Power Failure

It’s officially the fall season. Welcome to September 22nd. Here in the Midwest, that means watching the leaves slowly deferring to Mother Nature requiring them  to have their chlorophyll break down. With additional ensuing chemical reactions, green leaves change colors, resulting in them changing from green to shades of red, yellow, purple, brown, and orange. Mother Nature. The only true “superpower” okay? And her power is a force to be reckoned with, a power beyond any means of mortal humankind’s control.

Humankind. Well, as any person with the “power” of critical thinking should know by now, humankind has messed with Ma Nature. And like that saying, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, she has reacted to being messed with by unleashing ever-increasing wrath upon the occupants of Mother Earth with massive wildfires, melting glaciers, sea levels rising, floods, droughts, famine and deadly heat waves. It’s called climate change. 99 & 44/100ths of ethical climate scientists agree this potential destruction of our one and only planet is not only occurring, it has been occurring for many, many decades. In some scientific circles, the conclusion is that humans will be a miserable lot as the environment completely, inexorably collapses. Inexorable? Yes. Some studies strongly suggest we may have passed the point of no return. And so, it’s just a matter of time. When will that be? Hard to say. But today’s newborns are likely being brought into a world where they will have to steadily brace themselves as the downward sloping of the environment cannot correct itself. There will be no leveling off. And into the abyss they, or almost for certain, their children will go.

You might think this blog entry is exclusively about our environment. Wrong. And right. Let’s just try not to think about what climate science has proven about climate collapse. After all, in spite of Earth Day approaching its 50th anniversary (every April 22nd) and the clarion calls for official policy addressing the cause/effects of now clearly visibly disturbing climate events, the powers-that-be have, for decades, chosen profit over science. Kick that rusty, decomposing can down the road. That’s apparently the primary solution so far. So, if one hasn’t been consumed in a wildfire, a mudslide, a flood or starved to death, there’s nothing to see here. Keep moving along. Into the future. What’s left of it.

As I sit and write this, it’s very sunny and about 65 degrees outside. Hey, what climate collapse?

So, as far as I’m concerned, while I consider myself a person who believes in the certitude of science, certain other persons, in positions of power, have chosen to ignore reality. Currently, the political party that controls all three branches of government is willfully ignoring climate science. How can they do that? Simple. By having the “power” to do it. Why are these people running our country if they willfully chose wrong over right? Well, because they have been given the power to be wrong by being elected to positions of power. How can people who willfully choose wrong over obvious right be elected? Because somehow, people voted for these power brokers. Why? Well, they’re pretty damn stupid for one. But are there really so many nitwits that in a country of 320 million humans, all equipped with presumably functioning brains, that those who can vote can’t vote for basic right over wrong at the polls? Apparently, the answer is yes. At least as far as those who can vote, and who DO vote. But really? Wrong prevails over right solely within the ballot booth? 

No, it’s not that simple. There’s voter suppression (documented; see Greg Palast). And foreign meddling in our elections (documented; see Mueller investigation into Russian hacking). There’s the systematic denial of voting rights for those convicted of a felon (not in every state, but mostly in so-called “red states” where the same party that controls our national government controls the state legislatures). These various means of suppressing voting rights are clearly aimed at minorities (who constitute the vast majority of those convicted felons, and never mind even if they have paid their “debt” to society). These anti-democratic laws affect the elderly, the poor, even the college-aged, by means of draconian voter I.D. laws, passed by those in power.

I’ve gone through all this before. Both on the climate and our corrupted electoral process. So, why talk about it now–again?

Because…while the climate is very likely damaged beyond repair, it is something that can easily be dismissed as too far-flung in its predicted outcome as to appear imminent. Like I said, I glance to my left, look out the window, and there’s that beautiful first day of fall. Hey, seeing is believing. Believing is seeing.

What, however, is very near, and very likely to amp up, once again, wrong triumphing over right, is one Brett Kavanaugh. This guy is the living, breathing incarnation of wrongness. And he’s about to become confirmed to our Supreme Court. A lifetime appointment, mind you. The current powers-that-be, all-powerful in all three branches of our government are blatantly boosting his nomination because he will almost with certainty help in abolishing a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion, and their general reproductive rights, all as a token of gratitude to the right-wing, pious, hypocrite evangelical dirtbags. He will almost certainly rule that the current occupant of the White House, an illegitimate (see above, Russian hacking, voter suppression, etc; all documented) office holder, will be “above the law”. Oh, and lots of creepy other stuff that the party holding so much POWER wants so they can have even more POWER. He will uphold the current exploitative official policies affecting education, healthcare, the economy, labor unions and maybe even outlaw Santa Claus as a fucking anti-capitalist, pinko commie by giving stuff away. Hey,  the profit motive, fat man!

Oh, and he’s been accused of molesting an underage girl (while he, too, was underage) while both attended separate private prep schools. Never mind that, because, in spite of the #metoo movement, this guy has those all powerful “leaders” covering his back. #metoo may be good for taking down a Harvey Weinstein, or Cosby, or Charlie Rose, and absurdly, Senator Al Frankin. But…

Al Frankin? Wait, Senator? Was he one of the guys who clearly was choosing wrong over right? Uh, no. He was was a member of the so-called “opposition party” the party in the minority at the moment. No he was trying to serve “we duh people”. But he resigned. Why? I’ll be damned if I know, when the current Nitwit-in-Chief can been seen and heard on video admitting to having sexually assaulted women during his glorious run as a reality TV persona, and he’s still in office. Oh, wait. Power. There’s no POWER to get rid of him. There’s no POWER to stop all the wrongness that pervades our current political landscape. The power to correct wrong and start headed toward right. But our system evidently allows for corrupted, even illegitimate power brokers to have the last say. Yeah, it’s like that saying: we get the government we deserve. Even if you did vote for a better future, be it seniors on Social Security and Medicare, union workers, teachers, environmentalists, those in need of affordable health care. Sorry, one and all of you but the people who might, just possibly might try to actually serve we the people somehow, someway, cannot attract enough right-minded folk to the polls to nullify the nefarious machinations of the party that exploits we dum peoples into voting against their best interests. They keep stealing elections, but that’s only possible if the election is close enough to steal. And when an Al Frankin, one of the few truly good members of a truly messed up congress resigns under pressure from the party of the wrong, no less, abetted by the one-size-does-not (apparently) fit all #metoo vigilantes, I’d say politically we are about as screwed as environmentally.

Power to the people! What power? What people? The people who want a better future, politically or environmentally, are not in power. There’s a massive and inexcusable power FAILURE on the part of that so-called “opposition party”. That party, the one NOT IN POWER, is thus POWER-less to stop any of the bad shit that has been and is about to further hit that legendary fan. Corruption may seem hot-wired into a lot of we humans, world-wide (documented; see any history book). But in this country, never has it been this egregious, this much in your face, vicious. Let them eat cake (and some of the crap splatter from that fan that we currently cannot power-down).

November 6th is not far off. I keep hearing about a “blue wave”. Ah, is that a wave that will smother the wildfires of greedy, self-serving power? We’ll see. Environmentally, sea levels are rising. Likely no way of stopping that, either. Not any more, depending on where one gets one’s “facts”. But maybe that blue wave can rise up. Water is an incredible force. Even metaphorical H2O. So, bring on the blue wave. Then again, I thought that happened in 2008 and 2012. It did. But then how come it didn’t make much of a difference? Please don’t tell me it did, okay? It was better than this, but do we have single payer healthcare? Did the wars end? Were banksters held to account for the market collapse? Were college loans made more affordable? During those years, we got Citizens United. Power FAILURE.

It’s exhausting to be able to see reality these days. It’s enervating. Now it seems incurable. No escape. Evil power. Ultimately doomed to failure. Or is it? History books…

Best just to comfort the patient while waiting for salvation. Maybe salvation is knowing that no matter how messed up our politics has become, what difference if there is no livable environment left? Mother Nature will solve what we can’t. Count on that.

Hey, I’m trying to think positive here, okay? Perspective…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Waste Management

Hungry? How about the PB&J (you know, peanut butter and…) at one particular restaurant in Chicago that serves this classic as such: a peanut butter smeared grape enveloped by toasted  brioche, borne to your table on a wire contraption? This eatery also offers hearts of palm, presented on five tiny ceramic pedestals, each piece wrapped around a filling of prune with coffee syrup, truffled pumpernickel puree, pureed fava beans, roasted bulgur with garlic. Or, a mix of oyster cream, osetra caviar, lychee “cheeks” and chervil. All of this concoction is known–in some circles– as “caviar and pearls”. 

Is your mouth watering yet?

If not, then let me invoke the restaurant’s “Hot Potato/Cold Potato” offering: a tiny ball of truffle-topped hot potato, suspended, along with cubes of butter and Parmesan, over lightly chilled soup in a tiny wax saucer. As the guest, one would remove the pin that secures the suspended potato, letting it fall into the soup, then tilt the entire thing into your mouth. One slurp and finito! Or…an aromatic dish of ham, peas, and yuba, brought to table on a large linen pillow filled with lavender-infused air. This culinary contraption is arranged so that the weight of the plate forces the fragrant air toward the diner.

Hey anyone can get a plate of pasta with broccoli at some hoity toity Italiano destination for $23. But at the above not-named restaurant, one must commit to one or another multi course menu that starts at $225 and tops off at $285. Drinks would be an additional cost. But no problem, one would presume, because ipso facto, anyone who eats at this place must be able to afford it. Slurp and sniff dishes! How many courses must it take to actually fill up one’s gut, though? The key word in the above descriptions, you many have noted, is “tiny”.  So maybe there are a couple dozen mirco-dishes for $285.  So, if a couple dives into this tricked-up haute cuisine, and consumes every last molecule of morsels, pinned or hanging from wires, and given that puff of lavender-infused oxygen, and who knows what other “less is (supposedly) more” presentations, and washes it all down with a bottle of bubbly or a red or white,  the tab must hit at least $650-700. Plus a 20% tip! Who are these people? And there are evidently enough of them to make this restaurant a raving success and considered one of the best such high-end dining destinations in the country.

Is there possibly a moral element to this reality? As in, one meal, even without any drinks, costing $285 plus a tip? I think so. I’m in the education business, as a classroom instructor. I could save up (for several months) in order to–just once– indulge such a gustatory outing. But I have zero interest in eating at such pretentious places, even if I wasn’t a teacher–but rather, say maybe CEO of Acme Widget, making the big moolah. It simply sounds absurd on its surface. One meal for $285. A couple (a few?) hours to complete the courses. Then, in the morning, some of it is flushed down the commode. As waste. Hmm. There’s a metaphor there, in spite of the literal, natural means of our bodily waste-removal process. Taste and waste. No matter what we put down our throats. At whatever cost.

Another kind of eating  event that seems to me to be a waste–not of money, but of food–are the competitive eating contests. I had the incidental displeasure of stopping in a craft beer bar (with bar food menu) and while taking my first slurp of my IPA, looked up to have one of the large TV monitors tuned to the annual Nathan’s Coney Island Hot Dog Eating event. I had only read about these competitive food eating  spectacles, but now I was looking at the live event. Admittedly, it was akin to slowing down on the roadway wanting to see the carnage of whatever accident was up ahead, maybe on the other side of the road. It’s called gaper’s block in the traffic reports. Well, gaped I indeed did, as about a dozen or more people, mostly young men, upon hearing the starting whistle, proceeded to not eat as much as JAM hot dog and bun into their mouths, one at a time, but as fast as they could do so.  The winner ate–are you ready for this?–74 hot dogs in–are you ready for this?–ten minutes!

I had to stop watching, after a few minutes, because it made me feel disgusted about the waste of–yes–so many hot dogs. These hot dogs (a bit of Americana, for sure, but not exactly healthy eating no matter the time or place) all 74 of em consumed by the winner and likely at least another 300 by the others, in total could feed some of the starving, both here and abroad. Yeah, for some a hot dog would be a virtual feast! Better than eating a rat. Plus, no wires or pins needed. No puffs of lavender-scented air required to goose (pardon the pun) the biological need to fuel one’s body. Life on Maslow’s main pyramid floor.

But we live in the USA, the most wasteful country on earth, food-wise. The USDA estimates that up to 40% of our food supply goes to waste. No, not as in the waste excreted from our bodies, be it a humble hot dog or a haute, huffy, high wire hanging potato. 

Our waste of edible food is approximately 133 billion pounds and 161 billion dollars worth. Per year.

What’s that saying? Waste not want not? 

There’s another saying, a Chinese proverb: may you be born into interesting times. I’m an old school Boomer. I have seen a lot, directly and indirectly, that could be called “interesting”. Reading restaurant reviews such as was useful in the above described, invokes the absurd heights to which super pricey, very formally comported, high-end restaurants will go to to be…what?…more imaginative?…in the ways the human body can “re-fuel” itself. This is utter nonsense in my world. A waste of money, but hey, it’s still (I think) a free country. And  to witness the grotesque Coney Island contest of slobbering speed eaters is part of our way of life in the land of the brave and home of the blah blah blah blah blah…

So, what’s for dinner tonight? What’s your budget? Go for it. Whatever you’re willing to pay, just remember, part of it will be flushed away soon enough. There’s much more important judgments needed in our now whacked-out land-O-plenty than the morality of a single meal, not to mention by what means that bit of “fuel” on the end of your fork got there, and its actual beneficial, nutritional value inherent in your choice. Eat to live. Live to eat?

Bon appetit!

 

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Stardust

Hey. What up? Dude, you look a bit dazed. Confused? Life got you all balled up? Maybe all unraveled, and coming apart at the seams?  Yeah, some crazy times we be in, no jive eh? Word up, homey.  Man, you look spaced-out. You remind me of some of my Nam buddies, totally FUBAR and stuck in a thousand-yard stare. But you too young for that bullshit war. You a vet? Nah, you too old for Iraq or Assbanistan. What you just say? Speak louder. Hey, man, you can trust me. I cool. I hang in this part of town. Just trying to be friendly, dig? I mights be able to help. What you say? Ace course? You mumble-mouthin’, dude. Huh? Race course? You one of dose rail bird types?  You comin’ back from a day with the ponies, eh? Bet the wrong nag? Lost yo shirt? Yo rent? You read dat Racing Form wrong, that it? Thought you had it all figured out. Sure, man. I know. You win some, lose most. Life a bitch. Then we dies. But we still kickin’, right? Not that you kickin it right now. You seem really in needs of a boost. What? Grace morse? You and this zombie walk shit and no eye contact and mumblin somethin’ and I’m gonna figure it out.  Grace Morse. Oh, I get’s it. You just been dumped, eh? I knows that gig, too! Wha? Wait man, you headed to a dive bar? You on the right strip for that. All kinds of dives down this street. Yeah, man. Sheeeeeit. Grace Morse done walked out on yo ass, that it? Well, you gots my symphonies, Jack, straight up. But some hootch ain’t gonna get you over no Grace Morse. That scene is jive, movie crap. , Whatever man. You dressed halfway decent. Course you is, white boy. Don’t look like a loser, but you sure be strollin bout like you at the end of dat rope or somethin’.

Okay. Look, dude, whatever it be gots you in this condition, you gonna get over it, but a boilermaker ain’t gonna do the trick. You wanna forget the nags that finished outta da money and left you broke, or some chick that played you and took you loot to boot.  So, here it is man, I can set you up. Maybe you not looking for a quickie if Grace fucked you up. If you lookin’ for another dude, I ain’t got no pipeline to that shit, okay? But how bout some smoke? I gots Colombian Red. Acapulco Gold. Windowpanes. Rainbows. Mollies. Ludes. Lithium. Valium. Seconal. Skag. THC. Speed. Mescaline. Paregoric. Straigh-up opium. Addys. Black beauties. Rock red.  Dixies. Mescadine. Cloud nine. Meow meow. White lightnin’.  Vanilla Sky. Blow. Crack. Yayo. Drex. Triple C. Tussin. Crank. Shards. Crystal. Dancin’ shoes. Brown sugar. Mexican brown. Poppers. Discorama. Maryjane. Shrooms. Oxy. Hillbilly heroin. Kibbles and bits. Black momba. Vikes. Thai sticks. Handlebars. Angel dust. Moon rocks. Stardust…

Whoa! That last one stopped you in yo tracks, Jack. That be what you be wantin’? What you say? What? Space horse? Damn, now where we going wit this? Wha? Space what? Norse? Wha? Space norse? What the hell is that? Must be a new street drug. Clue me in, bro. Wha? Space what?

Look at me and speak slow, yo. What the hell you be sayin? Been walkin wit you two blocks. Let’s get wit it here, eh?

Space force. Space force.

Space force? Dat what you say? What da fuck dat be? I got moon rocks, like I say, and stardust. Whatever dat space force be sound like bullshit. Who told you bout it? Must be an upper, eh, hahahaha. Put yo ass in orbit.  I know every mofo street drug and gots axes to all of em. Ain’t no crazy ass space force I ever heard bout. You be trippin’. Sounds like it might be a killer, tho. Haha. A real mind fuck, no? I be lookin’ dat one up. I ax my homies if dey ever heard bout it. You jivin’ me, right bro? Yo. Earth to space bro!

Yo, where you going? Okay, man. I tried to help. You go off to wherever you be going off to in dat glassy-eyed, end uh da line funk. Guess I aint got what yo need. Space force. Man, dat a good one. Not sure what it be or why it got you messed up. Whatever it be, it can’t be dat bad, Jack. I mean, you should try being me, out here, livin’ off the streets while being black, Jack. You be white. You can chill. But wit dat crazy orange mofo in charge of the country, I be the worst kinda black I ever done been and I been round waaay longer than yo lily white, zombie strollin ass. You should try being me dese daze. Space force got you down? Must a been a nightmare. Walk it off. Ah, I say you messed up bout nuttin! Probly not paying even payin’ tension to dat orange freak mofo.White boy blues. Sheeeeeit.

Space force man. Dat what you be! There he go…  Yo, sure you don’t want some blow, weed, maybe a lude? I gives you the lily white discount. Least you aint no freak show orange guy. Shit, I best be careful. Fuckin cruiser just turned da corner. Worse time to not be white, lemme tell you…

What dat line from some jive otter space show? Oh, right. Beams me up, Scotty. I be part of whatever da space force be. Can’t be no worse den what be down here. Maybe white boy wanna join me. Can’t figure what be buggin him, tho.

Sheeeeeit.

 

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Base-Bull

Today is the 73rd  anniversary of the U.S. dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. As many must know, another such bomb was dropped on Nagasaki a few days later. Why? Well, the first one didn’t get the required result, that being unconditional surrender of Japan and thus the end of World War Two. Not since then has another atomic bomb been dropped in anger on another country, in spite of there being nine countries now possessing this “ultimate weapon”. The estimated total number of nukes spread across the Nuclear Club is 16,000. Evidently, the mutual assured destruction ethos of any country ever again using a nuke to express its disapproval about–hell, who knows what?– is working. Yes, it would be nukes-a-palooza and likely the beginning of the end for humanity given the initial incinerating blast and ensuing wind-whipped lethal radiation that detonation guarantees.

Nuclear WWIII. Can it happen? Of course it can. And will, someday, because as noted, the harsh reality is that all it will take is ONE impulsive launch to trigger  retaliation by various allies or enemies of the  country that orders the atomic attack. M.A.D.! And there are lots of global tensions festering these days. We here, in the only country to ever nuke anyone, have a rather disturbing character who somehow has been granted the keys to the White House and access to launch codes and the power to use them. This person is rather unsuited, mentally, to have this level of power: He’s given to Twitter fits, launching ad hominem attacks on anyone who dares defy him, be they athletes, entertainers, members of the press/media, or other members of our or any other government. This person has helped edge the so-called nuclear clock closer to midnight (meaning nuclear war)–now just two minutes away compared to 9 minutes in 1998. Oh, it’s been creeping closer for the past several years, even when we had other occupants of the White House; but its current resident is one very, very divisive and caustic person with the persona of an impulsive, self-absorbed, vindictive person with a predilection for prevarication, provocation and an apparent inability to ever, ever, admit to being wrong. This man is singularly, stunningly the wrong man for the job he has been given.

Unless the November mid-term elections take some of this person’s congressional support (enablers, really) away, I’m afraid the minute hand of that Doomsday timepiece is going to nudge closer and closer to End Game. He’s jousting with certain countries  (Iran most currently) with economic sanctions that may cause other countries (some with nukes) to defy his taunts and tirades, to essentially tell him bring it on, motherfucker. After all, there are other “loose cannons” out there running their countries. One is enough, no? No! One is too many! As I said, our White House tweetmeister with a nasty attitude doesn’t take well to criticism or defiance. Again, the mid-terms will show whether or not scores of the 260,000,000 Americans who did not vote for him in 2016 will push back against him and his so-called “base” of 60,000,000 who thought he was the right man for the job.

Ah, that term: his base. I keep hearing about this base in reference to whatever head-scratching proclamations he makes, about whatever policies he prescribes, or those that he proscribes, in combo with his above noted default level disturbing characteristics.

Keeping in mind that this “base” is, by any objective assessment, composed of people who apparently endorse this man’s racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, dispassionate, divisive, mojo, all of which were on full cringe-worthy, WTF? display for months on end during the campaign for President leading up to that surreal outcome on November 8th, 2016. Thus, his base, his fan club?, is ipso facto by virtue of having voted for him, also–by my reasoning–a deeply disturbed and disturbing people whom I assume must share his characteristics, who are profoundly morally hollow, ignorant at worst or willfully ignorant at best. And who knows if these “base” dwellers are limited to those 60,000,000 who voted for him (and of course it has been documented his opponent received close to 3,000,000 more votes than him, but never mind…). Maybe there are 100,000,000 members of his “base” including post-election  acolytes. I hope not! It’s just that when the media concludes that he strategically caters to this base, and that base clearly endorses his dangerous modus operandi, it’s as if these supporters trigger his deference to them, as if they, uh, well, trump any more widely broadcast, needed critical analysis and headline screaming denunciation of his dubious proclamations and actions. It’s expected, is that it?, for this base to be given an implied propulsive credibility as part of a dubious electoral system, alongside a blatant lap-dog–he’s good for ratings!–corporate media that aided and abetted by virtually endorsing his vulgar campaign antics, all clearly bereft of logical reasoning, thoughtfulness, empathy, compassion or barely a shred of human decency. It’s a creepshow of hate and simple-minded selfishness, and it’s that BASE that motivates him, is that it? They motivate and elicit his I alone am the answer bravado? Ha! He’s the 21st Century, sui generis of a rotten human being with all those nukes and negativity.  He unleashed them. Who knew so many Americans harbored so much hate in their hearts? He is motivated by his very own creepy callousness. His feckless fanBASE are simply avatars, drawn to him as a means for their true selves to fully emerge in his likeness, disgusting warts and all. I call them “pod people”. You know, akin to the classic 1950’s sci-fi film classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers. They’re out there. These pod-emerging political zombies. They’re in the next cubicle over. One is sitting next to you in a crowded theater. That person in front or behind you at the grocery store, or in front or behind you as you approach the escalator, maybe one is your next door neighbor,  or the one leaning into you on the elevator, or no doubt, in line waiting to vote!  They’re all lily-white and ready to defend the indefensible. They may be family members. Egad! 

Either your are a member of his “base” I keep hearing about or you are not. I’d like to think that there are far more folks that see this farce and fraud and affront to decency than anyone suspects. A silent majority, perhaps. Silent, because, well, they have yet to speak up, and speak when it counts the most. In just three months to the day, November 6th, a different, new and improved base might be formed. or at least partially formed but gaining numbers. Either that, or the pod people rule, here in the United States of (misaligned) Avatars. End Game.

In the meantime, remember Hiroshima, 73 years back, to this date. If there’s going to be another (metaphorical) atomic bomb dropped, it needs be launched via the ballot  in large enough numbers to preclude another “the loser wins!” outcome. Such a “bomb”would confine its debilitating fallout to that baseless base and its rapacious ringleader they somehow so adore.

 

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Bastille Day, American Dystopia edition

On this day, July 14, 1789, the Bastille, a French prison on the east side of Paris, was attacked by an angry mob, fed up with the dictatorial rule of the French monarchy and King Louis XVI. It is considered to be a turning point in the French Revolution, and the overthrow of King Louis and his lot. He was beheaded by the time the gunpowder smoke cleared. The peasants prevailed. Viva la France! There, now you know the story of Bastille Day.

You’re welcome.

You might wonder, is there a an American version of the Bastille? And if so, should an angry mob attack it? Clean house. Well, maybe no beheadings but, you know, change America for the better of we the people. 

For many Americans, it has been 20 months of angst and anger, cringing and cursing the current “powers that be”.  That would be the present occupant of the White House and virtually all of congress, and much of our Supreme Court.  There are millions of Americans, however, who are happy with the turn of events, starting with the outcome of the November 8th, 2016 election of a new President. For those of us not happy at all about that election’s outcome, it has been a daily existence in some ultra demented, ever more dysfunctional dystopia akin to the longest ever episode of the Twilight Zone. But with no means to simply change channels. The disapproving and disappointed of us may try to turn our heads, cover our ears, possibly simply refuse to accept reality, but it’s hard to rid ourselves of a deepening sense of dread and despair. Why? Because, as grotesque and dangerous as our current “leader of the free world” truly has revealed himself to be, there seems to be not one chance in hell of getting rid of this ersatz Louis XVI anytime soon.  In fact, this despicable human being has many supporters–but I’m not referring to those that shockingly voted for him. I’m referring to an enabling congress, an irresponsible corporate media, and that Supreme Court.

Our crypto-quasi-neo fascist Louis XLI didn’t even get the most votes in that election. He fell short by 3,000,000, in fact. Somehow, our election system can declare the winner of the popular vote the loser. Our system, as of this July 14th, is also able to ignore now documented election tampering by a foreign government that certainly helped him “win” in spite of losing. Our current system allows for the blatant denial of our former President’s Constitutional right and requirement (as noted in Article Two of that document) to nominate Justices to the highest court in the land. Our current system allows for blatant, documented, voter suppression. Our current system allows the current administration to separate children from their parents. Oh, and the system allows for corporations to be considered “people” and that money is equal to free speech.

So, if one is either very wealthy, or mentally deranged in the case of supporting this System by seeming okay with it even exploiting them, all is well in the land of up is down, bad is good, wrong is right, losing is winning.

For those of us stuck in the Twilight Zone produced by this system, it would seem that we need to storm our Bastille. No, I’m not endorsing armed insurrection. Our Bastille is the voting booth. And we dissenters have to show up in huge numbers, an angry mob saying enough is enough! This November 6th, virtually two years from the start of our dystopia, we can get rid of at least some of Louis’ congressional supporters, and then demand a system that can make wrong right, down up, bad good, from the White House to local precincts. If that doesn’t happen starting this November, then I would say…well, that we will again get the government we deserve.

Here is a reason for hope: Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. If you don’t know who she is, research that name. She is proof that this sickening dysfunctional system can be changed. It’s up to the electorate to bring this Twilight Zone episode to a end.

At least there’s that possibility.

In the meantime, happy Bastille Day, 2018.

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Crime Stories, part 2

For those of you there who may be further dismayed at our country’s descent into darkness via a few decisions by our current Supreme Court (a.k.a SCOTUS) this week, I offer a history lesson. Some of you may already know this lesson well. I suspect, however, that scores of the disenchanted, the disappointed, the dissenters to our current political landscape, a place that has become evermore surreal and sickening since November 8, 2016, that they really do…not…understand…how it happened. “It” being the aforementioned Supreme Court and its (for many) disturbing decisions.

First, current events. Then how this Court first got its malevolent majority mojo.

By a 5-4 vote this week, SCOTUS ruled that a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple has a constitutional right to take that stand. Dig into the Constitution if you want, and read the 5th and 14th Amendments, each of which limit the power of the federal government to discriminate. Apparently, the 5 justices who backed the baker, cannot read the English language in which the Constitution is written, especially that 14th Amendment. But the 9 members of the Court are free to “interpret” and so they can interpret that, in the case of the same-sex couple, discrimination against them is legit. The plaintiff’s will have to find a baker who is not bothered by same-sex marriage which, a few years back, SCOTUS ruled was constitutional. The irony, eh?

Also, by a 5-4 vote, SCOTUS ruled in a case that argued the state of Texas had “gerrymandered” legislative districts to—again–discriminate against the black and Hispanic voters in those districts. That 5-4 decision was that the plaintiffs couldn’t prove that discrimination was intended by the re-drawing of said legislative districts, in spite of the evidence to the contrary. Thus, Texas, and by logical extension, all states that wish to gerrymander may do so, even when there’s a clearly a discriminatory agenda in the details of the legislation. Discrimination? Hey, what discrimination? Interpretation! You say potato, I say po-TAT-o. You say Tomato, I say to-MOT-o…

SCOTUS, also by a 5-4 vote, voted that “crisis pregnancy centers” in California–as alleged in the lawsuit against them–were deceptively luring pregnant women potentially seeking an abortion (the right to which was declared constitutionally legal by a SCOTUS vote of 7-2 back in 1973) into their bait-and-switch, anti-abortion facilities, there to be…well…told who knows? Abortion is sin. It’s murder. It’s against all that the invisible guy in the sky  (who apparently floats around, invisibly? Who is everywhere and nowhere? Yeah him. Her. Whatever. Just trust what we’re saying, because we damn sure can’t prove it). The plaintiff’s wanted these centers to at least clearly identify as anti-abortion proselytizing centers, so that those women in “crisis” would get objective, professional reproductive health advise. But SCOTUS by that same ONE VOTE majority ruled that such a bait-and-switch was legit. They’re just exercising their 1st Amendment right to Freedom of speech. Who’s discriminating?

Then today, SCOTUS ruled–do I have to even have to point out the vote score?–5-4 that our current POTUS’s (or for those of a certain mind, our DOTARD or Small Hands, or Pussy Grabber, or Xenophobe. Misogynist. Racist. Scatterbrain. Con man. Nit Twit-in-Chief) travel ban on people seeking to enter the U.S from Yemen, North Korea, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Iran and Venezuela was also not discriminatory, especially against Muslims, in spite of five of the seven countries being predominantly Muslim nations. North Korea and Venezuela, seemingly are included as “window dressing”. POTUS prejudiced against a particular religion? That’s a mis-reading of the ban said those same 5 Justices. Never mind that POTUS has characterized Mexicans and other Hispanic peoples south of our border as “drug dealers and rapists”.  What has that dubious, sweeping, line of ad hominem attack reasoning against a particular people have to do with anything in this decision? He’s protecting our borders. Discriminating unfairly? Hey, nothing to see here say the SCOTUS 5. Nothing discriminatory as far as we can tell.

So, who are these 5 Discrimination? What discrimination? Justices, as  opposed to those other 4 Supremes who have vigorously dissented the outcomes in all the above noted cases? Well, they are all males of the species: John Roberts. Samuel Alito. Anthony Kennedy. Neil Gorsuch. All of those guys are white. But they have a minority member among their conservative ranks, that being Clarence Thomas.

Ah, Clarence Thomas. Which brings to my mind, how this ongoing 5-4 conservative majority on the Court started. He was appointed to replace the retiring Thurgood Marshall, also an African-American. George H.W. Bush nominated him. Marshall, unlike the current 5 members who seem to be unable to find discrimination imbedded in all the above noted recent decisions, built a towering legacy as a fighter for racial equality, and as such certainly knew discrimination–particularly of the racial kind–when he saw it, smelled it and lived it. H.W., who is still wheeling around as a 93-year-old ex-Prez, in nominating Thomas back in July of 1991, made one of the most cynical, spiteful decisions possible. How so? Marshall: a pillar of sound reasoning and fairness who was a role model for using whatever influence he had to make life better for all people, but especially those that needed help the most. And you might recall our country’s era of so-called Jim Crow laws, and the “separate but equal” doctrine that essentially skirted around that 14th Amendment as far as–what else!–discrimination. Marshall could be counted on to vote against discrimination when it (often) reared it ugly mug during his time as a Justice.

Clarence Thomas? He has voted with the conservatives over and over, including decisions that make legal–what else?!–discrimination against–who else!?–mostly minorities. Look up his track record. He opposes affirmative action. Never mind that affirmative action aided his ability to get well-educated. It’s akin to climbing a ladder, then pulling that ladder up before it can help anyone else. I consider Thomas to be a disgrace as a member of SCOTUS, a fraud, someone who, at the time of his nomination hearing, was basically a SCOTUS wannabe without portfolio. Oh, and if you remember (and if you don’t check the record. It’s called history) he was accused by Anita Hill–an African-American woman– of having continually sexually harassed her when she was under his authority at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. You’d think that his lack of credentials alone would have killed his chances of confirmation. When Hill (and other women who worked for him) came forth with their allegations, logic would have dictated the safe thing to do would be to vote him down.

Vote Clarence down? Hey, he played the race card when Anita’s testimony suggested his nomination was in trouble by accusing the Senate panel that would vote yea or nay on him of conducting “an electronic lynching”.

And it worked. He was confirmed in October of 1991. Why? Was the Senate composed of–as with our current edition of it–mostly see-no-evil conservatives? No, it was not. In fact, it was a Senate with 57 Democrats and only 43 Republicans. His nomination was dead meat, I thought back then. To be confirmed a SCOTUS nominee had to get at least 51 votes, even if it came down to a 50-50 tie, wherein the Vice President  would be the tie braking vote. But it didn’t come to that. No, not at all. 11 Democrats folded like a cheap tent when Clarence played that race card and voted to confirm him. Even 2 Republicans voted against him. Thus the final vote was 52-48 for confirmation.

Thanks a lot Democrats.  Then, and now. Thomas has been that 5th deciding vote in countless creepy SCOTUS decisions ever since. If he was given the boot, and with that huge Democratic majority in the Senate, you’d think a more qualified, dignified replacement for THURGOOD MARSHALL, a fellow DEMOCRAT,  could have been given a seat on that black-robed adorned bench.

But noooo.

To bring this Crime Story to its ugly  conclusion, recall that on February 13, 2016, one of the conservative Justices, Antonin Scalia, died in his sleep. At that time, our POTUS was one Barack Obama. The fall election was eight-and-a-half months away. Obama had a right and a duty to nominate a replacement. He wanted to do just that with Merrick Garland, considered a moderate politically. There was plenty of time for the Senate to have hearings, just as with Thomas, and give Mr.Garland an up or down vote. But Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, taking no chances, refused to allow Garland to have his hearing. It was an outrageous departure from tradition, if not a violation of the constitutional process for potential SCOTUS members. McConnell, as cynical as was H.W. in nominating Thomas to replace Marshall, was gambling that the next President would be a Republican. And at that time, it was not lookingngood for a GOP win.

Obviously, he gambled and won. Well, actually, the Republican didn’t “win” but was given the keys to the White House by the outdated electoral college, aided and abetted by the usual voter suppression practiced by the GOP (hey, remember, waaay up there in this posting, about the SCOTUS decision to permit the gerrymandering in Texas?) and some rather shady shenanigans by Robert Comey about those Clinton emails and…

…and all the rest.

So, while we who feel trapped in some twisted version of  political reality writ in mumbo jumbo, where up is down, bad is good, white and MALE is REALLY, REALLY good, we can look back to 1991, when a bunch of white Senators confirmed a black man to replace a much, much better black man. Yeah, they confirmed a black man accused of sexual harassment by a black woman. But never you mind. It wasn’t a #metoo back then.

Looking for whom to blame for this freak show? Yeah, certainly those racist supporters of DOTARD. The media. Oh the corporate media, who loved covering the reality show blowhard no matter how outrageous his antics. And also the lazy asses who didn’t vote at all. But I say the real blame can be placed at the feet of the Democratic Party. That Democratic dominated Senate of 1991. Unlike Republicans, who even when they don’t have actual numerical power, they still seem to run the show. Unlike Republicans who when they have it all do nothing but jam bad policy down our throats and do damage to our country and its status in the world these days; and we the people can just go fuck ourselves, especially those of color.

Well, there’s November elections coming up. Think we might throw the bums out? By that I mean, the Democrats. Oh, and the GOP too. Is that asking for too much? That would be asking for a revolution. Just saying…

See, I’m not discriminating against one political party over the other. They’re actually both pretty useless. And I have little faith in the American electorate making highly reasoned, discriminating choices for the better.

Whatever better might mean. Can we get even less “better” than we are today?

And what is good, and what is not good. Need anyone tell us these things?

It’s a crime the way some people haven’t a clue. A crime, I say.

 

 

 

 

 

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Crime Stories

Hello out there. It’s officially hurricane season. That’s no big deal for most of the mainland U.S. I live near Chicago. So, not to worry. But that’s not to say I don’t care, since I have relatives who live in Florida. It’s a crapshoot as to if and where a hurricane may make landfall as it churns along in the Atlantic, with forecasters and their computer models projecting (it’s actually called “reasoning by inference”) what path it may take after feeding the data into the projection process. Certainly, however, one particular part of the U.S., that being the unincorporated territory of Puerto Rico, likely is more on edge than any of its neighboring island countries.

Why? Well, it was broadsided by hurricane Maria last season. Other places took a battering from Maria as well, but nine months after Maria left Puerto Rico pretty much flattened, much of the island still has no electric power. And, after the island’s officials initial and ongoing claims that only 64 people died in that storm, a recent Harvard University study now estimates that at least 4,600 people have died directly or subsequently due to factors triggered by Maria. That’s twice as many hapless victims of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the U.S. It’s close to the number of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq, and nearly twice the casualties of our war on terror war in Afghanistan (and counting, in both cases, sadly, absurdly, and seemingly with no end in sight). But unlike those casualties of war, our government didn’t initiate hurricane Maria. Mother nature, the only real “superpower” there is, brought about this loss of life. However, whether our government intentionally sent troops into harms way, or Maria put the people of Puerto in her crosshairs, the U.S. government has some skin in the game as far as monitoring, managing and potentially mitigating the effects of the those two foreign military  invasions as well as the carnage in our “unincorporated territory”  caused by the hurricane.

The current administration, while not the one that started the body counts in Iraq and Afghanistan, seems to have little interest in dramatically altering the foreign policy decisions that beat the war drums, post 911. The current administration, perhaps not surprisingly given the perpetual psychosis that is its most salient characteristic, is also not very interested in the dead or dying in Puerto Rico. 4,600 dead from Maria, and nine months later, the island remains mostly a shambles. I guess building a wall along the Rio Grand trumps re-building anything in P.R.

Shameful indifference even in the abstract, but when looked at closely, an act of criminal neglect, though with the political party I have long since labeled Murder, Incorporated in power, not shocking. The modus operandi of those now in power is clearly one that is bereft of empathy or compassion for the general public here and elsewhere. Washington, D.C. a la the beltway, is Psycho City. It’s a virtual asylum for the politically sociopathic insane, where indeed the inmates are running the facility. Some of its peripheral partners-in-crime do live in far-flung outposts across this country, and are bona-fide drinkers of Psycho City Killer Kool-Aid. I have some in my family. Ugh. Perhaps we “free thinkers”  all know someone who drinks that un-Kool-Aid.  Thus all the divisiveness, the rancid discourse. A slow but steady descent into a quotidian quandary, a daily dose of disbelief, disapproval, disappointment inducing political fatigue, at least for those of us waiting for deliverance from this monstrous aberration that is Trumpistan. Oh, and other political derailments that go back to Reagan starting in 1981.

Can you say stolen elections? No? Then do some research on it. Criminal, says I.

*   *   *

While many of us wait, thrust into an existential version of Estragon and Pozzo,  waiting on that guy Godot to show up and make it all better, there are occasional instances of the political Gang That Can’t Govern Straight, led by the Guy Who Can’t Think Straight (or morally), actually stumbling ass-backwards into doing something that–while not intended–represents a token form of righting a wrong. What could that be? Did Small Hands impulsively demand action for Puerto Rico? Did he abruptly decide to Tweet the U.S. back into the Climate Accord? Or Tweet re-enrolling our country into the Iran nuclear deal? Did he admit to being on Ambien everyday which, according to Roseanne Barr, has the side-effect of turning one into a ranting racist? Right a wrong? Admit being wrong? What is it?

No, of course none of the above. But he did suggest something that, while obviously devious at its core and self-serving as a strategy against the Justice Department, does in my opinion, have merit: a possible pardoning of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Blago, as even the media prefers to refer to him, was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2009. His crime? Well, I’d say, for being a stupid fuck. Blago tried to power-peddle Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat after the 2008 election of Obama as President. Federal prosecutors evidently decided Blago was a most dangerous public official for doing so, and with Blagojevich’s blustering and posturing and flaunting in the media using one of the most blatant fallacies of reasoning, the red herring strategy, became all the more foolishly unlikable. But did his attempt to barter that seat cause anyone, anyone, to die? Or to be wounded, possibly crippled? Did it cost the U.S. taxpayers tens of billions of dollars and kill, cripple or leave anyone, anywhere harmed?

Of course it didn’t. It was a dumb-ass gambit played out by a dumb-ass. 14 years for that? Let’s see, what other public official’s actions did directly cause several thousand of our military personnel (see above) to die, and tens upon tens of thousands to be wounded, and possibly several hundred thousand civilians to die? No, not Small Hands (though he is the “leader” now of Murder, Inc.).

This person would be George W. Bush. Oh, and Dick Cheney. And others who now have been shown to have violated our Constitution, the Geneva Convention and assorted international laws to get the Pentagon (and most of the gullible general public to agree) to get our military deployed to Iraq. It was all a con job, proven as such. Bald faced lies. But G.W.B. was never indicted, let alone tried, let alone convicted for what are bona-fide crimes against humanity. In fact, several European countries have threatened to arrest Bush, Cheney and others if they set foot in their countries! 

The irony of Blagojevich’s 14 year sentence for being a bumbling blowhard is that particular Senate seat once held the derriere of Barack Obama who,  sworn in as President and soon asked by the press corp if he intended to seek indictments against the Bush administration, said something along the lines of “let’s look to the future”. There’s a new sheriff in town, albiet one not interested in righting that particular deadly wrong.

So much for justice being blind.

I’ve read mostly condemnations of the possible commutation of the rest of Blago’s sentence (he’s served several years of it with several to go). Of course there’s opposition because A) it’s Small Hands cynically targeting the Justice Department that is currently seeking to bring him to “justice” for, well, take your pick of offenses. And B) Blago is still an unlikeable guy. But did his crime deserve the time he was sentenced to? Hell no, not as long as those who are labeled as war criminals still get to walk freely about, writing books that are revisionist claptrap and touted by parts of the media in the process. Thanks, Oprah…

I don’t lose sleep over Blago and his being screwed by an absurd sentence for such a doofus means of trying to fill that empty seat. But I know hypocrisy when I smell it. So, please, Small Hands, you whack-a-doodle who just happens to have been allowed to become President, with the power to pardon part of that gig, let Blago-a-go-go!  You don’t actually give a rat’s ass about him, but he’s served enough time for a victimless crime (not counting himself, natch). Absurd on its surface. Criminally abusive relative to a fair approach to crime and punishment.

But to quote from Blue Oyster Cult’s great song about a certain large lizard named Godzilla:

History shows again and again how

nature points out the folly of man…

 

 

  

 

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