A Brief History of the World, Winston Smith edition

First, according to astrophysicists, there was nothing. Nada. Zilch. Tabula rasa. Then that nothingness somehow exploded. Can you say big bang? Congratulations! To, uh, whatever produced the big bang, as it gave birth to what is referred to as the universe. According to scientific investigation, that was approximately 13.8 billion years ago. Then, around 13 billion years ago, the first stars begin to burn, their glow taking its sweet time to reach…well “us”; but let’s not get too far ahead here since “us” at this point in the life of the universe is still WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY off.

Moving on, about 4.6 billion years ago our solar system begins to come together and with it the birth our life-sustaining sun. Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, and thus one of the charter members of our universe, which early on had no stars or planets. Stars were forged from atoms of hydrogen and helium, while new chemical elements were created inside the dying stars (birth and death, it’s inescapable, eh?). Planets and moons formed from blobs of ice and dust using these new chemicals and elements, and the first living cell evolved in the rich chemical environments of rocky planets.

Then, 3.8 billion years ago, comes the earliest forms of life on our very special planet we call Earth. These were mostly single cell life forms. Not too sophisticated but, hey, back then they were the entire show. And that “show” was a long-running production, with virtually zero competition for attention for the next 3.2 billion years. Okay, so let’s do the math: 3.2 billion from 3.8 billion=600 million , as in years ago, larger life forms appear. Those bigger living things had the stage for a mere 593 million (or so) years, when ‘only” 7 million years back our human lineage splits from that of the Chimpanzee. That “break-away” from the chimp world, over the next 5 million years, produced the–ta da!–homo erectus. This new “standing man” then becomes the species known as Homo sapiens, a classification that is marked at about at 200,000 years ago. Hey, from Big Bang 13.8 biillion years back to standing man. In a mere 12,999,800,000 years. 

Or, in just three paragraphs on this blog entry.

A brief history, okay?

Standing man hasn’t always had it easy, though. Life was rough and tumble. Maslow’s pyramid of ascending needs would have to have several sub-basements to signify the ordeal of simply staying alive back in that day. Today’s homeless population live elite lifestyles compared to Homo neanderthalensis. Basic food and shelter? Life was always a bitch, no doubt. And then, as already noted, they would die. But enough of standing man got off his/her feet to copulate and Homo sapiens endured, right through the last ICE AGE, some 10,000 years ago. After that frosty kick in the loin cloth-covered asses of our species by the forces of nature, it was but 5,000 years ago that cities began to appear on the planet. 3,000 years later, standing man had developed its survival instincts and desire to be the masters of their–and other’s–domains, with the Han and Roman empires. Little by little, by about 500 years ago, exploration and discovery by our species started to link the world together. For better or worse. Mostly worse, in my estimation.

Formal knowledge, the refinement of arts and sciences, elevated our human place on planet earth. In the past 150 years industrialization has given us railroads, jet airplanes, radio and television and space travel. Just 50 years ago we landed on the moon, an event that for a brief moment in time, was at once inspirational and mesmerizing in its realization, and as such, transcended race, ethnicity, or nationality in a most powerful and positive sense of shared pride in our humanity. And it was quite a momentary antidote to a world in which over the previous 200 or so years having been marred by revolutionary wars here and abroad, the U.S.civil war, World Wars I & II, (the latter of which produced an another awesome, if not a Kumbaya, event called the creation–and deployment–of the atomic bomb), the Korean and Vietnam wars, and at this point in time bloodshed far and wide. More empires. Less humanism.

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Now, here we are early in the first month of year 2019. Unless you are one of the Homo sapiens that has succumbed to a de-evolutionary modus operandi, and cannot think on your own, unable to truly engage your brain, not able to determine basic right from wrong, nor distinguish a stone cold fact from an inference to a bald face lie, you might have heard about, and perhaps become concerned for our planet, all 4.6 billion years old as it is. What am I getting at? Well, while the Big Bang theory says we came from nothing, (go figure) ever since, and as been alluded to earlier, all forms of life on this planet come and go. You know, born to die. In comparison to mother earth, we are all around for a nano second of a wee smaller nanosecond of a fraction of a fraction of a blink of an eye. Hope to live to be 110? No different. By the time you were born to your demise, you (all of us, okay?) relatively speaking were barely here at all! But reproduction keeps humankind around, whether one is using that brain very well or not. Among the scientists whom are most involved with the life span of our planet–which, mind you, is inevitably as with all else, going to die–they assert we have reached an “existential crisis”. It’s called climate change. And the virtual consensus of climate scientists is that our planet is sick. Very sick. Human activity is hastening our planet’s demise–and standing man and woman will eventually pass away when the sphere beneath our feet no longer can support itself, or us.

What are we humans doing about this crisis? Apparently not much. Certainly not nearly enough. In the decade that ran from 1979-1989 we had an excellent opportunity to solve this climate crisis. The world’s major powers came within several signatures of endorsing a binding, global framework to reduce carbon emissions–far closer than we have ever come since. During those years, the conditions for success could not have been more favorable. The obstacles we blame for that inaction are still emerging. But now, as back then, the only thing standing in the way of saving the planet is…ourselves.

And by ourselves, I include a particular person who is an avowed science-denier when it comes to looming climate collapse: this person is deeply, profoundly flawed. Okay, nobody is perfect but…this person is a sociopath. This person is a racist. Indeed, he is a white supremacist. He is a misogynist. A homophobe. A xenophobe. A failed businessman. A con man. As bad as all that is, the worst part is he has been allowed to be the President of our country. Oh, and one who may have colluded with Mother Russia and its evil strongman, V. Putin, during his campaign. This man is not helping with much except to create chaos and consternation among critical thinkers. Sadly, this person has followers. I call them “pod people” (after the people in Invasion of the Body Snatchers whose beings are overtaken by insidious pods being slipped near them as they slumbered, to awake and become zombie like automatons in the grip of alien forces). Today’s Pod People have brains, but they are a waste of gray matter. Podsters don’t seem to care about anything but what their “leader” thinks and does. But more than any creepy flaw he has clearly displayed, it’s that science-denying one that is the most dangerous here, in 2019.

Sadly, in my informed, personal opinion, it may be 2019, but I’m beginning to feel as though it is really 1984. As in the dystopian world penned by George Orwell in 1949, shortly after the carnage of World War II. In it, Orwell created Big Brother. A glossary of terms from that seminal novel would include, doublethink, hate week, newspeak, speakwrite, thought police, and thoughtcrime. Doesn’t sound like a Disney narrative, eh? Now, I am not saying we are actually immersed in Orwell’s nightmare vision of the future, as he saw it back in 1949, but there are indications that, since our current occupant of the White House took residence there in January of 2017, it certainly sounds and seems as though we are getting closer to an Orwellian nightmare than safely secured from any such approximation of it.

For example, a few nights ago, the corporate, mainstream media once again demonstrated its collusion in this country’s ever-increasing descent into creepy, dark political cynicism. How so? By granting a prominent platform for the dissemination of blatant propaganda and fear mongering by the above alluded to White House denizen.

The various major media outlets, both broadcast and cable, were asked to permit this person, who has been clearly and credibly identified as a bona-fide, dissembling demagogue to speak to we the people. The heads of these news outlets could not possibly have acted any more irresponsibly by agreeing to provide prime-time coverage for this person and his intended reason for seeking their assistance. After all, he was not addressing the vital–and ever more desperate–need for climate action. Of course not. He, at best, willfully denies the reality of climate change, or actually is unable to process the credible evidence that has been around for-as noted–several decades by now. He wasn’t talking about making healthcare more affordable for all of we the people, nor was he addressing the need for more affordable means of getting a college education. He wasn’t announcing a plan to address re-building our rotting national infrastructure, or creating a living wage policy to help the average person make ends meet without working two or more jobs.

No, he was given the national airwaves to potentially enter into the living rooms–Little Brother?–of every household, to demand several billion dollars for a “wall” to separate the U.S. from its neighboring countries to the south. He claimed–without evidence– that the border is not secure, and that those coming here included rapists, murderers, drug dealers and terrorists. All while our federal government has been shut down for almost three weeks as a means of showing he means business.

The Orwellian part of his being on the airwaves so pervasively is that there was no obligation on the part of the media to grant him time to spew his nonsense, all of which is at the expense of that evidence-based existential crisis known as the climate crisis that increasingly threatens our planet. The heads of each of those major media outlets could have easily declared his request as being so blatantly a political stunt that they could not possibly be so irresponsible as to let him have the airwaves to advance its unworthiness. The fact that they didn’t is extremely disturbing.

Orwell’s book, by the way, has become something of a new best seller in the past couple of years. Art imitates life? Ugh. Well, we’re not that far gone yet, but the media created this orange-hued occupant of the White House, and it could destroy him just as easily. We don’t have to listen to him even if the media continues to provide a platform for further prevarication, division and hate speech. But we shouldn’t have to willfully ignore what should never have been allowed to become a reality in the first place. What happened on Tuesday evening was a dangerous symptom of incipient Orwellianism, in my estimation.

After 4.6 billion years, here we are, my fellow Homo Sapiens. We are the problem. Of course we are. We must have asked for this or else why has it become a reality? When did basic right and wrong become so jumbled in so many people’s minds? How can we be so easily led astray? Who and what are we paying attention to? So, as mother earth continues to wheeze and convulse, the clock is ticking. You can take time out for a break, but you can’t take a break from time, right? I’d say, time to take a break from taking break from thinking about the present and the future. You can change the dial, or turn off that tv, leave cyberspace and connect with reality. I mean, can’t we do better than this? This is what we have evolved into since leaving Chimp World?

4.6 billion years from nothing to the moon and back. And it was televised! Now, our media has become a tool for misinformation, disinformation, insipid celebrity cults, bread and circuses. It is everywhere and nowhere. Newspeak. Doublethink. Hate week. Thoughtcrime. Far fetched? Let’s hope so. But sometimes, lately, I feel a bit like Orwell’s protagonist, Winston Smith in 1984. But I’m hoping for a happier ending than Winston’s.

If your brain is critically engaged and your eyes wide open, I’d say you–as I–are all incipiently becoming Mr.Smith.

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August!

Has June really come and gone along with July? I guess it has because I have this thing called a calendar. There’s no doubt about it. Like that expression, you can time out for a break but you can’t take a break from time. It’s kinda like: wherever you go, there you are. Obvious. Silly. Snarky. A little bit mocking. Simple.

Simple. Less is more.

If only. Two months past June and maybe you went on a diet, so something consumable would be “less” but it would only lead to lesser of you. Maybe you would feel less self loathing and so overall more of something better and then less indeed becomes more. That would be a victory as time continues to inexorably bulldoze ahead bringing what it brings: more. The “lesser” you can strut your victory all about the world at large. That would be the cold reality of the world-at-large. The cold, hot, dry, wet, turbulent world. Guided by the hand of humans, some of whom no doubt could afford to lose a few pounds, or think of being less greedy, control-freakish or finding fault with others based on, you know, race, gender, color, creed, religion, political ideology, or sports affiliation. Stop primping your new body in the mirror and look around. There are some issues that need be dealt with out there here as we finish off the last week of August 2022.

I’m not going to go into detail–after all the worst of any the issues are right in our faces. I mean in our faces. If you’re a female of the species, you are under vicious attack. If you are not white-skinned, ditto. If you are LGBTQ there’s bullseyes on all of your backs, too. Beyond those assertions, there’s a target on the backs of the entire human race. How so? Oh, c’mon. Wet. as in historical floods. Dry as in historical drought. Hot as as in historical heat waves, Cold, as in historical deep freezes. Historical weather events as in never seen it like this at this time of year or barely ever seen it like this ever!

As time marches on, the venal and vile of the humans that have influence on the cause and effects gripping our planet apparently assume they are immune from their own ultimate, massive stupidity. All of the dangers facing we homo sapiens by magical thinking cretins of corruption, callousness and cruelty of course face them too.

When it rains almost historicallyin ONE DAY! as in ONE YEAR! in Death Valley, California, I think we are definitely reaping what we humans have sown through layers of historical stupidity. The stewards of this planets have failed it. Writ large and small, collectively. It is our nature to be destructive, after all. Ever taken a comprehensive history course?

Less is less in the bigger picture at this tipping point in time. Whether or not there’s time to save ourselves, well, time will tell. No doubt it will. Here’s another expression: Time is a tyrant.

On the bright side, I figure we all have time to get our selves into shape. Hefting sandbags, climbing onto roofs, hefting cordwood, digging wells, hunting for innocent squirrels, rabbits, or maybe that stray cat that also hunts squirrels and rabbits, hefting dinner home…

Hooray for August!

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June!

June is busting out all over. Is it busting or bursting? Who cares? The daylight is increasing, but by the 22nd it’ll be decreasing, but who cares? It’ll barely be perceptible. And since it’s inevitable, why bother with being bothered by it? There’s so much else to be bothered by that I, for one, at least, barely bother with paying attention to the bothersome banality of it all the things that are bothersome. Think positive, eh? Think of happy stuff.

That guideline clearly means not discussing religion or politics in mixed company. So, aside from those two sources of bothersome dynamics. what ya got? And please I don’t wanna hear about inflation, or stagflation or $6 a gallon gas. Don’t even think of going there. I mean, can’t we find the bright side of life? Oh, right, there’s Nature. Yes, Of course. What? Who said that? Right away someone has to get all hot and bothered by climate change. But the future is now, so try not to think about such a thing. June! Busting or bursting. Out. All over. Go out and smell the roses. Did I mention the future is now?

Hmm. June! Proms and graduation parties! Woo hoo! Wait, what? I have to hear someone mention school shootings? Trying to stay positive here. What was that, a lot of people are testing positive for covid? Knock it off. How many are “a lot”? Why be so negative? Okay, forget schools and the pandemic and how it has changed the notion of things “positive”. Why bother worrying? Try not to think about any of the negative stuff–excepting testing negative for covid, sure.

It’s June! Plenty of daylight. Take a walk. Smell those roses already. Fire up the Bar B Q. Toss on some steaks, hot dogs, pork chops, pork ribs. Mmmmm mmmm. What? Who said that? Again I have to hear about how meat is dangerous, loaded with hormones, antibiotics, not to mention the hand-wringing about the cruel world of the slaughterhouses? Yo. Try not to be bothered about it. Just enjoy the day. June! Bon appetit!

Go to the zoo. See the happy animals there. Fun for all ages! What? What was that? Zoos are an abomination, taking creatures large and small and imprisoning them in an unnatural habitat? No way. Zoos are happy places. For we humans who can just go with the flow and enjoy those wacky monkeys and….what? Monkey Pox? Ugh. Stick with covid worry, okay? Monkey Pox. Why bother being bothered with another dreadful disease? Then just go see the elephants, okay? Smart creatures they are. Noble creatures… What? The only thing worse than a zoo is a circus? The elephants and other animals are treated cruelly there too? No way, circuses are happy places. Just try not to think about all this negative stuff. June!

Well, I’m worn out trying to stay positive with all the Debby Downers out there and…what? So now I’m a misogynist? Okay then. Call them the Donald Downers. What? You hate the name Donald because it reminds you that Donald? Okay the go with Donald Duck. Or call em David Downers, I don’t care. What? The word downer bespeaks the opioid epidemic? Well, what the hell, you can hardly blame anyone from wanting to do narcotics in this messed up world…Wait! See what you’ve done? Are you happy now, throwing your negativity at me when all I’m trying to do is rejoice about June?

Can you just chill and enjoy the wonderful month of June, which is still busting and bursting out all over…

You’re welcome!

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In Gratitude

Seventy-eight years ago today, a crucial battle of World War Two began on the northern shores of France. It’s known as D-Day–and was code named Overlord in its meticulously planned execution. A conservative estimate of Allied and German fatalities is 10,000 on that first day. Many more combatants would die before Allied forces liberated Western Europe in late August 1944. Clearly, the ginormous–a word that derived from military slang during WWII–undertaking and success of Overlord was the beginning of the end of end of Hitler’s dreams of a so-called “thousand-year reich”. It is hard to imagine what the consequences of D-Day failing–and the Allies ultimately having to surrender to Germany and Japan–would have been. Would I be here to write this blog post? Would you be around to read it? Such speculations may seem an unneeded concern. However, WWII was a war to save democracy from fascism. Nothing less.

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While the Allies stopped the maniacal intents of the Axis powers, and indeed protected the free world from subjugation by tyrants, one need only pay even slight attention to the geo-political developments of the past several years alone. Hungary, Turkey, Egypt, the Phillipines, India, Cambodia, China and certainly Russia all have autocratic rule in place. In the U.S. we got a taste of what an autocrat in the White House could do to our democratic values. His failed re-election bid was a sigh of relief, but fascist-leaning legislators control many of our statehouses and local governing bodies. The autocrat was shown the door in the 2020 election, but we are still under attack, Ask people of color. Ask any woman. Ask a teacher.**********************

The question becomes whether or not there is enough collective courage to personally and politically resist fascist wannabees before the only way to defeat them is to have to spill a lot of blood to get the job done–again. Maybe that course is already inevitable. I’m not sure we have any generation like that which fought the Second World War, though. Perhaps the real consequence of the Allied victory wasn’t to rid the world of fascism, but only to buy humanity four or five decades before it reared its ugly face again.Orwell warned us, no? But even then, Allied fighters made the world a better, safer place than otherwise would ever have been possible for a few generations to enjoy–if not ever truly understanding in whose debt they are for such safety and freedom.

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The Black Robed Assets

Who hasn’t seen one of the many films in which opposing organizations–usually governmental or quasi-official/rouge forces–face-off against villainous operatives? The CIA vs SPECTRE. Black Ops vs CHAOS. Secret Service vs FOOLS FOR CHRIST. Or, you know, Good vs Evil, with carnage aplenty as things get sorted out. Double and triple crosses clutter the narrative, leaving the viewer to wonder whom to trust, since everyone involved at one time or another might have been a payroller for good or evil. Follow the money. If there’s a “mole” then some informant will reveal the name, or vice versa. But as long as the threat is “neutralized” then we have a happy ending. It might take activating some stealthy, cold blooded “asset” to finish the job, if all else fails. No ambiguity. Justice prevails.

Movies specialize in happy endings, even if a few hundred people are left dead along that yellow brick road of ultimate satisfaction. Outside of the movie houses or one’s living room with the 67″ high-def flat screen, happy endings are not as likely as with cookie-cutter thrillers where all the tension-and-release button-pushing inevitably leads to those nasties getting what they deserved. Real life, as always, has the good and bad doing their thing, but happy outcomes are getting pretty rare. Are the forces of good outnumbered? Speaking of evil, The GOP represents maybe 40% of the public who vote regularly. Democrat and independent voters clearly have a significant majority. But our electoral system is a bit tilted toward the Right. Or more than a bit. But the Right has had a thirty year numerical edge of exactly ONE.

Allow me to explain (but not for the first time).

Five weeks ago, I used the Katenji Jackson Brown SCOTUS hearing to remind one and all how that grotesque charade by the GOP could ever come to pass. The birth of this SCOTUS gaggle of of six who now use the constitution to wipe their bought and paid for asses is quite clear. The blatant means by which these enemies of democracy and fairness for all have George H.W. Bush to thank, first and foremost. As previously reported, it was George I who cynically nominated C. Thomas to replace Thurgood Marshall. Thomas! Who now bitches about people needing to accept outcomes they don’t like. Never mind his wife, Ginni, was on board with the insurrection of Jan 6, 2021! This is how obnoxiously arrogant and massively clueless the replacement for Marshall is. And Marshall being replaced by such a sad sack sellout to the elite is a historical affront to the notion of honoring how much good Thurgood stood for.

For the umpteenth time, I now have to remind everyone that Thomas somehow was confirmed by a senate that was a 57-43 Democrat majority. The hearing was chaired by Joe Biden. He should have told his majority that Thomas–accused of sexual harassment by numerous women during the hearing, not to mention having a super lightweight legal portfolio–will NOT be confirmed and force Bush to nominate someone less toxically odorous for a lifetime place on the Bench. But no. Why didn’t he gavel the GOP down and ensure Thomas wasn’t fit for confirmation? But no, again!

That was 31 years ago. Clarence–how’d that pubic hair get on that can of soda?–Thomas has been the decisive 5th vote in a sequence of judgements that leads right up to the current pending striking down of women’s right to a legal and safe abortion. That was a 6-3 vote but you have to back up. Thomas was the 5th vote in a 5-4 decision to appoint George W, Bush President in the 2000 election, an election that after-the-fact showed conclusively that Gore won Florida and the electoral vote count. Then he was the 5th and deciding vote on Citizens United which granted corporations equal status with individuals as far as being “people” and thus able to use money as “free speech”. Then, he was again the 5th vote that gutted the Voting Rights Act. With all those decisions, the U.S then–inexplicably seeing as how rigged this Court to be as far as legislating for the rich and powerful over everyone else–has stood by and let money to flood campaigns without even knowing who the pocket stuffers are are, to allow a couple dozen states to do everything possible to make it harder to vote, gerrymandering, reducing polling places in minority districts, eliminating mail-in voting, reducing ballot drop boxes and in Florida we now have a literal gestapo force that will dictate what votes will or won’t count.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden is now our President, and has a majority in the House and a 51-50 advantage in the senate. But the Democrats are bought and paid for as well. Ask Joe Manchin! Of course they are or, why hasn’t Citizens United been legislated into the void, and voting rights reinstated? The Donkeys have COMPLETE CONTROL. For that matter when Mr. Obama was President why did he seemingly barely object when Mitch McConnell stole his rightful, constitutional ability to pick a replacement for Anthony Scalia, who died suddenly? Then when Ruth Ginsberg passed, with her body barely cold, the GOP quickly–with a 51-50 senate advantage–NOT 57-43–confirmed Amy Barrett. Let’s not forget the beer guzzling blowhard empty suit Brett Kavanaugh–also accused of sexual harassment (is that a GOP prerequisite to be nominated?) easily being confirmed. Assets!

Are the Democrats really simply unorganized and feeble? That’s a laugh. They’re led by filthy rich geezers (mind you 80 year-old Bernie Sanders is an Independent, and I hope he IS rich for all the righteous fight he has voiced for decades)) who have been around while this right-wing takeover of SCOTUS played out stating back in October 1991. The latest result of this Democrat collusion, corruption and incompetence is the impeding overturning of Roe vs Wade. The polls show the majority of Americans want women to have control over their reproduction futures, not dictated by six black robed “Assets” to the backward marching cretins who have been dreaming of this type of rule of the very very few over the very very many for decades. That slim advantage I alluded to way up there per good vs evil is quite literally a majority of ONE. His name is Clarence Thomas, and he was confirmed by Joe Biden and his weak-kneed Democrat Party. One vote, wreaking havoc over millions of working class people who are suppose to believe our system of governance works for one and all. One slimy, hypocritical, unqualified for his job Clarence Thomas.

The further insult are those mailings from Pelosi and Schumer and the DNC, pleading for your donations to fight against these injustices. How dare they even ask! They have no desire to use power, especially when they have the numbers to get things done that the American people want getting done.

Are ya’l ready to go Howard Beal on this bullshit? No, wait, that’s right. Howard get shot dead on live TV for inciting the fed-up many against the venal few. But of course, back in 1975 movies like Network didn’t always have happy endings. They reflected nasty truths sometimes and were willing to enlighten an audience as to cause and effects about the ways power can corrupt. Then, an audience could possibly be smarter for the experience.

I don’t think throwing open millions of windows and screaming I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore! will change anything. Better to show up at street level. In numbers there is strength. And believe me, it’s a minority that seems to always get its way–with the exception of those six SCOTUS assets who are not interested in listening to any form of logical reasoning.

First and foremost, the Donkeys have got to reinstate voting rights and enforce those rights. Until then, politicians can keep picking their voters, rather than the much better original idea of voters picking their government. Yeah, how’s that for a radical agenda? I’m sure Clarence Thomas would be in dissent. All the better.

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The Opposition Party that Isn’t

The Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmation hearing has come and gone. It was, not one bit surprisingly, a very disgusting bit of political theater of the absurd. As of today, only one GOP senator has voiced support for her confirmation. That one person is a white woman, if that makes any difference. Not that Ketanji needs even a single GOP vote to be confirmed, as she needs only a simple majority of 51 votes and VP Harris can break a 50-50 tie if need be. When she does get confirmed, she will become the first Black female to become a member of SCOTUS. The first African-American on the Court was Thurgood Marshall, who was a member from 1967-1991.

The Katanji Brown Jackson nomination and the sickening racist circus that took place last week has compelled me to explain just how historically cynical and corrupted a matter it is regarding both Democrats and Republicans since Thurgood left SCOTUS over three decades ago, replaced by the now quite notorious Clarence Thomas. You know, the second ever Black to be seated on the Court.

Thurgood was known for being a passionately progressive attorney He was the embodiment of a very thoughtful jurist who fought to right the wrongs that were visited upon his fellow Americans, for equal justice under the law, and who necessarily became most involved in confronting the vicious racism of the notorious Jim Crow era in the U.S. Most notably, Marshall won the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954, a case that involved ending the “separate but equal” precedent that barred Black students from attending white-only public schools.

When Marshall retired in 1991, then President George H.W. Bush was tasked with nominating a replacement for him on SCOTUS. Bush decided to “honor” Marshall by nominating a fellow African-American. That nominee turned out to be Clarence Thomas. I recall that Senate hearing that was tasked with judging judge Thomas. In short order, in addition to his having a rather modest judicial portfolio, the hearing became embroiled in serious accusations from numerous women who worked with Mr. Thomas while he headed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. One such woman was Anita Hill, also African-American. She alleged, with descriptive detail, sexually harassing words and actions on his part. As a result, Thomas’ nomination appeared to be quite in jeopardy.

At the time of the hearing, the Democrats held a 57-43 majority in the Senate. The Chair of the hearing was none other than Joseph Biden, our current President. When more and more women sought to corroborate Mr. Thomas’ seeming penchant to sexually accost females under his authority at EEOC, he famously accused the Committee of “an electronic lynching”. Anita Hill was then cynically treated with increasing suspicion of having a delusional personal vendetta against Thomas, and ultimately he was confirmed by a 52-48 vote. In other words, that 57-43 Democratic majority was not able to hold together, with 11 of them voting for Thomas in spite of his possibly, probably, extremely dubious character and clearly anemic judicial experience. Do I need remind anyone how damaging Thomas’ presence on the Court has been? He votes against cases seeking recourse to civil rights injustices, and at this very moment, thirty-one years into his LIFETIME APPOINTMENT, is now considered to be a conspiracy theorist proponent who is on board with GOP voter suppression legislation. He is a clear and present danger to democracy. And we have the Democratic Party to thank for this nightmare scenario that now even includes Ginni Thomas (his wife) accused of being actively involved in the January 6 insurrection. Yes, well done Donkeys, and especially Joe Biden who Chaired that hearing that should have ash-canned Clarence rather than overseeing the folding of their Committee cards in the face of a race-baiting hail-Mary.

Remember, G.W.H. Bush chose Thomas to replace Thurgood Marshall! Certainly, he had to know he wasn’t picking someone who deserved the slightest consideration in such a context, or even in ANY context as per a SCOTUS appointment. Which brings this back to Katanji Brown Jackson. She, who is immensely qualified as a jurist, had to sit and endure idiotic and offensive questioning from the Republicans on the Committee. That, as I asserted above, was no surprise, but keep in mind that again, the Democrats now have a slim but undeniable majority in the Senate, and this time it was Democrat Richard Durbin as the Chair. Durbin, a decades -in-the-making, ineffectual, timid legislator, had the gavel and could have–should have–shut off the microphones of the most egregiously disrespectful Republicans attacking Ms. Brown. But you see, the Democrats don’t want or know how to fight in any manner, even to honor the memory of Thurgood Marshall, the antecedent of the “appoint a Black” framework encapsulating Jackson’s nomination. It makes one wonder (especially yours truly) if they even care about justice, writ large or small, then or now. That slim but real majority they now hold has not be used at all to push back legislatively against the voter suppression tactics, the LGBTQ-bashing, the attack on women’s reproductive rights, the Big Lie narrative of January 6’s “stop the steal” bilious bile. or follow up on raising the minimum wage, forgiving student debt, protecting worker’s rights and so much more that this country desperately needs.

While the pivotal mid-terms are now only a bit more than seven months away, the so-called “opposition party” that used to be embodied by FDR or Thurgood Marshall, and most certainly is in the democratic DNA of a Black woman named Katanji who should have been confirmed for SCOTUS in all due haste, appears to be the party of do-nothingness. There are many pejoratives to describe the ugly, racist, far-right fanaticism that has become the Republican Party. Too many people, however, still seem to believe that the Democrats can and will step up to save our democracy. Many express disappointment, but cling to hope that Biden and his majority are going to act, that they have a plan, that they must have a plan. Those people are asleep. Their hopes are only alive in a dream world from which they need to awake. But even then, as with the last 40-plus years, even when we the people choose that “opposition party” there is little to no return on that electoral investment.

I’d most sincerely like to think there is still hope, but my eye are wide open. So, for now and perhaps until there’s a reason not to feel this way, I say (and a tip of the hat to Bill S.) A Plague on Both Your Houses! you goddam Donkeys and Elephants. Stinky, dark, dank and duplicitous houses they are. The evil of two lessors. But I must stop, least I be accused of damning with faint umbrage…

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A Woman Scorned

Happy Friday, March 25, 2022. It’s officially spring in the northern hemisphere, and Ma Nature will do her best to give visual representation to the season’s symbolic affirmation of rebirth, renewal and regeneration. She is, however and most regrettably, under siege from humanity’s penchant for fouling her water with industrial waste products dumped into once pristine oceans, rivers, lakes, streams and creeks, and polluting the air with fossil fuel exhaust spewed from tailpipes of internal combustions engines for well over one hundred years now. Her icecaps are melting at both Poles. And so much worse than even any of the above. However, Mother Nature is no delicate flower, unable to defend herself. Oh, hell no! Recall the expression, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!”.

As a retort to such abuse, she is wreaking chaos with weather extremes, each now typically a matter of historical proportions, be it hurricanes, tornados, floods, wildfires, or oppressive heat waves, She has a wicked sense of bitter irony in all this whacked out weather, as depending on where one resides on her planet, it may be a matter of severe drought, lack of potable water, crop failures and ensuing food famines. Oh, she is SO pissed. And why not? It’s tantamount to a mother whose children keep running around creating havoc, knocking down the knickknack rack, upending coffee tables meticulously adorned with a few fancy artifacts, smashing into the large potted plants, with repeated warnings of severe consequences heard but not heeded. Why should they care? It’s in their nature to be badass, bad seeds. Typically it is the boys being boys. Wired for aggression, they often are. Mom may have to have to ultimately take action–and drastic action at that.

That’s about where we are with climate chaos. The Big Boys who control government and corporate, capitalistic operations just can’t seem to not just hear but LISTEN to Ma Nature warning them that they will regret being such ginormous assholes. Profit must not concede to the demand for reform. Unfortunately, while incorrigible little boys can be held to account, many of them still grow up to be incorrigible adults. Who become powerful office holders, or titans of industry. And they don’t have to, nor care to, listen to anyone about anything that may be detrimental to that bottom line mojo that evidently precludes any concern for Mother Nature. She being the one to provide for their children or their children’s children’s future, as far as maintaining a livable habitat. Their extended families may have comfortable digs, but they will still go down with the ship, first class and steerage passengers alike. After all, it was Mother Nature that created the iceberg that sunk the “unsinkable” Titanic. Should not the captain or crew have seen that coming?

So, we’re all on the Titanic, folks. But many are screaming about the danger that looms large on the not too distant horizon, while those at the controls just won’t listen. They don’t see what danger by now should be in plain sight. Our Mother Ship has yet to sink, though. That’s the good news. The bad news, our ship is doomed if we don’t change course. And much much sooner than later. The lifeboat won’t help, either, because even that bit of backup to the best laid plans going wrong costs to much to provide. Nothing personal. It’s just business. It’s that almighty bottom line. In the meantime, stock up on provisions. Call for action, demand they listen. Don’t give up the ship!

Ha! Just kidding. We’re doomed. So, live it up. The future, as I continue to assert, is now. Hey, I’m just trying to distract all of you who may be currently more concerned about BA2 Omicron finding you, or global thermo-nuclear war vaporizing humanity. Didn’t Nostradamus predict all this, anyway? Or was it Karnak, the Magnificent? No, wait, I read it when I tore into my fortune cookie at Ming’s in Chinatown. Hmm. Not sure. Maybe it’s all just a bad dream, and soon I’ll awaken…to spring and renewal, regeneration and rebirth. Yeah, I think I’ll go with that one.

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Ups and Downs

What’s news? Hmm. Let’s take a peek at the clickbait: Oil spikes back above $100 a barrel. Hmm. Then I see “If U.S. gets less than 5% of its oil from Russia why is gas pushing five bucks a gallon?”. Are we running out of fossil fuels? I don’t think so. Ask Joe Manchin about it.

Beef prices are ramping way up, too. Are we running out of cattle? No way. According to the latest Hightower Lowdown, the price of beef and most everything else in the supermarket costs more only because of corporate greed. Jim states that nearly every economic sector in the US (from high tech to farm and food) has been locked down by a handful of overpowering corporate giants. It’s 21st century consolidation of ownership of just about everything we need (or just want) with little competition to keep prices–well, competitive. Can you say monopoly? It’s euphemized by the corporatists as “pricing power”. During the pandemic some of the big dogs–Amazon, Proctor & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark among others–have scored massive profits. Whatever supply-chain shortages may have impacted costs, these behemoths could easily absorb the expense and keep prices from spiking. But Gordon Gecko rules the CEO offices of corporate America, and we all know what he had to say about greed being good. Just ask Joe Manchin.

What else is heading skyward? Oh, right. The Fed is raising interest rates. Need a loan to pay for some necessities? Like gas or beef? Pay up. (Of course, those 1%-ers barely notice these cost increases. They have been the beneficiaries of trillions of dollars being transferred from the working class to their leisure class. Can you say Reaganomics?). Ask Joe Manchin.

Then there’s evermore dire studies indicating our climate is collapsing. There’s a years-long drought that has the American West drying up. Up? In this case, it’s not a matter of alarming increases, but rather decreases. Lake Powell is slowly disappearing. A recent study states from 2000 to 2021, the West has became its driest in 1200 years. Thus, we are running out of water, but with little meaningful action being taken, here and abroad, we apparently must have a large supply of time with which to solve this problem. Again, ask Joe Manchin about it.

Other news of the day: BA2 is looming large. That’s an Omicron variant making its presence felt in Europe. The UK Health Security Agency shows that the BA2 subvariant of Omicron is growing at about 80% faster than BA1. So maybe think twice about going into some packed Irish bar today (St.Patty’s!) thinking we have have come out of the other end of the tunnel. Well, perhaps we have, but seemingly the daylight between the original Covid tunnel, then the Delta tunnel, then the BA1 tunnel may forever lead into yet another tunnel. So, there’s that. And don’t worry about the 5 buck a gallon gas in your SUV tank that will get you to that bar, or the jacked up price of the corned beef sandwich, or asking for some water–unless you are partying in Lake Havasu or Vegas. And even then–ah fuck it. You think Joe Manchin cares about it?

Oh, and then there’s the dread of a nuclear war. If that happens, then all of the above won’t matter, anyway. All problems solved. All anxieties, angst, anger and aggravation of trying to simply live a life without all the rip-offs and creepy autocratic attempts to control us and exploit us will be alleviated. And maybe just as well. All arrows have been pointing downward for the better part of all of of lives. If we get nuked, I’ll be comforted in knowing that Joe Manchin will become radioactive toast, too. That thought calls for a double Jameson on the rocks.

CHEERS!

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No Fly, No Way

Ukrainian president Zelenskiy asked for a no-fly zone to be implemented in a live video address to Congress today. He was passionate and purposeful in his pathos-laden appeal for meaningful assistance in fighting the Russian army, especially their jet fighters that now rule the sky above his country. When he concluded he received a standing ovation from his remote-viewing political audience.

Then, our president conducted a brief podium appearance with his response. That no-fly zone? Uh, that’s a hard NO Vlad. But we’ll keep finding new sanctions, and send weapons that your military can use to defend the Ukraine sky, plus several hundred million more dollars. But he did not even mention the no-fly zone, while asserting the Ukraine struggle will be a “protracted” affair. That had to be a profound disappointment to Zelenskiy and the people of Ukraine. I mean, Z was emphatic about the need for that no-fly zone. And of course he knows why the West won’t agree to provide that strategy: that could mean WW3. Which is what NATO was designed to avoid. And your country, Vlad, is so NOT a member of NATO. But if you WERE a member, we’d start that war and the threat of nukes be damned!

Or something along the lines of that cold-hearted looping logic.

And in addition to the sanctions, etc, our president now refers to Putin as “a war criminal”. How about that?! We’ve unleased the harsh language option. Does that help your struggle?

Thus, Ukraine, it’s three weeks and counting, and your people are so brave, but it’s going to go on for a while longer. You know. Protracted. As in, until Putin gets the job done, possibly. Because you are David. Russia is Goliath and good luck chopping off his head. But then maybe. Just maybe. We’ll keep supplying the high-tech stones, you can count on that. But not that no-fly zone. And without a direct aerial counterforce, your country may have to become used to living in bunkers and basements. But again, we stand with you. And again, it’s only because we’re scared shitless of the nukes that Russia has. Nukes! Egad! Who created these horrific things? Oh, right. We did. And we have almost as many nukes as Russia. And we have the biggest badass nuke of them all. That we don’t want to EVER use, and likely we wouldn’t have to, because of, you know, M.A.D. You see how we’re kinda left with no choice but to provide guns and money, but you aren’t worth risking WW3 nuclear holocaust end of days for. Even though most expert analysts doubt Putin is willing to sign his own death warrant. That would be MADness. He holds all the cards, see? But if he invades a NATO country, we call his bluff. Okay?

Life is tough, straight up. Oh, but of course you already know that and you are one bunch of tough motherfuckers, you Ukrainians! The world admires your grit and guts. But we just can’t risk…and NATO… and nukes…and…and…

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Endgame

Everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. But of course. But die we all shall. For that matter, time being the tyrant that it is, eventually this planet we all call home will succumbto absorption by the sun–in about 7.5 billion years. Hey, so still time to work on ourselves, mind, body and spirit-wise, huh?

Of course I’m being ridiculous about the matter of life and death. Consider, however, how many humans have already lived and perished since homo sapiens evolved from the slime or whatever of long, long loooooooong ago. Researchers estimate that number to be around 117 billion, with several billion of us still hanging around right now. We humans have recycled ourselves somewhere around 7,500 generations worth.

And what a species we are!

We are very intelligent and supremely stupid all at once. We have used our smarts to create many comforts, while simultaneously creating circumstances that render those comforts meaningless. That is, here I sit creating this blog post using computer technology. I have bluetooth earbuds, and a “fitness watch” not far away. But I have no desire to use the watch and the earbuds aren’t all that comfy when stuffed in the holes on each side of my head. But I appreciate how facile a matter it is to use technology for passive pleasures and at other times to see, hear and consider happenings from around the world, in real time in some cases. And right now, in this moment of our human history, what I often see from near and far is death, destruction, oppression, exploitation, greed, pettiness, and other forms of hatefulness that boggle my mind. Certainly, there are many acts of kindness and compassion occurring as well. Sadly, in many cases that goodwill and kindness is generated as a response to self-inflicted horrors against ourselves.

The minds, bodies and spirits of too many of us have not been keenly honed to respect one another. History is essentially an account of the wounded madhouse that is humanity. We seem incapable of working together, sharing and caring for one another, in the big picture. I’m feeling fairly secure right now, but I damn well know there are others out there who want what I have, without knowing I have not much in monetary or material wealth. The petty hood can jack my car, or blindside me with a billy club in order to empty my pockets on the chance doing so provides for a prominent payoff. Yeah, the forces of evil, writ petty or prodigious. A wounded madhouse might seem hyperbolic but why did we need to create police and military forces? Even organized religion causes as much trouble as it does peace, love and understanding. My evidence? History!

The essence of our self-destructiveness can currently be seen–via those modern marvels of technology–in how just one man can dictate death and destruction without provocation. And if that isn’t a potent “Exhibit A” in my case against humanity, then we have “Exhibit B”. That would be many, many, many, many, many other (mostly) men standing around and refusing to do anything about that one man that needs being done. It’s akin to watching an innocent kid getting his ass kicked from pillar to post in the playground by someone five times his size, while others, some individually, let alone collectively, big enough to rescue him from the savagery. And the reason they won’t help, even though all these others standing around watching this sickening sight do not at all like the one doing the ass-kicking, is that the victim hasn’t paid for their protection. He has to keep taking the beating while clearly understanding that he is likely to die on a technicality of non-membership, the qualifications for which are supposedly to keep any bully from doing what this bully is doing to him. Can you follow this analogy?

Oh, that’s right. I’m leaving out the part about the bully having a really powerful weapon that could kill all of the bystanders, never minding that many of the bystanders, especially the biggest of the them all, have the exact same powerful weapon that could kill the bully. But they’re trying to appease the bully as he keeps battering the kid–who has really been fighting back with all he has but is running low on staminaso that no one will use that really powerful weapon. The bully, who is vastly outnumbered, thus gets a pass. The kid being victimized gets sympathy and moral support. Sorry, kid, don’t take it personal, it’s just business.

Like I asserted earlier, we humans seem not to ever get along very well for very long. Knowing how we tend to succumb to violence as a means of resolving disputes, we have created an Ultimate Weapon. Right now, the threat of using that weapon by one man shields him from being held to account. If that’s the case, then this world has no future right now, not 7.5 billion years from now. By creating such a terrifying weapon some 77 years ago, humankind assured that a moment such as this one would become inevitable. The bully has no clothes! His turf isn’t even under attack. He is a global pariah and even his closest allies intellectually know that to allow his use of that weapon means they will all perish from its power, sooner if not later as well (didn’t this stare down come and go in 1962, albeit with a much different geographical framework?). But regardless, we seek to appease. Like I said humans are both very intelligent and supremely stupid all at once. We are absolutely our own worst enemy.

If this current generation of humanity is to be the last one, then we will simply have gotten what we deserved for creating the endgame scenario that will always be a clear and present danger, one way or another. Letting women and children be sacrificed on a technicality reflects a species that doesn’t deserve preserving. The only thing we have to fear right now is fear itself, as FDR famously said.

So, can we please save that little kid with the big fight in him? His, and our future, is now.

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Fear and Loathing, Ukraine invasion edition

Clearly, Russia’s president has commenced to attack Ukraine, in spite of Ukraine not having given him a shred of credible justification for doing so. His blatant objective of forcefully taking an independent country west of Russia’s borders has garnered condemnation, anger and anxiety, not only for Ukraine and its citizens, but also for the people of other countries worldwide. This development exists, after all, in the broader context of a potential repeat of the triggering antecedents that resulted in two world wars. Could we be on the brink of a third world war? And if so, would it culminate in the use of nuclear weapons? It defies comprehension, but recall that the last world war ended with the deployment of two atomic bombs in 1945, a not so distant past. Ever since, humanity has had to at once acknowledge the potential for nuclear annihilation while simultaneously denying such tactical insanity would ever come to pass. Geo-political cognitive dissonance, one could say.

Now, owing to Russia’s unwarranted invasion of Ukraine, and the prospects of further aggressions against other countries in Eastern Europe, the thousands of nukes created by the terrors of science, owned mostly by Russia and the U.S., require all of humanity’s attention. More than 76 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the notion of those nukes slumbering in silos scattered over several of the world’s nations coming to life, is not an abstraction but a looming nightmare of starkly detailed potential chilling reality.

In the immortal words of Rodney King, Can’t we all just get along? Alas, poor Rodney, but history teaches all of us another stark lesson in cold reality: that it has always taught us nothing. No doubt, this apparent inability to learn from history’s grim lessons in cause and effect is what led James Joyce to invoke “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” The current David and Goliath encounter between Ukraine and Russia should not be happening, that’s for damn sure. But yet, there it is.

I personally feel that the West (i.e., the United States) needs to do more than blather about sanctions against Russia. Of course, I’m talking about utilizing our military directly in support of Ukraine. It might be a roll of the nuclear dice, but letting that prospect preclude any truly immediate and meaningful action in confronting Russia’s sickening attack on an innocent nation is morally and militarily wrong. Consider that, unlike Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, which were all needless deployments that essentially benefitted that notorious military-industrial complex, literally confronting Russia would be putting our post-WWII, 780 billion dollar-a-year armed forces budget to a clearly dangerous but quite practical, use once again. To those (and I’m sure it’s a vast majority of people) who would say this isn’t our fight, I’d say then why do we even have such a well financed and sophisticated military machine? It IS our fight, and the fight of all other countries that profess to be on “the right side of history”. Nuclear mutual assured destruction will forevermore be a clear and present danger. But letting Russia use that same threat to be allowed continue killing innocent people without any justification certainly is to tacitly surrender to an evil entity that doesn’t give a shit about “sanctions”. This is a turning point and a tipping point in world history, akin to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. It’s an inevitable offshoot of ever having created the Ultimate Weapon. Confront that fear again. The way I see it, there’s really no choice to be made here. Stop Russia now. Just like in 1962, another history lesson that, unless action is taken, will again have taught us nothing.

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