Friday, November 3, 2017

The Drumpf as one of Life's SemiColons


Gotta hand it to the Drumpf. He certainly causes folks to think. For example, a record number of people are now thinking of leaving the USA for some other country.  I assume we would be also thinking of leaving, except we are really old, so it isn’t a serious option. Iceland anyone??

But even beyond deciding to depart, his very presence in our daily lives causes me to think about life differently. I have in the past characterized my life as something sandwiched between bookends.  At the one side, at the beginning, is immense stupidity--the great depression, brought about by bankers and stockbrokers acting stupidly, as they are wont to do.  That great event brought about great change in the world. Many people just gave up and leaped off tall buildings. Some, like my folks and grandfolks, just quietly gave into despair. Grandma and grandpa Inglis, having migrated from Scotland to the US of A at the turn of the century in order to build a better life, now just went broke, like several million others. But that, in any case constituted the start of my life.  Then a Democrat named Franklin Delano Roosevelt took over from the do-nothing republican Herbert Hoover and began rebuilding America. Republicans don’t seem too good at this nation-building thing.  Mainly, I guess, their focus is on building their own stock portfolios and their own bank accounts, which is fine, I guess if you’re a rich republican.

And then came that second Great War, our second “War to end all Wars”.  Although I was still pretty little when it began, it seemed even to me, that life had acquired a different and more powerful meaning. And that there were more good guys than bad guys in charge of America.  I assume the “meaning” attached to the simple fact that we were battling classic evil. The fascists, defined by Hitler, his Nazi henchmen and the ignorant tyrant Benito Mussolini were so clearly evil that it gave new force to all of our actions. People in America united themselves in opposition to this evil. It had to be defeated and by God, everyone was going to assist in that endeavor.

Then I grew up and the detritus of that Great War lingered and helped to define my era.  We were still more or less united against the forces of evil defined now by the Soviet Union in that great replacement for the war, now called the Cold War.

That Cold War, though, introduced complexity and ambiguity into our lives. Our world began dividing itself into competing, if not warring factions—East and West, with the West defining the “good guys”.   Partly, the divisions focused on competing economic models—“capitalism” vs.  “communism”.  But eventually nationalism began playing a role that stretched beyond these competing economic models. And nationalism gives way easily to authoritarianism (see Germany in the 1930s).  Joe McCarthy paved a path of ugliness, showing us the worst, most destructive form of nationalism.

But McCarthy clearly was not alone in his ugliness.  Perhaps there is something inherent in humans that moves from insecurity to dominance to murderous.  The Cold War gave us a lot of murder. We only let a few years pass after WW II before we re-engaged, this time in Korea—can’t let those commie bastards take over Korea. But there we learned a new lesson. We stopped short of total annihilation and simply gave into a compromise—an armistice if you will. But that allowed us to remain on guard, with claws fully outstretched. And then, barely a few years thereafter, we succumbed again to the battle, when Ike, the victor in WW II, began supporting the French in their zeal to regain their colonial empire in south Asia. I guess it was just irresistible.  Happily, we ignored Britain’s post-war colonialism and so we stayed out of India.

And so we engaged in a twenty-year warlike effort in Vietnam, first French-inspired, but then wholly American.  And there, in Vietnam, I believe we sowed the seeds of our current colonial outlook, now focused in the Middle East.

We now seem to have no clue what we are doing, beyond simply killing Muslims.  We were attacked, to be sure, with 911 sounding the clarion call, “To Horse . . . To Arms . . .” But where, and against whom? Ahhh, there’s the rub.

So, one president after another sought to achieve dominance, partly still out of that old Cold War spirit (we must surely be better than those old Soviets and their Chinese buddies), and partly because we seem to need the dominance thing. If we aren’t dominant, after all, then we would be subservient to someone, and that we cannot tolerate.

So began this never-ending war that now consumes our lives, one that we cannot win, but dare not lose.

And the wars that seem to bounce from one country to another seem also to confuse our leaders, to the point that they no longer lead. Instead, they simply talk a lot, or, some of them, yell a lot.

And our growing population grows ever more confused, and ever more seeking of that dominance thing. If we aren’t dominant, then we are pathetic. And so, one pseudo-leader gives way to the next, with nary a Roosevelt anywhere in sight.  When I worked briefly for the Federal government, from 1979 to 1986, Carter, a decent man but not a leader, gave way to Ronald Reagan, St. Ronald we called him. And St. Ronald played the game well. He was an ignorant man, but he knew how to play to the crowd, especially the crowd of disaffected yearning to be mighty. He actually made it ok again to be a racist, that long smothered trait that was also yearning to be free. 

And St. Ronnie yielded to Poppie Bush, who yielded to the Clinton clan, who in turn yielded to Shrub the clueless. Shrub didn’t understand much, but his gang of thugs knew how to throw armies around.  And so our never-ending war began.

But the real change occurred when we elected a multiracial man, an intelligent, decent, thoughtful man. And that was apparently more than our closeted racists could stand—see St. Ronald had opened the closet door, but largely the racists remained within. Now, with Obama at the helm, the Tea Party could no longer control itself and emerged in full battle armor.  And then we arrived at 2016, and I had entered my 8th decade.  Now I was old, by any definition. And, instead of looking forward to inspired leaders pointing the way to greatness, I observed our nation deteriorating into hordes of fools yelling about greatness, but having no idea what that meant.

Greatness. Imagine that. Greatness being defined by a man who had failed at virtually everything he had ever attempted. Think of his record. Three marriages. Six corporate bankruptcies. A man so steeped in corruption and spiteful behavior that he refused to pay people who did work for him. He bragged about his corrupt behavior with women. He lied every time he opened his mouth and words came tumbling out. He had no clue how anything operated, since he never learned to operate anything himself.  And yet, somehow, through the power of TV, he emerged as the winner, via another apparently corrupt process called the Electoral College. But that’s an argument for another time.  Many people learned of his record, deleted the bad parts and hooked onto the fake parts—he was a successful businessman, ergo surely he could run a better government and bring us back to more Greatness than that Black man from Kenya.  And so they voted him into office.  They did not know that businessmen operate on different standards than public policy leaders, so a “successful businessman” (which he was not) had no relevance and might well be counterproductive as a government leader.

And their ability to ignore the well-publicized reality of Donald Trump and support him anyway began to make me wonder what country I now lived in. Were I 30, like my grandparents of olde, I too might well depart this land for another. For ending this life with an idiot at the helm, and gun-toting racists running wild all around us is looking like a dismal way to end life. I had hoped for more. I even expected more. I thought somehow, we might really grow into this global leadership thing. Instead, we seem to be sinking into some abyss of awfulness.  The inferiors have invaded our land and now claim ownership.

And I have been wondering why.

And I have begun imagining that the ability of my countrymen to believe in the Drumpf, is not materially different than the ability of the hordes to believe in a bearded old man sitting on a cloud up in the sky, directing everything while still pretending that he has given us free will, so he isn’t to blame for our asinine behavior. Daily, this concept gains strength, as the 36% supporters (his core) continue to mouth their unbelievable views that the Drumpf is not the corrupt loser he actually seems to be. How else can I explain it, this “suspension of disbelief” thing? Imagine we are all watching a Shakespearean tragedy unfolding. Oh, that makes me wonder whether this other belief from folks like Elon Musk that our entire universe is merely a simulation in someone’s grand computer—a staged play-- might be correct.  Maybe aliens (Gods??) are watching us perform and are daily amazed and amused at our ability to continue carrying out these really, really stupid acts.

And so my slowly fading life continues to be defined, the final set of bookends to match that other 1930s beginning bookends. Maybe depression is the definition of life.  Maybe we stage happy chapters like the giggle of a baby, or the warmth of a kiss from a loved one to give meaning to this depression that seems to define so many lives.  

Well, maybe I need to reinvent my bookends. Maybe I need to stage new bookends consisting of beautiful sunsets, falling on my darling wife’s smile.  Have another glass of wine Richard, and ignore the destructive fat bastard who occupies the current White House. Hopefully, he will fade into oblivion, along with his sneering children. Drink on, me hearty. Life will end, but perhaps we should not let The Drumpf define its end quite so completely. Let’s make him a semicolon in life.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Lying President

There are two terms being used often in much of the literature surrounding our president:
  • Pathological liar
  • Compulsive liar
When looking for definitions, there appears to be a lack of a consensus, and one is drawn to the conclusion that the two terms are sufficiently alike that they may be used interchangeably.  The terms describe a behavior that goes well beyond simply lying often. They describe a behavior pattern in which the person lies even when there is no apparent gain to be made. Sometimes, the person is well aware of the lying; sometimes not.

Our president is labeled a pathological liar because of his amazing frequency of lies. He seems to lie so often that one is tempted to reach a conclusion, to whit:

“How does one know Trump is lying? Well, when he opens his mouth and words come tumbling out, he is lying.”
Now, it is likely not the case that Trump lies every time he utters words in sentences. But he lies with such frequency, about issues large and small, that it seems safer to assume he is lying. We also know he is a narcissist, and a sociopath, terms that describe someone who focuses exclusively on himself, and who cares not at all about the effects of his actions on others.
Now, how does this matter in day to day life?

Well, first, our president is in the habit of tweeting every morning, very early, before most normal humans are up and about—we think he does not sleep well, which could explain part of his behavior. So, he awakens and he begins tweeting. Why tweeting? Well, for one, he can do it without consequence. He cannot call anyone because nobody is awake.  He also has many, many followers, millions perhaps.  So, when he tweets, his followers see his messages as soon as they become awake.  Tweets also do not require one to have command of the English language. One can be an English ignoramus and still tweet in sort-of English.
So, with his tweets, he is always on the front pages of our collective minds.

He is also, of course, the President. So, whenever he tweets, or actually talks in public, his words are instantly broadcast to the world.  That matters, as it turns out. For example, when he calls names (rocket-man, or, worse, “little rocket-man”) his name-calling has consequences; at a minimum, rocket-man, will respond in a similar vein and the two-year old temper tantrums begin in earnest.
But his lies also pose another problem, namely, negotiations. If our president engages in negotiating with anyone on any subject, the people with whom he is negotiating cannot sensibly believe him. If he says, “I promise to . . .”, or “I agree with you . . .”, he should not be believed.

We know that, before he was president, he engaged routinely in behavior with people, especially people who did work for him that is consistent with the pathological liar. He routinely stiffed people. Now stiffing the carpenter who completes work on your office is different from stiffing the leader of Iran on nuclear negotiations. But the carpenter will be rightly pissed when he fails to get paid.  The leader of Iran might well begin assembling his missiles, or his weapons of nuclear destruction.  And if he negotiates an agreement with Congressional leaders (of either party as it turns out) his words should be treated as just words.  His words, his terms of agreement, have zero credibility.  His stance on the Iran nuclear agreement stand as an example. He is currently repudiating the agreement reached by an earlier president, thereby throwing into doubt all agreements with US presidents. His statements on the deal are either just completely ignorant—all of his advisers assert that Iran is living up to the terms of the agreement and that the agreement is at least reasonable.  He asserts the agreement was an awful pact, perhaps the worst in the history of pacts. Now his conclusions are either simply ignorant, or he is lying to achieve some other end.
And therein lies the problem. Because he cannot be believed, he can be dismissed, whether he may actually be correct (unlikely in the extreme) or not. One cannot believe his assertions, so they will be dismissed, and people will act accordingly.

Now that leaves us with a leader who is totally, 100% useless, as a negotiator, on any subject, large or small.  It means that we should not take him into any venue wherein negotiating is to be completed.  Congress cannot really “negotiate” with our President on any subject. They should simply reach their own conclusions and then inform the President of their position. He may accept that or reject it.  Period.
And, when foreign negotiations are in the offing, they need to leave him at home.  That may not be possible, since he does love traveling in style. But it should be their starting position. No, we can handle this one, Mr. President. We need you at home minding the store.

If he is party to any negotiation, the agreement will be tainted, by definition.
It is too bad Mr. Trump doesn’t drink. It would be very helpful if we could get him to just stay at home and have his servants feed him gin and tonics all day long. Or maybe pot. I wonder if he smokes pot? If we could keep him high all the time and never allow him into any negotiating venue, we would all be better off. Yeah, groovy Mr. President, really groovy, dude.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Grumpy Old Man


Grumpy Trumpy

Every day now, I open my e-mail or facebook account and I see some article by folks who apparently know our president, and they practically shout that he is (pick one) falling apart, ready to resign, having another hissy fit, threatening someone, or some organization.   Virtually never do I read about him doing something honorable, or clever, or moral, or, god-forbid, presidential. 

And, of course, it seems always to be the case that virtually every other article is about him. Since he tweets every night at 3:30 AM, or thereabouts, we are almost guaranteed some meltdown communique. I think it did not always play out this way. In olden days, one might awaken to other types of news—the weather even. Remember those good old days?

Now, we have to think about the nuclear codes, and whether any of his minders has let him have access to that terrifying box with those dreadful codes and switches.  Someone recently characterized the White House as a Day Care Center, with the President in Residence as the chief two-year old resident.  And, we look always to see who is actually minding the store, cuz it sure as hell ain’t him.

It would seem that we really have painted ourselves into a corner and then set the room on fire.  With all the speculation about impeaching him, we all now wonder whether that outcome would produce anything worth having—Pence as President? Why don’t we just get it over with, and designate the Devil – remember Satan?--as our new leader? Could that be any worse than what we are now experiencing, or would experience with Mike Pence? I regard the choice of Mike Pence as a sign of hidden genius on Trump’s part.  He may be a f#$@ing moron, but he knew enough to select his insurance policy in the form of Mike Pence.  This is why the newest cries for removing him all seem based on the election having been rigged by those Russkies. So, if that is true, then the whole election is invalid? Right, say those folks plaintively crying out into the wilderness?

We really seem terminally screwed. My main question is, can we actually survive four years of Trump-Pence? And by “we” I mean all of us . . . the world. Because if he goes off the deep end and can’t climb back, he may do something so terminally awful that the world could well disappear—remember the dinosaurs? Can his minders stop him? Well, we hope so, but I am less than sanguine.

It is difficult even to write about him/it/we/us.  Because I fail to see that rainbow out there somewhere.  Maybe the sun will actually shine again someday, and hopefully we will still be here, and still be able to smile again.

Meanwhile, please, look your loved ones in the eye. Kiss them, hug them. Be kind to strangers, and those less fortunate. We all need each other, as never before.
Be nice folks. It’s all we have

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Trump 101


The Trump reaction to the comments by the Mayor of San Juan, relative to the federal government’s response to the horrific damage to Puerto Rico from the last hurricane, makes me wonder about gamesmanship.

Our president is many things. He seems not smart, mainly I guess because he does not or perhaps cannot read much. He seems to care only about himself, and perhaps his closest family members. He lacks empathy, almost completely—I guess that’s the narcissist trait.

But mainly, he hates criticism of any kind directed at him. Note that he routinely directs criticism at others. It is his main characteristic—criticizing others. But any . . . repeat any, criticism directed at Donald Trump causes our President to enter a lengthy stage of unbridled fury. He seems borderline out of control, much as any 2-4 year old when denied something he wants.  Immediately, because Twitter seems his only communications approach (it allows him to direct his anger in 140 character bursts), he sends out one or more, often several, Tweets in a storm of abuse directed at the person, or entity criticizing him.

In the case of Puerto Rico, he blasted back at the Mayor for daring to find him less than perfect.  But the bottom line here is that he—Trump—now has power, and he can create damage beyond his snarky tweets. So, Puerto Rico might actually suffer because Trump is mad that someone there criticized him.

This makes me wonder whether we in the “outer world” (that world in which we humans of America live) need to consider a different strategy for communicating with President Stupidhead.

If we assume that our President will only act positively towards someone if that someone compliments him, then we might consider adopting a communications policy something like:

1.       Whenever you need something from the President, toss a compliment his way. Tell him he’s great, wonderful, yugely effective as President, and you love the job he’s doing. Then, at the least, he won’t be pissed at you. Never, ever criticize the President directly, unless you want nothing from him, or never expect to want anything from him.

2.       Then, you may communicate with whatever federal agency you might need to work some magic for you.  Presumptively, that agency will not have received any negative tweets from the President.

3.       You should then communicate privately with the Congressional offices that might be relevant to your needs. If they do not wish to open the doors to help you, say authorize aid as in Puerto Rico, you can still bring whatever political pressure you possess to bear.

4.       Never put any communication regarding the President in writing as an official statement.

5.       Work quietly locally to assure that your contacts are aware that changes will be made via the elections process if political leaders align themselves too closely with Trump.

So, for the next three years, no one who needs something from the federal government will ever again criticize him openly. Lie to him if necessary. It’s what he does to everyone around him. He can’t stand the truth, so never give him the truth.

Mainly, try not to engage in any communication with the President. It almost always ends badly, so avoid him if at all possible.

Oh, and if you’re Kim Jung Un, just ignore him. He’s an idiot, but insulting him is not a likely strategy for success.  Continue working with the adults of the world.
Eventually Trump will go back to being a real estate developer.  It’s what he does.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Try to be Rational


  The other day, we saw a little clip from Kid Rock, who seems to want to enter the Halls of Congress, or, who knows, maybe even the Presidency? And it struck me hard. How much we have belittled the Presidency, and, even more, all of our senators and Congresspeople.  It would seem with the last series of encounters, that we have eliminated all standards for the various positions to “represent” the people of America.  Now, quite literally, anyone over the age of 35 and born in the US of A can be President.  No other qualifications exist.

In the olden days, we used to want folks to possess at least a modest intellect, be honest to a degree that would not embarrass us all, have some acquaintance with the arena of public policy, and at least pretend to care about the American people. No obvious traitors; no flat-out crooks; people possessing the ability to string together sentences that would not embarrass a fourth grader, and a personality that would not embarrass us in front of the world.

Gone, all gone.

Now, it is tempting to blame Donald Trump for the changes, the degradation that has occurred.  But, realistically, we the people are to blame.  We not only elected people such as Donald Trump, we continue to applaud his inane statements and Tweets. He Tweets apparently because he cannot write, or perhaps even speak in complete sentences.  I am continually drawn back to my early question, how did someone of his limited abilities to read and write ever complete high school, not to mention college?

But, we have also now simply lowered the bar of acceptable behavior. Whenever he does something, or says something stupid or outrageous, we nod and say, “oh well that’s just Trump being Trump. He tells it like it is.” And then his spokespeople stand up in front of us and say, well no he didn’t say that, he said this, and then they invent a fictional account of what we all heard him say.  And then Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell sigh and say, “well yeah, that wasn’t cool, but it was just Trump being Trump.” See, they accept his behavior, thereby encouraging the rest of the cretins in Congress, or in the Evangelical forces who seem to love him, or in the various pubs around the country where his supporters fist-pump for his latest idiocy, to decry the rest of us. We the people are now the enemy. Now doesn’t that all seem a bit too familiar?  It is in fact from the playbook of autocrats everywhere, from Hitler in 1930 to the current crop of Putin, Duterte et al.

And increasingly, I am seeing no obvious way out of our current “problem” (a “problem” implies some solution downstream, whereas I am not sure any longer that we have one). The GOP is in total disarray, to the point that I now characterize them as the Castrati Republic, a group whose members are all male and all castrated. That group is headed by the senior castrati in our land, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Clearly, they gave up their balls long ago and now no longer even pretend.

So, where is our Lone Ranger? Well, Hillary is out there ensuring that no Lone Ranger will be along any time soon. It was fairly clear that the Democratic Party is beyond total disarray. Yes, the party has some intelligent folks, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie, Joe Biden, Kirsten Gillibrand, but Hillary has been very busy sucking the oxygen out of the rooms they inhabit.  Her book and her tour are all about informing the American people that there is no sign of intelligent life in the Party. She was it and now she is gone, off to that netherworld of money.  I want to shout at her, No Hillary, Bernie didn’t lose that election. You did. Almost anyone in the country could have defeated Donald Trump, but you failed at that simple task. Stop blaming Bernie. Kindly move to Iceland, or the Antarctic and stop appearing in public.

But again, it probably isn’t Hillary either. It’s us. How 35-40% of the people in America could support the clown tells us everything we needed to know about America.  America is, I guess, now over, and it is someone else’s turn to lead the “free World”.  Who that might be is open at the moment, since Britain seems busy with dismantling its connections to the world, and France and Germany also seem a bit preoccupied. Maybe our good friend Justin Trudeau could assume the mantle. He’s young, smart, even attractive. No one seems to hate him, and that is a very large step up that ladder.

I assume that America will continue on its current downward slope into second or perhaps even third world status. We are dumbing down the population as we speak, with Madame Devos leading the pack to ignorance with her private school approach that we already know doesn’t work. But, like her boss, she doesn’t seem to know anything either. 

It is not clear to me that what we are witnessing has much of a world history. Countries have failed in the past, fascist Germany, Japan, and Italy come to mind, but they did not simply decay from within. They set about to conquer the world and they failed.  After their thwarted attempts, they returned to their business as usual (with our help of course).  Italy seems periodically to flirt with degradation, but theirs seems more of a political degradation. Their social and economic systems go up and down of course, like everyone else’s but they don’t seem inclined to pursue a course in stupid.

Some countries seem stuck on stupid, but I continue to believe that our current course is unprecedented. From near masters of our universe, to an embarrassment to the rest of the planet.  I continue to hope that someone much smarter than me has some solution.

What is it we need to reverse course? Well, after our near-death experience in 1929 and the 1930s, we emerged only after a rational political personage assumed the reins, after a disastrous course being followed by a republican who did not believe in government intervention. He believed in bank bailouts, but not people bailouts.  Then FDR appeared on stage and decided to spend public money on recreating the American economic landscape. He spent money, folks became employed and then those same folks started buying things, thereby kickstarting the economy again. Turns out it isn’t bankers who put an economy into fast forward. It’s ordinary people. Who knew? Well, not bankers as it turns out. But FDR and some of his Democratic party bosses also knew.

Then of course, Hitler & Co. decided they wanted to own the world, so they began invading everybody. Finally, FDR got his act together and decided this unitary America thing wasn’t such a hot idea, so he threw in his lot with the World and began assembling a fighting force that could help to counter the fascists everywhere.  Turns out creating a war machine to counter nasties also helps to kick an economy into high gear. America began to climb back from its bank-induced near bankruptcy to its position as a leader in the free world.

So, we won the war, well that war, and then we got back to peace time living (well, ignoring those peace-keeping thingies in Korea, Vietnam, the Middle East, et al).

But we failed to learn the lessons from that 1930s to 1950s period. That it takes an educated middle class to maintain a class economy. That the very rich don’t really care about maintaining a whole economy, or even a whole country. They just want to get richer and to keep all their money.  And, largely, all the rest of the country folks can suck lemons.

With Donald Trump, we have come full circle, right back to 1929, well maybe 1928.

So, we need someone thoughtful to guide us out of the dark, dark wilderness in which we find ourselves.  We can’t just get rid of Donald Trump, because he isn’t the whole problem. He is the perfect essence of what we have become, but he is a mere reflection in the mirror.  Look behind us folks. It’s us, and we need to seek out and then elect people who can actually think. 

So, we have said it before, but let’s say it again. We all need to register to vote, and then we need to vote—every time there is an election, not just once in a while. We need to elect decent, thinking people in City Councils, in State legislatures, and certainly in the Halls of Congress.  And yes, we need to vote for a President. And if you’re not thrilled with the two choices facing you, pick one of the two anyway.  Don’t vote for “none of the above”. Vote for one of the candidates you think might be better than the other one. Donald Trump was fatally flawed. His entire life experience has been a disaster. He has really never succeeded at anything. Plus he lies all the time, even about stupid stuff, so nobody can trust him with anything. But we knew all that, didn’t we? So, don’t go down that path again.  Remember, Jesus Christ isn’t running. He never runs. Just go with the better of the two candidates. Don’t vote for the asshole just to register your protest. You’re simply screwing yourself.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Racism and Religion


The signs are all about us.  So much so that we might barely be paying attention, but we are bombarded with the signals, as from outer space. Yes, racism is alive and well and living in America. And not just the American South. No, the racism cursing through America is all over the country.  That it seems to be increasing in scope and intensity with the onset of Trump also seems apparent. It is as though a storm is sweeping the country and increasing in intensity with each passing day.

Recently, President Trump issued a pardon to the most racist sheriff in America, someone who has been noted exclusively for his racism virtually his entire life and long term in office. Now President Trump knows about Sheriff Arpaio; everyone in America knows of him, and his concentration camps, killing fields really, given the numbers of people who have died under his incarceration. His action in pardoning Arpaio has sent out a signal loud and clear that racism is alive and well under his care.

And I read about a second phenomenon running about our country, sending out messages loud and clear—that our Christian (mainly evangelical) church leaders are frankly racist. Recently, a church leader promised there would be a civil war should Trump be impeached. Think of that. A church leader exhorting his body faithful to take up arms and kill other members of our national society, our American brethren should we dare to impeach President Trump. He wants them dead, all those who actively oppose our President.  He wants them dead. Now isn’t that a Christian act?  And then we have that dust-rag, Joel Osteen, with his megachurch in Texas, refusing to allow folks to rest and perhaps be literally saved by coming into his church that could house thousands.  If ever there was an opportunity to demonstrate the caring nature of Christianity, it was there and then, and pastor Osteen turned his back and retreated to his multimillion dollar mansion to suck his thumb and perhaps have a martini.

We are seeing these signs that organized Christianity at the least, is a fraud, and the more organized and the stricter, the more corrupt. How any pastor still in his right mind can endorse Trump to the point of exhorting his followers to take up arms and kill others beggars belief. Trump has virtually no Christian characteristics. He seems not to be an actual practicing anything. He has trashed that very Christian concept of marriage, by blasting through three marriages after serial infidelities (his third seems done, just not yet announced).  He cheats those who work for him, even to refusing to pay them for work done, resulting in hundreds, perhaps thousands of law suits against him. He is in incompetent at almost everything in which he engages, having gone through multiple bankruptcies, during which his investors have lost millions of dollars. Does he care? No, not at all.

And then he engages in what we might easily call anti-American behavior by consorting with some of our enemies. Whether his acts of “collusion” amount to treason is a question still to be decided, but the fact that it is an actual open question about a sitting US president is astounding on its face.

So I have now concluded that much of organized Christianity is racist at its heart. This statement delivers no surprise to many, but would be obviously distressing to the many pastors who are actually caring, humanistic in nature and real practitioners of what folks think of as Christianity.  It would seem there is a schism between the fake churches (think Joel Osteen in Houston, David Jones in Tennessee), and the many real, caring church organizations in America.

So, a Civil War, the preacher advocates. To protect a philandering, corrupt, unsuccessful businessman, who has never actually been any good at anything. Although I have a largely private sector background, mixed in with some government experience, our dear President convinces me that we really, really do not want a “businessman” running our government.  People in business operate under different premises than do people with mixed or largely public experience.  It is not that one is good, and one is bad, but rather, they are just very different.  The profit motive dominates the thinking of private sector people, as it should.  Good public sector people are motivated by effectiveness, i.e., effective delivery of whatever services, or programs being managed. Congress authorizes, but Congress does not manage, or even, for that matter, oversee the execution of its legislative programs.

But mainly, I believe, as do most rational beings that we do not want a racist at the head of our government. He encourages the racists among us, and brings out of their respective closets all the crazy, racists who have been biding their time. Our country is way more multicultural than it was even 20-50 years ago. Many of our racists harken back to those “good old days” of the 1940s and 1950s, when white men dominated America, and when there were many jobs for the population of white men, especially white men of limited talents.  Now, those jobs have fled our country, and the racist white men wish to “take back America” and, even, “Make America Great Again”.

America has indeed left those shores of 1950, and it isn’t sailing back any time soon. The only outcome of President Trump’s thinking, if it ever becomes reality, is a fractured country in which the heavily armed, racist folks run around killing other people, just because they can.

We need to step up, all of us, unless these people actually do “take back America”, because it may well not be a place the rest of us wish to inhabit. Voting is really our only recourse. So, register, get your friends registered, and vote. It is vital.

Oh, and on the sending prayers thing, folks in Texas and probably Louisiana need tangible stuff—money, clothes, water and food, shelter, even blood products. Prayers may make the sender feel good, but prayers won’t solve the problems of folks drowning in flood waters.

By for now.

Monday, August 28, 2017

A Little Procedure


A Little Procedure

Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 29, 2017, I am scheduled to enter the hospital to have stones removed from my bladder. It is four years, almost to the day, since I had this same procedure performed. The last time, all went swimmingly, the very large multiple stones were removed, and I had several days of recovery, during which I had to rely on a catheter for peeing into a bag. That was fun.

This time, they will perform the same procedure to remove the stones. But also, they plan to “shave” the enlarged prostate, which I am informed is more like coring an apple than it is “shaving”.

So, the entire dual procedure is not terribly complicated, although last time it required more time than anticipated, because the stones were quite large. But it is not complex like heart surgery is complex.

Still, any hospital based procedure, in which I am under a general anesthesia, poses some risk, and causes me to wonder about not awakening.  See, I am pushing on into serious age, being as I am in my 44th 39th year (you do the math). That alone gives one pause, on a routine basis. Partly, it is because I do not believe in the thing about boarding a bus that winds up at the pearly gates, where I am greeted by an official greeter and then introduced to God herself, before being assigned a cloud wherein I would meet and greet my relatives, et al.

I understand that all the pearly gates and heaven stuff is just a scam, what I have come to call a giant Ponzi scheme invented by the religious hoaxsters of the world to con you out of your money and to grant themselves some authority over your lives.  Everyone is terrified of dying. So the Ponzi master focused on that one fear and invented a whole tale about how you don’t really die; you just enter a new life stage . . . an after-death life, that goes on forever. Life, it turns out, is just a mildly unpleasant foretaste of your wonderful heavenly life.

But, no, that isn’t real. What actually happens at the death thing is anyone’s guess, since no one ever comes back to deliver reality lectures (no, your priest doesn’t actually know any more than you do. He just pretends to know).  The most likely outcome is that your brain simply stops functioning and you no longer are you. You stop being aware. And you don’t know it, because you no longer have a functional brain.  And nothing follows. Nothing.

So, that’s it. You’re done. And whether your friends and relations mourn you or share a cheering drink to celebrate your departure, will depend on the life you led, and whether you were reasonably kind, or a schmuck like President Stupidhead.

But, in any case, it won’t matter because you won’t know one way or another.  See, at that point, it is over. Got it?

So, that’s where my brain goes, every now and again, but especially if I am going to encounter general anesthesia. Who knows how my body will react? Good, I hope, because I have worked, with my lovely wife’s help, to maintain a reasonable body and mind. So, my overall health is good, and I expect I will come through this procedure as successfully as I did the last one. But I am four years older.

So, we will see. Hopefully, I will awaken sometime Tuesday after the procedure to be told all is well and I will be going home the next day.  We will see . . . we will see . . .

I do understand that not everyone follows this same thinking process. I really do.

So, here I come world . . . into your grip. Treat me kindly please.