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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Torture Du Jour

Gina Haspel, a career CIA officer is currently undergoing her Senate intelligence hearing, having been nominated by Small Hands to become the CIA’s chief. Like all of Mr.Apprentice’s appointees, this one has serious baggage that needs to be rummaged through during the hearing process. The most alarming bit of what the fuck is this doing in your bag?, is her having been the supervisor of the CIA’s counter terrorism center in Thailand post 9-11. You may recall: rendition, detention and interrogation, which was made known during our military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq as means of getting prisoners to, well, tell whatever they knew that might be deemed useful to our side. Supposedly to keep we the people back home safe. Water boarding was one documented form of, hey, let’s call it what it was, okay? Yes. Torture. Torture?! Are we (our government, in this case) barbarians? Torture? You know, supposedly too abhorrent a descent into cold-blooded brutality behind closed doors.

Water boarding proceeds as so: cover the prisoner’s face with a cloth or towel, tie him down to–a board–and pour water onto his face. The sensation (so I have read) is akin to a drowning. Hey, war is hell, right?  And that hell doesn’t stop upon capture or surrender. Apparently. Just ask Senator John McCain, who spent over five years in a North Vietnam POW camp, where he was tortured. He opposes Haspel’s candidacy to lead the CIA, having stated “Ms.Haspel’s role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing. Her refusal to acknowledge torture as immorality is disqualifying”. And McCain is a Republican. His politics are a mixed bag, but on this topic his credibility is off the charts.

So, “enhanced interrogation” (akin to George Orwell’s glossary of dystopian terms in his novel 1984) in current Homeland Security lingo. Water, water everywhere, and far too much to think. Until the watering stops long enough to ask for desired responses. Hmmm. Perhaps one would say anything to prevent another dousing. Ya think?

Then there’s electricity. Again, as torture. High voltage, low current and a picana, used to shock the prisoner. Often water–again the water–is thrown over the victim to reduce the electrical resistance of the skin and to increase the effects of the shock. Zap! What, still not ready to fess up? Then clip the electrodes to said prisoner’s genitals and zap! ZAP! Feel like talking now? We can stay here and do this all night, asshole!

Oh, there’s more nasty means of getting desired info from a prisoners, even if he likely doesn’t really know sophisticated enemy attack plans. Here is what the captured “enemy combatant” likely believes as default information: he is fighting for Allah against the Great Satan, with Osama Bin still serving as motivation. But it is torture making him produce even the flimsiest valued insight. The United Nations labels torture as “inhumane and degrading”.  For whatever that is worth (apparently not much).

Now back to Haspel’s candidacy and her obvious link to the documented torture of prisoners. Red flags, as usual, as far as the qualifications for another potential Cabinet member, The committee judging her worthiness does have some naysayers, a few Democrats prodding her about admitting torture is immoral. She spun rambling, dissembling, responses to that simple yes or no question numerous times, like Ginger Rogers cutting up a dance floor freestyle. Blah blah blah, my moral compass is blah blah blah. My parents raised me right blah blah blah. Listening to her refuse to answer that basic question in which she knew there absolutely was one clearly correct response was a felony case of tortured pretzel illogic.

So, okay. She shouldn’t get the job. But she will. She’ll get confirmed. Again, what’s to derail her confirmation? Remember, the impotent Democrats have NO MEANS TO STOP IT.  Call the vote. Confirm and be done with it. There aren’t enough senators from either party with a spine to derail President Twit’s cynical, counter-intuitive choices that are not only suspect, but in many cases akin to the proverbial fox being put in charge of the hen-house.  Need I remind any free thinkers who runs the cabinet agencies right now? A parade of a shady neo-con shills like Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court, only after his nomination having been stolen from President Obama by the GOP controlled congress. Betsy De Vos? Scott Pruitt? Jeff Sessions? Confirmed in spite of being unqualified. Hey, it’s what Trumpty Dumpty GOP-ers do these days. What they don’t do is govern. Well, they do, but not for you nor I.

I really can’t bring myself to indulge in much more consternation about the disastrous night of November 8, 2016 . For the voters who gave Ms.Clinton the popular count victory (and don’t even start with it’s Bernie’s fault!) and true “progressives” the daily news is no news at all. It’s like a sickening loop of dreadful sitcom TV. Or worse it’s reality TV from the West Wing. It’s Archie Bunker, President. To me it’s now all a form of drip, drip, drip torture, a dull, achy kind that frames day-to-day life, inducing the gag response when logic and reason are no longer part of the discourse. Critical thinking may as well be magical thinking. Up is down. Wrong is right. Unacceptable is acceptable. Immoral is moral. Losing is winning.

I do try not to think about what passes for analysis, opinion, or “news” regarding any particulars of this fucked up, viral-like freaky fever dream, really. This blog posting comes courtesy of what’s left of my indignation in the face of the farce that is 2018, America. However, it’s actually been downhill for decades. Almost 40 years of electing cads, creeps, scoundrels, bait-and-switchers, puppets and assorted empty suits.

Composing this was a bit tortuous. Hey, suffering builds character, no? Not sure about that, but writing this blog still works as therapy, in a way. Blow off some steam. Wait for deliverance. Patience. Like waiting for that Godot guy.

Maybe November 6, 2018 he’ll at least be sighted coming around the bend…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Solomon Says

As the world churns. Things fall apart. The center cannot hold. Or,  it cannot hold forever. Also, as King Solomon is purported to have said in response to a sultan asking for a sentence that would apply in both good times and bad:  This too will pass away. It has been 16 months (in my world it seems like 16 years) into Trumplandia and his tumultuous 3-ring circus act’s center (pole) should  have steadily been shaken into collapse by now, taking the entire tent down with it. But never mind. THIS TOO WILL PASS AWAY. 

Apparently, however, as those 16 months have indicated, it will take a political earthquake of 9.0 or above to finally bring down what is a pretty flimsy political structure in the first place. Go figure. If you are a whack-a-doodle Trump-o-phile, then you can still gloat and strut about like the political jackass that you are, but there’s a cliff waiting on all of your kind. The question is, when will that precipice appear and your blind faith lead you over it, into the awaiting Abyss of Boneheads below?

Anyway,  time is a tyrant. Everything is literally a matter of time. 

And to many of us, the time is ripe for action! Now!

Yeah, I agree, but we need to strike at just the right time. When will that time arrive? Barring a coup d’etat, it won’t begin in a direct, meaningful way, be it modestly or writ large until this early November, 2018. If you want to honor the wisdom of Solomon, go to the voting booths in November and start pulling up the tent pegs and let the collapse begin. I’m thinking at this particular time, 18 months after yet another corrupted election result, it might be THE moment of clarity for we the people.  Storm the ballot box, jettison some of the foulest congress critters, the  flotsam and jetsam within it emitting a political stench across this country.  And that pertains to both sides of the aisle. There is good reason to be optimistic all these mind-numbing months into the morass of the most dysfunctional administration ever. For instance,  there’s #metoo, #blacklivesmatter, the Parkland high school kids and their apparent ever-wider-reaching indignation and contempt for a government that can’t/won’t protect them.   Not to mention the disgust of an anti-environmental EPA. Not to mention, the banksters. Corporate welfare. Racial and religious scapegoating. War mongering. This should be a no-brainer, come November, given all the formal voices of opposition to the venal and vile cast of characters littering the political landscape.

It is May 1 as I write this posting. To some, it’s May Day. What about it? Sure,  it’s rent payment day. Car payment day. And so forth, perhaps. But on May Day, in 1886, more than 300,000 workers in 13,000 businesses across the U.S. walked off their jobs in the first May Day celebration. They wanted better working conditions. Ultimately came the International Workers of the World  (you have nothing to lose but your chains). The Robber Barons would be put in their place. And they were.

Well, happy May Day. But look ahead, not back. Pencil in November 8th, 2018. Show up. Throw the bums out. At least start cleaning house. Then the thing that needs to fall apart will sooner see the day when its center collapses. 

Do it for yourself, and with a tip of the cap to good ol’ King Solomon,

 

 

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Waterloo, Anyone?

You might have heard the expression the fish stinks from the head-down. Yesterday I wrote about how I am encouraged by the Parkland teens who, in the aftermath of their high school becoming a killing ground for the latest psycho with access to high-powered weapons, have become quite vocal in their revulsion of the massacre. They are equally repulsed by the blatant unwillingness of elected “leaders” to do anything–anything!–to help prevent another such incident, given that in their mid-to-late teens they have already lived long enough to notice what happened at their school happens just about anywhere, and isn’t an infrequent, nightmarish, event.

I was reminded by a trusted voice of reason who read my posting, that those teens are up against much more than the NRA. Indeed, as my friend noted, we live in a corporatocracy. More than half of our federal budget goes to the Pentagon and its attendant “military, industrial complex,” as famously first warned against by President Eisenhower 60 years ago. Ike’s warning certainly was prescient, given our ever-expanding military presence since the end of World War II. 

Yes, the righteous indignation of those young voices of dissent–mostly not yet of legal voting age–are up against a massively monetized, multi-national, media-abetted, take-no-prisoners, system that does not give a fuck about their concerns, or the concerns of anyone who can’t help put more money in their already stuffed pockets. Teenagers up against the biggest, baddest, predatory, most rotten stinking fish from its gory head to its gaudy tail. I may be CRAZY to think their energy, that has seemingly lit a small fire that lights their way, will find enough forward momentum to provide the oxygen that can turn that small fire into a firestorm.

Recall, those of a certain age that, not long after Ike’s famous quote, the U.S. became embroiled in the Vietnam War, and it didn’t take too many years before youthful protestors, mostly college aged, took to the streets and said, enough is enough. They were ignored, then vilified, then bashed by police, but they never backed down. And as that war dragged on, more and more of “middle America” became engaged in voicing its opposition to the war. At this same time–the mid 1960s to early 1970s, the civil rights movement and the women’s movement had joined in protesting against that era’s version of a fish that stunk from its head down. The war ended, as the public demanded. Civil rights causes gained traction as did women’s rights. Yes, war, racism and misogyny are still issues, still part of a work-in-progress effort to create a better world. And good luck with that, for sure.

However, showing up, in larger and larger numbers can break through the current incarnation of a compliant, collusive media that is also corporatized, anti-democratic and very dangerous as such. It’s still up to we the people to smarten up and help fan that Parkland flame that might flutter or flicker, but that has real, palpable potential to burn those hands that feeds that stinking fish. If we voted for Trumpistan (and stupidly, we did, no matter who did or did not vote) we can vote against it. The best form of protest: an informed, critically thought out vote.

David and Goliath, right.  That’s just a mind-set, however. Believing becomes seeing, and if one refuses to believe they have any voice, any ability as an individual, to help inact positive change…well…they won’t see much beyond the end of their noses.

If those individual teenagers–united to affect a bullhorn–can articulate their rage at such an early age, and gain more traction by not shutting up, not backing down, by inspiring others who see what certain of us also see, also think, also feel, then it is possible that the NRA, along with the quid pro quo of a predatory form of capitalism and it callous, dispassionate agenda, can be replaced. The government works for us. We do not work for them. That is a fact. What seems to be a system so large and powerful that one might easily feel helpless in its presence is nothing more than a state of mind. Ask Emma Gonzalez if she believes the system is indomitable. She and her Parkland classmates put most of a lazy, stupid, short attention-span, instant gratification-seeking, heads inserted into asses, electorate to shame. And again, Emma and her ilk are likely not yet of legal voting age!

But they will be.

Trumpistan. A fish that stinks alright. A fish so flawed, so repulsive to the senses, that I would like to believe that it will implode in its own Waterloo. But why wait for it to self destruct? The future is, if one is willing to embrace the notion,  now. Help fan that Parkland flame.

Waterloo, anyone? Let’s drain that swamp of all its stench-ridden denizens.

 

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19,190 Days

 

On October 1, 2017, Stephen Paddock, using an AR-15, semi-automatic assault style rifle, among other weapons, shot and killed 58 people from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, situated on the Las Vegas strip. His randomly chosen targets were across the way, just past Las Vegas Boulevard, attending an outdoor country music festival. The best estimate of how long his rampage lasted is ten minutes. Over 800 people were wounded. By the time police stormed his room, Paddock had killed himself. This incident claimed the most lives of any prior mass shooting.

The 58  dead and 850 or so wounded was a stunning, horrifying event. To many Americans of a certain age, however, the word shocking may not have been the primary emotional response. After all, mass shootings are not exactly uncommon in the United States. In fact, such killing sprees have become, well, relatively speaking, rather ordinary, as a classification of such crimes.

How Ordinary? I have noted 17 such incidents between 1966 and as recent as February 14, 2018, ranging from the 58 in Las Vegas to 9 victims in 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina. There are about another 15 such events that took the lives of several people during this same time frame. When researching these sickening statistics, I did experience a moment of emotional shock, but that response was a factor of how many more times this sort of  crime has occurred than I suspected.  Being one of those “Americans of a certain age,” I thought I could give a pretty good guess at the actual number, but more than 30?! 

The high school shooting last month in Parkland, Florida, while totaling not even one-third of the Las Vegas dead, has apparently–and finally?–set in motion an angry and highly visible reaction from many of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School survivors. These are high school students demanding congress finally stand up to the NRA and its pro-gun (including AR-15 and such) agenda. As I blogged a few years back in relation to the NRA and its rather blatant ability to cower most congress critters into bending to its will, that after 21 six and seven-year old children were slaughtered using an assault-type weapon at Sandy Hook elementary school in 2012, and congress refused to pass even a wimpy upgrade of background checks on those seeking to purchase guns, that the NRA had won. Game over.

Twenty-one 6 and 7 year olds, literally ripped apart by the use of a military-style weapon?! And congress does nothing?!

So, I am cautiously optimistic that perhaps the NRA may have encountered part of our citizenry that won’t back down from the NRA. Those teens! Their ideals and righteous indignation are bullet proof, one might say.

And yes, it is about time congress, collectively, that it grows a damn backbone and place the value of a life over the blood money they get from the deep-pocketed NRA.

While Parkland is still fresh in our memory, it having occurred on Valentine Day of this year, a distant or non-existent memory for many is an event that took place on August 1, 1966, 19,190 days earlier. That hot summer day in Austin, Texas, on the campus of the University of Texas, found Charles Whitman, and ex-marine sharpshooter, managing to take an arsenal of weapons up near the top of the campus clock tower, some 231 feet above ground. He proceeded to launch a sniper attack on random targets, mostly young college students, for 96 minutes. By the time two police offices worked their way up to Whitman’s sniper nest, and shot him dead, 14 people lay dead and dozens of others were wounded. Ultimately, as time passed, a total of 17 people would be counted as his victims from his attack. Ironically, the same number of dead as from Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school on Valentine Day.

I sense a certain bitter irony connecting Whitman’s 17 victims from Nikolas Cruz, the perpetrator of the 17 dead from MSD high in Parkland, Florida. Whitman, using a M-1 military carbine, chose a college campus to commit his carnage. Cruz, using an AR-15, took less than 10 minutes. The students killed by the Tower shooter were outside of classrooms, casually strolling the campus area below Whitman’s position, while Cruz’ were inside classrooms. The M-1 is an authentic military weapon, eventually replaced by the M-16 military assault weapon, which the AR-15 somewhat shares in its design and manner of discharging its bullets. Whitman was a sniper, and while randomly picking targets, was invisible, essentially, to those below who slowly realized what was happening. Cruz simply went into the school and started shooting his semi-automatic AR-15, and it took only seconds for the students and staff to realize what horror was being visited upon them.

How are the two events, 19,190 days apart ironic? August 1, 1966. The Tower killings absolutely sent shock waves throughout the country. What reason did Whitman have to dispassionately murder innocents below his perch? Was he crazy? Of course, he was. But he was a crazy person who had that M-1 (and other weapons). Cruz, still among the living is crazy. The approximate 500 people shot dead by someone with one type of weapon or another over those 19,190 days were virtually all random victims of the now generic crazed gunman. A university here or there, a high school here or there, a cafeteria, a church, a Buddhist temple, a nightclub, a McDonald’s, a naval yard, a military base, a regional center, a movie theater, an elementary school. Here or there. And so…

…Is anyplace really safe?

Not really. A naval base in Maryland? A military base at Ft.Hood, Texas? Not even those places were safe from a crazy with a gun. Not encouraging! These killings. Crazy, indeed.

And  the NRA somewhat agrees! Its various babblers talk about about these mass shootings being a mental health issue. Bad people with guns. Crazy people. Guns don’t go crazy on their own. That’s impossible, right?But a crazy person with easily legal access to anything from a .22 caliber pop gun to those AR-15s, would seem to have an “accomplice” before, during and after the act of shooting up random places, here and there, most anywhere. If another person in any way aided the mass shooter he or she would be charged with aiding and abetting first-degree murder. So, the material, mechanical matter of a weapon that can shoot bullets one at a time or rapidly fire, is certainly a accomplice.  The NRA and congress, however, seem not to want to hold the weapon of choice accountable, ever, unlike a human being who helps facilitate a crime.

Crazy, eh? Bull goose loony nuts, yeah, methinks. From Whitman in 1966 to Cruz in 2018, this country has become ever and ever-more increasingly gun crazy. It’s the 85 ton, Kevlar vest-wearing, gorilla in the room, okay? That gorilla insists that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” in spite of the fact that those “people” with a gun or AR-15 in their hand, couldn’t possibly be as lethal in their expression of madness, now played out in smaller increments of time without them. Those weapons of mass destruction are here and there, and seemingly everywhere. 

Sure, mental illness is a de facto reality when asking “why did this happen?” but the bigger question is why is a crazed gunman’s constant companion the type of  device designed primarily to kill other humans, not considered the more significant issue here than whether or not mental illness, uh, triggered their manner of expressing disappointment, disapproval, writ large or small?

Well this Boomer wants to believe that those teenagers from Parkland, and their counterparts from around the country who walked out of classes for 17 symbolic minutes this week, are just CRAZY enough to stand their ground and force the gun lobby and its bought-and-paid-for government mouth pieces to engage in sincere and sane consideration of their demands. Their demands are quite simple: why should so many people, whether in church or school, or a mall or restaurant, a movie theater or walking causally on campus grounds have to wonder if the next crazy person with a gun will somehow, randomly decide that killing them solves anything? So, DO something to protect us, protect everyone! Sounds sane to me.

Or am I crazy to think this time, things will truly be different?

 

 

 

 

  

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