Archive for November 2017

Let’s Not Talk Politics on Facebook While the Country Slip Slides Away

If yesterday did not convince you we are losing our country and what made America great, nothing will. We have a psychopath as a president as Harvard psychiatrist Lance Dodes told us last night on Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, who slips in and out of his psychopathy based upon the stress he is under. As E.J. Dionne told us this morning:

We are so inured to the chaos and the lying that characterize Trump’s presidency that we see each outrage as little more than another passing episode on an ongoing cable news drama…We’d like to think that the United States is also a nation of decency, tolerance and respect. We can’t make this claim while Trump is president…At the moment, political power in our elected branches (and, in effect, in the Supreme Court) is held by Republicans and conservatives. They are using Trump to push through outlandish policies on taxes and health care. They are lauding Trump’s executive orders that scuttle regulations safeguarding consumers, workers and the environment. They are ecstatic about his filling the judiciary with his, and their, allies. Progressives cannot be asked to pretend this isn’t happening. We’re a long way from a “truce.”

Yeah, we should just listen and both sides get along, except one side is destroying the country they claim to so love. Let’s just review. The President promoted a Muslim phobic and racist video, unsubstantiated and quite probably violated the privacy of a minor, and it is quite clear at this point the President is a racist. See “good people on both sides”. He is accused by 14 women of sexual assault/rape and is supporting a child molester from Alabama for the Senate. He is fantasizing that he did not utter the “Grab her …..” words and seems to forget he owned up to it on TV and apologized.  He wants to revisit Obama’s birthplace, invent the war on Christmas, lies pathologically about the tax cut plan, and as E.J. noted above, is destroying the agencies that protect us under the guise of removing regulations that hinder business.  THAT IS WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO DO SO WE AREN’T SLAVES!

Democracy itself is at stake here along with our fundamental principles.  The man is despicable, pathological, and the Republican have become his parrot.  As E.J. pointed out:

Great nations and proud democracies fall when their systems become so corrupted that the decay is not even noticed — or the rot is written off as a normal part of politics.

President Trump has created exactly such a crisis. He has not done it alone. The corrosion of norms and values began long before he propelled the nation past the edge, and his own party is broadly complicit in enabling his attacks on truth, decency and democratic values.

So the next time you decide to tolerate that friend or relative that sides with a psychotic lunatic, or tells both sides are the problem, GET IN THEIR FACE! The nation is going down the drain as we watch and if you think trying to “see both sides” is helping, well you are part of the problem.  Republicans have become a cancer on Democracy in their ideological zeal to enact and agenda that favors only the rich, and they hit bottom with President DFF.  Now we have to take it back and tolerating ignorance and stupidity only aids and abets them.

Oh, and they are going to pass the Tax Cut Bill and when you find out all the stuff that is in there, you wonder why Americans continue to support the Republican Party or how they could justify electing the Moron in Chief.  It is time to take them on, whether they are family or friend.  The stakes have just gotten to high.

He is Batshit Crazy

Yes, I am talking about you know who, President Dumb Fat Fuck (DFF). In case you are on a news blackout, the President is acting strangely and the news media is nervous, asking why he is now becoming more unstable. So let’s clear the air, and note I have written this before, he is the same DFF we elected back in 2016 and nothing has changed. He has always been unstable and unsuited for the Presidency. So what’s he doing now?

Well to begin with, there was the release of videos that are hit pieces on Muslims by an anti-Muslim right wing group in England, totally unsubstantiated, and even England severely criticized President DFF for their release. The piece was pure racism. Then there is the fact that he regrets disavowing his claim that President Obama was not born in this country (he was). Then even more bizarre, he has been making statements according to reports from the White House, that that was not his voice on the bus when he admitted to sexual assault (grab their ….). Roll the tape where he admits to it and apologizes. In Missouri today he issued one lie after another about his tax plan and rambled on forever. Oh and brought up the non-existent war on Christmas. Bat shit crazy.

So the media is asking why the decompensation now? I have told you why. Mueller is getting close and Trump knows it. And he is panicking. Remember he is telling everyone the investigation will be over by the end of the year and he will be fully exonerated, and it sounds like a giant desperate lie. But remember that whatever Mueller finds, we still have to have Republicans step up and do the right thing, and so far, they have not shown they will. Trump gets that and he knows why. It is not just their agenda that could go down, but their re-election in the next election is at risk. Republicans are terrified of further challenges from the right, and their future is in the hands of the wing nuts that Trump appealed to in the election.

So Trump is going home. He is coming up with the lies and hate stuff that so appealed to his base before, hoping he can leverage them to terrify Republicans into not impeaching him when the truth comes out. That is what you are seeing going on. As I said in this blog on the 25 of November, “Can’t wait to see how he reacts as he sees Finley talking to the Feds and knows the jig is up.” Or said more directly, we are moving into really dangerous times and Republicans still have not stepped up to the plate.

The World We Live In

How did we get here? Garrison Keillor* gave us this this morning:

The greatest absurdity of our time is You Know Whom, which goes without saying but I will anyway. What his election showed is that a considerable number of people, in order to demonstrate their frustration with the world as it is, are willing to drive their car, with their children in the back seat, over a cliff, smash the radiator, bust an axle and walk away feeling good about themselves. No other president in modern times has been held in contempt by a preponderance of people from the moment he said, “So help me, God.” The playboy blather, the smirk of privilege, the stunning contempt for factual truth — how can the country come together when the president has nothing in common with 98 percent of the rest of us?

I have no answer and I have a hard time with that 46.4% of voters that drove the car over the cliff. Why would you want to be brought together with them? We see where one right-wing nut group tried to create a false story about Roy Moore to discredit the very media we depend on to see what is really going. As the evidence piles up, Alabama is the shinning example of how people are totally out of touch with reality and facts. But out of touch does not really describe it. What seems more in play here is their ability to deny the obvious, to pathologically believe what they want to believe that in the end, will do us all great harm. The Bible as the law giver instead of the Constitution? Oh, and whose interpretation of that contradictory mess of fables? We are insane.

This has always troubled me as a man who tries to operate, no matter how uncomfortable, on facts and data. I would love to believe that salt is good for you, and sugar, especially in ice cream, is health food. But they are not, and if I do not take appropriate measures on consumption, not only will I be a blimp, I will go down in flames long before I am ready. In the same vein, I would love to believe that if we cut taxes, the economy would take off, the treasury coffers would fill up with all the new activity, and wages would all rise. Trouble is, that is not what happens. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the deficit balloons. We know that for a fact, but here we are with a tax bill that may pass that is an abomination. Let’s take away a tax deduction on interest paid on student loans, tax college endowment funds, and remove the deduction for teachers buying school supplies so we can give away money to the wealthy? That is only scratching the surface. How did we get to this insanity?

I have a theory. No surprise there. It has to do with the fact that in the Western World, we are more religious than any other nation. Note how well religion on a national scale has worked for Muslim nations. Yet that seems to be the way we are moving if you listen to Roy Moore or many Republicans. And my theory is simple: If you can suspend your disbelief to believe religion and their nonsense stories as fact, it is a short trip to denying anything you don’t want to believe. I watched Bill Maher’s Religulous again last night and in doing that, voting for President DFF became quite understandable. I strongly recommend you watch this movie again (showing on HBO or maybe Showtime). Try to remove the brainwashing you have had all your life about religion and think Trump. Then all of a sudden you get it.

Maher points out that what people assume as fact, is of course not fact, but hearsay. He points out (and he leaves no religion untouched) that many of their beliefs are nonsense (talking snake), and in my favorite scene points out to worshippers that the whole Joseph/Mary/Virgin birth is a later telling of an earlier pagan version (actually about 32 of them) and the same can be said for the resurrection. They simply don’t believe it. It also says something about them not really examining their religion, which of course is the whole point of faith. So why is that?

Because they need it. They need to believe, so they do. But watching grown men, otherwise intelligent, ignoring their intelligence and skepticism on religion is revealing in the time of Trump who pumps out false narrative after false narrative that is quickly accepted by his followers. Maher, in one of what I think is the most revealing segments (because most of the movie is confronting people in a nice way with their illogic and can be uncomfortable), is with a small trucker congregation at a truck stop church. He says the following:

I think that being without faith is something that is a luxury for people who are fortunate enough to have a fortunate life. You know you go to prison and you hear a guy say, “You know what buddy, I got nothing but Jesus in here.” I can completely understand that. I think not having faith is a luxury some times. You are in a foxhole you probably have a lot of faith. So I get that, but you guys aren’t dumb.You are smart people. How can smart people, how can they believe in a talking snake, people live to 900 years old, and the virgin birth, you know, that is my question.

Now there it is. How can they believe that stuff or worse, a fairy godfather that guides your life when everthing around us tells us that is not true. How can they believe the lies that President DFF puts out? How do they quickly discount real news labeled by him “fake”?

Because they need to and that trumps everything else. In some ways religion has poisoned our minds to rational thinking. We have been indoctrinated from birth in faith-based believing and it is no surprise that in modern times we can once again be thrust into the dark ages by a Donald Trump in an instant, because people are afraid and they need to believe there is a savior. And in that logic comes all the atrocities we have seen throughout history caused by religion, and those President DFF and Republicans are now perpetuating on America and our values.

You know, religion may be a part of us that allowed us to survive in almost impossible situations, not giving up hope, and progressing as a civilization.  For some, it still does, but it could also be what brings us down in a modern world where the opportunities for us to destroy ourselves when we delude ourselves have never been so easy.  Maybe religion has become a dangerous drug. But God Bless America.

*Now he is out for allegations for improper behavior.  Are Men the devil? See yesterdays blog.  Oh let’s wait until we find out what really happened. Certainly we are flawed.

Why Trump Won

Fareed Zakaria, who I think is one of the best journalist out there, and there are a lot of good ones, reporting on CNN in a special, Why Trump Won, I think nailed it. This is not a new show and I think it aired back in August, but I finally saw it last night. So I will cut to the chase on this one. As Fareed pointed out Donald Trump was the perfect storm when the circumstances were perfect for the perfect storm.

And for you Hillary fans, an interview with Nate Silvers basically pointed out that Comey cost her the election. Her lead was 6 points and then a week before the election he comes out with his letter, and her lead was cut to 3 points, then in the margin of allowing the electoral college to elected the one with a smaller vote count. So it certainly cost her the election. But, and here is the thing, it should have never been that close. As we entered the 2016 election, Hillary was not a good choice and Fareed makes that point by showing how Democrats had lost the working middle class as they had become the party that represented the professional class. Hillary was also the perfect storm in that she epitomized the Democrats aloof view of the working class.

The head of the Democratic Party in Ohio was sending memos to the Hillary campaign about the pain and anger out there in Ohio and they were being ignored. Meanwhile Trump was filling that vacuum with vague promises of bringing their jobs back and representing them as an outsider and it was selling like hotcakes. All lies of course, but that seem to have made little difference. In middle America’s state of anger and frustration. Race and blaming was working well and Trump was the master salesman as Hillary made his point of the out of touch aloof politician. Fareed even made the point that Hillary actually had policies that would help them, but they were throwing over establishment Washington, clearly a Washington they no longer trusted.

That should have been the message loud and clear when Bernie came so close. Many said it was not rigged (this is me not Fareed), but of course it was. They had already anointed Hillary and the Democratic Party was lined up against that upstart Bernie when he was actually the only one with a message that resonated. It was noted that many discouraged Democrats turned to Trump after Bernie was finally beaten. There is another statistic that Fareed pointed out that should have told Democrats they were in big trouble. In a usual election the undecided voters are around 6%. In 2016 it was double that. Again, looking at who Donald Trump was, it should not have been close and that tells you that Democrats had lost their message and their messenger was the wrong person.

Now no one (who is rational) will argue that Hillary would not have made an excellent President, but in a way her defeat, while devastating to the short-term interests of the country, was probably inevitable as the Democrats had lost touch with the people it most needs to help. Even with good intentions, we would have seen more gridlock and both sides do it instead of a clear distinction between the two parties we are getting now (although establishment Democrats still seem to have not got the message). Sooner or later Democrats were going to have this “come to Jesus” moment and maybe sooner is better. It would appear at the grass-roots at least they are regrouping and refocusing.

So in a nutshell, Trump was the perfect lynch mob leader as establishment politics have failed middle America, but have worked fine for those of us in the professional class, and the banking class, the professional class represented by establishment Democrats, the banking class represented by establishment Republicans. Trump came along and lied through his teeth that he was an outsider who represented them when in fact, if they ever figure it out, he was all in with Wall Street. Hillary sadly, came across as just what the working middle class was mutinying against, establishment elitism, or “let me explain it to you Alice” (Jacky Gleason from the Honeymooners). The fact that she actually had policies to help them was irrelevant.

My own personal observation at Trump rallies was an America I found despicable. Hillary’s deplorables, which of course they were. They had thrown out their brains and the level of anger and hate was palpable. As Fareed pointed out they were the part of America most disenfranchised by the world economy and their reaction was anger, blame, racism, and hate. And Trump was the master at stoking that. It is no coincidence that this was dominate by those without a college education. They were the losers in the economy we have built. Sadly when the elected Trump, they doubled down on their losing. In case they haven’t noticed, there are no jobs, and Wall Street is back big time.

Having said that, we do have to pull them up, not by false lies Donald Trump pumped out there, but with a real plan to get them back into the economy and give them jobs and a future. Unless you haven’t figured that out, it is not by giving more tax cuts to the wealthy, or quite frankly to most of us. It will be by creating jobs by investing in infrastructure, alternate energy, helping middle America get off their addiction to opioids, making college affordable, and making fundamental changes to the economy that let’s them share in the bounty. Oh, and give them a safety net they can depend on until we can restore the middle class. FDR did it, and now we have to, because middle America really is in a depression that led to the rise of a moron like Donald Trump.

Fareed ended his program by saying we are waiting for a leader that can cross the divide between the two tribes. But Fareed is one of those too invested in the way the economy works today, instead of the reality that capitalism has to be brought to heel for all of us to share. To my ear, Bernie got closest to that ideal. Let’s not lose that momentum. Progressivism is the only way forward and only government working with industry is going to solve the problem of the declining middle class. It is time to bring back ideas again instead of blame and hate. It has not worked out well so far and maybe middle America is starting to figure that out. Now we need to get out there with a plan that gives them hope, not the same old, same old or from Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher, SSDD, Same Shit, Different Day. That is how middle America saw the establishment in 2016. The Democrats failed to head the message and ran an establishment candidate, and all the rest is history.

Railing

There are so many things to rail against in this nightmare of Republican control and an idiot as our President. Agencies that have long tried to protect the consumer, the worker, the sick, the poor, the environment, and education are now headed by people who want to tear them down. The State Department is being gutted and our place in the world and our ability to affect world politics is diminishing rapidly under Tillerson. I would laugh, but it is too sad, to think about all the people who hated government, oblivious to what government actually does for them, or claimed both sides are just as bad, and then watch the destruction of America by Republicans. It was and is their stupidity and ignorance that got us here. It was and is the arrogance of some Democrats who do not understand the status quo is not working.

So once again, because there is so much destruction going on around us, I would just like to comment on a few things. The first should be the national shame of our response to Puerto Rico. We should be involved in massive rebuilding right now and yet many people are still without water and electricity. And no one seems to care. Watching what happened there, I would have to say capitalism failed. It was a time to mobilize, get in there, feed the people and start a massive rebuilding campaign. We did none of those as supplies arrived and then sat in warehouses. 60 Minutes had a segment last night on a chef who went down there and fed millions of people. He became very frustrated with the whole FEMA system where no one seemed to be in charge and rules instead of need drove the train.

He finally did get FEMA money and he pointed out that there were good people down there trying to help, but their hands were tied by government rules. And on the last go round, FEMA denied him money to continue his operation. I got to thinking about that. The government wants to prevent waste and rampant profit making by awarding to a low bidder. Remember the debacle the Puerto Rican government got into after they awarded a power restoration contract that was a giveaway to a Trump crony. Then I think about how the Cubans were able to move massive amounts of people to safety during the hurricane and quickly came to the aid of their citizens while we floundered in the Caribbean.

What comes to mind is that maybe the profit motive is not the best motive or efficacious way to deliver aid and help. Maybe in the time of crisis, capitalism fails and fails miserably. Maybe we should be turning to NGO’s already vetted and award them grants if we cannot mobilize our own resources. And one might ask, why could there not have been a massive military presence there to help? We rebuilt schools in Iraq, but can’t do that in Puerto Rico? Will we learn anything from this. Not under President Dumb Fat Fuck and the Republicans who are bent on a tax cut to destroy America, but make the wealthy great.

Next, I would like to comment on the rush to put all imbecilic men in the same category. Certainly what Al Franken did was childish, crude, and offensive, but certainly not in the same league as Roy Moore and Donald Trump, who are both accused of rape or attempted rape. I certainly understand many women’s sense of anger and frustration at all the loutish men they have been subjected to with no real recourse. But “kill all the lawyers” is not the answer and in fact is playing right into the hands of the Republicans. See! Both sides do it, and nothing changes.

Sadly women (and here I am going to get in big trouble) who have maybe suffered some of this loutish behavior feel the need now to expose it, but they may be doing their cause more harm than good. That we have a sexual abuser in the White House and about to elect a pedophile is not the same as someone who stupidly and inappropriately grabbed your ass. None of it should be tolerated any more (or then), but we may, by equating both behaviors, be in fact weakening the cause to end it all. Just as an aside, and of course I have never been in a position of real power over anyone, but had I grabbed anyone who I was dating or working with’s ass, they would have clocked me a good one.

There is an excellent discussion of men and facing up to our testosterone urges. Sadly we all have these urges but the difference is some of us cross the line and some of us don’t. Maybe we ought to be discussing the nature of men’s sexual urges so we can get out in the open that we all have them and what is and is not acceptable. It might help some to understand their feelings and deal with them more appropriately instead of acting them out.

Lastly, I would like to point out some logic or non-logic. If you want to learn how to confuse and lie by using bad logic just watch Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a White House briefing. Her major tactic is the equivalency argument I used above, the other side did it so why pick on us. Doesn’t matter what the other side did, but whether the behavior is atrocious and who now occupies the White House. Sad the press lets this slip by them. We have all heard the admitted defense, which if you don’t admit something, you can’t be held responsible for it, even though 14 women have come out to claim otherwise.

Then there is the excuse for Roy Moore that he would be better than a “Democrat”. The agenda is more important than morality. We are not the only ones. I think of Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar who looked the other way during the massacre of thousands in the Rohingya crackdown in the hope that the she can make a difference in the end instead of a stand now that might staert a full military take over again. It is that old failure of logic that the ends justify the means. But when the means turns our to define who we are, we may lose everything. See Republicans for further examples.

The Internet Sucks and It’s Going to Get Suckier and Other Sucky Things

Have you noted that connecting on the internet this weekend sucks.  Everyone is shopping, but that is no excuse.  If you are in constant traffic on the highway, it is the same phenomenon, we have failed to keep up and invest in tomorrow, and now it is tomorrow.  Now I have the suckiest internet on the planet, satellite, which they over sell and most days it slows down to a crawl.  But this week I was in San Diego working off my hotel’s wifi and it sucked too.  Is that what we are now, second class citizens in a third-rate country?

Then there are the pop-up ads.  You are in the middle of something and suddenly your screen is taken over by some ad.  Now, I get this on free sites that have to make a living.  But I don’t get it on my subscriptions, like the NYT, the WaPo, or the Guardian.  Am I not already paying for this service? So get your shit off my screen. Oh, and in the middle of important work, whatever utility you are using decides to upgrade?  Fuck them, do it at 3 am in the morning.  Oh, and those little updates eat up my already paltry satellite bandwidth.

But it is going to get suckier as the Trump (President Dumb Fat Fuck) Administration does away with net neutrality.  That means the providers can decide what you can see and what you cannot see, and their decision is based on profit.  Do we really want corporations using the profit motive to decide what we get to do on the internet?  The fact that there are not riots in the street tells you how much we have been seduced by corporations and the profit motive.

She who must never be mentioned here thinks the slow down on the net is a planned strategy to make you want to go buy their service providing guaranteed faster connectivity, but limiting what you can see to the big boys that are willing to grease palms for what comes to you.  Again, why are we not in the streets burning down internet monopoly companies?

Okay some other bones I have to pick.  First is football.  As I watch the games I am becoming more and more appalled by the trash talk, strutting, and in general poor sportsmanship.  But the brutality of the game has gotten out of control.  I feel more like a Roman watching Christians being sacrificed for our entertainment.  Okay, but they choose it right?  And it is a national pastime.  Well here is what stops me and my vow to no longer watch any football:  A tragic death and college football’s reckoning over brain injuries amid a new class-action lawsuit.  How any parent can let their kids play football is beyond me. 

And then there is this about the tragic injury/death of two border patrol agents who President DFF and his Republican build the wall cronies used to protect from “bad hombries”:

Once again President Trump showed his willingness to appropriate an American family’s tragedy for his own political gain. Just a few hours after Martinez was declared dead, POTUS took to his preferred platform for addressing the nation.

“Border Patrol Officer killed at Southern Border, another badly hurt. We will seek out and bring to justice those responsible. We will, and must, build the Wall!” he tweeted.

But Trump wasn’t the only one linking the agent’s death to a call for the wall.  Texas senator and one-time Trump punching bag Ted Cruz seized the occasion as well. “This is a stark reminder of the ongoing threat that an unsecure border poses to the safety of our communities and those charged with defending them,” he tweeted.

Even Texas’ sanctuary-city-killing governor, Greg Abbott, got in on the act, citing the occurrence as part of a thinly veiled plea for additional federal security funding.

…Speaking on Monday, President Trump indicated the men had been “badly beaten” and again called for the wall. Meanwhile, a representative of the Southwest branch of the National Border Patrol Agents Council has publicly suggested the officers could have been attacked by assailants hurling stones.

“[Stoning is] the only thing they can think of,” said Council vice president Art Del Cueto. “There is nothing else there on the scene.”

Here’s the problem.  There were no gunshot wounds and they were found at the bottom of an irrigation ditch they may well have fallen into: “The reason the men were found lying at the bottom of a high banked drainage ditch is because they fell into it in the dark”…The injuries to [Martinez], after talking to his doctors, were consistent with a fall,” the sheriff told The Dallas Morning News,  “Very consistent with a fall.”

And now once again you see how people and most dangerously President DFF, sees reality in terms of what he wants to believe and how it is useful to his ideology, not reality.  Now you know how evil he and his minions are and why you should be very worried he has his finger on the nuclear launch button.  Can’t wait to see how he reacts as he sees Finley talking to the Feds and knows the jig is up.

San Diego

Another wonderful Thanksgiving week with my son and daughter in San Diego, which is no small fete because my daughter flies in from London. For me it is a time to rekindle my love for the Pacific Ocean. My surf boarding days are mostly over, but you would be amazed what you can spend on a good boogie (body) board. It is just reinvigorating to get in the ocean, taste the salt, and be a kid again. Of course when you have incurable cancer, you do tend to enjoy the moment. And before I go any further, the meds I am taking make me fairly symptom free, so I am one very lucky man.

First, restaurants. I will just give you a few. There are so many good places to eat down here. I will just give you two. One is Puesto in La Jolla. It’s tacos and Margaritas take Mexican food to a whole other level. Lobster tacos is a favorite. Then there is Eddie V’s where my little family and some of our extended family met for the famous Thanksgiving feast. I cannot recommend this place enough. Super fresh seafood cooked to perfection. A side called crab fried rice was a meal in itself. Wine list is excellent and reasonable. No it is not cheap feeding four, but isn’t that why we work in the first place?

The two other nights were good, but unremarkable. Jambalaya, and beers for me in a pub that was nowhere as good as I can cook at home. The other night was Sushi for 9 take out and I have no idea what I ate, but it was good. When we get down here we always spend one day shopping because the stores are close and where I live in Northern California, the stores are far away and less well supplied. Time to get the discount new belt at Marshals and new shoes at DSW. Oh, and did I mention a new boogie board to be left with my son for future visits?

It was nice to be with 2 of my 3 children and talk with them about my cancer. There are some many things that go unsaid that should not and we had a chance to talk about how we were all feeling. I am fairly fatalistic here, life will be what it will be and it has been a great ride. There is no choice but to take it one day at a time and enjoy the moment, and right now the moment is great. I hope I can pass that on to my kids. I myself have been a fairly type A person, called the “planning Nazi,” and I guess I still am. But when things do not work out, it does not bother me near as much anymore. I don’t yell at drivers anymore, just note their interesting perspectives on driving. It is the things you can’t control (just about everything) that you just can’t worry about. You can plan for the worst and take steps to ameliorate what happens, but you still have to roll with it.

I remember a book I read way back when, written by a psychiatrist about surviving in the death camps (Viktor Frankl’s Man Search for Meaning) and he made an observation about those who did not give up in circumstances too terrible to describe. It went something like this: They can take almost everything away from you except your freedom to chose your attitude. You can choose to survive. You can choose to smile. You can choose to not get angry. You can choose to do good and you can choose to be kind. It is what makes us human and what makes kindness and forgiveness the truly noble human aspirations. It is so much easier to get angry and blame, so when you see kindness and forgiveness, understand you are seeing transcendence.

Now we are all going our separate ways again, as I write this on the plane going home, my daughter Serena heads back to London, and my son Andrew gets back into the routine of his San Diego existence. I will miss them dearly, but we will find ways to connect and it was an absolutely wonderful 5 days. Oh, and did I mention all the truly interesting and nice Lyft drivers we met going here and there, even to the beach. Unload that rental car. It is one more stress producer you don’t need.

I will leave you with one final thought. When the pilot leaves the seatbelt light on the whole flight because there is some very light burble, people just start to ignore the seatbelt sign because when you got to go, you got to go. Puts the whole flight crew versus passengers in a bad situation because they have to warn people to stay in their seats, and of course they can’t. Why they can’t just say we would prefer that you stay in your seat with your seatbelt fastened, but if you need to use the restroom, you do it at your own risk? I mean, after all, we check our bag at our own risk. And another thing, how many people actually put their phones in airplane mode? We set ourselves up for people to ignore the rules and we make it easy for them to justify it.

The Tax Gut

Well guess what! “The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center is the third outside group to conclude that the bill would add to the deficit, contradicting Republicans’ claim that the bill would effectively pay for itself via a surge in economic growth.” And actually it would cost $1.34 trillion, But all you good Republicans cast stones once again at the “tax and spend” Democrats, who actually tax to spend so we don’t crater. There is no free ride. Now conservative Republicans used to push discipline and moral character and now they go neither.

Here is the thing I have been banging away at, the Republicans, when it comes to economic policy for our future, got nothing. Their free ride schemes of flow down (supply side economics) and the market place will solve all problems is a fantasy sold like snake oil to the gullible who want theirs now and fuck the future. This is discipline and fiscal responsibility? And as much as I dislike President Clinton, let’s remember when he raised taxes and the Republicans screamed the sky is falling they did not, and the economy grew.

I don’t doubt that many Republicans who spout their spiel about the tax gut believe what they are saying, but it is a religion based upon faith in a miracle that the real world tells us, does not happen. Think about it as a drug. You take this drug and all of a sudden the world is so simple. Hell, cut taxes and the miracle economy will take off. Hell, just leave the market place alone and it will solve health care,. Global warming? Balderdash! Just minor fluctuations in the weather no different than in our past. Hell, just build a a Wall because we would have high wages if all those “others” weren’t coming in! Trade agreements? Who needs trade agreements! Infrastructure? The market place will take care of that!

The drug takes the complexity out of the world and everything is simple. The world was meant to be Christian and we just need a Christian government led by Roy Moore. Remember Jim Jones? Republicans and many in the middle are drinking the Kool Aid and will soon find that when you have destroyed the planet and the economy, death isn’t so bad.

I like to think that our problems are not hard, but they are complex. We already know the solutions to most of them. And they are not free. We have dug a hole and now some of us are going to have to sacrifice. Health care has to be universal. Global warming is here and we have to invest both in ameliorating its effects and harden our infrastructure for what we can stop. Immigrants of all education and economic backgrounds are vital to our economy. Tax reform? We have to figure out what we want, and then restructure the tax code to pay for it with a manageable debt. Corporations don’t pay too much in taxes, but some small businesses do so lets find parity. And guess what? People like me might actually have to pay more. It is called investing in our country for our children.

So there is no trickle down pill to take. There are no “others” that cause all our problems. Global warming is not going away. Economic inequality will not stop growing until we restructure out economy, not make the wealthy wealthier. We are all going to have to pitch in and invest in our future. Snake oil won’t work. Republicans got nothing and neither does anyone else if you think this is easy or we can just look the other way. Time to dig in and do the hard work. Remember that old cliché, No pain, no gain? Yep, it’s true.

Climate Change, Automobiles, and Other Random Thoughts

Climate change is up there with my big two issues that is threatening life as we know it. The other is economic inequality. And they are related. I have frequently said that capitalism is what pulled us and most country’s standard of living up, but unregulated it is an unmitigated disaster. The comes this thoughtful essay from the Stone basically looking at climate change as the result of capitalism itself:

The real culprit of the climate crisis is not any particular form of consumption, production or regulation but rather the very way in which we globally produce, which is for profit rather than for sustainability. So long as this order is in place, the crisis will continue and, given its progressive nature, worsen. This is a hard fact to confront. But averting our eyes from a seemingly intractable problem does not make it any less a problem. It should be stated plainly: It’s capitalism that is at fault.

I have no argument with his statement. These people who control our corporations and industries are making decisions that are neither stupid or evil, but based upon the rules of their game. The essay goes on to suggest that the problem is not technical, but political. Capitalism itself has to be tamed. Now you know why Republicans deny Global Warming.

Next up is cars, and in particular driverless cars. Did you know that we now kill more people in cars than we do with guns? Speed, texting, and plain stupidity are killing people. So some are hoping that driverless cars can be our salvation. I personally would love to get in my car, dial in the destination, and catch up on emails. But here is what I worry about, and not a failure of the technology, but the failure of my fellow human beings. Won’t there be at least one nut job who is in a hurray and is swerving in an out of all the driverless cars doing the speed limit? Won’t they in their fog of superiority try to check their texts? As with driving on a two lane highway, we are always at the mercy of the lowest common denominator.

Finally, on my flight to San Diego, why do I always get the seat behind the nut job who has to put his seat back? We are already crammed into the seats and then clueless, the nut in front of you reduces the space more, The world is full of careless thoughtless people.

Okay, I lied, there is one more thing I want to talk about. D.J. Dione wrote this morning about the Democrats having to quit waring with themselves (Beltway politicians) and see what is going on out in the country.

And what do leading Washington Democrats want to do? They would have us engage in the “move left” vs. “move to the center” squabbles that have obsessed the party for at least three decades. Old arguments feel comfortable, but they’re inadequate for the moment. And new research is finding that this bickering does not match the mood of local anti-Trump activists.

And I would say yes and no. He sees new activism where Trump won and gives us this:

This activism, as Skocpol sees it, is motivated by a simple but powerful civic sense that Trump is violating basic norms and principles of American life. The troops on the ground don’t need programs or litmus tests imposed from on high, she adds. They need practical support and the freedom to act as they see fit in their own areas….Virginia voters who “were looking for a calm and strong leader in the midst of chaos in Washington.” Moderates have a point when they say that voters nationally are similarly seeking steady and reliable leadership.

But progressives, in turn, are right to argue for clear, compelling and comprehensible policies to deal with the economic inequalities that are hurting many in the ranks of Clinton and Trump voters alike. Bold, not bland, is the way to go.

For now, the imperative is to check Trump’s abuses and to stop the truly radical agenda that Republicans are advancing, including their continuing efforts to wreck Obamacare and to pass an unpopular, budget-busting corporate tax cut that redistributes large sums of money to society’s wealthiest.

I think he wants to have it both ways. And maybe we can. We can certainly be against Trump, but we also have to have policies that attempt to replace what Trump is bringing. And here is where I truly want to raise the issue that we have moved so far right that what seems wild-eyed lefty, is really common sense solutions. No Democrats do not have to be all for full funding of higher education, but we want to make it affordable to all those that can, and not by loans that suck them dry for years. No we don’t have to be for a single payer health care system, but we have to be for universal healthcare so that all of us make it affordable for each other. Abortion is a litmus test. It is about a woman’s right to control her body. It’s about getting government out of those most personal and truly hard decisions.

So Democrats need to get in at the grassroots with ideas to improve people’s lives, but at the heart of it, is that the market place must be controlled so it does not crater the planet, and more of us share in its benefits. If that is left-wing crazy, then so is the survival of all of us.

The Republicans Have No Clothes (The Emperor’s New Clothes)

There are two things here, and the second is the most telling and chilling about who we are. The first is looking at what “tax loopholes” are being closed. Those would be teacher’s deducting the cost of subsidizing your kids education by deducting the cost of schools supplies. The second “loophole” cut will be those wicked blood sucking kids who can now deduct interest payments on their loans to try to get ahead and make our economy competitive.

The third “loophole” is those dastardly deductions for big medical expenses. If you are sick, screw you. Yep, we are going after those blood sucking Americans who suck us dry. Oh and for those of you that argue this isn’t really a big deal (some don’t itemize), see how much they figured they would save so they could give real “job creators” cuts without cutting their loopholes. If you wondered what Republicans looked like naked, there it is and they have no clue like the Emperor in the famous Hans Christian Anderson tale that they are now standing naked. Will anyone but the little boy (and Democrats) notice?

Item two is the whole sexual escapade of Trump and Roy Moore and Republicans looking the other way. These are the people where family values matter, and now when it comes to power and politics they don’t. President DFF cast dispersions at Al Franken, yet is silent on Roy Moore. Republicans call for Al Franken’s resignation, and yet President DFF’s own sexual assaults go ignored, with the justification he never admitted to it, but 14 women now say otherwise. This was out there before the election and America, thank you Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, elected him in the electoral college (another relic from the dark ages).

But what should raise the hair on the back of your neck is how “good” Christians in Alabama are reinterpreting the Bible to legitimize Roy Moore’s lusting after children. That in itself tells you all you want to know about putting a man in office who thinks his interpretation of the Bible trumps (pun intended) our Constitution. But here is the frosting on the cake. Alabama Governor, Kay Ivey tells us on Joy Reid this morning that holding the Senate is more important than electing a pedophile. Following that logic, you can see how Hitler rose to power. You can see how power and fear corrupt absolutely. And from Bible thumping Alabama. At this point the moral corruption in the Alabama GOP is complete, and religion, politics as a religion, and the moral superiority of Alabamian’s interpretation of the Bible are playing a large part.

Maybe the real people of Alabama will come to their senses, but this ought to scare you to death. We too could birth another Hitler, a Christian one this time. You can argue that other Republicans have spurned Roy Moore, but what of their leader the Dumb Fat Fuck. There is moral decay among the moral majority who, it turns out, are immoral after all.

So now you see the Emperor with no cloths. He does not give a wit about common people’s problems or struggles, and even more damning, he will sacrifice our Constitution and our moral values to hold on to power. Could it not be anymore clear?