow on the heels of electing the least qualified person in American history to the most important job our nation has on its books.

Now, to be fair, we still await the outcomes in his presidency. So, I may be writing a different kind of message at the end of 2017, assuming it is still legal to write about President Drumpf. And always assuming that our president does not start WW IV, the “war to end all wars” because it eliminates humankind. So, we will just have to wait and see what our “enfant-terrible” has in store for those of us who did not actually vote for him (a majority of voting Americans as it turns out).

So, bring it on 2017. We await your pleasure . . . or whatever the hell you actually deliver.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Electoral College Has Spoken


So, it’s official. We have formally elected a deeply flawed and apparently amoral man to be President of our United States. One person with whom I am “friends” on Facebook posted a piece suggesting that, with the election of Donald Trump, God had answered the prayers of the Christian Faithful. And I thought, “Really, your concept of your God is that he decided that a narcissistic-sociopathic, congenital liar, and sexual predator who is incapable of ingesting written information so as to inform himself about the world, and who has been consistently a failure at virtually everything he decided to “manage”, should now be the leader of the Free World?  Wow, what a statement about your God.  See that might describe the actions of a “Satan", rather than a “God”.

But, let’s be rational, folks. My thought for the day is, the US election is the final proof that, either there is no God, or if one exists, She really does not care about or act upon the affairs of humankind. What more do we need to know . . . nothing to see here folks, move along . . .

And if that is true, as surely it must be, then why are we here at all?

Well, if we were not here, how could we eat snickerdoodles at Christmas time, or enjoy a cool brew from the Cabarrus Brewing Company? See what we would be missing? Oh, but I get your question . . . you mean, why are we anywhere?

Well, I guess there are two views on that subject. One view is that God waggled his/her finger and poof, we are all here. I know, I know, that’s really silly. But then there is the view that we are here because life exists everywhere, and if life exists everywhere, then why not here, and why not us? See, it could be simply random creativity, acting over billions of years on millions of floating rocks that are attracted to fiery things we call suns, or stars. And given enough millennia on all those floating rocks, we are as likely to emerge as a monarch butterfly. Turns out anything is equally plausible.  See, I could as easily have turned out to be a dragonfly. But I didn’t . . . maybe in a past life?

Ok, so we’re here. Now how does that explain the Donald?

Well, here’s where the randomness thing enters this equation. Turns out not all creatures are created equal after all. Our brains are wired differently, partly due to our genes, and partly due to simple variations on a theme. Some folks are darker in skin tone than other folks. Some have blond hair, while others have black hair. Who knew? And internally, even more variation shows up.  Some people seem programmed to prefer calculus to surfboarding. Some folks look up at the sky and wonder why . . . while others look at the sky and run for the UV blocking crème.  Even funnier, some folks turn out to be guys, some are gals, and some are both or partly this and partly that. Some resemble guys, but are really gals, and vice versa. See, it’s all just variations on a theme, and if you keep producing variations for enough millennia, you get a lot of really different things and folks.

Think. Over time, that variation machine produced Julius Caesar, Jesus Christ, William Shakespeare, Adolph Hitler, that Mussolini dude, Adlai Stevenson, Franklin Roosevelt, Jack Benny, and even Donald Trump.  So, the Donald ain’t all that unusual. Many dudes are similar to him, as it turns out, but most fade into oblivion because they aren’t born into extreme wealth and a racist family.

Now, it’s also the case that most of the Donald Trumps of the world don’t come into great power, including the many dudes who have his deep flaws. Mainly, I guess we can blame his money which, when combined with his character flaws led him to become a kind of silly television actor. Well, actor is the wrong term and insults all real actors.  Apparently, “reality TV stars” are not real actors, although they employ the same kind of public venue.

See here we have another variation on a theme, produced by our perpetual variation machine—a personality warped by whatever produces narcissism, sociopathy, ADHD, and then further warped by exposure to unlimited amounts of personal money, and then finally to unlimited exposure to millions of fans on TV, producing . . . MonsterMan. This particular personality disordered creature seems to fail at anything it tries to actually “manage”, but seems successful at appearing in public in front of large audiences and insulting people.  He/it is really good at that game. Just don’t let him be “in charge” of anything.

So, see, that God thingy did not have to have anything to do with producing the Trumpster. He’s just another variation on a theme, however unlikely it might seem. I mean, who would have predicted Adolph Hitler? Happily, for all of us ordinary dudes and dudettes, the rules of chance seem to favor producing more Gandhi’s or Churchill’s, than Hitler’s or Trumps.

So, in this season of supposed good will, we ought to try and act like it, at least towards our family and folks we think of as friends. Try to smile and think happy thoughts, especially toward those who might be less fortunate than we are.  Sharing some of our good fortune with others seems a nice thing to do, regardless of our dark thoughts about The Drumpf.

And then, after the season of good cheer, begin thinking and even acting so as to rid the nation of the influence of the Donald. We’re stuck with him and his companions in evil for a while, but we need to begin working on getting rid of them . . . legally and peacefully.

So, smile for a while, and then get serious.  This Nation has not yet run out of smart, caring people who are willing to seek public office. Look around. They will appear.

Happy holidays folks.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Lifetime Special Events


If one is fortunate enough to live a long life, it is likely that a series of events will be witnessed that are transformative, either personally, or of the world, sometimes both. We accumulate these events in our memory bank, and they never leave, but instead form a collective view of the world in which we live.

When I was still pretty little, December 7, 1941 occurred. I was a mere 7-almost, when we listened to the radio broadcast announcing that catastrophic event. Two thousand of our countrymen died in that attack, and our world, indeed even my little world changed as a result.  We lived at the time in Manhattan, in a little flat on Second Avenue, and even though I knew little of the world, it became clear that the world had changed suddenly and might never again return.  I knew it from blackouts, and rationing, and my uncle becoming something called a Seabee, and going overseas, eventually into the South Pacific.  We listened to frequent radio broadcasts by the President and life became The War.

And life went on, and somehow we survived.

Fast forward to 1962 . . . more specifically October 1962. Here is a clip from The State Department Office of the Historian:

The Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 was a direct and dangerous confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War and was the moment when the two superpowers came closest to nuclear conflict. The crisis was unique in a number of ways, featuring calculations and miscalculations as well as direct and secret communications and miscommunications between the two sides. The dramatic crisis was also characterized by the fact that it was primarily played out at the White House and the Kremlin level with relatively little input from the respective bureaucracies typically involved in the foreign policy process.”

I was an engineer, engaged at the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in Sunnyvale, California producing the Polaris missile, a submarine launched ballistic, intercontinental missile capable of reaching the Soviet Union.  When we became aware of the ships carrying missiles to be placed in Cuba, and aimed at the US, and we listened to the broadcasts emanating from Washington, we would gather outside of work at a local pub after work. We sat there and engaged in lengthy conversations about where we should all go, were the missiles to begin flying.  Should we leave the Bay Area and head for the mountains? Might it be safer somewhere along the coast? Given the relatively dark professional world in which we were engaged, producing missiles that could carry ten nuclear warheads each, capable of destroying a large swath of the world, our speculations were not idle.  And since this “event” lasted over several days, with the outcome always in doubt, it was nerve wracking at the least.

And again, the world survived, and we remained within that world.

Fast forward now to 1963, specifically November 22, 1963. We lived in San Francisco at the time, and my home office for the consulting firm in which I now worked was in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  I had flown from San Francisco to Boston that day.  As I was driving in my rental car from the Boston airport to our Cambridge office, a news flash came on the car radio—John F. Kennedy had just been shot while in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. Slowly, the agonizing news kept coming. Then that dread announcement; the President was dead. John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. I sat in the car, in the driveway of our office, unable to move, almost unable to think. How . . . why . . . who would do such a thing???

I think I never recovered fully from that shock. I became aware of personal mortality. It could happen to anyone if it could happen to JFK. None of us at that office knew what to say, or how to grasp fully what had just happened. When I finally flew home to San Francisco, I was aware of a new thing—a fear of flying.  It never fully left me.

1969 . . . summertime. We were in the process of relocating from Boston to Washington, DC.  We arrived back in the US of A from our four years in India in the summer of 1968. We settled into Sudbury, Massachusetts. Then, winter arrived. Then snow arrived . . . a lot of snow. Springtime finally arrived and we began talking about leaving the snow country for some place more compatible with our mentality. We had lived in California for almost a decade, followed by four wondrous years in India, where snow arrived only in far off Himalaya’s. So, we decided to leave the snow country and settled on Washington, DC.  Yeah, yeah, it could snow there, but not like Boston.

But first we had to find a place to live.  So, we decided to spend the summer in Chincoteague, where the kids could enjoy the beach, and I could commute from DC on the weekends.  It was a Sunday afternoon. We were sitting in the little dining room of our summer cottage, having our first gin and tonic of the approaching evening. We were watching a small black and white TV, transfixed. The first landing of man on our moon was taking place, in front of our eyes. There we were, surrounded by our family, and close friends from our India days, all with mouths agape, watching Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.

Man had left our spinning globe and was now on that tiny thing we observed way up in the sky. It was not like flying. No, this was something fundamentally different, capable of altering our whole concept of our place in the universe. When I had worked at Lockheed, in addition to the Polaris missile, our plant also developed and built the Agena satellite system. The Agena Target Vehicle (ATV) was an unmanned spacecraft used by NASA during its Gemini program to develop and practice orbital space rendezvous and docking techniques and to perform large orbital changes, in preparation for the Apollo program lunar missions. So, I was vaguely aware that we were moving toward space travel.

But actually watching an American astronaut set foot on our moon, was an astonishing event—first that it was actually occurring, and second that we were witness to the event.  We were all changed forever.

Many important events happened in the many years and decades after that magnificent achievement.  Richard Nixon ascended to the throne on the empty promise of ending that awful war in Vietnam, after which we endured another half decade of killing in that benighted land.  We elected an empty-headed movie actor, St. Ronald of Reagan to that same high office. And when he spoke of welfare queens arriving in their Cadillacs to mooch off of our goodness as a people, I understood that racists were now coming out of their closets, and it was ok again in America to be a racist.  And then that same man espoused the Laffer (Laugher??) curve as his economic policy, producing the largest fiscal deficits we had ever known, I realized that our President was also a moron, albeit a well-meaning and happy one.

Still, nothing quite prepared me for November 8, 2016. We had all grown weary of watching the parade of fools masquerading as GOP candidates, while on the other side, Hillary was marching toward the throne, and we were being entertained by Bernie. It was always hard to disagree with anything Bernie told us, so much so that we actually voted for him.

But it slowly became clear that the GOP was dissolving into a pool of empty rhetoric, with hate forging the anvil of their message. The Donald, whom nobody could take seriously, slowly began destroying his opposition. Really??? Donald Trump?? A billionaire circus clown??? That’s the best you can do Republican Party?? Really???

But then, as we approached November 8th, the race actually tightened between the two remaining candidates. How this could be was astonishing. It was clear to the entire nation that the Clown lied all the time. How would you know he was lying?? Well, whenever he opened his mouth and words came tumbling out, that would mean he was lying. And the astonishing thing??? He accused Hillary of being the liar.  Well, to be fair, he accused everyone who opposed him of being the liar.  It’s what he does.

But then, Hillary seemed to be leading, even if only marginally.  As we watched the returns, it began to seem altogether too close. But still, we assumed Hillary would prevail. We knew it would not be over til way past our bedtime, so we closed out the TV and went to bed.

I arose early the next morning and turned on the radio to NPR (we never watch TV news). And what to my wondering ears did appear . . . but a notice that the Clown, the Drumpf, had been declared the winner by virtue of his likely take in that creature called The Electoral College. See, we have a really strange system. We make believe we are voting for a candidate when we cast our ballot for Mr. X, or Mrs. Y. But in reality we are voting for an unknown “elector” who will later vote for the real candidate. It’s called “let’s Pretend Democracy”. See, our founders didn’t really trust us to act responsibly, so they dreamed up this make believe voting system, to keep us happy-- dumb, but nonetheless happy.

So, The Drumpf was being declared President-Elect. I called upstairs to tell my dear wife Carol of this remarkable event. She burst into tears.  Later, when I spoke with our daughter who was enroute to her medical practice that morning, she too burst into tears.  How could this be? It was like being told that Barnum and Bailey had arrived in town and had decided to buy the country and install their chief clown as the headman. And if we didn’t like it, why we could stuff it.

And so endeth the tale of events, or in this case, the trail of tears. We had elected a narcissistic-sociopath with advanced ADHD as President. A man who was unable to read or write because he could not focus long enough.  And now, we are both the laughing stock of the world, and pitied at the same time.  We look forward to a long, dreary set of years ahead, with feeble hope that the Clown does not blow up our entire universe, a not unlikely prospect.

Sigh . . . yet another of life’s defining moments. Let the new (Hunger??) games begin, folks.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Alt-Right=NeoNazi


We really need to stop being so politically correct about Donald Trump and his Neo-Nazi henchmen. Referring to the “Alt-Right”, or “alternative right wing” is covering horseshit with a nice handmade quilt.  I read an article about Steve Bannon recently, in, of all places, the New York Times. The article tried to make nice with Mr. Bannon’s image. In it, the author was at great pains to inform us that Mr. Bannon is not an actual racist. He has black friends and colleagues, after all.  I’ll bet some of his best friends are Black . . . or Jewish . . . or Muslim . . . or Gay.

But that seems to me to miss the only point of relevance.  That point would be, “is the web site Mr. Bannon managed a racist, or Neo-Nazi site, i.e., does the site espouse views than can reasonably be described as ne-Nazi, racist, homophobic, or misogynistic? If the answer is Yes, then it matters little whether Mr. Bannon’s personal proclivities are of the racist persuasion.  It would be like asking whether Hitler was actually anti-Semitic. See, the answer would not matter, since he oversaw a regime that killed six million Jews, and other folks they deemed UnGermanic, and therefore unworthy.  What matters is how folks act, or how they direct actions to be taken. If Steve Bannon runs an organization that is widely considered to be anti-semitic, racist, et al, then he is by definition all of those things.

And our Free Press needs to begin calling a spade a spade. First, we really need to drop use of this term, “Alt-Right”. Because it doesn’t mean anything.  Breitbart is a white supremacist organization. Which term describes the KKK, and the Neo-Nazis.  So, by inviting Mr. Bannon into his cabinet of advisers, Mr. Trump has opened his doors to Neo-Nazis and the KKK. We know, by his own personal actions that he is a misogynist, likely a racist, so it comes as no surprise that he would invite such folks into his cabinet.

By dressing up Mr. Trump in fine clothing, and dandifying his advisers, the Press is giving up its claim to be speaking “Truth to Power”. That should be the main aim of a Free Press under our system of Democracy. See, we need an active Free Press, all the more because our President-Elect specializes in lying, creating about him Fake News, and encouraging some of our more energetic enemies—Russia for example—to mess with our “news" and even, apparently, our elections.

Mr. Trump actively engages in business with nations with whom we are not on especially good terms politically, e.g., China, Russia, and The Philippines. Has he gotten around to building a Trump Tower somewhere in North Korea that we are not yet aware of yet??? It is, in any case, a phenomenon we have never before seen—a President-Elect using his newfound political stature to continue building his Brand.  He claims he will step down and away from his businesses, allowing his children to manage the entirety of his mega-chain of enterprises.  But does anyone still resident on Planet Earth believe that claim?? It seems absurd on its face. One problem there is that, because we have little experience with such a man as President-Elect, we have no plausible solutions to this problem.  So we might need to simply observe all transactions that Involve Things Trump and inquire within—can we link a transaction to a Trump-President meeting or contact? If so, the Free Press needs to call it out for what it is. His business Brand could arguably suffer as a consequence, but probably not more than it is already suffering from association with this mentally deranged man, soon to be President. Have we ever had such a complex situation before?

We have had deficient presidents surely. Think Ronald Reagan; think George W. Bush, both bottom of the barrel presidents. But each of those deficienistas still could lay claim to some understanding of our government and its workings, even as they proceeded to trash that system. With The Drumpf, we have a whole new landscape with no experience base.  The man seems to have no understanding of anything associated with our government, or our political system, no understanding of global political dynamics, and little ability or experience in negotiating the shoals of diplomacy. He is a novice in all regards. But more, he likely does not care whether he knows nothing. His interests lie in promoting himself and his personal interests. Full Stop.

So, now, more than ever, we require a vigilant and intelligent Free Press. I expect nothing from Fox News, because Fox News is not a real news organization. It is a PR media outlet whose intent is to promote the business interests of the far right. They are not of the racist, neo-Nazi persuasion necessarily. They do not care about such things. Their interests lie in promoting big business, the oligarchs of the world. So, we should have no expectations of that source.  But at least for most of the rest we hope for better things than they have so far demonstrated.

I know that it is tradition that the Press and the commentariat provide some wiggle room to the incoming folks. Give them a honeymoon. But, what I have seen since the election goes way beyond. The Free Press seems to be moving away from watchdogs of democracy and towards lapdogs of democracy. We need for them to drop this façade of uber-politeness, and become once again OUR (the people’s) spokesmen.  They need to remain firmly on the side of our Nation’s system of Constitutional government.  It is not clear to me they are quite positioned to be such a spokesman.

Oh and maybe we need to take away Mr. Trump’s Twitter account from him. It is, at the least, embarrassing to the Nation.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving


Giving Thanks

It’s that time of year again. At least once a year, we at least give some thought to the goodness and love in our lives. I know, I know, our nation just elected an amoral idiot, who practically screams hate at us.  He seems to symbolize in one fat little person everything that’s wrong with mankind.

Still, we all need to get a grip. The world has had amoral idiots at the helm of major nations before. Perhaps not us, but we certainly have come close a few times.  No names please.

On Thanksgiving, let us all try to stay positive and focus on the folks we love and the things in our lives for which we must be grateful.

Like a farm-raised turkey, baked to perfection, and perhaps a fried one, both of which will arrive with all the trimmings . . . an amazing stuffing/dressing that is a meal all to itself.  Sweet and white potatoes, cranberries, creamed onions, beans and greens. And then the pies, apple, minced, pumpkin to add something sweet as an aftertaste, but such a splendid taste that it will linger. Yes, the food, the food, amazing and fortunate for us, since we enjoy prosperity unheard of in much of the world. We are so fortunate that we often do not even comprehend how fortunate.  Our lives are full in so many respects that we lose count. 

So, when we raise our glasses at the onset of our bounteous meal and say, To Family, we will look each other in the eyes and count our many blessings. Simply the presence of our family at this meal signifies their place of love in our lives.  And for those family members not present, because they have their own extended families to celebrate, well we pass our blessings to you also, because you help to complete our fortunate lives.


As we age, and aging we are, we are increasingly aware of time and its fleeting nature. So many family members have passed from our changing life streams that we lose track. But they remain part of us, because they contributed heavily to who we are.  So our glasses are raised to them also. They were once among us and now they are gone, as someday we also will be gone.  The love that was given us by our ancestors is also passed ahead to our descendants. But we need to understand that the transmission of love is dependent on the clarity of the communications channels. I would imagine that a Donald trump would have so much static in his communication channels that love would be denied access.  So, keep your channels open to love and practice your best yoga mindfulness when negative thoughts begin to fill up those channels. Mostly, for the moment, kick Donald trump and his dark side supplicants downstream. They are wallowing in their own acid, and you need to be free of their evil influence.

So, open your eyes to sunrises and sunsets, look carefully at the bees, the buttery critters, the flowers still present. Look ahead to that white stuff that sometimes graces our landscape. It is beautiful too.  Think kindness. It is the only thing worthy in our too too brief time on this amazing planet, and this amazing thing called life.

Happy Thanksgiving all.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Twitter and the Donald

The Donald and Twitter

With The Donald keeping up his TwitterWar, lately against his media critics, especially but not exclusively The New York Times, I found myself wondering about his use of Twitter. He claims 10 million followers, but then he claims many things, most of which turn out to be untrue. But maybe he’s right. After all, he certainly exceeded 10 million voters, so why not 10 million Twitterati fans?

But why Twitter? Well, my view of Twitter is that it is a perfect device for brainless communication. The character limits prevent anything close to complex thoughts being communicated. All you can do is blast out emotional rants, and The Donald apparently is limited by his brain to emotional rants that are devoid of actual thought.  Remember, The Donald is a narcissist, meaning he is capable of thinking only about himself The Mayo Clinic states that, “narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that's vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”  So, his blasts of anger at the New York Times reflects this personality.
Then he is a sociopath. What’s that you say? Well sociopathy is a mental condition in which a person consistently shows no regard for right and wrong and ignores the rights and feelings of others. People with antisocial personality disorder tend to antagonize, manipulate or treat others harshly or with callous indifference. They show no guilt or remorse for their behavior.
And then we get to the real explanation for his Twitter behavior—he has adult ADHD. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health disorder that includes a combination of persistent problems, such as difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Adult ADHD can lead to unstable relationships, poor work or school performance, low self-esteem, and other problems. He apparently can neither read nor write extensively, since he can’t stay focused long enough. He flips from one thing to another, and just gurgles his way through all public appearances.  So twitter is the perfect vehicle for him to communicate, since it limits him to that 140 characters, meaning little actual thought is required, beyond a blind explosion of anger at some perceived slight.  But, as it turns out, twitter has added value. It is now the perfect vehicle for getting an audience of like-minded souls to become properly furious about something, or properly terrified about something.  In fact, The Atlantic magazine just published an interesting article on the use of social media, especially Twitter –“War Goes Viral: How social media is being weaponized across the world”. [1]   The article describes how ISIS uses the Twitter world to disarm its opponents and to gather recruits to its cause.  It was a dismaying article, but went a long way to explain how such a seemingly brainless twit like The Donald could possibly convince enough people to vote for him that he was actually elected to the Presidency.  That he keeps it up since the election is a portent of things to come. He will obey no common rules (he doesn’t even want to live in The White House for heaven’s sake), say whatever he wants, so long as it fits into the 140 character limit, and jerk from issue to issue with no real understanding of what his actions/plans will do the country or the world.  He does not care. And we need to understand that about him.  His every action is to enhance himself, or perhaps to enrich himself.  His failure to understand the blind trust thing is a useful clue to everything he does and will do.
So, thank you Republican party for giving us this mindless and potentially dangerous man to lead our nation.  Now is the time for the disheveled Democratic Party to reform itself into a productive vehicle for taking back our country.  
And if social media can be useful to the narcissistic-sociopaths of the world, then it can be used by responsible folks also. Use social media to whatever ends are required to return our country to a responsible, caring nation.  And that means, most especially, you Millennials. You are inheriting this mess, and you are now required to clean up our mess. Sorry guys, but we just weren’t smart enough apparently. Maybe you will be more capable. So begin to act now. Organize for action. Gird your loins. The Battle for Survival of America is on.
And just in case you think that we should “give him some time”, I will give you a few blog postings from another era—2013, of the beginning of Obama II, with the Republicans in charge of Congress.  How did they react to President Obama’s election? 
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
The commentary coming from the right wing in response to the President’s inauguration is truly stunning in its ignorance and delusional character. The commentariat, both paid and unpaid have been yakking away about the “socialist” state being pursued by Obama and the Democrats. How Obama is killing the incentive to start businesses by offering free goodies—money, food, whatever it takes, to keep people tied to big government, instead of freeing people to pursue the true freedom of capitalism.
First, all this incoherent talk about how we are becoming a socialist state is so absurd that I wonder about the mental state, or perhaps just the brainpower of the assembled cast of characters now criticizing our country. To my knowledge neither the President, nor any of his Democratic allies have proposed nationalizing a single corporate entity, not to mention whole industries. Had he proposed nationalizing our banks, or our energy companies, I might have understood his logic, but I would also have better understood the cries of socialism. As it is, the President continues to tolerate the fools who have brought this nation to its economic knees through greed and stupidity. That our financial system is run by people a few beers short of a six pack when it comes to intelligence and that no bankers are currently in prison continues to amaze.
What I cannot tell from the idiotic commentary is whether the writers actually believe their own foolishness, or they are simply mouthing the tale told by their owners—the Koch’s et al. I understand that the Faux News Network espouses idiotic rhetoric. They are highly paid actors who read their scripts. But why the pseudo-intelligencia of the right continues to mouth such inanities is quite beyond me. It seems clear that the right wing demonstrates willingness to allow this Nation to slide off its fiscal cliff, even though they have not yet pushed us off the cliff.
I keep wondering . . . isn’t it time for the right wing to once again regain its place in the country as thoughtful advocates of the American system? Back off guys. You sound too reminiscent of the 1930s. Remember the 1930s . . . that period called the Great Depression . . . that you also created?  
Thursday, January 24, 2013
As I sat watching Downton Abbey the other night, a thought struck me—the series is like gaining a window into republican delusions about the world in which they wish to live; it is akin to traveling through a wormhole into a brave new republican world, in which there is no middle class, only the rich, the poor, and the wannabe rich. In this case, I assume the republican middle class fits the model of the rich wannabe’s.
And then the program ends, and the wormhole disappears. I can find no other reasonable explanation for the republican assault on the middle class. They wish to rid the world of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, unemployment insurance, oh and public schooling. They do so love charter schools—which are really just public schools without the bother of government interference.

Listening to them chatter about Obama’s speech is also amusing, and annoying at the same time. The right wing accuses the president of failing to cater adequately to his right wing opponents—the ones who refuse to cooperate with anything he wishes to accomplish. They are the same ones who prattled on endlessly about how Secretary Clinton should have been fired, and even how impeachment must remain an option for this president.
They continue to moan about how we have entered that twilight zone of a socialist state, and unless they maintain their vast hordes of guns, the government will arrive to take away their liberties, and presumably their jobs. I assume they believe that Obama wishes to nationalize most of the current economic systems in the country—banking, energy, certainly hi-tech, automobiles, clothing (oops, we gave that away to China, didn’t we) and . . . and what else. Oh, I keep forgetting Obama must have given away everything else to China, since we seem not to make anything any longer.
The only thing not entirely clear to me is how the republican lords of the Downton Abbeys of the country expect to make their money . . . you know, so they can hire all those servants. Maybe they will all become investment bankers, and each will have his own hedge fund (or is it Ponzi schemes they want to run)?. It’s all so confusing, this big money stuff. See, I’ve never really had to worry about big money and gambling with other people’s money. I just worked for someone else from about the age of 13, until I could no longer stand working for someone else and started my own tiny business, which I held tightly to until I retired. So, the Mitt Romney way of business—buying and flogging other people’s businesses-- never entered my brain—stupid, I guess.
Well, anyway, I think I will keep watching Downton Abbey to see what clues I can gain into the dark minds of the republican 1% wannabe’s.
And speaking of watching TV, Yay . . . it’s 1183 again. Well, I know, technically it isn’t but, what the hell. It’s where we seem headed. We just watched a wonderful old film in our collection, The Lion in Winter, with Peter O’Toole and Katherine Hepburn. It’s about an aging King Henry and his quarrelsome and underhanded kids, all of whom wish to be king or at the least Lord of their own realm.  Their realms are, of course, fairly scruffy since it was 1183.
And I thought, as I watched, “why this is what our republican brethren wish to recreate.”  Not sure who is aiming to play the various parts—Rand, of course, wishes to be Richard, the ablest of the nasty clan, trying very hard to position himself as the heir apparent.  And the King . . . hmmm. Perhaps The Donald . . . no obviously the Donald himself, since he seems to want so badly to be the one who crowns one of the little republican hopefuls (and says to the rest, “you’re fired”). And I thought, maybe Michelle, or Sarah for the queen. They’re both every bit as devious as Queen Eleanor, but neither seems much smarter than my pet rock, so they wouldn’t really serve the part well. But then most republican hopefuls seem a couple of beers short of a six pack, so perhaps the girls are “normal” in republican world.
And as Henry goes about kicking his royal loyal armsmen in the ass to get them moving whenever he wants to go somewhere (think Chris Christie), or do something nasty, I thought, why yeah, that’s their exact model.  So, with the election results now in place, welcome to the wonderful world of 1183. I’m sure Steve Bannon and Mike Pence will fit in nicely.
And in other news, it is rumored that Rand Paul has advocated the official adoption of the Mayan calendar, since it is about as scientific as his colleagues are comfortable with. We understand that they now predict that the world has already officially ended.