Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Air in the Room


The Air in the Room

He sucks all the air out of the room. Yeah, that’s the main objective of Trump—so dominating the public consciousness that nothing else is allowed to enter folks’ brains.  I can imagine a world in which the last remaining day is beginning to unfold for us. As the day begins, we realize that the asteroid screaming towards Earth will collide in exactly 126 minutes, and then life will cease to exist any longer.

But then Trump appears on the TV screen, or rather his latest Tweet has been revealed and in it he has declared the asteroid story  Fake News, and that he will continue trying to make America Great Again.

And we smile, because Trump has done it again. We have stopped talking about the end of life on Earth, and, instead, we are talking about whether his fake hair will remain in place after the asteroid hits the surface of the Earth.

See, nothing else of importance exists. It is only Donald Trump that should command our attention. And if he hasn’t done anything positive lately, then he will give us something unpleasant—maybe he has decided to actually obtain a gun and go out on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and shoot the nearest bystander, and then claim that the bystander was actually a traitor who was planning on destroying the country by colluding with the Swedes to impose the Swedish language on our public school system, to replace English as the national language.

And then he will declare that the FBI and the CIA are rogue agencies and he has decided to eliminate them by Executive Order.  See this is on the heels of his Tweets yesterday in which he “eliminated” all the Federal agencies, except for Homeland Security, and the Department of Defence.  The fact that he cannot eliminate Federal agencies by issuing a Tweet is apparently unknown to him, just as his Tweet in which he fired Nancy Pelosi from her job as Speaker of the House.

He doesn’t apparently know anything, and the inquisition being mounted by Nancy and those hordes of traitorous Democrats is apparently interfering further with his limited brain capacity. Since he can only do one thing at a time, e.g., eat a Big Mac, or nuke Syria, all other thinking must be delayed until that one activity has been completed successfully. Only then can he contemplate whether he should move to his big helicopter for another trip to MaraLago. Makes me wonder how he plays golf—all those clubs to decide on. Oh, but his caddy tells him what to do, doesn’t he?

I wonder, can we now finally declare him the Joke of the Year, but that we are finally going to have to move past him by appointing someone with a functioning brain as our President? Turns out that Jimmy Carter, George Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have now agreed to act as a surrogate president, a sort of President-Committee. They have agreed to serve until after the 2020 election, and the republican’s sole remaining task is to find someone with a functioning brain who has also not yet been totally compromised by Trump. The President-Committee will act by voting on all decisions, and only unanimous votes will move the decisions forward.  Oh, and to facilitate the entire election process, the whole of the Democratic candidates have decided to withdraw but to nominate a Fifth Grade English teacher from Brooklyn as the official candidate of the Democratic Party.  We hope she accepts the position.

And so this episode of The World is All About Donald Trump will end, and we can resume our normal activity—sucking our collective thumbs, while whining to our collective mommies about the coming end of the world.

And do think about getting registered to vote, and then actually voting. Maybe we can cause that asteroid to swerve a bit by throwing Donald Trump’s hair at it before it collides.

Bye for now. Sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Greta


I listen to the young lady, Greta Thunberg, and I think, wow, you got it right. You are righteously angry, and for all the right, righteous reasons. You are looking power in the eyes, and speaking truth.  But then what?  Are the people listening? Or are the people dividing themselves into their respective warring camps, and then muttering or shouting to their own, “Psshahhh, methinks she babbles on . . . she’s autistic you know. . . she knows not whereof she speaks.” And then Fox News kicks in, and the idiot malenfants of the Faux News Network begin their mindless babbling about how awful are these people.

And when it is all over, when the young lady’s prophecy about this being another species extinction begins to come true, those remaining behind will decry the industrialists who refused to cease destroying the globe. And how it is all the fault of the Koch’s (properly pronounced Cock’s) of the world.

And, in part, they will of course be right, however useless will be their mutterings at that late stage.  But, they will have also missed a larger point, and a larger group to blame for the mass extinction of humans. That larger group will be all those folks who supported by their mutterings and by their votes, the right wing climate deniers—Trump, McConnell, and the entire republican cabal.

I still observe with great frequency people who respond to criticism of Trump with, “greatest president we have ever had . . . or, God sent Donald Trump to become our president, to restore our greatness.”
And I wonder, are these folks from another planet, and so, they can neither read, nor understand English? Or, what kind of god do these folks worship who would send to earth this psychopathic narcissist to wreak such damage on the commonweal?” Really, you think Trump was sent by god??? How pathetic is your god.
But how is any of this even possible? I realize that Hitler in the 1930s rallied the German people who had been badly wounded by the ending of World War I.  The Armistice ended the shooting, but it imposed an order on Germany that left the nation’s economy and its entire wellbeing in tatters.  The ending of that Great War, almost assured the Second World War, and assured Hitler’s rise to power.  He rose by inflaming the hatreds of thousands, millions of Germans. They became solidified and unified by hatred . . . in that case hatred of the Jews, and, for reasons I fail to understand, the gypsy’s. Simply put, they hated “the other”.
But in Trump’s case, he inflames people against its own government, and, largely, against itself. There was no catastrophic ending to a war, although many might argue that point—see Vietnam. The US, under both democrats, Clinton and Obama, was moving along ok economically.  Clinton had succeeded in reducing some of the deficits created in earlier times, with four years of his term producing surpluses. Obama was slammed by the 2008 recession, and had to increase spending while revenues declined, producing large deficits.
Trump, on the other hand, campaigned on a promise to reduce the deficits, promising at one point to eliminate the entire Federal debt. Instead, his tax cuts have led to huge federal deficits, the largest in the nation’s history, especially given the absence of a war, as in Roosevelt’s term, or a recession, as in Obama’s.  Trump’s deficits promise to continue into the foreseeable future, with no ending in sight, short of some very large policy changes in terms of tax policies.  And unlike all other presidents, Trump promised to eliminate the federal DEBT—not merely the deficits, but the entire debt itself.  Instead, he may well exceed the largest deficits in our history, outdoing even Reagan, with his ignorant Laffer Curve deficits.
But it turns out that nothing Trump says or promises can be believed. He lies at an unbelievable rate. At one count, he has already lied more than 12,000 times, more than 10 lies per day of his administration.  I have begun to define his lie-predictor. How does one know Trump is lying? Well, whenever he opens his mouth, and words come tumbling out, he is lying.
So, he is a pathological liar, he is cruel—nothing else can explain his policies towards immigrant children in which he locks them up, after separating them from their families, and allows them to die in his encampments.  He cozies up to our enemies, and may well be engaging our enemies in a scheme to defraud the American people during our elections process.  He seems to be aching for a shooting war, preferably with Iran, but it is unclear that he cares where.  He seems not to understand anything he is doing, and his antagonistic actions towards climate change and environmental protections could be purposeful, a quid pro quo towards his rich industrial supporters (see Koch’s), or born of simple stupidity.  He babbles during his speeches and his press briefings, to the point that reporters no longer seem to know how much to report. He is like a drooling idiot given the right to babble-speak in large forums.
His cruelties towards immigrants seems to know no bounds, and now seems beyond the reach of the press. It is as though we now accept that such cruelty is standard American policy and beyond the purview of the of the press.  We will and do oversee the killing of children in camps operated on a for-profit basis by Trump’s core of free-wheeling money makers. Hitler anyone???
His environmental policies now seem beyond the pale. He seems to want to return us to the bad old days of the 1950s and 1960s—smog-ridden days we thought we had resolved. He wants to eliminate protections for our national parks, protections for threatened species, all in the name of industrial development by his friends.
He has refused to yield his tax returns, so the public cannot know or understand to what extent he has and continues to cheat, and continues to reap financial rewards of being president (think emoluments clause).
His cabinet and close advisers seems like a series of chapters out of the Apprentice. He hires, he fires, or they quit in disgust.  There has perhaps never been such an unstable government in our history.
And yet, whenever he is criticized publicly, social media is filled with commentary by his supporters, who continue to love him and continue to scream at his critics.  They are the problem in America. If we fail to move aggressively on climate disaster prevention, they will be the cause, because they will continue to believe in lies. He yells FAKE NEWS whenever he is criticized, but he is the core of FAKE NEWS, and his supporters are like religious zealots who subscribe to a false religion, the religion of evil. We, Americans, are becoming part of that religion of evil. To the extent that we continue to allow Trump to exist as a free agent in the destruction of our nation, we are also to blame. We can no longer just blame Trump.
WE ARE TO BLAME.
If we don’t vote, or if we vote for Trump, then WE ARE TO BLAME for whatever happens to the country and to the world. If more children die, we are to blame.  If we enter a war, we are to blame.  Germany in 1939 was more than just Hitler. Germany was filled with citizens who supported the policies that led eventually to the deaths of millions of innocent people. They were as much to blame as Hitler.  We can no longer pretend that Trump is ok. Trump is NOT OK. He is an aberrant personality who we are allowing to continue to destroy our nation. We are violating the spirits of all the Americans who died in world wars to protect our Nation.  DO NOT FORGET THEM. They died so that we could live in peace.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Idiots All Around Us


We really seem to be living in the realm of idiots. Ever since WW II, we seem to have learned to love killing people.  We are raising children who have never known a period of peace.  And, it seems different than the old days of global war.  I guess, in the era of Empire, they held wars, but often called them something else.  I mean, when the Moghul Emperors were acquiring territory, they didn’t wage “war” per se. They simply marched into various places and declared themselves the new rulers. And when the Brits decided to take over India, they just declared themselves the new owners. Of course, when the Indians rebelled in 1857, the Brits termed that event the Great Indian Mutiny, although the Indians called it the First War of Independence.

Then, we entered the realm of real wars. That Civil War thing in 1861 in America was a proper WAR. Armies, separately uniformed and following different flags, engaged, killed hundreds of thousands of soldiers, and then declared Peace, with one side (the Official United States Government, aka The North) the official winner. But the point is, at one stage we were at a state of War, and then, suddenly we entered a state of Peace. That is, no one was killing anyone in this period.

And then we had those World Wars. In both World Wars I and II, Germany led the rush to War, by deciding to acquire territory not its own.  In both cases, official States of War were declared and Nations, not just groups of folks, joined forces and then engaged in deadly and prolonged War against one another.  In both cases, one side overwhelmed the other and official Peace declarations were announced. The Wars were over, and the sides simply stopped shooting at one another. That is, after all, the purpose of a Peace Declaration. But the official ending of War, in 1945, led to the beginning of something we called the “Cold War”.  During that Cold War, it was apparently ok to have groups shooting at one another, with no War State.  Each side, “East” (Russia, China and their protectorates) and “West” (everyone else) decided it would be ok to periodically begin shooting at one another informally.

We had one final war thing, when North Korea decided that the country should no longer be split, but that was really a part of the Cold War thing, with China egging on the North. The country of Korea had been separated after the great wars into two states.  The North decided that it didn’t like the two-state thing and invaded the South. Since we represented the South, we engaged and fought back with the South. When I say “We”, I mean a larger group than merely the US. The world formed the United Nations after the Great Wars. In Korea, the fighting was between the UN-sponsored forces, and the North, backed vaguely by China. 

 But then, the Cold War shootings began deteriorating into even less “formal” states of “War”. We seemed to drift into some permanent state of killing amongst organized gangs. Sometimes, as in Vietnam, the gangs represented a large region of the world. Again, as in Korea, the state of Vietnam had been divided after the Great War into a North and a South. Again, as in Korea, the North decided it didn’t like the separation imposed by the great powers. But rather than “invade” with formal armies, organized gangs (Viet Cong) began forming and arming and then killing throughout the South. That conflict, also a UN operation, lasted for many years. Officially, the French had attempted to retain their old Empire possession, Vietnam, but they were never too good at the War thing. So in 1954, they got properly routed by the Viet Cong (or the North) and tossed out. Enter the UN (really, the United States). We began engaging, first by arming the South, and then by introducing our own troops. So, from the early 1960s until roughly 1975, we were engaged in fighting these organized gangs, called the Viet Cong (VC) and finally the North Vietnamese themselves. Richard Nixon ran a presidential campaign on his ability to end the war (killing state) in Vietnam. Actually, all he did was expand the killing zone by bombing in countries heretofore neutral.  Then, finally, Nixon gave up in disgust. He entered a mock peace negotiation with the North, and we finally walked away with our tail between our legs, officially having lost our first “War” (except it wasn’t a real War).

One would think the World would have delighted in that ending, despite the fact of loss for the US.  Any War ending, it seems to me, is a good thing, because we stop killing people.  But that Cold War thing continued. I guess, even when we are not killing folks directly, we seem to get off on hating one another.  Just cuz. Part of the problem, apparently, in ending Wars, as in WW II, is that we seem to be in too big a hurry, and we neglect  all the sideshows of anger/hatreds that developed during or even as a result of the wars.  After WW II “ended”, the Cold War began, but the Cold War was really a direct result of the War itself. Russia and China had both engaged in the Second World War, at least theoretically on the same side as the US and much of Europe.  But those nations had been undergoing their own internal disputes/revolutions. After overthrowing their own internal ruling regimes earlier, both countries assumed a new government approach, called Communism. That system eliminated/reduced the role of the private sector, transferring all developmental powers to their governments.  So, despite our mutual opposition to the German/Japanese regimes, we were not fully aligned, such that, almost as soon as the war ended, we began opposition anew in the form of that Cold War. That “War” resulted in a number of shooting fronts.  For example, both Korea and Vietnam can be traced to that Cold War rivalry between “East” and “West”. And after those shooting matches ceased, the Soviets decided to invade Afghanistan in 1979, in order to support a communist takeover in that country, which was met by opposing anti-communist forces. The invasion of Afghanistan began in late December 1979 by troops from the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union intervened in support of the Afghan communist government in its conflict with anti-communist Muslim guerrillas during the Afghan War (1978–92) and remained in Afghanistan until mid-February 1989. During that little conflict, we armed and supported the opposing “guerrillas”. Funny thing. Turns out, we armed what became the Taliban . . . yeah that group that instigated the 911 attacks here in the US.  So, we hold some responsibility for the current mess.

And then, right around the same time, the Shah of Iran was being challenged. Several factors contributed to strong opposition to the Shah amongst certain groups within Iran, the most significant of which were US and UK support for his regime, and clashes with leftists and Islamists. By 1979, political unrest had transformed into a revolution which, on 17 January, forced him to leave Iran. Soon thereafter, the Iranian monarchy was formally abolished, and Iran was declared an Islamic republic led by Ruhollah Khomeini (known in the West as Ayatollah Khomeini). And then we had an enemy in Iran.

Enemies . . . enemies everywhere. All around this poor benighted globe, we have enemies. Apparently, all it takes to forge an enemy-relationship is a different system of government.  We never seem capable of simply running different systems, without hatreds or shoot’m ups. 
But the big change that has occurred over, say, the past fifty years is the growth of what I now call organized crime gangs. We have in Latin America actual organized crime gangs of the classic cosa nostra style.  Now to be fair, Cosa Nostra required that you originate in Sicily, and that you were not allowed to have any cops in your clan.  The gangs in Latin America are very large, brutal, with killings galore. They largely make their money in the drug trade, made possible by the existence of an unlimited drug market in the USA. They wage organized crime war continuously by killing people they don’t like. They make money by selling us drugs.

And then, we have ISIS and The Taliban in the Middle East. They also make their money by killing folks wholesale, in an attempt to take over large swaths of various countries. They want territory, and love killing other folks to acquire it.  But they aren’t Nation-States. They are simply organized gangs. They don’t sell drugs, they impose religion, instead. Well, technically, some of them also sell drugs to make money.

It is not clear that these gangs are directed by a central authority, ergo, it is very difficult to restrain or defeat them. You beat down one group in one township, and several more pop up in the next township.  Afghanistan is a classic nation-state within which they can flourish. Babur was one of the earlier conquerors of Afghanistan, but throughout its history, various nations have attempted and failed to take control, including the British, the Russians, and the Americans.  But it now extends way beyond Afghanistan. The entire Middle East is afflicted with this organized gang/crime groups, all of a pseudo-religious order.

And the killing never seems to end. These groups get off on killing any way they can. And they seem not to care who they kill—innocents as easily as armed opponents.
It is by no means clear how the world can end this global killing phase. There are no Nation-States we can confront and defeat. There are simply mindless thousands, perhaps millions who are disaffected by the mindless autocracies in which they live, and decide to join gangs and kill for a living.

We await some solution. The UN seems powerless and the world’s great powers seem intent on allowing this killing to continue. No world leader seems to have the conscience required to propose ending it. All of the powers that be seem to derive their own power by having states of hatred and violence around them. They love hating and killing (see Trump and the Republican Party). Until that changes, the killing will continue.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Aging in Place


Folks often ask, “so how’re you doing?  And sometimes I respond, “Who knows . . . the Shadow knows.”  And that goes over the heads of most folks under, say, 70. See, I used to listen to the radio during the 1940s, sitting in our front room in our flat on Second Avenue, near 71st Street.  And I listened to “The Shadow”, Fibber McGee and Molly”, “Inner Sanctum”, and others of that early ilk.  Who knows what evil lurks in the minds of man. The Shadow knows.”

But then, because I really am aging, I sometimes respond, “Aging in place.” And not everyone gets that, but most do.  It means, sort of, “well, I’m hanging around, mostly in one place, and I’m getting older every day.”  Mainly, it’s a signal that I no longer make any significant contribution to mankind.  Hanging around . . . some might say, “waiting to go”.  Now the trouble with that phrase, is that you don’t really “go” anywhere, when you end this existence on earth.  No, you simply cease to exist. Which to my mind is really weird.  If there is a god, she apparently didn’t think that one through.
But, in any case, it is what it is.  But, the important thing about all this silliness about life and its potential ending scenarios, is that there is great reason to look on each day as a gift. Open it carefully, and treat it with respect. You may not get another one tomorrow, but, if you do, open that one carefully and treat it also with respect.

I have now lived beyond the point in the aging game where any of my family members survived. Mostly, the women ended it all around my current age, mid-80s. The men generally didn’t make it that far. To be fair, we didn’t know as much about preserving life during the 1940s – 1980s when most of my aging family “left” this life.

So, does any of this mean anything?

Well, what it means to me is that we might want to consider leaving the place at least slightly better than when we entered it.  And by “better”, I obviously don’t mean financially “better”. I mean, somehow, kinder, or more humane, civil.  Now it is clear that individually we can’t simply make war, or poverty, or Donald Trump disappear. But collectively, assuming we continue to care, we of course can make such things happen.  Mostly, we make such momentous occasions happen by the simple process of voting.  All of the idiot, lazy louts who failed to show up at the polls in 2106, because “their candidate” didn’t make it onto the ballot. And they weren’t going to vote for Hillary. So, instead, they sort of voted for Trump, simply by not showing up.

So, we all need to do our bit. Even if you decide to vote for the “least-worst” you still need to do that.
And, even beyond that minimum activity, life offers lots of ways to make our world a slightly better place.  For example, the Cabarrus County Literacy Council recruits lots of volunteers like me to tutor folks who wish to learn English as a Second Language, or, as in my case, who wish to learn to read. I currently tutor a 58 year old man who simply never learned to read, despite having acquired a high school diploma. How could you acquire a high school diploma while being unable to read?  Well, mostly, he used to guess on tests, had his sister help him with homework, and relied on his teachers simply passing him through each class. No one either knew or cared that he couldn’t read. He somehow learned to cope, with his brain filling in something when he couldn’t read. But, I am working with him to remedy that deficit. And, I am making his life slightly better. My wife used to tutor a man in DC who couldn’t read, but he worked in his company’s mail room. He operated by recognizing people and he knew their first initials. But now he was actually learning to read, so he might be able to read to his grandkids.  Again, she was making his life a bit better.
So, it turns out, there are lots of little things each of us can do to leave this world a slightly better place than when we entered.

But, I am also increasingly aware that, as we “age in place”. We need to understand that aging thing and what it means to our earthly body.  Knowing that none of us can live forever (too bad, huh god??), we all still need to become increasingly aware of the changes that could make our few remaining years more or less difficult.

Our friendly neighborhood orthopedic surgeon tells us he has one big rule—DON’T FALL.  Easier said than done, huh? Well, one of the things I have noticed increasingly is that our propensity to fall seems directly related to paying attention. You know that thing about “Multitasking”?  Many people think they multitask all the time. We talk on the phone, while writing an e-mail.  We chat while driving, or maybe we listen to the radio while driving.  Or, we walk up or down stairs while our mind wanders. But the science says, conclusively, that our brain cannot actually multitask. What our mind does instead is rapidly switch from one task to another—we “serially monotask.” Now mostly, we get away with the charade of multitasking.   But often we “come a cropper”. While we are chatting on our phone, we fail to see the guy stopping in front of us suddenly, and we fail to stop before ramming into him.  But if we are “aging in place”, we often open ourselves up to falls. We walk downstairs while thinking of something we need to do, and we fail to notice that we are not yet at the bottom step, and, so, we tumble down the last two steps, perhaps banging our head on something hard.  Or we pay too little attention to the rug in front of us, and we fail to pick up our feet enough, and, so, we tumble.

These little occurrences increasingly dominate as we “age in place”.  There is, of course, no real “solution” to these little events of the aging, except, perhaps, to being more aware.  If we pay attention to the little things and stop the myth of multitasking, we really can avoid some of the nastier side effects of the aging process.  I think of the simple process of walking up and down stairs. Normally, we pay no attention, and instead do something else mentally while we walk.  But if instead, we focus on this simple process, holding on, really looking, we can in fact reduce the number of those nasty things called falls.

And if we pay attention pretty much all the time to what we are doing, we can avoid at least some of the nastier side effects of aging in place.  I have the habit, for example, of carrying too many things at one time, instead of making more than one trip.  I guess, when we are 25, we can pull off such stunts. But less so when you hit that magic 80 mark.  Note please, when you are in your 80s, you are old by almost any standard.  And when we hit that stage, we need to quit pretending.

We need to pay attention. In the early morning, when the sun begins to arise, go and observe the effects. It is glorious, but one must put down one’s phone while observing. When you walk in a garden and see an especially enchanting flower, or butterfly, again, stop and observe. Don’t multitask. Monotasking has real advantages, but even more so as we age.

Aging, it turns out, is not for sissies. It needs to be treated with respect.  Pay attention aging folks, pay attention.

Oh, and do go to the polls and VOTE. We really do need to rid our world of Donald Trump and his gang of thugs. Please, vote, and even there, pay attention to what you are doing.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Greenland


“Hey, so can I buy you”, said the fool? 

“Hmmm, I don’t understand. We’re a part of a country. What do you mean, Can I buy you? You do understand that isn’t the way things work, don’t you? I mean, of course, you’re joking, right?”

Well, it’s a bit less than clear actually. Our dearly beloved president seems not to understand much of anything actually.  He seems to believe that he can do anything he wants, and that everything is for sale (see, The Art of the Deal), and it’s always only a matter of the sale price. I assume that means that if Trudeau sent Trump a missive to the effect, “Hey, we really like New York, and intend to buy it. What’s your best price?” Trump would consult with the guy who actually wrote “The Art of the Deal” and try to come to some price level, at which bargaining could begin.  The fact that he doesn’t own it (New York) would be viewed as irrelevant. He is the president, so he can do anything he wants, right?

This is the real risk with Trump. Yes, he is evil, i.e., he does things almost anyone would consider evil. But that he is clueless, knows nothing about almost everything, knows no boundaries, respects no one and no thing, therein lies the risk of our president.  Eventually, someone around him says, “No, you can’t do that”. And then he gets pissed and fires that someone.  Have we ever seen a turnover at high levels of our government such as we have seen since Trump?  I don’t think so.  He fires folks like he’s still on The Apprentice. And I think he actually doesn’t understand that there are rules to live by as President. Because he has never followed any rules. He simply acts, whimsically, all the time, and the subject matter is irrelevant, because he doesn’t understand anything.

So, how could we even imagine giving him the keys to the nuclear arsenal? How could we trust him to make rational decisions about War and Peace? How could we trust him to make decisions about the future of America, and maybe even The World? Well, clearly, we can’t. Yet we are doing those exact things. Why are we acting so obviously recklessly? An interesting question, that.

Partly, I believe that the people in charge, republicans mainly, are star struck with their power. They have been given this power by the American people, and by God, they are going to hold on to it. That they may be destroying the wellbeing of the country, or the values and principles on which the Nation thought it was founded, matters less than the sheer fact of power.  Like money, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. We can see that clearly whenever Mitch McConnell says or does something. He seemingly always acts in his self-interest, i.e., staying in power.  If that self-interest collides with what is best for America, Mitch’s priorities always take precedence.

But, I think something else is also going on, and it is broader than the self-interest calculations of republicans. People actually voted for Trump, despite knowing almost everything about him worth knowing. He was/is known to be a complete narcissist, a sociopath, ignorant, and perhaps stupid almost beyond imagining, a core racist, a likely Neo-Nazi, a misogynist, and . . . well, more is unnecessary. You get the point. And knowing all those things, people still voted for him.

We actually know that Hillary won the election on the popular vote.  But, given our system, he won via the Electoral College. That’s the system by which we reward small states for being small—the tyranny of the minority. Whether that system needs to be trashed in view of the Trump election is for another day.

But, that more than a few thousand folks decided to vote for Trump is what is at issue here. How could that be? In this country? Approximately 62.9 million people voted for Trump.  That’s million, not thousand. How could that be?

Well, apparently, we have a lot of angry people in this country. Some of those people are, like Trump, racist. Some are militant white nationalists, maybe even neo-Nazi’s. Some despise women (remember Hillary??). Many (millions??) fiercely oppose all forms of abortion. Many more oppose anything to do with homosexuality. Many, many Americans seem really angry at Government, per se.  Hillary represented the status quo of Government. Trump was the Great Destroyer. They voted for the Great Destroyer. And that “Make America Great Again” slogan? It was interpreted many different ways. But first and foremost, it presumed that America was not now (then) as great as it had been in bygone days—you know, those days before our first Black president, before the Clintons and everything they stood for.  Remember, many, many people still idolized that dim bulb Ronald Reagan (St. Ronald of Reagan), the man who sold arms to Iran in exchange for hostages and then used that money to buy arms for terrorists in Nicaragua.  Reagan actually believed in that Laffer Curve, and gave us the largest deficits in the Nation’s history. He made it ok again to be a racist.  But they loved him, despite all that.

And over the years, as we traded away our industrial might for lower prices, many people suffered, and they blamed government—they didn’t/don’t care what government—irrelevant. Trump represented the opposite of everything they loathed in this country.  That he was stupid, or racist, or whatever, they did not care. He wasn’t Hillary. He was not part of the existing power structure, and so they voted for him.

But what they did not know in voting for him, is that he not only doesn’t care about them, but he does not care about anything but himself. And, further, he is profoundly ignorant, and seemingly, profoundly stupid. Now stupid means the relative absence of intelligence, or reasoning ability. It relates to the brain’s ability to bring in information and to make sense of that information. Ignorance is different. Ignorance means the absence of information, and is often related to the absence of education. Arguably, during our education, we acquire information on a variety of topics. That information is then processed by our brains to give us an understanding of the world, and pathways to expanding that understanding. Stupidity implies an inability of the brain to process and make sense of such information.  Trump seems to lack both qualities. That is, he seemingly has no real understanding of the world in which he lives. And, beyond that lack, when presented with information, he seems to lack an ability to process the information in useful ways.  He simply acts and reacts according to how it makes him feel. He especially looks for applause. He desperately wants to be rewarded with shouts of Huzzah, with smiles, with pats.

Now, I think the voting public remains relatively unaware of his real failings as a human being. Whenever Trump is criticized, Fox News, yells Lies, and Trump yells Fake News.  And because his public desperately wants to reject that other world, they respond in kind. They yell, “Lock her up”, or “shoot them”, whatever suits their mood.  But what they do not understand is that he is an even bigger risk to them than anything his opponents would have been.  Because he is profoundly ignorant and even stupid, he can and already has made decisions about our nation that threaten its very existence.  His tax approach, his environmental stances, his approach to both allies and foes alike seem to most informed folks disturbingly hostile to rationality. He is, in fact, an existential threat to our very being. But his supporters have not yet figured that out. They are still too angry, and they continue to blame all their woes on the past and on anyone who represents that past, i.e., the Democrats.

And so the campaign goes on, his perpetual campaign. He doesn’t really govern; he campaigns. Even when he golfs, he is campaigning. Every meaningless jibberjabber coming out of his mouth, is in the interest of keeping him in power, because it is the only thing that will soothe his savage beast mentality.  So, unless enough folks get off their asses and actually vote, we will have him for another four years. And we actually may not survive as a democracy for such a period.

So, if you care about survival, people, you better get off your couches, switch off the TVs, and ready yourself to throw him out of office in 2020 by VOTING.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Rage, Racism & Murder: The World of Donald Trump


Rage, the wonderful world of Donald Trump in America.  The number of countries that never have mass shootings is very large, so America stands out. Also, the world in which a mass shooting triggers immediate action by the head of government (think New Zealand) also overwhelms America, the author of “Do-Nothing: Send Thoughts and Prayers”.

What the hell are we to think about this increasingly violent, rage-filled and heavily armed nation? The right wing says it’s all about video games . . . or maybe it’s really all about the mentally ill.  Or maybe we just need to arm more people. Yeah, that’s it, we need more folks armed with assault rifles, so we can have shooting sprees everywhere we go. How about your next elementary school assembly, where all the six-year olds now carry AR-15s? Yeah, that’d stop the mass murderers.

But seriously, what is going on here?

Well, mainly we have lots of folks with motives. Oh, they were there before Donald Trump. But just like Reagan made it ok again to be a racist, Donald Trump has made it ok again to hate and take violent action against “The Other”.  See, he has opened the gates to people acting on their outrage. He asks his crowd of adoring fans, and what should we do to stop them (them being Hispanic immigrants, or Muslims, or just anyone who despises him) and they shout back “Shoot them”.  And what does he do? Well, he laughs.  And now they know that it’s ok to shoot them, anyone they hate.

See, when people murder, they need both a motive and a method.  So, our dear president is supplying them—all who hate and wish to kill—a motive. He is telling them that they are being threatened by “the other” and it is ok to hate them and to act on your hate. No, he never said publically, “well, I suggest that you get your guns and begun killing Hispanics, Muslims, Blacks, et al”. But he acted to incite his crowd to rage and to tell them it’s ok to be violent towards people you hate.

And the Method? Well, clearly, the NRA provides the method. The NRA, and all its members, lobby Congress to prevent anything even remotely sensible about gun control.

It isn’t guns that kill people, it’s people who kill people (wrong NRA, it’s people armed with guns . . . see NRA, guns are the necessary element in a shooting-killing).

All it takes to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun (wrong NRA. The good guys with guns are all over the place, but most of them –cops excepted—hide under the table, or in the bathroom when the bad guy with the guy is doing his thing).

It’s crazy people, not us normal people, doing this killing thing (wrong NRA, because you have personally prevented any legislation aimed at preventing crazy people from owning guns).

We need to arm more people—teachers, students, presumably workers at WalMart, and all workers at Gay bars (wrong NRA, arming the teachers among us, or, heaven forfend the students, will simply trigger more violence, and will likely not stop an armed NRA thug armed with a submachine gun who bursts in the door and just begins shooting anyone in view).

The NRA and its members have no solutions, and they are not in the business of finding solutions. They are in the business of selling guns.  Asking the NRA for help here would be like asking General Motors for help in reducing the number of automobiles sold to the public.

No, the NRA is definitely part of the problem, not part of the solution.  In fact, we should seek out information on which members of Congress receive money from the NRA, or any of its disguised, black money affiliates. Any such Congressperson should have an immediate negative campaign launched against him or her.

And what, if anything, does this crap have to do with the Second Amendment? Well, really, nothing. The so-called Second Amendment was intended to sustain state militias, not individual members of the public? And what does it have to do with the right to own weapons for personal use, e.g., hunting? Well, again, nothing. There is no plausible use for assault weapons to protect one’s home, or to hunt game, even big game.  These weapons should be taken off the market and removed from all private ownership. Assault weapons should be bought back from private citizens and then destroyed. And then all such weapons should be banned for sale, except to the military, or formally organized, armed police forces. Within days of the killing in New Zealand, such legislation had been passed and the guns were removed and destroyed.

But here, the NRA argues to its members that they must resist such efforts by the government, on the basis that the government is the reason citizens must arm themselves. Their argument essentially, is that government is always potentially evil, and must be resisted.  Yet, all evidence points in exactly the opposite direction. That is, our government is relatively benign, when compared with the fairly crazed NRA advocates, and the folks shooting up innocents in public places.  It is, in fact, the NRA and its advocates who are the problem regarding violence.

The NRA has now reached the point that we should consider designating it as an agent of domestic terrorism.  The NRA members should really consider seriously letting go of their membership, and themselves lobbying for banning domestic assault weapons of all kinds for sale to anyone. The NRA is not ISIS, mind you. It is not the NRA itself that is going around shooting innocent civilians. And no one is suggesting that it is. However, the NRA is but one step from that stage.  And it doesn’t matter anyway. The NRA has officially supplied the means and its members have taken up the empty spaces and filled them with domestic terrorists.

Now you can ask why ordinary citizens, even ones armed with such weapons, would commit such unspeakable violence upon innocent people? Well, fairly clearly, they are unhinged.  But, more to the point, they are people who are insecure to the point of terror. Yes, they are clearly terrified individuals, who have been taught that certain other people are responsible for all the problems they have personally, or fear they may have.  The Other, they have been told repeatedly, are acting now to take away their jobs, rape their sisters, and destroy this fair land in which they live. That, friends, is the constant rhetoric adopted by our pseudo-President, Donald Trump. He claimed his office through means, fair or foul, but he obtained that office through a campaign of hate against “The Other”.  He is all about HATE, because HATE gains him supporters, supporters who are devoted, and loyal, mainly because they have stopped thinking.

The Donald claims he is the least racist person in the world. Clearly, again he is lying. How does one know Donald Trump is lying? Well, whenever he opens his mouth and words begin tumbling out, he is lying. And so long as he can continue spewing his hate-filled rhetoric against “The Other”, his supporters will continue killing innocent people. That trend will only slow down, if not stop, when Donald Trump and his legislative band of thugs, is removed from the public scene. And we don’t do that by killing them. We do that by VOTING people.  Voting is the mechanism of civilized people. Guns and killing are the mechanisms of thugs. So, how long will we tolerate thugs running our government? We will see. We will see.

Monday, July 29, 2019

We Are Idiots


So, more than half of the republican folks who responded to a survey agreed with the idea of postponing the 2020 election? Really? Why? Well, President Stupidhead continues to lie on and on that the 2016 election was damaged by voter fraud and that he actually won the popular vote.  Mind you, he has no data, plausible or otherwise to substantiate his claim, but he never does and lies are just fine with him.

But how can it be even remotely possible that more than half of people who identify as republican actually agree? Something really bad has happened to America. I keep thinking of his absurd claim that he could go out on Fifth Avenue and shoot someone, and his poll numbers would go up.  We all laughed when he said that. It was so absurd, we didn’t even think of it as a lie. It was just a joke and everyone laughed.

But now? Everything he says practically is a lie, but his lies aren’t funny any longer. And he isn’t joking.  He’s the President of the United States, with all the power of that exalted Office, and he is talking like some crap, thuggish dictator. And it is obvious to anyone with a functioning brain that he is talking trash, but now folks nod their heads and agree with him.

Now, in any halfway serious country, at least the thinking members of our society would be up in arms. And even his own party would be yelling at the rafters to stop him.  Because he is making them look like members of a thuggish political party from some fourth world dictatorship.  Yes, Mitch and his BFFs all look like idiots, racist, thoughtless, and entirely beholden to this idiot.

But, I keep asking, how can this be?  How did this buffoon so completely capture the republican party that there exists no one left in the party to challenge his absurd pronouncements?  I read Andy Borowitz routinely, and he used to be funny. Now, I have to check to make sure he isn’t just reporting the facts of the day.  Comedians find it increasingly difficult to make jokes about him. He just isn’t funny any longer.  And now, he has made it seem that America is the actual joke, and the rest of the world is laughing at us. Not “with us” but at us. We are now the butt of all jokes around the globe. All of Trump’s “shithole” countries that he has been decrying, are now laughing at us, because look who’s the shithole now?

We are now at the bottom of the barrel. I’ll bet even Vlad the Impaler sits around drinking vodka and laughing at us. Because Vlad won the day. Against all odds, he installed a total idiot in the White House, and now the American people are standing around clapping.

Aren’t we proud?