8/19/2017

Thinking Small and Growing Smaller

The United States once did really big things. For about fifty years, we were the inventors of practically everything significant in the world. In the late 1800’s, the United States created a land grant university system that educated children other than just those of the ruling class and created a middle class that drove the nation’s economy, it’s industry, it’s creativity, and its spirit. We created a public education system the rest of the world imitated and, then, improved on while we allowed ours to decay into a pre-prison system. We built cities that redefined urban living. We crossed the continent, first with railroads then with airlines. We electrified cities, then the countryside, and tied it all together with telephones and followed that with the Internet. We went to the moon dozens of times and sent astronauts there six times before 1972. There are branches of science that wouldn’t exist anywhere in the world without American curiosity. There are concepts of democracy, justice, and freedom spreading throughout the world, based on models the United States of America invented. We were the envy of the world.

Then we weren’t. To paraphrase Marlin Brando’s character in On the Waterfront, “We coulda been a contender.”

There has always been a primitive, superstitious character to citizens of the United States. After all, as another move character said about the American people, “We're all very different people. We're not Watusi, we're not Spartans, we're Americans. With a capital ‘A. huh? And you know what that means? Do you? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse. We're the underdog. We're mutts.” All of which is true. And like mutts we’re naturally inclined to knock over trashcans and root through the rubble for a scrap of food or join a pack of other rejected mutts and go feral and become dangerous to everything around us. Along with getting “kicked out of every decent country in the world,” we brought with us a collection of religions that were clearly as insane and useless as the most dangerous ideas humans have ever invented. Today, those religions are driving the country to do smaller and smaller things in the name of money and power and under the pretense of doing a variety of gods’ will.

Take our prison system, for example. In the 1950’s, we decided to move our prison model from punitive to “corrections.” We still cynically call prisons “corrections facilities,” but they no long serve any part of that mission. Today, our prisons are slave-owning, for-profit corporations that drive some state’s legal system to create more and more “crime” to provide those corporations with slave labor. As a result, one of the most embarrassing big things the United States has done since the genocide of the American Indian is creating the world’s highest prison population rate: 724 of every 100,000 Americans currently resides in an American prison. Russia, a dictatorship and repressive totalitarian government, is a distant second to the United States.

Our one and only other big thing is our war machine, jokingly called the “Defense Department.” We have dedicated our national budget and our industry to creating more dangerous and powerful weapons of mass destruction, individual destruction, and everything in-between.

Neuroscience, without much help from government funding or the public, has plodded along learning more about how the human brain and it’s collection of chemicals, electrical systems (neurons and neural circuits), and molecular biology create the individuals we become or could be. Crime and war are two big things that neuroscience could have changed with just a reasonable amount of encouragement, but neuroscience, like evolution, terrifies the superstitious and, more importantly, the people who make bucket loads of money on crime, war, and religion. In fact, those three “special interests” are overwhelmingly the forces that prevented the United States from reaching its potential and will eventually undo the nation and the species.

The fact is we do not control our brains, our brains control us. The combination of chemicals, electrical systems, and molecular biology between our ears and in our gut are the things that control who we are. Knowing that and controlling it would allow us to be anyone we want to be; as individuals and as a species. The trillions of dollars the US flushes down the military-industrial toilet could have been used to get to the core of human conflict and resolve it. The trillions of dollars wasted on our punishment system could be spent on creating happier and more productive citizens, through education, science, and a shared desire to improve the quality-of-life for every person in the country and the world. We could have built a corrections system that enhances lives and freedom. That would have been a big thing, but we’ve devolved into a nation intent on punishing the poor for being poor and declaring war on everyone who won’t hand over their national sovereignty along with their natural and human resources.

The cost of abandoning big things (No, Donny. Your wall is not a big thing.) is that we become smaller as a result. Our world image has shrivelled to a tiny fraction of what it was in November 2016 and it becomes smaller by the day. Our self-image isn’t doing well, either. Fascists and neo-Nazis are symptoms of failure and self-hate, not power or superiority. You don’t set a goal of repressing others, stealing their resources and lives, and propping up yourself at the expense of everything from decency to intellect because you are free, healthy, and happy. Those are the goals of total failure. Those goals are so small, they reduce everyone they touch upon.

8/07/2017

When Nothing Means Anything

It struck me, last night about 3AM, that the Age of Trump has proved something many of us hoped wasn’t true: that nothing means anything. Religion, decency, justice, honesty, fairness, truth, reason, and many of the institutions and people who represent those institutions have all been shown to be hollow and insignificant, thanks to the election and support of Donald Trump. There are all kinds of ways to take this sea change: ranging from fighting to restore America’s values to assuming that is a lost cause and going full nihilist. At 70, the fight is pretty much out of me, but I have to hope younger, better people decide there is some point in restoring moral values to our government and country. Otherwise, the American experiment is finished and it was a failure. Best case, the country collapses into disarray and becomes irrelevant. Worst case, we destroy life on this planet in an effort to prove one of the many insane religious scenarios that pollute our national discourse.

Trump’s assault on decency began the moment he entered public life, back in the 70’s. The Republican campaign against all of the values that Trump’s existence opposes has been going on a lot longer than my 70 years. Since the moment Teddy Roosevelt left office, Republicans have been scraping the bottom of the ruling class barrel for candidates and talking heads to lead their class war against working people and the poor. Starting with Taft and accelerating that movement with Reagan, Republicans have lowered the bar for what passes as “leadership” to the point where we now suffer Donald Trump. Personally, I don’t see much improvement in our future, but I tend to see the glass as half or completely full of sewage.

Religion, in America, has taken a radical turn to the right, which is not only traditional for religion (redundant, I know) but reason to doubt the sanity of anyone who still calls themselves a “Christian.” The difference between Judaism, Islam, and Christianity is the carpenter-turn-minister character: Jesus. Without Jesus, fundamental Christians are just Jews who hate Jews; unless the Jews are at war with the Muslims. Without Jesus, there is no charity, no humility, no generosity, and plenty of tolerance for hate, war, greed, and prejudice. Without the moderating words attributed to Jesus, Christians are unbounded by any rules other than to pretend to believe in their gods. A rational look at the lifestyles of the evangelicals and televangelists would convince any sentient person that the purpose of religion is to make a very small number of hyper-corrupt people very, very rich. Those people, not surprisingly, are totally behind Donald Trump and his obscene administration. The only interest they have in government is protecting their tax-exemption and Donald has no intention of betraying their trust; unless they actually begin to act like Christians. Not likely, though. Is it?

The country’s frayed and decaying justice system is taking a beating these days, too. Trump is praising cops who violate laws and act like the Gestapo he desperately needs to “reform” this country into the fascist model he imagines will make him fearless leader. Trump and the Republican congress are appointing judges who will set back civil rights, election integrity, and Sessions is reversing every half-progressive order Obama’s Justice Department issued.

There should be some kind of freedom in knowing that nothing matters. It doesn’t feel free, though. It feels lawless, dangerous, and unpredictable.

7/17/2017

I don’t have the right to do nothin’

When I first saw this title, I assumed it was another illiterate person who didn't understand double-negatives. When I heard this kid, I realized he’s a lot smarter than me.

6/30/2017

Humans School Halfwits

Ex-Stupid-State Govenor, Ricky Perry, crowned most-uninformed-ever Secretary of Energy by the most idiotic Republican President since Reagan, received a remedial scientific process education by Sen. Al Franken. I’m sure it didn’t take, since no other part Perry’s remedial education stuck with him.

Back in 2015, Texas put its poor voting decisions on parade in a variety of venues as half-human, half-weasel Ted Cruz pretended to be smart enough to comprehend a chart that clearly overwhelmed him with its simplicity. It really is time to start limiting red state access to the federal government.

6/13/2017

The Wrong People Are Giving Up

When Barak Obama became President in 2008, morons like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Alex Jones, and the Marching Morons who listen to their chin dribble all threatened to leave the country; as if some other country would want them. Obviously, those people went no where and whined like the fluffballs they are for 8 years of economic recovery and mild attempts at restoring economic equality and an even milder form of justice in this declining nation. Who were they kidding? What 1st world country would want our no-talent, hate-jocks? In fact, unless you are among the rapidly shrinking minority of Americans with actual marketable talents, no other country wants American immigrants at all. Even our immediate neighbors, Canada and Mexico, are becoming picky about who they will take from their overly violent, uneducated, and clearly insane neighbor.

trump_rallyHowever, since none of those people contribute anything irreplaceable, most everything carried on as if nothing had changed. Other than carrying out the garbage and doing work better performed by immigrants, legal or otherwise, it’s not like Trump’s fans are big economic drivers or scientists or doctors or anyone who makes a useful contribution to the GNP or the national character. The only money behind Trump comes from the worst people in the world: trust fund brats and hedge fund gangsters and actual mobsters. The people who voted for Trump are, literally, the dumbest people in the nation, making a contribution to the nation’s GNP that is so insignificant that if they were to leave the United States, the country left behind would be greatly improved and the new nation formed of Trumpetes would be a large, powerless clip_image002Bangladesh. “The less-than-500 counties that Hillary Clinton carried nationwide encompassed a massive 64 percent of America’s economic activity as measured by total output in 2015.  By contrast, the more-than-2,600 counties that Donald Trump won generated just 36 percent of the country’s output—just a little more than one-third of the nation’s economic activity.” Trump likes to speak in terms of “winners and losers,” but he and his followers are classic losers by any standard of measurement and have been at least since G.W. Bush’s “victory” in 2000: Al Gore’s 659 counties contributed 54% of the GNP while Bush’s 2397 only kicked in a 46% share. Red states are consistent non-contributors to the nation’s economy in every 21st Century measure. In fact, the only area where red states have an advantage is in resource extraction. In other words, red states on their own would be competing on a level footing with South Africa, Russia, the Arab states, and parts of South America. The only criteria that matters in those economic activities are price; the lowest price/margins win.

The unemployed and/or completely dependent alt-right characters have definitely done damage to the people who have, traditionally, supported their enemies with everything from Social Security, Workman’s Compensation, Medicare/Medicaid, healthcare in general, and the science that has driven the nation’s economic success since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Now that everything from the National Park System to healthcare to bankster regulation to the environment is being attacked by the goons in the White House, a lot of people are wondering, “Is this actually my country?

Those who have come the US with the hope of joining a thriving economy are definitely questioning that decision, “Technology companies across the country said they did not support the travel ban, and the mood is dark across the California tech sector” It’s not like the whole country is attracting high-tech talent. The red states are giant antigravity zones, not just repelling non-white, non-native talent, but driving out homegrown high performers. Not only is the Trump immigration policy driving non-US talent to more welcoming nations, US talent often feels compelled to “immigrate” to the only place in the country that is overwhelmingly driven by innovation: Silicon Valley. Now, you have to wonder if home-grown talent will be looking for a “better world” elsewhere. It could just be who I know, but in the last month I’ve had conversations with two Boomer families who have to go overseas to visit their grandchildren: a pair of physicians permanently immigrated to Ireland and an engineer and a physician now calling Australia “home.”

clip_image003A good reason for the fear generated by Trump is his promise to “make American great again.” The people who are energized by this promise couldn’t make a contribution to make their own backyards “great.” The only job they could possibly imagine Trump creating for them would be as members of the Gestapo. The far right loves Trump, but they are otherwise useless, non-contributors to the nation’s economy or future. What else could they be hoping for?

At the other end of this high-output vs. low output America conflict will be both the people who leave and the people who decide to quit fighting for people who don’t appreciate the effort. If Trump saps that energy, you can safely assume the country will experience another economic crash, as the banksters and hedge fund gangsters leverage themselves into oblivion and the Marching Morons pretend to keep up by borrowing every penny they can borrow for their new cars, boats, big screen televisions, and the rest of the crap they can not afford and don’t need. This time, there won’t be a Barak Obama standing by to bail out the morons and regulate the criminals. In fact, the young people who might have been the people to take on that job, might just be watching the “fun” from Toronto, Sydney, London, or Berlin.

6/10/2017

Big Whoop

New PictureIf you’ve spent more than 15 minutes on the internet in the last month, you’ve probably seen this idiotic ad. Don’t waste your time, the “Trump Prophet” is a wingnut hedge fund gangster who is using his once-in-a-lifetime guess that Republican Russians would scam the election and force Trump on the American public and the world. Big whoop.

A friend provided the best analysis I ever heard regarding why Trump would win, way back in August. “Half of every population has below average intelligence. Half of every population has below average education. Trump will win all of those votes. The only hope Clinton has is that one of Trump’s halves wil decide not to vote.” They all voted.

Of course this hedge fund crook is counting on our Congresscritters to be as stupid as possible and train wreak the economy in record time, with no real balance-of-power controls to stop Republican Russians and their plutocratic owners from having a drunken frat party with the economy and the shriveled remains of American democracy. It’s not impressive to realize that Republicans have crashed the economy every time they’ve been in power since 1968. What would be impressive would be finding a stone to hide your savings under until the economic tornado is done wreaking society. Good luck with that.

6/09/2017

Surrounded by Christian Zombies

For several years, I would drive from Denver to Dodge City, pick up my father, and drive the two of us to Hutchinson, KS for the NJCAA Basketball national championship tournament. Kansas, if you aren’t familiar with the place, is one of the many states in the decadent US that ignores the parts of the Constitution it believes are “unnecessary” or intrusive: like the First Amendment. Even though the tournament is held in a public building and all of the schools involved are public institutions, every game is preceded with some nutball in a dress chanting an inane prayer to the assortment of gods—Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Evangelist, whatever—masquerading as “Christian.”

From my perspective, it has been entertaining to watch faux-Christians freak out about exposure to “radical Islam.” I’ve been surrounded by nutjob radical Christians who want to destroy the world as quickly as possible so they can find their place in that horrific heavenly choir sooner rather than later. Try to imagine this idiot’s rant, “Christians Need To Stop Being So Naive About Muslim Immigration,” from the point-of-view of an agnostic or atheist. This snowball’s terror is nothing but hilarious, “Can they not observe the differences in today’s world between countries dominated by Islam and Western countries founded on Christian and Enlightenment values? Are they not aware of the widespread problems with migrants assaulting women in Germany, one of the latest victims being the daughter of a European official, who was raped and drowned? Have they not heard about the sharia [sic] law courts Muslim immigrants have created in England and the schools where Muslim children are taught barbaric practices?” Any reading of European and American history would make this hysteria laughable. Every single complaint about Islam that she offers can be laid on the laps of the US and European faux-Christian imperialists; past and present. We are, after all, the nation that justified carpet-bombing highly populated cities in Iraq, a nation whose only crime was possessing lots of oil, as a “crusade.” We’re the nation willing to blow up wedding parties on the off-chance that someone on our “terrorist watch list” might be present.

While watching Christians freak out when they see Muslim women in burkas or bearded Muslim men in a coffee shop is entertaining, it’s also familiar. I get exactly the same creeping feeling around any superstitious group, especially when I’m surrounded by creepy superstitious people. All religions are cults and all religious people are irrationally superstitious, dangerous, and unpredictable. Once a person convinces themself that a god has chosen them for some damned purpose, anything can happen; usually anything awful. Most of my family is religious and superstitious; as is most of the country. “The survey found 42 percent of adults say they believe in ghosts, 36 percent say they believe in creationism, 36 percent say they believe in UFOs, 29 percent say they believe in astrology, 26 percent say they believe in witches and 24 percent say they believe in reincarnation, or that they were once another person.” We’re a nation of idiots.

2DC99A6A00000578-3289414-image-a-55_1445831355166For 60 years, all but my first 9, I’ve tolerated insane gibberish from almost everyone I knew. Finally, I’ve decided life is too short and painful to put up with more of this horseshit. If these people were parasite-infected zombies, supposedly it would be reasonable to protect one’s self from contamination. Since they are religious zombies, my only option is to do my best to avoid them.

6/05/2017

Women Elected Trump and I’m Out

A few years ago, my oldest daughter complimented me by telling one of her friends that I was the most committed feminist she knew. I have two daughters of whom I am incredibly proud. One of my daughters things I inhibited her feminity by not encouraging her “girlyness” and the other is not particularly worried about how other people judge her. My goal was to provide my kids with the opportunity to become whoever they are; regardless of who I would like them to be. They are humans first, women second, and my daughters somewhere way down the line. What I think of what they do with their lives should only be my problem.

As a peripheral aspect of being the father of two brilliant women, I have been a regular contributor to lots of women’s rights organizations: from Planned Parenthood to the League of Women Voters to the National Organization for Women and practically every semi-related liberal group that asked me for money. The last 35 years have been tough on that commitment. Women elected Reagan, Bush I and II, Clinton, and now Trump. Women are the majority of the voting public and NOBODY wins a political office in the United States of America unless they convince a significant number of women to vote for them. 53% of white American women voted for Donald Trump in 2016, including one of my daughters. At 70 years of age I’ve decided it’s time for women to stand on their own two feet and own the mess they have created. I am, officially, out.

I’ve flagged all of the phone numbers of women’s organizations who have called for donations in the past and I’ll keep flagging them until they give up on me. Call it “selfish” or whatever derogatory term you can apply to my position, but I’m going to wait for women to figure out who the hell is on their side and who wants to put them back in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, before I worry about their problems again. Trump, Pence, Ryan, Turtleman, and the rest of the Republican Party have fooled a substantial majority of women to take careful aim at their own feet and blow off all their toes. Who am I to stand in their way? I might get hit by a ricochet.

For most of my life, I’ve observed that often women are women’s worst enemies. The Phyllis Schlafy’s of the world are always trying to squash other women into high heeled subservience and I don’t see nearly enough women fighting back. So how is it my job to stand with the few women who give a damn about other women? I am a fuckin’ hermit and if I could get through a year or two without seeing another human I’d have spent the best year or two of my life. So, I’m out and you’re in the batter’s box. Don’t bother calling me to ask if I’ve had enough of this bullshit because you’ll know I back because you’ll be in control and the old, superstitious white men will be hiding in a closet; where they belong.

6/01/2017

Don’t Fear Intelligence

In a recent interview, Steve Wozinak said, “There’s sort of a fear with artificial intelligence that machines could become so intelligence and versatile that they could totally replace a person so there wouldn’t be other jobs to go to, but that is so far off it’s an unrealistic fear at this stage. It would take decades and decades.” Being afraid of artificial intelligence is as far from my concerns as is humanly possible, I’m far more afraid of human stupidity: for example, Trump’s, “Despite the constant negative press covfefe” gibberish.

Human, and especially American, stupidity has been on the rise for the last 40 years and, not coincidentally, superstition and “religion” are on the uptake. One of many recent studies, produced by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, summarized the facts, “In basic literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills, the new study shows, younger Americans are at or near the bottom of the standings among advanced countries.”

Two years ago, Fortune Magazine listed a few of the ways the United States is in decline: Economic Signs that America Is on the Deline. Republicans appear to worship the concept of economic inequality, but most sentient humans understand that poverty and freedom are incompatible. The USA falls below such powerhouse nations as Slovenia, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, and Turkey when it comes to economic equality, in fact we have the fourth highest income inequality in the world. Libertarians rejoice! Crony capitalism has succeeded. We’re in the top ten in only one important category and we’re #1 there: we have more citizens in prison than any other country in the world. China isn’t even a close second.

5/26/2017

Marching for Dimes

Remember the March of Dimes? When I was a kid, practically every cash register had a little plastic box with a picture of some poor kid in leg braces or lying in a hospital bed or some other pitiful, helpless situation with Jerry Lewis somewhere in the picture with his hand out. My wife absolutely hates the idea of the March of Dimes, which was mostly an organization staffed by millionaires’ trophy wives guilting working people out of their spare change. As my wife says, “If the millionaire class stopped hoarding their fortunes and spent a little of it on medical research or eliminating poverty or improving public education, poor people wouldn’t have to chip in their ten cents to keep the trophy wives occupied.”

Likewise, the Democratic Party is running its own March of Dimes these days. While the billionaire class buries the Republicans in dark money, Democrats are reduced to asking working people for spare change. They aren’t even good at that, so most of the regional and state Democratic candidates are reduced to buying email lists to beg for money all across the country. There is no Democratic National Committee as far as any sort of national organization is concerned. The DNC’s sole purpose in 2016 was to elect Hillary Clinton President of the United States, all other campaigns be damned. As a result of hustling one of the two most disliked candidates in US history and taking a much undeserved vacation during the entire Obama presidency, the party lost more than 1,000 seats in state legislatures, governor's mansions and Congress between the 2012 and 2016 elections. The party, which had geared itself up to do exactly what it did in 2016 for 2008 when voters overwhelmingly rejected Clinton for Barak Obama, sat on its ass and did nothing to help local, state, and national candidates for 8 years. Now, there is no national Democratic Party organization and the US is close to becoming a single-party nation. There are plenty of role models to follow at the state level, all of those states are red and all of them are economically, educationally, and culturally disadvantaged. There is no example in the country of a state that has done better under Republican rule, but those Koch brothers’ servants don’t care. Their brains are washed clean.

This spring, Democrats had practically nothing to do with the money they stashed during the 2016 debacle and at three House seats were up for grabs: Kansas, Georgia, and Montana. The DNC did what it does best, ignored those campaigns until the March of Democratic Dimes managed to point out the weakness of the Republican opponents in those races. Still, the DNC didn’t raise a finger to help the last vestiges of Democratic progressive candidates fight millions of Koch dollars. I suppose the DNC is hanging on to its cash in case Hillary or another Clinton wants to run in 2020?

5/24/2017

Stupid Watergate

All that needs to be, and should be, said about the train wreak pseudo-conservatives call the “Trump Administration.”

It’s Funny How A Big Lie Can Make Us All Kids Again

“When we were kids, we were all afraid of the dark. Then we grew up and we weren’t afraid any more. But . . . it’s funny how a big lie can make us all kids again.”

“Until the crowd knew that everything Trump said was a lie, there was no hope. The confidence man would always get the credit for saving the town.”

5/19/2017

5/09/2017

Facebook Page

2016 has taught me a lot of things, mostly through painful lessons I’d rather not experience again. Probably the most important lesson has been that “social media” isn’t very social and it’s a poor substitute for a free society’s functioning media. While living in small towns across the Midwest and West for 68 years I learned that “street smarts” and the “school of hard knocks” aren’t even close to an actual education. 2016 reminded me that “the kindness of strangers” quickly evaporates when the strangers form a mob. David Roth’s “crowd IQ rule” absolutely applies to the results of the 2016 election. Since the smartest person in a Trump chump crowd has a sub-100 IQ, that crowd IQ never had a chance of obtaining single-digit intelligence. I learned that democracy does fail when the voting public believes it can “vote itself rich.” I was reminded, again, that the majority of my generation was in favor of the Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq wars and every piddily invasion scheme from criminals who make up our government and our military-industrial complex. The following generations will be no more intelligent, since the species appears to be downbreeding as fast as possible.

All my life I’ve watched “Christians” behave like Romans and the disconnect between their behavior. Their actions convinced me that all religion was a farce when I was 9 years old. That opinion has only been reinforced over the lext 60 years. I can’t tell fundamentalist Christians from fundamentalist Muslims from fundamentalist Jews from Satinists. You are all a pack of ethics-free, selfish, greedy, violent, miserable jackals who would and will eat your own children if you miss a couple of Happy Meals. Everyone of you pretends that resources are infinite and that one generation has the right to use and abuse all of the world’s resources, leaving their children to suffer the consequences, justifies that greed and selfishness with religion. I have no idea why you reproduce, but I know it is NOT because you love your children.

5/07/2017

What’s Workin’ for You?

The more scientists learn about how human brains “work,” the less hope I have for the species. It’s not the scientists’ fault, they are the best hope humanity and the planet has. The problem is that our caveman, lizard-brain inherited qualities are often so incredibly self-destructive that it’s hard to imagine how the species will evolve into something creative and sustaining.

For example, on an NPR program yesterday, some nitwit from the right-wing “libertarian” propaganda machine with the pompus, Trump-style academic name the “Cato Institute,” debated a physician about healthcare. The NPR interviewer did manage to get the wingnut to admit that their philosophy is that “everyone deserves the healthcare they can afford.” To modifiy this obviously vicious and destructive philosophy, the went on in their usual way about how markets magically create affordable solutions (suicide options, I suspect) if they are allowed to operate “freely.” History demonstrates, repeatedly, that markets despise unrestrained operation and the rich work as hard as rich people are capable of working to find ways to eliminate competition, optimize profits and minimize the required effort to maintain the status quo. Libertarians, as much as they love to imagine themselves to be defenders of individual liberty, are defenders of the 1% and economic and social inequality. It’s their thing. As someone deftly explained forty or fifty years ago, “libertarians are Republicans with ponytails.” The physician in this debate, obviously someone who has spent her life trying to improve patients’ existence and doing actual useful work, had a strongly opposing opinion based on reality, practice in medicine (not mindless economic theorizing), and a life committed to doing something of value.

The end result for me was a reminder of the right wing’s babbler-in-chief, Sarah Palin, asking “How’s that hopey-changey thing workin’ out for ya?”

Hope and change tie together closely. People who are easily “grossed out” are consistently conservative and afraid of change. Being afraid of anything tends to make us not only oppose change but to turn around and head back into whatever mess we were attempting to leave. In my lifetime, this country has had two (maybe two and a half, counting Carter) Presidents who were change drivers. Kennedy was assasinated in the early stages of reversing the country’s mindless drive toward becoming an imperialist empire and a force for world instability. Obama was handed an economy in freefall and a society on the edge of social collapse and, after doing a few of the things necessary to stop total collapse, was stopped in his tracks by a timid, backwards, mostly-white conservative voting block who elected a congress that was as regressive a group of uneducated, racist, lazy, entitled white men as you’d expect from a similar population. “Hope and change” were the polar opposite of what these voters and their representatives stood for.

My question to them would be, “How’s that hatey, scaredy, stupidy thing workin’ our for ya?”

With Trump in the White House, Republicans in control of Congress, and a solid majority of pseudo-conservatives in the Extreme Court, the country is heading as far from hope and change (for the better) as possible. In fact, we appear to be on a sled ride down a steep icy path toward a cliff with a pile of sharp boulders waiting for us at the bottom. Not as a country, but as a species.

5/03/2017

A Great Moment in Comedy



I can't decide of Stephen's routine was funnier than the wingnuts' reaction to it. Seriously? You redneck, racist, homophobic, illiterate, superstitious morons think the rest of us should be upset that Cobert thinks you elected a treasonous, corrupt, incompetent clown? Get this ridiculous shit:

"What Steven Colbert did is called SEXUAL HARASSMENT. That's what this is. Sexual harassment is creepy pre-rapist behavior & that's why it's illegal. Steven Colbert has got to go but the libs are going to give him a pass all the while they demand bill o'rilye & others be ousted."

"Nice try, but still a fail. The 'Libs' are complaining that the right is acting exactly like what they bitch about, and accuse "libs" of doing. Words matter."

What a bunch of fluffballs.

Voting Blocks

We keep hearing about the Boomer voting block being some sort of daunting demographic that will stifle the future of the next century. The facts are that Boomers are a substantial minority, according to the US Census Department. Here are the real numbers as of May 2016:

  • 18 to 29 years         48,930,023    21.60%
  • 30 to 44 years         53,919,202    23.80%
  • 45 to 64 years         78,123,072    34.40%
  • 65 years and over   46,047,189    20.30%

20.3% of the potential voters in the 2016 elections were Boomers. 77% were white, which is a more important demographic, but one that is thankfully shrinking. 31% had a batchelor’s degree or higher. 25% had a household income of $100k or higher. Nationally, a little more than half (55%) of potential voters turned out for a 20-year low voter participation rate in 2016, about 18M fewer than in 2008.

What all this tells us, or should tell us, is that it wouldn’t take much effort for the 18 to 44 (Millenials and X-Gens) to overwhelm any voting capacity from the old white Boomer crowd. So, now those two generations need to get off of their mom’s basement couches and do some work.

4/19/2017

Out of Patience

When I was a kid, in the 50’s, Eisenhower was President and Nixon was Vice-President (heavy on the “vice”). For a brief moment, John Kennedy was elected president in 1960, when I was twelve and assinated when I was fifteen. A marginal Democrat, Lyndon Johnson, followed that until he was chased from office (by actual Democrats) over his expansion of the Vietnam War. Nixon and his band of merry assholes and war criminals followed. After six and a half years and even more expansion of the war, Republicans stuck the country with Gerald Ford and Nelson Rockefeller after Nixon and his VP, Spiro Agnew, were chased from office for corruption and various crimes against the nation. Ford was the 1974 version of Paul Ryan, with about the same lack of patriotism, with the same collection of corrupt corporate and 1% owners, and the same distain for justice and honor that has been typical of Republicans for my whole lifetime.

For an incredibly brief 4 years, a competent businessman, experienced engineer, a reasonable politician, and decent person, Jimmy Carter, was president. Carter made the politically fatal mistake of attempting to explain the situation Americans had placed themselves in with those years of  expansionist war, Republican, and near-Republican misnamangement (Remember the “malaise speech?”). Reminicent of the more recent words of Bernie Sanders, Carter told us, "In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does but by what one owns." He called American lack of faith in the country’s future, “a crisis of confidence.” The truth may set you free, but in Carter’s case it cost him the 1980 election to a Republican con man and a collection of right wing crooks and traitors who haven’t yet left the stage. Carter was right, though, the post-Reagan USA became one “defined by . . . what one owns.”

So, with our heads in the sand or up our asses we elected Ronald Reagan, followed by George Bush Sr., and the country drove itself off a cliff of international debt and some kind of weird celebration of anti-intellectualism and greed that resulted in a habitual deficit spending and a vicious love of imperialism and militarism. Twelve years of regressive, corrupt, and incompetent Hollywood executive and mediocracy—inspired congressional idiocy followed. Somehow, brainless and lazy Americans decided to convey political sainthood on Reagan instead of admitting that they’d been conned and the country had been robbed by the B-movie actor and failed California politician.

Bill Clinton could have been a Democrat, but he chose to be an “Eisenhower Republican” and he only moderated the government’s incompetence during his eight years in office. Even Republicans don’t like Republicans pretending to be Democrats and the last four years of Clinton’s administration was taken up with “did he or didn’t he” bullshit about Clinton’s blowjobs. Republicans tried to conjure up real impeachable crimes, but being Republicans their success was limited by their lack of competence and their own massive corruption issues. Clinton might have been an easy target if Republicans still had an intellectual base, but by 1992 every intelligent Republican had left the building and their space was filled by the uneducated, racist, tools of the Koch brothers we suffer today.

Then eight years of G.W. Bush and a bunch of Reagan and Nixon cronies finally led us to the Great Recession. Obviously, the Party of Borrow and Spend borrowed and spent to the tune of increasing the deficit every year while the 1%, the conservative media talking heads, and the Marching Morons pretended that was a rational alternative to Democratic “tax and spend” policies that at least attempt to pay for their policies. 2008 through 2010 were budget years where the federal government attempted to spend its way out of what looked like the Second Great Depression. I guess it sort of worked, but prosecuting the financial criminals, recovering their booty to repay the trillions they cost the country and world, and taxing the 1% would have worked far better. Barak Obama was more of a Democrat than the Clintons, but not enough more to convince the Marching Morons that democracy is better than idiocy or mediocrity.

Trump, of course, will be the worst of Reagan and the Bush’s combined. He had no skill as a “businessman” and his mental instability has led to a collection of right wing idiots in the executive branch who are guaranteed to make life miserable for working people. The best we can hope for now is that Republicans and the inbred 1% will be stupid enough to crash the country and the resulting chaos will break up the oversized and overarmed US military and not cause the insane religious right, who now dominate US politics, to fire off their own perverted version of Armageddon. Today, the world’s most pressing problem is surviving the end of the empire known as the United States of America.

So, I went through the Vietnam War years, watching my friends die, be mentally or physically disabled, and being alienated from my family and community because I wouldn’t “get onboard” with an immoral war. Again, I was on the opposite side of the majority during Reagan and Bush I’s reign of world terror and imperialism and again with Bush II. After spending most of my 69 years suffering with the incompetence of Republicans and the stupidity of Republican voters, I’m tired of it. I have no more energy or motivation to put up with 4 or 8 years of a pack of Trump morons than I have with chemotherapy and a long “fight” with cancer. In fact, the moral character of my country feels disgustingly like a cancer infection/infestation.

4/01/2017

Always Visitors, Rarely Visited

When my wife and I were young, we lived in a variety of hell-holes from Dallas and Hereford, Texas to mid-sized and small towns in Nebraska. When none of our family or friends visited us in those places, it was no surprise. We didn’t want to be there, so why should anyone else want to visit? However, when we moved to Omaha in the early 1980’s that should have changed. But it didn’t.

Omaha had more recreational resources than any of the places we’d lived previously and dramatically more than where our friends and family lived. Still, we did the visiting and no one came to visit us . . . ever. We moved to southern California and had three visitors in ten years. Part of the SoCal problem was that our $1600/month apartment was tiny and we had no room for anyone other than us. We moved to Colorado and my brother visited a few times and our daughter, once, but we were pretty much left on our own there, too. As always, we travelled to visit my family. Next, we moved to Minnesota which is a world more interesting than Kansas, Missouri, or Texas, but we’ve pretty much been left alone here, too. Even our daughter’s family, who live less than 10 miles from us, rarely make the trip to our place. Instead, as always, if we want to see the kids and grandkids we travel to see them. I’m not sure what that means, but I think it means my wife and I are hermits. Maybe not by intention, but certainly by lifestyle.

When my parents were alive, we'd make the miserable pilgrimage to western Kansas, often fighting out way through blizzards during the holidays. After we'd been "home" for an hour or two, my parents would settle back into their normal life, as if the effort we'd made to visit were inconsequential and expected. After a few years of that, my wife decided to quit travelling to Kansas. I should have wised up sooner, but I didn't. I guess I wanted my kids to know where I'd come from and had wild hopes that my parents would want to get to know my children. We were always from different planets and that was never going to be likely, though. We're not much for visiting these days. Travel, yes, but travelling to see family or friends, not so much. And, as always, no one travels to see us. Even as old fucks, we're expected to go to them, whoever "they" are.

So, in the fall of 2014 Robbye and I are moving to Red Wing, Minnesota, where we know no one and would be starting life over at 66 and 64. It could be intimidating, but it is only a little because we’re not giving up much. We’ll be leaving the city, but that’s no real sacrifice. I’ve had all of the urban noise and traffic I need for a lifetime. We’ll be moving about 40 miles further away from the kids, but since we see them once or twice a month that’s no big obstacle. Their visits to us are so infrequent that we won’t notice any change in that area. The grandkids won’t be staying overnight or on weekends during school months, but they don’t do that much now, anyway. Most of the good friends we once had in the Cities have left or drifted away. It's not unusual for us to go for a month without seeing anyone but strangers in stores. With that in mind, we might as well be where the cost of living is lower, somewhere quiet, less pointlessly busy.

I am curious as to why we’ve always been visitors and rarely visited. Maybe we’re not good hosts? Maybe our home is not comfortable. When I worked at the school, we had a fair number of parties during the summer and, sometimes, people came. Often, they did not. More often than not, I’d have enough food prepared for the party that we’d be eating on the leftovers for a week afterwards. I never thought much about it at the time, but in retrospect it seems to be part of the story of our lives.
I’m writing all of this, of course, in the fall of 2014 and I expect to be long dead when Google “publishes” this addition to my blog. Of course, I might live longer than two more years but it seems unlikely at this moment. Google might not be messing with Blogger in 2016, so maybe no one will ever read it. Maybe people will be so involved in basic survival in 2016 due to climate change, revolution, or societal collapse that even if Google still pukes out scheduled blog entries it will be unnoticed. No problem there. I’m used to it by now.

3/19/2017

Going to A Town

Sometimes, a song is worth a thousand words and that many pictures.

2/24/2017

Betting the Short Hand

 All Rights Reserved © 2017 Thomas W. Day

In the 50’s and early 60’s, a man (not a woman) had a fairly good chance—at least 1 in 10—of picking a job, learning the necessary skills, and hanging on to that job—or something very close to it—for his working lifetime. In the late 60’s and throughout the 70’s, the Vietnam War and other military distractions wasted the nation’s resources and squandered its commercial energy so that other countries caught up to us and passed us in many industries. By then, even skilled laborers discovered their talents and knowledge didn’t guarantee them a lifetime job and income: engineers became obsolete, mechanics lost their jobs because their electronic skills were insufficient, technicians became irrelevant in the throw-away society, and manual labor began to be replaced with machines. That was just the beginning of a “new economy” and a renewal of old feudal society rules that value investment and property more than people. In their usual half-witted way, the voters most effected by this cultural shift voted to speed up their demise.

Hillary and Democrats only offered 1 in 100 odds that if a worker decided to join the lifetime education system that worker could remain employed reasonably consistently and probably cling to a middle class lifestyle to retirement. That would require living modestly as individuals and a nation, investing in local communities, spending less time cheering for sports teams and more time cracking the books and learning new skills, and being a parent would be dramatically more demanding since the next generation will have to be even more invested in constant education and skill development. Even with all of that effort, the chances are good that a computer/robot will takeover any career you pick in the next 50 years and you’ll be back in the unemployment line. The odds weren’t great and the effort required would be constant and demanding.

Trump presented an alternative, an incredibly unlikely alternative but at least the kind of alternative that people who “invest” in lottery tickets could understand. With odds that probably don’t get better than 1 in 1,000,000,000 Trump said “I will give you everything” and guaranteed that he’d create “25 million jobs” and promised to make “every dream you ever dreamed for your country” come true if he were elected. The odds that a man whose career is checkered with bankruptcy, incompetence, corruption, and outright stupidity would even bother with fulfilling those promises is astronomical, but still in the realm of “barely possible.”

You’d think that any reasonably intelligent adult should know none of that is possible for a guy with no leadership experience and whose ability to mange his own businesses included six bankruptcies and one amazingly miserable failed attempt to take his “empire” public. (Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts (DJT) went from an IPO of $140M in public investment money to booking $647M in losses between 1995 and 2004 before that pie-in-the-sky public company filed for Chapter 11.) Donald, of course, paid himself handsomely all the way to the moment the bankers took over his mess, but the suckers/gamblers who invested in his “business” got back less than a buck for every 10 they gambled, if they got out in time. Fact: if you had bought $10,000 in DJT stock in 1995, you’d have about $650 when the dust settled. If you had shorted DJT stock, you’d have turned your margin account investment into a gold mine.

stupid-trump-quote-76-sorry-losers-and-haters-but-iq-one-the-politics-1457151051You could argue that DJT was a solid investment. After all, who loses money owning casinos? History shows that not only did Trump lose close to a billion dollars, but the cities unlucky enough to be part of his scam were even more decimated by his attention. Taxpayers carried Trump’s load for almost 20 years because of the way he scammed our tax code (and bribed a few congresscritters to defund the IRS so that enforcement group wouldn’t have the resources to prosecute him). History is always a good clue about the future and Trump’s long list of business failures should have been enough evidence for DJT’s IPO to be one of the great jokes of the DOT.COM years. Americans, in general, are not good at history or any other academic activity.

It turns out that it is human nature to choose a 1:1,000,000,000 bet on “every dream you ever dreamed” over a 1:100 investment in education and hard work for a middle class life for the majority of citizens. Humans are not a rational animal. We’re 99.99…% emotional and whatever is left is mildly logical. We don’t make choices based on our best return. We’ll go for pie-in-the-sky over a regular meal almost every time. At some point, the people who make society, technology, science, and the economy work are going to grow tired of the irrational behavior of the majority of human population. Their hard work is regularly overturned by uneducated, emotional, superstitious idiots; who represent the steaming mass of humanity’s turd pile. You’d think it wouldn’t be all that hard for a few genetic engineers, some weapons designers, and serious hacking of our political system to turn the tables on the marching morons and solve all of the world’s problems in a single generation.

2/08/2017

Who’s Not Paying Their Way?

Trump seems to believe that some of the NATO nations aren’t paying their way. His solution is to pull out of NATO and abandon the alliances that have provided whatever sembalance of stability the western world has enjoyed since the end of WWII. If he’s willing to crack that many eggs and roll the dice on the world, how about applying the same rules to the states in the USA? Obviously, Trump won’t bite the hand that elected him, but the red states are typically takers not givers and the states that did not go for Trump are paying the way for the majority of the people who claim they are independent “freedom lovers.” The Southeast, in particular, is a stagnant pool of economic inactivity. Here, for instance, is a list of the top ten US deadbeat states:

  1. Mississippi,  42.9% federal aid as percentage of general revenue
  2. Louisiana,  41.9%
  3. Tennessee, 39.5%
  4. South Dakota, 39.0%
  5. Missouri,  38.2%
  6. Montana, 37.4%
  7. Georgia, 37.3%
  8. New Mexico, 36.6%
  9. Alabama, 36.1%
  10. Maine, 35.3%

dollarEvery one of these states votes red and receives massive amounts of federal welfare as a reward. Another way to look at state dependence on federal welfare is by examining the states’ ROI for tax dollars paid into the federal goverenment. Obviously, the deadbeats in Mississippi are getting a killer deal with $4.70 returned from D.C. for every $1 of federal taxes paid. 42% of that cesspool’s general fund comes from federal welfare. You’d think that state would be desperately Democratic, if the usual Republican bullshit about personal responsibility and independence from federal handouts meant anything, but you’d be wrong. Mississippi turned red in 1964 and other than going for hometown southern boy Jimmy Carter in 1976 Mississippi has been a red state for 50 years.

At the bottom of the above chart are the 11 states who pay their own way (and every other states’ way): Deleware, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersy, Conneticut, Illinois, Ohio, Massachucets, New York, Rhode Island, and North Dakota (However, ND became a welfare state in 2016 when the massive oil substidies for fracking weren’t able to overcome the low price of oil.). The data determing who needs what from the rest of us can be confusing, though. For instance, North Dakota’s state government was the least dependent while the state’s residents were the most dependent. No, I don’t know what the fuck that means. WalletHub.com provides a terrific amount of information on all of the available data on this subject at: https://wallethub.com/edu/states-most-least-dependent-on-the-federal-government/2700/. You can even play with some of the numbers and see how your home state stacks up. It’s interesting to see that the states constantly vieying for the worst education system ranking, Mississippi, Louisiana and New Mexico, are consistently among the most dependent on the federal government for both personal and their state governments’ income.

You’d think Trump would be applying some of the same logic, if he applied logic, to states that he’s using on NATO countries. If a state isn’t paying its own way, it should lose representation in Congress, for example. Screw population, let’s make states earn their electoral votes. For instance, California’s Gross Domestic Product is $2.448 trillion dollars and receives $343 billion back (14%) from the feds while Mississippi “contributes” a paultry $88.55 billion and rakes in $34.308 billion (38%) in federal spending. Minnesota contributes a $255B GDP for a $44.3B federal investment (17%) vs. Arkansas’ dismal $95B GDP and $28.5B federal contribution (30%). With that sort of discrepancy in output vs. investment, you’d think California and Minnesota would have at least 50 times the representation in Washington as an on-federal-life-support state like Mississippi. You’d be disappointed, if you were expecting logic and fairness from the same standards Trump is applying to NATO.

Socialism is, apparently, acceptible for states that are willing to give up their civil rights and become corporate welfare states.

2/06/2017

Meth Grandma?

methgrannyI learned about a new class of sub-human last night at a party in Truth or Consequences, NM: meth grandmas. Apparently, there are “meth clans” that are managed by the grandmothers. Meth is just a part of life in New Mexico, even the cops agree that “Breaking Bad” wasn’t far from a true story. All of this weird information came out in a discussion of the neighborhoods in the tiny town of TorC. The northeast end of town, a pretty obviously decrepit area but not one I’d suspected was particularly dangerous. I guess it is, at night. Even when the “rich” and “poor” neighborhoods are only a 1/2 mile apart in a 6,000 person town and “rich” barely qualifies as lower middle class and “poor” is as destitute as Americans get, most of the crime is isolated to the tiny poor end of town. Poor-on-poor crime seems to be a feature of the meth world. In fact, the stories I heard last night were mostly about family-on-family-member crimes. Drug abuse and New Mexico appear to go together like Trump and ignorance.

  • Son-in-law fails to score the week’s dope supply and grandma stabs him in the gut with a screwdriver
  • Grandkid gets into grandma’s stash and OD’s while playing with the crystals, grandma tosses the kid into the backyard as a punishment
  • Baby OD’s after grandma uses the kid’s diapers as a meth processing filter and puts them back on the kid without even washing them

And so it goes.

yuma4n-5-webSome of the folks at the party were sympathetic and some weren’t. All of them were part of the tiny crowd of Democrats in a mixed mostly-conservative state in a solidly red county (58% voted for Trump, which is consistent with the state’s overall results: the poorest, least educated counties were consistently Republican and the few educated, relatively wealthy, and more populated counties were strongly Democratic.) with some twists (2 Democratic US Representatives vs. 1 Republican and a new Democratic majority in the state House and Senate.).

The diversity of opinion and perspective reminded me of Will Roger’s political statement, “I don’t belong to any organized political party. I’m a Democrat.” Sometimes I think Democrats think too much. To overwhelm the emotional and irrational Republican fascist movement in the US, it will probably take the same kind of mindless fire Republicans exhibit. Fighting fire with fire just creates more fire, so I have to wonder if it’s worth the sacrifice?

 

2/04/2017

Is the Gap too Far?

Not long after the “election,” I brought a Xmas pie to our young neighbors. I’ve talked about “Dan” before, when I discussed his argument (“I don’t believe that.”) against the evidence that market forces, congressional lawmakers’ opening the world market to our ammunition manufacturers, and gun hoarders like him who have driven the price of ammo up. Dan doesn’t vote, so nothing that happens “is my fault.” His wife, someone who works for the Veterans’ Administration and holds a BS in microbiology, like her family voted for Trump. She earned that degree at the University of Michigan, where she claimed “the professors were terrible.” I don’t know who’s who in microbiology, but I do have to wonder what someone with a science education is doing voting for Trump. Maybe her education really was terrible.

TrumpJesusALoserWhen we talked about her reasons for voting Trump, she said “there are books” written about Hillary Clinton’s corruption; which is true. A few of them are written by reasonably credible writers, but most are financed by the Koch idiots and the right wing propaganda machine. However, her family is all Republicans and Fox News fans and her propaganda saturation was complete. She said she even cried as she left the voting booth, but she was convinced that “Hillary lied” and she followed that statement with “but I believe in Jesus Christ.” I do not get the connection. I don’t get how people who imagine themselves to be any kind of Christian could find a way to voting for Trump. While there appears to be no evidence that Christians feel any obligation to behave decently it always seemed to me that the point in being Christian should be to do at least a few of the things that make the Jesus character appealing.

mP72JZApparently, Christians (especially the televangelist millionaires) are really on board with anything that ensures their “churches” never have to pay taxes or behave in any fashion resembling “Christian”: as in putting those millions to use doing anything other than packing their pockets, buying mansions and airplanes for their personal use, and fleecing the gullible. That is the religion I’ve always known and been disgusted by. One of the hallmarks of this brand of Christianity is a desperate desire to instigate “Armageddon.” Not because they really believe they are going to the Big Rock Candy Mountain, but because it absolves them of any responsibility for future generations so they can carry on with their perversions and avarice without guilt. Again, what would be the motivation for an intelligent person to follow that sort of philosophy?

hillary-gunz-misspelledOf course, Dan’s only response was, “Hillary wants to take my guns.” He and I have had the conversation about how Reagan and Bush I were the only presidents to do squat to his gun rights with the Brady Bill. He’s still terrified that Democrats and 63% of his fellow Americans want some sort of gun control to slow up the decline of the country into gun nut chaos. Dan, of course, is afraid to travel anywhere, even in Goodhue County, MN without a weapon in case he gets his chance to be a “good guy with a gun.” Didn’t we used to be “the land of the free, home of the brave?” We also used to be a world leader in science and technology and we made stuff the rest of the world wanted to buy. That was then and this is the country that deserves Trump and has earned the ridicule of intelligent people worldwide.

neanderthalI have to wonder if reasonably intelligent Americans, some with moderately decent educations, can be so easily fooled by low-rent propaganda and idiotic arguments, is there any hope for the country? The gap between the Tea Party know-nothings and people who actually make the country run, do science, make products and invent things, and demonstrate some level of creativity is growing so large it seems like humans are splitting into two incompatible species. That’s probably not a bad thing, since the left-behind species is superstitious, uneducable, and dangerous to the planet’s survival. The problem is that they are the overwhelming majority in the world and, especially, the majority in the USA.

1/28/2017

Why Republicans Love Russians

After more than a half-century of listening to Republicans’ timid anti-Russian freakouts, it’s interesting to see them suddenly cozy up to Putin and the remains of the Soviet Union. Honestly, I’ve never understood their hostility in the first place. Way back in the 70’s, I argued that if the USSR ever managed to take over the USA they’d leave the Nixon Administration in charge. They were and are the same people, with the same beliefs (including fake religions: communism or Christianity), the same authoritarian attitudes, the same disinterest in civil rights, the same misogyny, and the same total lack of moral values. Let me list their similarities:
  • Above all Republicans and Soviets are anti-democratic. Their half-hearted nod to “elections” is almost comical, so you’d wonder why they bother at all. I suspect that maintaining the pretense of being elected allows the less-informed public to pretend they still have a stake and it pumps up the egos of the nutjobs who want to create a society with as little going for it as the world Putin and Trump would love to make."They voted for this mess. They must have wanted it."
  • Like the conservatives in Russia, Republicans haven’t originated a progressive reform since Teddy Roosevelt. Their opposition to President Obama was a classic Soviet Russian conservative knee-jerk. Look at how the one Russian reformer in the last 100 years, Gorbachev, was treated.What passes for "reform" from the Russian/Republican Party is always less tax on the already untaxed 1% and less security for the 99%.
  • Republicans and Russians love military solutions to political problems. It will not surprise me to see Trump use the military to overwhelm the opposition to the various oil pipelines he and his Russian allies want to build across this country to get US and Canadian oil to everywhere but the US market. The only answer Republicans/Russians have to any economic disaster is to "build more bombs and bombers." It would never occur to them to improve the education system, for example, the only possible solution to most of today's US problems.
  • Russians and Republicans not only represent the ogliarchy but desperately want to become members. (https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/09/how-did-members-of-congress-get-so-wealthy/379848/) There is a reason congresscritters are allowed to bet on their own legislation, it's called "insider trading" and from the White House to the Extreme Court, insider trading is status quo. 
  • The police are always Republican/Russians because they can exercise unlimited power under authoritarian administrations without having to worry about nasty issues like being prosecuted for murder, robbery, or other crimes against the citizens the pretend to “serve and protect.”
  • At the individual level, Russians/Republicans always look for solutions from rulers, not leaders. There is no personal responsibility in either the country’s success or failure when a ruler fails to live up to his promises. Ruled citizens can bitch and moan about their sorry lives, but they don’t have to take any responsibility in creating change. Leaders need citizens to carry the load locally to create reforms and change. Free societies are obligated to work to maintain their freedom and democracy and that takes time away from watching football or Faux Views. Russians and Republicans hate work, especially when that work might benefit someone other than themselves.
  • Republicans/Russians prefer muscle over thought. While some theoretical free market promoters believe that capitalism is a system of ideas and change, the people represented at both ends of Republican/Russian politics are obviously more fond of power than ideas and change. Scientists are rarely either conservative or Republican, which should be the ultimate proof that thinking isn’t a Russian or Republican value. In fact, the opposition to public education proves that they believe in a world where only the wealthy can afford any education at all.
  • Russian/Republicans stand for mythical “freedoms” while making sure only the oligarchy are free. The freedom of the 1%, or the "nomenklatura" as the Russians call their elites, is the ultimate freedom, because no laws apply to them. That’s the world Republican/Russians are saluting when they eliminate “regulations” (laws for corporations and the ultra-rich): freedom for them and a train wreak for the rest of us.
  • When you look at the societies Russians and Republicans create, you can’t tell which one Orwell was describing in 1984. Is it an authoritarian faux-socialist society or a libertarian dream world? No one knows because you can't tell them apart without proper labels. Hell, I can't even tell if A Handmaid's Tale is Russian or Republican. All we really know is that either group stands for repression, violence, corruption, greed, and everything the ideals of the United States of America is suppose to oppose.

1/26/2017

Learning to Love the Apocolypse

hqdefaultIt took me a while to adjust to appreciating global climate change. For a couple of decades, I talked the good talk about wanting to do my part to stop the 6th Extension; to try to create a world my kids and grandkids could enjoy as much as I’d enjoyed the world handed off to me. Tonight, while I lay sleepless in my bed three days after Donald Trump was elected Last President of Democratic United States of America, I came to grips with loving what comes next.

I have two daughters; both are college-educated, intelligent, compassionate, decent people. One of my two sons-in-law is also a decent, hard-working man. I have three grandkids who I love more than my own life. That’s a reproduction rate of slightly less than two-per-couple for my wife and I. Among my wife’s Kansas family there must be close to two hundred zombies spawned from just one of her four aunt’s two marriages. One of my wife’s Kansas cousins churned out eleven nitwits from five marriages and one high school kid who got her pregnant when she was a school councilor (No kidding, it’s Kansas, remember?). Those eleven uneducated, unwanted coneheads have already churned out at least four dozen equally moronic dropouts, misfits, and massively dependent offspring. Their annual Xmas family photo looks like a special Olympics graduating class of hundreds.

So, while I hate the idea that my three beautiful grandchildren and two brilliant, compassionate, and loving daughters are going to watch the world collapse into chaos and see the world they love destroyed out of greed, apathy, laziness, superstition, and stupidity, I’ve come to terms with the math.

Let’s face it, we’re a nation that constantly justifies “collateral damage.” We’re willing to blow up one hundred people in a wedding ceremony in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Mexico, Columbia, or any where else and because some contractor’s Puerto Rican drone operator spotted one or two characters who have been randomly selected for our “terrorist watch list.” Compared to that, sacrificing my five off-spring to let the coal industry take out a hundred or so brain-dead Kansas relatives is an efficiency bargain. Add the 60M Trump voters and the rest of the world’s uneducated, lazy, moronic basket cases to that list and the world would be far better off without humans on it. So, bring on the Trump apocalypse. No, children, you’re not going to be levitated into the Big Rock Candy Mountain before the shit hits the fan. You’re going to suffer, possibly for years, before it all comes to a smoking, dying end and then you’re just going to be dead. No Gods will be coming to rescue you, no economic miracles from a clown who couldn’t manage a meat counter or who was too lazy to even show up for his fake “university’s” events will pull your useless asses out of the fires, and the odds that another Barak Obama will put his life and family at risk to save you from yourselves have been dramatically and vanishingly reduced. And I’m good with that. We have earned our part in the Sixth Extinction and we deserve every miserable moment.

1/03/2017

Un-Fixable

trump health votersThe angry white voters who claimed Democrats and liberals have abandoned them are probably right. The only thing that could save the jobs these people imagine they are entitled to have would be education and education is the one bit of reality that poor, pseudo-conservative white people resent the most. Back in 2008 Barak Obama made his infamous statement about the disenfranchised white voters, "And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." He wasn’t wrong and he is just as right today, except that you’ll have to add meth and oxy to the things they are clinging to. Those three hallmarks of the unemployable are still going strong and Donald Trump is reaping the rewards of stoking those brain-dead fires.

The real problem liberals and progressives have yet to face is that the core problems of the welfare states are un-fixable. Here are some facts that prove my point, “32 million adults in the U.S. can’t read. That’s 14 percent of the population. 21 percent of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates can’t read.” Those statistics have not changed, for the better, in a decade and we can count on them getting much worse over the next four to eight years. Over the last ten years, at least 25% of the US population did not read a book in part or whole in the previous year. Trump and Republicans may “love the uneducated,” but society and our democracy can not afford them. The purpose in creating a public education system was to prevent idiotic catastrophes like Donald Trump and the “modern” Republican Party from destroying the nation.

And that’s where the problem lies today. Substantial portions of the nation are never going to change, except for the worse. Places like most of the Southeast and Midwest have chased out the smart kids and encouraged the dumb ones to stay and reproduce and, culturally, the places and people have become intolerant, uneducated, unemployable, and proud of all of those “qualities.” When I was young, alcohol was the primary self-medication drug of choice for the losers who couldn’t escape. Today, there are far more effective drugs for that purpose. I came from one of those parts of the country and, like most of my high school graduating class who went on to obtain an education and some sort of career, I got the “hell out of Dodge” as soon as possible and stayed away. There is nothing that would ever induce me to move back to Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, or any of the states similar or worse than where I came from. Minnesota is as red a state as I can tolerate and away from the Twin Cities it’s a good bit redder (and dumber) than I like.

trumps opium votersAnd I’m not alone. Reams of newspaper and books have been written about the exodus of talent and creativity from “the heartland.” Lots of people have wrung their hands over the fact that those desperate and depressed Trump voters are stuck in an endless cycle of poverty, ignorance, and drug addiction. Unless some miracle of disease and death suddenly purges those places of their populations, it’s only going to get worse.

Growing up in western Kansas, a high school teacher’s son and surrounded by “educators,” I was consistently unimpressed by what passed for education in my 1950’s K-12 experience. I, immediately, enrolled in the local community college where that experience only got worse. After losing my college savings to a scam Texas for-profit “computer school,” I stumbled on to a downtown Dallas community college and discovered that there are actually people who have a talent for teaching who are attracted to institutions that are committed to education. After a few years of suffering the more familiar uninspired “higher education” in western Texas and Nebraska, I moved to southern California. I was lucky to be in California in the 1980’s, before Reagan’s Prop 13 damage began to wreak that state’s once-great education system and make it unavailable to working class people. Even more, I was lucky to be there while California was enjoying the only economic stability in the country so that I had the luxury of being the sole support of my family and going to school part-to-full time for 8 years. The point to take away for this essay is that out of 130 credit hours from three different California state institutions, I endured no more than 6 hours of mediocre classroom experience. California attracted high quality instructors and there was enough competition for positions and institutions that kept instruction quality at a level I’d never seen before or since.

states by returnThe reverse is true for the red states. No one with skill, experience, or credentials wants to live in those depressed and depressing areas. The chances of attracting instructors of quality to the Southeast, the Midwest, or much of the Northeast are slim-to-none. Even if the nation were to apply Peace Corps tactics to enticing teachers to work in the depressed areas as a way to pay off college debt, the end result will be that those few quality teachers will identify the few quality students and encourage them to get out before their hometown destroys their life. Clearly, plenty of that is going on now in most of these places, based on the fact that small towns are losing population and skills and can’t find any way to attract new blood. The brain-drain exodus from those places might actually accelerate if outside education resources were applied.

While it’s not true that intelligent people are no longer having children, it’s true that damn few smart people are staying “on the farm” or in small towns when opportunity, tolerance, entertainment, security, and quality of life are available just a short plane ride away. The Trump disaster is just an indication of elections to come, as impoverished states cling to their political power through a rigged system designed to protect the rich from democracy. Now, that system is protecting the rich and the stupid from reality and democracy. Either the Electoral College has to die or the nation will die from the damage done to democracy by that idiotic institution.

1/01/2017

I’m With Garrison

Garrison Keillor went further out on a limb than most writers this election. He warned Trump that he’d have “nothing he wants” after the election, win or lose. He wrote a lot about how the Trumpers were so clueless, vicious, and out-of-touch with not just the country and the world but reality. It didn’t matter. In the end, enough (although a minority) Americans voted for the end. I’m not a big Garrison Keillor fan. I think he hung on too long, took himself too seriously as a musician, and became the old face of liberal NPR that deluded too many public radio fans into believing that the new NPR resembled the old NPR. However, I am totally on board with his last statement to the Trumpers: “Done, Over. He’s Here. Goodbye.”

Garrison wrote, “Raw ego and proud illiteracy have won out and a severely learning-disabled man with a real character problem will be president. We are so exhausted from thinking about this election, millions of people will take up leaf-raking and garage cleaning with intense pleasure."

"Alas for the Trump voters, the disasters he will bring on this country will fall more heavily on them than anyone else. The uneducated white males who elected him are the vulnerable ones and they will not like what happens next."

"America is still the land where the waitress' kids can grow up to become physicists and novelists and pediatricians, but it helps a lot if the waitress and her husband encourage good habits and the ambition to use your God-given talents and the kids aren't plugged into electronics day and night. Whooping it up for the candidate of cruelty and ignorance does less than nothing for your kids."

"Democrats can spend four years raising heirloom tomatoes, meditating, reading Jane Austen, traveling around the country, tasting artisan beers, and let the Republicans build the wall and carry on the trade war with China and deport the undocumented and deal with opioids and we Democrats can go for a long brisk walk and smell the roses."

The responses to this article were informative. A gutless dirtbag “deplorable” who, typically, hid his identify with the fake name, “RandomCitizen” said, "Suck it up libs, the world is going to change. Femisinsts [sic] will learn how to become women and will be put back into their correct role. Jobs will be brought back to hardworking men. Foreign and domestic enemies will be destroyed. Enjoy the show, libs. You lost and now you're toast."

Oh you clueless moron, the world is going to change, but you are going to be ground under that change-vehicle. Most likely, RandomCitizen is one of the red state’s unemployable, lazy deadbeats sucking off of the federal welfare tit while pretending to be one of the master race.  Trump could not care less about the fate of people like RandomCitizen. He won’t lift a finger to relieve their drug addictions, economic dysfunction, ignorance, unemployability, or even do more than Tweet to encourage their delusions of genetic superiority. The face Donald Trump sees in the mirror is the only person on this planet he has ever cared about and a whole bunch of RandomCitizens are going to discover how much worse their lives can get.